Ashtons in top slot at 30th anniversary awards
East Anglian firm Ashtons Law secured the top slot in this year’s LawNet awards, with the success of their six-year cultural transformation strategy seeing them named Law Firm of the Year.
The annual awards recognise innovation and strategic success achieved by LawNet’s SME law firm members, as well as highlighting individuals and teams who are delivering outstanding business results. This year, more than 270 delegates joined the event, from across the 70 member firms, in the network’s 30th anniversary year.
Said Edward O’Rourke, CEO of Ashtons Legal: “It’s great to have recognition of the work we have done over the last six years. It’s been a big journey which continues, with cultural change at the heart. A true team effort, the whole firm has contributed to the achievement recognised here.”
Major developments have focused on Ashtons Legal’s culture, working environment and the customer journey. This calculated approach towards sustained organic growth has paid dividends with the Top 200 firm boosting both turnover and profit, moving from £15m turnover in 2013 to £21m in 2019.
Edward O’Rourke added: “This is a hard-fought award each year, so we knew we would need a stand-out performance given the calibre of other LawNet members. We are delighted to have won.”
Winner of the Young Lawyer of the Year was Jamie Apted of Edinburgh firm MBM Commercial LLP, who was described by his firm as embodying a true entrepreneurial spirit. Promoted to senior solicitor just six months after qualifying, his CV includes advising Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, as well as supporting the firm’s business development and community activity.
And Team of the Year went to the Holiday & Residential Parks team at Devon-based Tozers LLP, which has established itself as a leading force in the sector, which included representing the industry association successfully at a Judicial Review.
Outstanding Individual Contribution was awarded to Ron Davison, managing director of Gamlins Law Limited, who has taken the lead in building an innovative, sustainable regional law firm in North Wales, with a clear succession plan.
Best Business Development and Marketing went to West Country-based Wollens for their work in managing a rebrand to support the development of the firm following two significant mergers in 2018.
The Excellence in Client Care award went to Norfolk firm Ward Gethin Archer Ltd for placing the client at the core of the business, using continual feedback to develop staff and business direction, which helped the firm to top the ReviewSolicitors UK rankings in 2019.
Best Community Contribution went to Farnfields LLP based in Dorset and Wiltshire, for their local community programme, designed to tackle the impact of rural isolation on health and wellbeing, particularly in farming communities.
Biscoes Legal Services Ltd took this year’s LawNet Enterprise Award, which recognises the firm that embodies the LawNet spirit of excellence, learning and continual improvement through its ethos and culture.
Said LawNet chief executive Chris Marston:
“Our network maintains high barriers to admission, which is by invitation, so being a winner at our national awards is a real achievement. This year’s entries were outstanding, showcasing the way our member firms are taking on the challenges of today’s legal market head-on, embracing innovative ways of working, enthusing their people and delighting their clients.
“LawNet has evolved continually since its formation in 1989, and that’s how we’ve managed to remain relevant and valuable to our members for 30 years. LawNet member firms know they can achieve so much more through collaboration than they ever could alone.”
The award winners:
Law Firm of the Year, sponsored by Wilkinson Read & Partners: Ashtons Legal
Team of the Year, sponsored by Oosha Ltd: Holiday & Residential Parks team at Tozers LLP
Young Lawyer of the Year, sponsored by Moneypenny: Jamie Apted of MBM Commercial LLP
Outstanding Individual Contribution, sponsored by Tikit: Ron Davison of Gamlins Law Limited
Best Community Contribution, sponsored by Lloyds Bank: Farnfields LLP
Excellence in Client Care, sponsored by insight6: Ward Gethin Archer Ltd
Best Business Development & Marketing, sponsored by Conscious Solutions: Wollens
The Enterprise Award, sponsored by T-Impact Ltd: Biscoes Legal Services Ltd
Photo: The 2019 award winners