The Welsh legal sector gathered last Friday to celebrate the talents of the best law teams in Wales as well as presenting one of Wales’s top lawyers with an award for her outstanding contribution to the profession.
Founded by Charlotte Leyshon of Lux Family Law and Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, the 2023 Wales Legal Awards celebrated the best in the legal sector in Wales at a sold-out event at the Mercure Hotel in Cardiff which was sponsored by the lawtech specialists Validient.
The awards were established five years ago to recognise the incredible talent working in the legal profession in Wales and to put a spotlight on those legal teams that have made a significant impact in their field by setting new benchmarks for excellence in the sector across Wales. This year a number of new categories were introduced to celebrate not only the legal teams that make such a difference across Wales but also those that support lawyers to achieve excellence with their clients.
According to Charlotte Leyshon, it is important that the scope of the awards have been expanded to include everyone who contributes to excellence in legal sector in Wales,
“We know the impact that the legal profession is having on so many aspects of our lives in Wales every day and Welsh law firms are not only growing and diversifying their offering within but making a real difference to the practice of law as we have seen time and time again during previous awards. We are also delighted that the awards are not only recognising the excellent work of Welsh lawyers but also the contribution of everyone else working in the legal sector”
This year’s outstanding contribution award went to Kathryn Roberts, Chair of Evershed Sutherland’s international business who is not only overseeing operations in the UK, Europe, Middle East, and Asia but is also co-chair of the firm’s Global Board.
Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, chairman of the judging panel, said,
“I am totally delighted that Kath Roberts is the latest recipient of this award. Not only has she achieved so much in her professional career by becoming chair of one of the largest full-service law firms in the World but as a committed advocate for the promotion of diversity, gender parity and social mobility in the legal profession, she has led by example, shattering the glass ceiling and becoming an inspiration for many to follow in her footsteps.”
In response, Kath Roberts noted that the Wales Legal Awards are giving rightful recognition to the sector and, more importantly, that the legal community is finally addressing issues of diversity and equality.
“The Welsh legal sector is often overlooked and underrated and it’s been amazing to have the spotlight shone on this sector and to celebrate so much amazing talent, especially the young talent at the Wales Legal Awards.
“The Welsh legal community is very different to the one I joined thirty years ago when your background, your age and your gender could really hold you back and stop you progressing. We’ve come a long way since then and there is still a long way to go, so let’s make sure as a sector in Wales that we are as diverse as possible, that we are inclusive and open, and that everyone can get on regardless of where they come from and what they look like”
Ieuan Leigh, CEO of Validient also said that the awards play a crucial role in recognising excellence within the legal industry.
“The Wales Legal Awards not only celebrate the achievements and contributions of outstanding legal professionals but also serve as a benchmark for the entire Welsh legal community to strive for excellence. As a lawtech firm, we understand the transformative power of technology in revolutionising the practice of law and by sponsoring these awards, we aim to spotlight and support innovation in the legal field and help the legal profession to evolve in a way that benefits society as a whole”
The overall legal team of the year award was won by GS Verde, who also picked up the corporate and commercial team of the year category and two outstanding young lawyers – Amber Ellis-Martin of RDP Law and Rhiannon Phillips of Reeds Solicitors, shared the rising star award.
The full list of winners are:
Outstanding contribution award
- Kath Roberts, Eversheds Sutherland
Legal team of the year
Commercial Litigation Team of the Year
Corporate and Commercial Team of the Year
Employment Team of the Year
- Darwin Gray LLP
Equality Diversity and Inclusion Award
- Thompsons Solicitors
Excellence in Legal Management Award
- Gomer Williams
Family Team of the Year
- Robertsons Solicitors
Law Firm of the Year
- Watkins and Gunn
Legal Personal Assistant of the Year
- Claire Dutton, Eversheds Sutherland
Marketing and Business Development Award
- Harding Evans Solicitors
Niche Law Firm of the Year Award
- Newfields Law
Private Client Team of the Year
- Blake Morgan
Professional Services firm of the Year
- Forensic Resources
Public Law Team of the Year
- Browne Jacobson
Real Estate Team of the Year
- Darwin Gray
Residential Conveyancing Team of the Year
- JCP Solicitors
Rising Star of the Year
- Amber Ellis-Martin, RDP Law
- Rhiannon Phillips, Reeds Solicitors