Law Centres excellence recognised at 'legal aid Oscars'

Wednesday, July 7th 2021

Kathy Cosgrove at LALYs 2021

Law Centre solicitor Kathleen Cosgrove interviewed by awards host Anna Jones after her win.


Two Law Centre nominees have come away with accolades at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards ceremony held last night (Tuesday).

Kathy Cosgrove of Greater Manchester Law Centre won in the housing law category, while Law Centre NI of Belfast is this year's best regional firm/not-for-profit. A third nominee, Jeinsen Lam of South West London Law Centres, was a finalist in the housing category.

The awards, commonly known as the LALYs, are given out by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group. They recognise excellence in publicly-funded work, an important part of our legal system that helps the most disadvantaged people get justice. This is the nineteenth year o the LALYs and, like last year, this year's awards ceremony was held virtually due to the pandemic. 

Law Centre NI was recognised for "the scale of its ambition and the calibre of its lawyers,” including special mention for Law Centre social security expert, Owen McCloskey, who brought a test case successfully challenging the rules on benefits for people with terminal illness. Another significant case is giving new hope for EU citizens with Pre-Settled Status in the UK that they may be able to access benefits if they need to. 

Ursula O’Hare, director of Law Centre NI, said:

"The team at Law Centre NI are absolutely thrilled with this award. It is a wonderful acknowledgement of the arc of the Law Centre’s work over forty years and the tireless work of an amazing team. The award recognises the vital role of law centres across the UK in ensuring access to justice for everyone. We are delighted that the difference that the Law Centre has made to people across Northern Ireland has been recognised by the LALYs.”

Kathleen Cosgrove won in the housing law category after her tireless work on a case that prevented the Home Office from evicting over 4,000 asylum seekers during the pandemic lockdown between November 2020 and June 2021. The high profile case has not distracted Kathy from her daily work of representing and advising tenants and homeless people in Greater Manchester with creativity and dedication.

Jeinsen Lam was also nominated for his record as a housing lawyer. He was described as an “outstanding advocate. He has an impressive breadth of knowledge not only of housing law and its complexities and the procedures but also a total understanding of the benefits system and its impact on those tenants whom he represents.”

We are proud of our colleagues and their accomplishments and congratulate them warmly  on their hard-earned recognition.


Click here for a full recording of the LALYs 2021 awards ceremony.

Click here for a full list of the LALYs 2021 winners.