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Anderson Strathern and Lady Cosgrove collect top awards

PETER RANSCOMBE reports from the 2008 Scottish Legal Awards – the ‘Oscars’ of the profession – when the leading firms in the country were honoured.

SCOTLAND’S first female judge, Lady Hazel Cosgrove, was the toast of Glasgow on Friday after receiving the Lifetime Achievement award at the 2008 Scottish Legal Awards. Lady Cogrove, who was born in Glasgow and educated at Glasgow High School for Girls before studying law at Glasgow University, became a senator of the college of justice in 1996.

In the other categories at the awards – which were sponsored by Bank of Scotland Corporate, with The Scotsman as the media partner – Anderson Strathern stole the show, walking off with three prizes, including the coveted TFB Firm of the Year title.

The firm’s Chris Dickson was tipped as Registers of Scotland rising star of the year, while a group from Anderson Strathern was also named as the DM Hall Commercial Property Team of the Year.

Robert Carr, Anderson Strathern’s chairman, said: “It’s not just about the people who are here today. It’s a real team success.”

Anderson Strathern beat off strong competition from Archibald Campbell & Harley, Gillespie Macandrew and Irwin Mitchell to carry off the top prize.

Previous firms of the year include Pagan Osborne (2003), Biggart Baillie (2004), Tods Murray (2005), Harper Macleod (2006) and last year’s champion, Gillespie Macandrew.

Margo Macdonald, the independent list MSP for the Lothians and chairwoman of the judges, said: “We’re delighted with our winners this year and congratulations to Anderson Strathern”.

Shepherd+ Wedderburn picked up a brace of prizes – Bank of Scotland Corporate, Corporate Team of the Year award and the AON Academy Choice Firm of the Year award – as did the Govan Law Centre, which won the Lightershade Website of the Year category for its bank charges site and the Sound & Vision Project Team of the Year award for its homelessness campaign. Alastair Sharp, who worked on the Govan Law Centre’s project to prevent homelessness, said: “This award is absolutely fantastic. It’s brilliant to be recognised by people at this level.”

Mike Dailly, from the Govan Law Centre, said: “What’s good about our project is that it gives people long-term solutions to stop them becoming homeless.

He added that he was delighted that the centre’s bank charges project – which had helped bank customers claim back £1 billion in charges – had been recognised. He also paid tribute to the work of the Money Matters Advice Centre in Govan.

James Will, head of corporate finance at Shepherd+ Wedderburn, said he was “absolutely delighted” with the firm’s prizes. “ It was an extremely active year for the corporate team and we are very fortunate with the clients for whom we work,” he added.

Rebecca Cuthbert, director of Cuthbert Recruitment, the founders of the awards, said: “These awards recognise both Scotland’s legal elite and the aspiring rising stars of the profession. The process involved is rigorous, meticulous and totally independent. These winners are valid and important examples of business excellence. Congratulations to all the recipients.”

The prizes were presented by Alan Hansen, the former Scotland and Liverpool defender turned football pundit, who also entertained the crowd at the gala lunch. One of Hansen’s nephews – Gregor Boyd, a second-year trainee at Tods Murray – was at the awards ceremony, which took place in the Glasgow Hilton, with more than 550 other legal professionals.

Michelle Rankin, from Harper Macleod, was named as First Scottish Searching Paralegal of the Year, with Commended: Samantha Kennedy, from Purdie & Co, receiving a high commendation from the judges.

Simpson & Marwick took the ESPC Residential Property Team of the Year award while Tods Murray won the O2 Support Team of the Year category.

The Summerhall Marketing Initiative of the Year award went to Caeser & Howie, the central Scotland legal practice, for its Kupdom UK project, which encouraged Polish people to buy homes in Scotland.

Brodies was named as the Balvenie Private Client Team of the Year, while the Law Society of Scotland Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Firm of the Year award went to McGrigors, beating Tods Murray to the title.

In his entertaining introduction to Lady Cosgrove’s award, John Campbell QC, one of the competition’s judges, said: “The attainment of high judicial office is a great distinction, which is marked as much by the approval of peers and colleagues as it is by official recognition. To do it first is a great thing; but to do it convincingly, in a sustained manner, for nearly three decades, and retain the love and affection of your colleagues and those who appear in your court is quite something else.

“Without the least drama or histrionics, she has broken down the barriers of gender and religion to become a powerful force for good in the country’s highest court, especially in the criminal justice world.

“She quietly but effectively chipped away at the male public school protestant-dominated bastions, showing many of us how it should be done.”

The judges included: Colin More, from Bank of Scotland Corporate; advocate John Campbell QC; Michael Lugton, chief executive of the Scottish Law Commission; Robert Pirrie, chief executive of the WS Society; advocate Valerie Stacey QC; Dr Andrew Cubie; Tom Wood, special adviser on drugs and alcohol to Edinburgh City Council; David Lee, assistant editor of The Scotsman and editor of the Law & Legal Affairs pages; John Ferguson, director of development at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations; Andrew Sturgess, chairman of the Institute of Directors Scotland; Geraldine Gammell, director of the Princes’ Trust Scotland; Professor Tom Mullen, from Glasgow University; and Alastair Northrop, editor of Scottish Business Insider.

• For more information about the awards, visit www.thescottishlegalawards.com



• TFB Firm of the Year: Anderson Strathern

• Balvenie Private Client Team of the Year: Brodies

• DM Hall Commercial Property Team of the Year: Anderson Strathern (Highly commended: Morton Fraser)

• Bank ofScotland Corporate, Corporate Team of the Year: Shepherd+ Wedderburn

• Law Society of Scotland CSR Firm of the Year: McGrigors

• Lightershade Legal Website of the Year: Govan Law Centre (for bank charges)

• Summerhall Marketing Initiative of the Year: Caesar & Howie (for Kupdom UK)

• First Scottish Searching Paralegal of the Year: Michelle Rankin, Harper Macleod (Highly commended: Samantha Kennedy, Purdie & Co)

• ESPC Residential Property Team of the Year: Simpson & Marwick

• Registers of Scotland Rising Star of the Year: Chris Dickson, Anderson Strathern

• O2 Support Team of the Year: Tods Murray

• Sound & Vision Project Team of the Year: Govan Law Centre (for its preventing homelessness project)

• AON Academy Choice Firm of the Year: Shepherd+ Wedderburn

• Scott & Co Lifetime Achievement Award: Lady Hazel Cosgrove