Wednesday 13 June 2012 by Catherine Baksi
Doreen Lawrence (pictured) and her 'rock' of a solicitor Imran Khan were honoured for their contribution to justice at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards last night.
Khan, the senior partner at London firm Imran Khan & Partners, who has acted for the Lawrence family since shortly after Stephen Lawrence's murder in 1993, received the award for outstanding achievement.
Doreen Lawrence was presented with the LALY 10th anniversary special award, in recognition of her tireless campaign for justice since her son's death. She is the first non-lawyer to be given a LALY since the awards began in 2003.
At the ceremony, organised by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, Doreen said Khan had been her 'rock'.
She said: 'I don't think I would have achieved as much as I have if he hadn't been there for me.'
Broadcaster John Howard, who compered the evening, described Khan as 'one of the most creative and dogged lawyers around, a lawyer who believes in justice in the widest sense, not just in a narrow legalistic definition of the word.'
Head of the professional practice unit at the Co-operative Legal Service's family law team and LAPG co-chair Jenny Beck said: 'Clients are at the heart of everything we do. Legal aid is all about helping real people, and real families with real lives.
'We wanted to honour Doreen this year because she has been - and continues to be - such an inspiration to everyone who cares about justice, but particularly to those of us at the legal aid coalface.'
Partner at London firm Hodge Jones & Allen, Raj Chada, who acted for the Fortnum & Mason protesters and for the man who attacked Rupert Murdoch with a foam pie, received the award for criminal defence.
Garden Court Chambers scooped two awards, with Leslie Thomas winning legal aid barrister and Shu Shin Luh winning the award for young legal aid barrister.
Rosaleen Kilbane, who founded the Birmingham-based firm Community Law Partnership, won the award for social and welfare law.
Jed Pennington at London firm Bhatt Murphy, whose case led to the first finding by a UK court that detention at an immigration removal centre was a breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights convention, received the award for young legal aid solicitor.
Liz Barratt, associate at London firm Bindmans, received the award for immigration and Mike Bishop, partner at Tyneside firm David Gray, received the mental health award. Rachel Horman, partner at Lancashire firm Watson Ramsbottom, won the award for family legal aid lawyer of the year.
Oxford and Reading firm Turpin Miller received the award for legal aid firm of the year.