Top honours for Black Country law firm at Legal Awards

 

Ian Shovlin, Higgs & Son's managing partner, with the award for Law Firm of the Year

Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons proved it can mix it with Birmingham’s legal elite after it was named Law Firm of the Year at the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards.

The firm beat of stiff competition from fellow finalists Browne Jacobson, DLA Piper, Eversheds and HBJ Gateley Wareing in the 16 partners and above category.

There were also awards for Sydney Mitchell, which won Law Firm of the Year (5 to 15 partners), and TRP Solicitors, Law Firm of the Year (sole practitioners to four partners).

The award crowns a successful year for Higgs & Sons. In 2010, the firm invested £1.6m in a new 28,000 sq ft premises in Brierley Hill, creating the largest legal office in the Black Country. The firm also reported an impressive 11 per cent increase in fee income and an 18 per cent rise in fees per equity partner.

According to the judges, Higgs & Sons demonstrated a “commitment to excellence and a strong focus on people, both internal staff and external clients”.

Dean Parnell, president of Birmingham Law Society, said: “As always, the Law Firm of the Year (16 partners and above) was a fiercely competitive category this year.

“All of the finalists put in outstanding individual performances in the last 12 months, which any other year would have been worthy of the award. However, on this occasion the judges felt that Higgs & Sons just edged it.”

Established in 2002, this year is the tenth anniversary of the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards. More than 540 people from the region’s legal and business community attended the event at the ICC.

Other winners on the night included Andrew Manning Cox, of Wragge & Co, who won Partner of the Year, and Mark Jones from St Ives Chambers, who collected International Lawyer of the Year. Ruth Creed, of Mills & Reeve, picked up the award for Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year; Faizal Bhana from Browne Jacobson won Assistant/Associate Solicitor of the Year; Norman Rea from Sydney Mitchell was awarded Legal Executive of the Year; and Trainee Solicitor of the Year went to Linden Thomas from Martineau.

Pupil Barrister of the Year and Barrister of the Year were won by Tom Lawal from St Ives Chambers and David Lock from No5 Chambers respectively.

A special Lifetime Achievement award was also presented to Her Honour Judge Frances Kirkham, who recently retired from the bench after more than 11 years.

Mr Parnell said: “The lifetime achievement award recognises the major contribution Judge Kirkham has made to the legal profession, both as a practicing lawyer and senior circuit judge. During her 30 years in the law, Judge Kirkham has also been a tremendous advocate for women lawyers, having founded the West Midlands Association of Women Solicitors in 1983. I couldn’t think of a more worthy recipient.”

As well as the awards, money was raised on the night for the Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust’s ‘Tiny Babies, Big Appeal’.

The awards were sponsored by ARAG, Brown Shipley, Birmingham Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Chiltern Railways, The College of Law, Giles Insurance Brokers, Harvey Nichols, Landmark Information Group, Perception Solutions, Severn Trent Searches, St Ives Chambers, St Philips Chambers, Trimega Laboratories and Wesleyan for Lawyers.

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