The Lawyer Awards 1999

Jemma Pearson


Law Firm of the Year

Last year's winners…

Overall winner: Olswang

Best large firm: Cameron McKenna

Best medium firm: Olswang

Best small firm: Briffa & Co

Sponsored by NatWest, which is sponsoring the Lawyer Awards this year, this coveted award honours a firm that has excelled in its chosen field over the past 12 months.

The Law Firm of the Year award is split into three categories: Best Large Firm (over 20 partners); Best Medium Firm (6 to 20 partners); and Best Small Firm (5 partners or less).

The judges reached a unanimous decision last year when they voted Olswang overall winner of the award. As Best Medium Firm, Olswang was praised for its versatility and commitment to individuality and innovation. The firm's success was reflected in its financial report – Olswang ranked among the top 10 law firms in terms of profitability.

A year after the merger of Cameron Markby Hewitt and McKenna & Co, Cameron McKenna walked away as the winner of the Best Large Firm in 1998. Judges highlighted the firm's clear aim to be recognised as one of the leading international law firms by 2002 – something that the two firms would not have been able to achieve independently.

North London firm Briffa & Co was voted Best Small Firm. The firm was established in 1995 to provide an affordable and user-friendly service in intellectual property. Judges praised the firm for its pro bono work, its commitment to quality service and its use of technology.

This year's judges will be looking for strong leadership and for individuals within the winning firms who proactively extend their practices by embracing new areas of law.

Personality of the Year

Last year's winners…

Gold Lord Irvine of Lairg QC

Silver Senator George Mitchell

Bronze Kamlesh Bahl

It is the readers of The Lawyer who decide the legal Personality of the Year. Last year you chose Lord Irvine of Lairg QC, one of the most controversial Lord Chancellors the country has ever had.

Chair of numerous cabinet committees and spearhead of radical reforms to legal aid, civil justice and the legal profession, Derry (Alexander) Irvine has been described as the most politically and legally powerful Lord Chancellor this century.

Voters used all manner of adjectives to describe Lord Irvine, not all of them complimentary. But nobody could deny his high profile during his first year of office.

Senator George Mitchell came a close second, winning the silver award for his contribution to the Northern Irish agreement.

Kamlesh Bahl, then head of the Equal Opportunities Commission and now deputy vice-president of the Law Society, won the Bronze award.

Sweet & Maxwell, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, is sponsoring the award. Readers are asked to vote for the individual they believe has contributed most to the profession and the market, be they judge, barrister, solicitor or other person who commands respect from colleagues and peers.

To register your vote for the Personality of the Year call the hotline on 0171-970-4772.

Assistant Solicitor of the Year

Last year's winners…

Gold Nicholas Fitzpatrick, Denton Hall

Silver Susan Thackeray, Russell Jones & Walker

Bronze Bernard O'Sullivan, Titmuss Sainer Dechert

This award recognises the invaluable contribution that assistant solicitors make to their firms.

Denton Hall's Nicholas Fitzpatrick, a solicitor in the media and technology group, walked away with last year's gold award. His wide-ranging work experience included advising clients on copyright, film and broadcasting and advising the FA Premier League on contractual matters.

Fitzpatrick received glowing testimonials from clients and barristers. One said: "It is very comforting to feel that not only am I dealing with a consummate professional, but with an entertaining and amiable human being."

Susan Thackeray of Russell Jones & Walker won the silver award. Thackeray impressed the judges with her transformation from part-time secretary to full-time litigation assistant solicitor with a demanding caseload. Her personality and professionalism were also commended.

The bronze award went to Bernard O'Sullivan of Titmuss Sainer Dechert. An assistant solicitor in the investigations department, O'Sullivan impressed the judges by billing the second highest amount of any of the firm's fee earners.

Chadwick Nott Legal Recruitment is sponsoring this year's award. Judges will be looking for assistants who provide a quality service with flair and determination. The nominees' personality and contribution to their business will also be taken into account.,