Mr Darlington, who works at Veja & Co in West London, received the award for outstanding achievement in recognition of his work helping those who have suffered domestic violence and women from overseas arrested for drug importation.
In the 1970s Mr Darlington was responsible for pushing the boundaries of the law to secure protection for victims of domestic violence. More recently, he helped develop a promotional video warning overseas drug mules of the risks they face.
The Tendring Outreach Project, run by Essex firm Fisher Jones Greenwood, won the solicitors? organisation category. Its volunteers provide specialist legal advice at local CAB offices in one of the county?s most deprived areas.
Jan Luba QC of Garden Court Chambers was named barrister of the year, while Colin Byrne, a partner in York firm Howard & Byrne, was named criminal defence lawyer of the year. The other winners were: Neil Robinson of Nowell Meller in Stafford (family law), Michael Kennedy of Wakefield firm Switalski?s (mental health), Susan Willman of London firm Pierce Glynn (immigration), John Halford of Bindman & Partners (social and welfare), Aika Stephenson of London firm Lawrence & Co (young solicitor) and Alison Gerry of Doughty Street chambers (young barrister).
Presenting the awards, Cherie Booth QC stressed the importance of legal aid. She said. ?It should be up there among the priorities of government and we have to make sure we keep pushing that case.?