Keystone has been crowned Law Firm of the Year at The Lawyer Awards, in association with Travelers.

It is the first time in the awards’ 26-year history that the top prize has been handed to a non-traditional law firm, but the coronavirus pandemic of the past year has vindicated Keystone’s model in spades and the firm has gone from strength to strength.

The winners may have been announced in a virtual ceremony rather than in person, but the tension was no less for that as host Dara Ó Briain opened proceedings.

Among the evening’s other winners, Latham & Watkins was named City Firm of the Year. “They are fulfilling their vision of London as a strategic opportunity with market leading transactions and rapid growth,” one judge noted.

Meanwhile, Patrick Green QC of Henderson Chambers won Barrister of the Year, after securing victory for 550 Sub-postmasters in the Post Office Group Litigation. “The sheer size of the matter and the novel arguments put forward” made the case stand out in the eyes of the judges. This was also the case that won Freeths the Litigation Team of the Year award.

Always a hotly-contested category, Pro Bono Initiative of the Year went to Morgan Lewis. That firm secured a momentous victory in the local community for Save the Sutton Estate Limited, ultimately paving the way for the resurrection of vitally needed affordable housing. At a time of a national crisis in social housing, the victory has ensured that 250 empty properties will be brought back into use as social housing in Chelsea.

Another highly competitive category is Best talent and inclusion initiative and in 2020 the award went to the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, for the Pegasus Access and Support Scheme. “Opening up opportunity to accessing a legal career to those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds is essential and this scheme offers a real prospect of doing this,” one judge remarked.

A full list of the winners is below.

The winners

Litigation team of the year Sponsored by Gallagher

WINNER

  • Freeths

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Mishcon de Reya

COMMENDED

  • Herbert Smith Freehills

FINALISTS

  • Akin Gump
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Hogan Lovells
  • RPC
  • Steptoe & Johnson UK

Conduct, enforcement or business crime team of the year

WINNER

  • Dechert

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Addleshaw Goddard

FINALISTS

  • DLA Piper
  • Howard Kennedy
  • Simons Muirhead & Burton
  • Taylor Wessing

Real estate team of the year

WINNER

  • Lewis Silkin

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • DLA Piper

COMMENDED

  • CMS

FINALISTS

  • Dentons
  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Macfarlanes
  • Simmons & Simmons

General Counsel of the Year Sponsored by FTI Consulting

WINNER

  • Kate Staples, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Henry Bennett, Babylon Health

COMMENDED

  • Kristofer McGhee, The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

FINALISTS

  • Andrew Hunter, Global Risk Partners
  • Carlos Pierce, Cornerstone
  • Fergus Speight, Royal London
  • James Sporle, Just Eat
  • Liz Tanner, SSE
  • Natasha Lewis, University College London

Finance team of the year

WINNER

  • Taylor Wessing

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Simmons & Simmons

FINALISTS

  • Ashurst
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Macfarlanes
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Paul Hastings
  • Shearman & Sterling

Restructuring team of the year

WINNER

  • Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London)

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Morgan Lewis

FINALISTS

  • Akin Gump
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • White & Case

Best talent and inclusion initiative

WINNER

  • Honourable Society of the Inner Temple

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Barclays Legal

COMMENDED

  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

FINALISTS

  • Baker McKenzie
  • Mayer Brown
  • Stevens & Bolton
  • Taylor Wessing

Competition & regulatory team of the year

WINNER

  • Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London)

FINALISTS

  • Ashurst and Gowling WLG
  • Hausfeld and Charles Lyndon
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher

In-house banking & financial services team of the year

WINNER

  • London Stock Exchange Group

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Revolut

FINALISTS

  • OneSavings Bank
  • PayPal
  • Phoenix Group
  • Prudential and M&G
  • TPT Retirement Solutions

Energy & infrastructure team of the year

WINNER

  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Slaughter and May

COMMENDED

  • Gowling WLG

FINALISTS

  • CMS
  • DLA Piper
  • Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
  • RPC

Most innovative use of technology

WINNER

  • Norton Rose Fulbright

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Shepherd and Wedderburn

COMMENDED

  • Travers Smith

FINALISTS

  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • BLM
  • DAC Beachcroft
  • DLA Piper
  • Gowling WLG

Best technology product

WINNER

  • Settify

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Thirdfort

FINALISTS

  • Board International in association with BLM
  • D2 Legal Technology
  • Legl
  • Opus 2
  • The Privacy Compliance Hub
  • ThoughtRiver and Cia

City firm of the year

Sponsored by Travelers

WINNER

  • Latham & Watkins

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Addleshaw Goddard

COMMENDED

  • DLA Piper

FINALISTS

  • Cooley
  • Milbank
  • Morgan Lewis
  • Pinsent Masons
  • Reed Smith

Funds team of the year

WINNER

  • Ashurst

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Paul Hastings

COMMENDED

  • Pinsent Masons

FINALISTS

  • Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft
  • CMS
  • DLA Piper
  • Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Macfarlanes
  • Proskauer Rose

In-house TMT team of the year

WINNER

  • Just Eat

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Adobe Europe Systems

FINALISTS

  • Babylon Health
  • BT
  • Channel 4 Television Corporation
  • The Financial Times
  • Vodafone Business
  • Xero

Offshore firm of the year

WINNER

  • Mourant

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Carey Olsen

COMMENDED

  • Walkers

FINALISTS

  • Appleby
  • Campbells
  • Lennox Paton
  • OGIER

Corporate team of the year

Sponsored by Howden Insurance Brokers

WINNER

  • Clifford Chance

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Macfarlanes

FINALISTS

  • King & Spalding
  • Pinsent Masons
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK)
  • Taylor Wessing

Boutique firm of the year

WINNER

  • Town Legal

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Onside Law

COMMENDED

  • Stephenson Law

FINALISTS

  • Arc Pensions Law
  • CANDEY
  • CM Murray
  • Worden Richmond

Legal operations team of the year – private practice

WINNER

  • Hogan Lovells

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • DLA Piper

FINALISTS

  • Eversheds Sutherland
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Paul Hastings
  • Slaughter and May

In-house commerce & industry team of the year

Sponsored by EY

WINNER

  • Chelsea Football Club

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Ocado Group

COMMENDED

  • Cornerstone
  • FINALISTS
  • AEG Europe
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain)
  • Kingfisher
  • Mitie Group
  • SSE

Chambers of the Year

Sponsored by Bench Walk Advisors

WINNER

  • Keating Chambers

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Old Square Chambers

COMMENDED

  • 3 Verulam Buildings

FINALISTS

  • Doughty Street Chambers
  • One Essex Court
  • Serle Court
  • Twenty Essex
  • Wilberforce Chambers

Law company of the year

WINNER

  • gunnercooke

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Obelisk Support

FINALISTS

  • Aria Grace Law
  • CANDEY
  • Konexo
  • Lexoo
  • LOD
  • Pinsent Masons / Vario

Law firm of the year: The Independents

WINNER

  • Stevens & Bolton

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Signature Litigation

COMMENDED

  • Flint Bishop

FINALISTS

  • Bates Wells
  • Memery Crystal
  • Napthens
  • Nelsons

Best client service innovation

WINNER

  • Kemp Little

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Herbert Smith Freehills

FINALISTS

  • DAC Beachcroft
  • Mills & Reeve
  • Mishcon de Reya
  • Paul Hastings
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • Wiggin

Pro Bono initiative of the year

WINNER

  • Morgan Lewis

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Orrick, White & Case, Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Dentons, Charles Russell Speechlys, European Lawyers in Lesvos, Refugee Legal Support.

COMMENDED

  • Dechert

FINALISTS

  • Charles Russell Speechlys
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • Milbank
  • Therium
  • Travers Smith

Legal operations team of the year – in-house

Sponsored by Digital Legal Exchange

WINNER

  • Royal London

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Pearson

FINALISTS

  • Markerstudy Group
  • National Grid, Group Legal Operations
  • Severn Trent
  • Vodafone Business
  • Weetabix (in conjunction with matters+ from Shoosmiths)

Barrister of the year

WINNER

  • Patrick Green QC, Henderson Chambers

HIGHLY COMMENDED

  • Lord Pannick QC, Blackstone Chambers

COMMENDED

  • Claire Darwin, Matrix Chambers

FINALISTS

  • Allison Clare, Red Lion Chambers
  • Andrew Butler QC, Tanfield
  • Ben Collins QC, Old Square Chambers
  • Jude Bunting, Doughty Street Chambers
  • Monica Feria-Tinta, Twenty Essex

Law firm of the year Sponsored by Travelers

WINNER

  • Keystone Law