Two Law Centres have been shortlisted for the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards, both in the Best Firm/Not-for-Profit category.
The LALYs are awarded every summer by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG). They recognise achievements in the field of publicly funded legal work. They are an annual highlight for the access to justice community, and Law Centres and their lawyers are regularly represented among the winners.
Ealing Law Centre has opened its doors in April 2013, on the very day that the LASPO Act, introducing massive cuts to civil legal aid, came into effect. Its founder is Law Centre solicitor Sue James, a recent LALY winner in her own right, who was fed up with her home borough being an 'advice desert' and took the initiative. In the five years since its establishment, Ealing Law Centre has grown impressively, diversified its services and expanded its premises in Northfields.
Greater Manchester Law Centre was established two years ago following a local public campaign for establishing a local Law Centre. Manchester had been served by several Law Centres, all of which closed following the government's legal aid cuts. The Law Centre, based in Moss Side, enjoys the patronage of Michael Mansfield QC and actor Maxine Peake. It operates several pro bono tie-ins with local firms and lawyers, as well as with Manchester Metropolitan University's law school, for which it was a recent finalist in the LawWorks Student Pro Bono Awards.
Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, head of policy and profile at the Law Centres Network, commented:
"The shortlisting of Ealing and Greater Manchester Law Centres for the LALYs is fantastic news. It recognises not just their excellence as law practices but also their defiance and perseverance in the face of a hostile policy environment. We wish them every success at the awards ceremony this summer."
The full shortlist for the 2018 LALYs is available here.