By: 13 October 2017
Yorkshire’s strength as a legal centre underlined at the Yorkshire Legal Awards

DLA Piper wins three categories and Leeds’ longest serving lawyer is recognised at the Yorkshire Legal Awards


Over 700 legal professionals gathered in New Dock Hall in Leeds on 12 October at the Yorkshire Legal Awards to see DLA Piper pick up three trophies and Leeds’ longest serving lawyer win the President’s lifetime achievement award.

DLA Piper was named the winner in the Corporate and Commercial, Partner of the Year and Trainee Solicitor of the Year categories, while Christopher Lewis, who served as a solicitor in Leeds from 1965 until his retirement this year, was rewarded for his contribution to the profession and legal scene in Yorkshire.

DLA Piper’s Sam Millington, who works out of Sheffield, was named Trainee Solicitor of the Year, while Natasha Luther-Jones – who is based in Leeds – was chosen by the judges as the Partner of the Year.

Ramsdens was also a big winner on the night, picking up awards in the Law firm (11- 30 partners) and Residential Property categories.

The winner of the prestigious Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year accolade was Nigel Priestley, the managing partner of Huddersfield-based Ridley & Hall solicitors.

Jeremy Shulman, the President of the Awards and the founder of Shulmans, presented Lewis with his award. In doing so, he described Lewis, who ran his own firm for many years before it was incorporated into Milners in 2011, as a “real inspiration to the lawyer of tomorrow”.

“His influence on his colleagues is immeasurable and will stand the test of time,” said Shulman.

“This year’s winner could not be described as a high flyer, unlike many of his predecessors for this award. He’s won because he is quite the opposite. A hard working, caring, work-a-day lawyer, there to do a job, without glory for himself, all for his clients.

“Unassuming, ever courteous and willing to offer a helping hand, he is what some would call a dying breed of lawyer. Someone who was selfless, always willing to try new things and above all, conscious of his duty to always represent his profession with the utmost dignity and diligence,” added Shulman.

Priestley picked up the title of Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year for his work as a lawyer and his contribution to the wider legal community. A community care and adoption solicitor, he regularly represents children and parents in care proceedings. His work has been widely celebrated and he is a leading expert in kinship care, adoption breakdown and care proceedings.

He is also a trustee of the Family Rights Group and works closely with the Grandparents Association and Grandparents Plus, as well as many other support organisations. In 2002, he helped set up the unique Twinning Link between Huddersfield Law Society and the Uganda Law Society, which provides legal resources and training for Ugandan lawyers.

Speaking about the awards in general, the chair of the judging panel, Marilyn Stowe, the founder and former senior partner of Stowe Family Law, said that they showed that Yorkshire was a “hotbed of legal talent” where firms, chambers and in-house lawyers continued to raise their game in order to facilitate access to justice, help grow businesses and uphold the rule of law.

Stowe, was joined by a distinguished judging panel which included: David Barraclough, president of the Yorkshire Union of Law Societies; Natalie Cosgrove, president of Sheffield and District Law Society; Simon Stell the managing partner of LCF Law; Nathalie Stewart, the president of Hull Incorporated Law Society; Gordon Exall from Zenith Chambers; Sarah Cookson the president of Huddersfield and Dewsbury Incorporated Law Society; Bill Barton the president of Leeds Law Society; and Charlotte Parkinson, the chair of the Leeds Junior Lawyers Division.

63 firms, organisations and individuals were shortlisted for the awards in all, following a 20% increase in entries for 2017.

The awards ceremony, which is organised by Barker Brooks Communications, the publisher of Yorkshire Legal, was hosted by television presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing winner, Chris Hollins.


The full list of winners

Law Firm (1- 10 Partners) – rradar

Law Firm (11 – 30 Partners) – Ramsdens Solicitors

Law Firm (31 + Partners) – Irwin Mitchell

Residential Property Award – Ramsdens Solicitors

Commercial Property Award – Addleshaw Goddard

Dispute Resolution Award – Switalskis Solicitors

Rising Star Award – Brett Davies (Wakefield Council)

Private Client Award – Mills & Reeve

Niche Law Firm Award – Woods Whur

Corporate and Commercial Award – DLA Piper

Intellectual Property Award – Kempner & Partners

Criminal Law Award – Rahman Ravelli

Employment Law Award – DAC Beachcroft

In-house Lawyer Award – Rob Lawrence (TPT Retirement Solutions)

Family Law Award – Demelza Wrigley (Bell & Buxton)

Chambers of the Year – St John’s Buildings

Trainee Solicitor of the Year – Sam Millington (DLA Piper)

Pro Bono Award – John Collins (Zenith Chambers)

Partner of the Year – Natasha Luther-Jones – DLA Piper

Managing Partner of the Year – Ian Gilbert (Walker Morris)

President’s Award – Christopher Lewis

Yorkshire Lawyer of the Year – Nigel Priestley (Ridley & Hall Solicitors )