The 2021 SLS Legal Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner will take place at the Mandolay Hotel in Guildford on the evening of Thursday 16th September 2021.  

Bookings are now open, so don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to celebrate the work of Surrey-based solicitors and firms, whilst enjoying some much needed networking time with your colleagues and peers.

Nominations have now closed and the shortlist will be announced during the week of 21st June 2021.




The categories for the 2021 SLS Legal Awards are:

  • Law Firm of the Year
  • Lawyer of the Year
  • Commercial / Corporate Lawyer of the Year
  • Family Lawyer of the Year
  • Litigation Lawyer of the Year
  • Private Client Lawyer of the Year
  • Paralegal of the Year
  • Property Lawyer of the Year
  • Rising Star of the Year
  • Support Team Member of the Year


  • Law Firm of the Year
    The firm must be able to show significant progress and development as a business within the last 12 months. Evidence of this can include details of growth, strategy, financial performance, employee development, training and diversity. The firm must also be able to demonstrate that it has a rounded approach to the delivery of legal services, and that it is working in the best interest of not only its clients but the profession overall.
  • Lawyer of the Year
    The nominee must be a Lawyer who goes “above and beyond” in both his/ her colleagues’ eyes as well as those of the clients. This might be demonstrable in a specific case or work done in relation to a particular area of Law. The nominee may also have proposed and put in place a business solution that proved beneficial to the firm overall or to his/her client, or both. The nominee should also be able to show strong management and leadership skills.
  • Commercial/Corporate Lawyer of the Year
    The nominee must be able to demonstrate that he/she has delivered exceptional client outcomes. Please explain the single greatest achievement of the past 12 months in one or more of the following: client service, innovation or exceptional client outcome/s. Nominees will be accepted from Lawyers working in corporate finance, private equity, banking, insolvency, Intellectual Property and other commercial disciplines.
  • Family Lawyer of the Year
    The nominee must demonstrate excellence within the field of family law through their practice. The nominee must also show that they have provided an outstanding quality of legal service for their clients and demonstrated teamwork within their firm, with external lawyers and/or other professionals.
  • Litigation Lawyer of the Year
    The judges will accept nominations based on one outstanding matter worked on during the last year or on the overall performance of the individual during that year from those who practice in any area of litigation on either the Claimant and/or Defendant side. The nominee must be able to demonstrate that he/she has delivered exceptional client outcomes. Please explain the single greatest achievement of the past 12 months in one or more of the following: client service, innovation or exceptional client outcome/s.
  • Paralegal of the Year
    This award recognises the key role paralegals play in our justice system. The nominee will be an exceptional individual who consistently makes contributions to the legal profession whether in client care, business development, training or otherwise and who acts as an inspiration to other paralegals through their knowledge of the law, perseverance in cases, professional and personal development and superior skill set. The nominee must also demonstrate a commitment to continuing legal education.
  • Private Client Lawyer of the Year
    The judges will accept nominations based on one outstanding matter worked on during the last year or on the overall performance of the individual during that year. The nominee must be able to demonstrate that he/she has delivered exceptional client outcomes. Please explain the single greatest achievement of the past 12 months in one or more of the following: client service, innovation or exceptional client outcome/s.
  • Property Lawyer of the Year
    We will accept entries from both commercial and residential property Lawyers and landlord and tenant specialists. The nominee must be able to demonstrate that he/she has delivered exceptional client outcomes. Please explain the single greatest achievement of the past 12 months in one or more of the following: client service, innovation or exceptional client outcome/s.
  • Rising Star of the Year
    The nominee needs to show a sizeable level of involvement within the profession and/or the area in which they practice and provide evidence of any significant obstacle/s they have overcome. Evidence in relation to how and why the nominee has “risen” over the past 12 months is advised.
  • Support Team Member of the Year
    This year we are welcoming nominations from colleagues or clients for secretaries, cashiers and other support team members who support Surrey Law Society members. Nominees must demonstrate a special contribution to their organisation or to specific clients, showing dedication and commitment that goes ‘the extra mile’.



  • Individual: £100 + VAT
  • Table (10 seats): £900 + VAT

The SLS Legal Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner, will be held on Thursday 16th September at the Mandolay Hotel, Guildford.   The evening promises to be a fantastic occasion where we can truly celebrate the successes of our members and the local legal profession – proudly recognizing Surrey as a County of legal excellence.  Please note that this event will be filmed and photographs will be taken which will be used in our publications and social media content. If you do not wish to appear in any filming or photographs, please confirm in writing when making your booking.


How to Book:

Event Programme:

6:30pm Welcome Reception Mandolay Suite (Ground Floor)
7:15pm Welcome by the President Mandolay Suite (Lower Ground)
7:30pm Gala Dinner Mandolay Suite (Lower Ground)
9:15pm An Evening with Rob Rinder Mandolay Suite (Lower Ground)
9:45pm SLS Legal Awards Ceremony Mandolay Suite (Lower Ground)
10:45pm Drinks & Mingling Mandolay Suite (Lower Ground)
12:30am Carriages Mandolay Suite (Lower Ground)


The Mandolay Hotel: 36 – 40 London Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 2AE (01483 303030).  For more information please visit the Mandolay Hotel Website Accommodation:  Surrey Law Society has reserved a number of bedrooms at the Mandolay for the night of the 16th September.  Guests of the dinner can book these by calling 01483 303030, selecting Option 1 and quoting Event Reference Code: Surrey Law Society.  The double occupancy rate is £130 per room per night and includes breakfast. Rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis and any bedrooms still vacant by 19 August 2021 will be released.  The Surrey Law Society cannot guarantee that this accommodation rate is the most competitive available and it might be possible to find preferential rates via some of the major hotel booking sites. 

Our After Dinner Speaker and Awards Compere, Rob Rinder MBE

Rob Rinder MBE is a barrister turned writer and broadcaster.  In 2014, while still a practising Barrister, he began starring in his reality court show Judge Rinder, now in it’s 8th series; and uses his legal knowledge working in the media to make the law more accessible and understandable to the public regularly appearing on shows such as This Morning and Good Morning Britain.

Alongside Judge Rinder, Rob has also presented shows including Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories and The Rob Rinder Verdict as well as hosting his own BBC Radio 5Live series Raising the Bar aiming to demystify the legal system. His participation in series 15 of Who Do You Think You Are? retraced the story of his Holocaust survivor Grandfather and received critical acclaim. Following this Rob embarked on an emotional journey exploring further his own family’s Holocaust stories resulting in a 2-part documentary My Family, the Holocaust and Me.

Along with his screen work Rob has published Rinder’s Rules which provides a thorough guide to everyday legal issues including sections on jargon-busting, consumer rights and common mistakes. He is also a columnist for The Sun and the London Evening Standard newspapers.

2021 Sponsors

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Surrey Law Society has a range of sponsorship opportunities available for the SLS Legal Awards in 2021.

The Awards will once again showcase the very best of Surrey’s legal talent inviting nominations from its membership, and culminating in a prestigious gala dinner and award ceremony. This exciting event will represent a fantastic opportunity for our sponsors to showcase their business profile within the legal community and network with legal professionals at the dinner. This year more than ever, we want to celebrate the outstanding work of the legal community in Surrey, and applaud the strength and resilience of Surrey Law Society members,
as well as enjoying a fantastic evening of networking, dining, and entertainment, including an after-dinner speech from Rob Rinder.

View the Sponsorship Packages Available Here.

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HFS Milbourne Sponsor of the Drinks Reception & Family Lawyer of the Year Award

HFS Milbourne is one of Surrey’s leading independent Wealth Managers with over £450 million in client funds under management.

Established in 1986 and regulated by the FCA, we provide lawyers and their clients with expert financial advice on a range of specialist areas including: Pensions and Divorce, Maintenance Protection, Letters of Borrowing Capacity, Inheritance Tax, plus Investment and Trust advice. With a fee based approach, we offer a high degree of expertise which includes a Resolution accredited Independent Financial Advisor who is specifically trained in the area of collaborative law, two STEP Affiliated advisers, three Chartered advisers, and five Long Term Care specialists.

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Access Legal,  Sponsor of the  Lawyer of the Year Award.

Working in partnership with more than 3,500 UK law firms and underpinned by over 30 years of sector experience, Access Legal provides an unrivalled suite of complete software solutions.

From case and practice management, finance, accounting and business intelligence to learning, compliance and HR – Access Legal helps firms take control of their time, improve efficiency and productivity.

By providing software to manage every aspect of a firm’s operations, Access Legal enables ambitious firms to reach unlimited potential and have the freedom to focus on clients and people to drive profitability and growth.

Access Legal is part of The Access Group, a leading provider of business management software to mid-sized organisations

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Landmark Information, Sponsor of Property Lawyer of the Year

Landmark Information is at the forefront of legal products and data supply to support the UK’s Property Professionals. Our dedicated, personal approach supports legal professionals in their due diligence in line with the Law Society and SRA requirements. Landmarks longevity in the legal market brings valuable experience and dependability to risk solutions whilst continuing to innovate.


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General Sponsor

Guildford Chambers is a progressive, multi-disciplinary set of barristers, uniquely positioned to provide competitive and effective advocacy for individuals and businesses in Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire, London and the South East.
Our growing portfolio of clients value that we work with them as an extension of their team, and we endeavour to build strong and successful working relationships. We operate a system of specialist practice groups which ensure you receive the best advice and advocacy from your chosen barrister.
Our barristers and experienced, responsive clerking team share an uncompromising attitude to quality and client service with a sensible approach to cost.

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If you’re interested in supporting the SLS Legal Awards, Please download our Sponsorship Opportunities Pack here for further information on the opportunities available, or email Helen Opie, CEO at helen.opie@surreylawsociety.org.uk.

Meet the Judges

George Coates

George is Head of Guildford Chambers. He specialises in financial settlements in divorce proceedings and related family financial disputes. He takes a particular interest in disputes between unmarried parents, and has written and lectured on this topic.

George has wide-ranging experience of dealing with complex cases, often involving substantial sums made up of shareholdings in private companies (including family businesses), partnerships, family trusts, and pensions.

Other areas in which George has extensive experience include property disputes, and matters relating to children (having sat on the Social Security and Child Support Appeal Tribunal) and education, including challenging LEA policies on school admissions.

Over the years, he has undertaken a wide variety of general civil and commercial law cases, including professional or other negligence cases.

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David Greene

David is senior partner at Edwin Coe, and vice president at the Law Society. He joined the Law Society Council in 2009 and his constituency is international practice. He is the chair of the International Committee. He is also chair of the Policy and Regulatory Affairs Committee and sits on the Law Society Board. He is also chair of the Brexit Task Force and the Law Society’s nominee on the Lord Chancellor’s Brexit Law Committee. He also runs a practice!

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Neil Rose

Neil is a qualified solicitor and has been a legal journalist since 1995. He is the founder and editor of Legal Futures, a news-driven website providing market intelligence for law firms of the future. He is a recognised market commentator on ABSs, legal regulation and the future of the market. He also runs Litigation Futures, the first independent website dedicated to costs, funding and the Jackson reforms.

In 2014, he won the Legal Journalism of the Year award at the Halsbury Legal Awards.

Neil has freelanced for a wide range of publications, including The Guardian and The Times. He is also a co-director of Black Letter Communications, a specialist public relations agency for the legal sector.

Formerly Deputy Editor of the Law Society Gazette, he was also the Editor of the award-winning CILEx Journal, for which he was shortlisted for Editor of the Year (business and professional magazines, non-weekly) by the British Society of Magazine Editors in 2009.

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David Steed

David qualified as a Solicitor in January 1980 after articles with a London firm, specialising in property law.

Throughout most of his career however he has worked in the Surrey area dealing with both residential and commercial properties and secured funding work for banks and building societies.

He was on the Surrey Law Society committee for many years, and President twice in the 2000s.

He has also twice been chair of the Society’s conveyancing and land law sub committee.

David has now moved to the Isle of Wight but has maintained his links with Surrey, as he is a consultant to Harold Bell Infields in Ewell.

He is currently a Council Member of The Law Society holding the Commercial Property seat and sits on TLS Conveyancing & Land Law committee.

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Simon Bland

Simon Bland is the Economic Prosperity Programme Manager for Reigate and Banstead Borough Council. He is responsible for the development and delivery of a programme of initiatives intended to help local businesses start, develop and grow. He is also a member of Surrey Futures, a co-opted member of the Executive Council of Gatwick Diamond Business and a Corporation Board Member of East Surrey College.

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Sarah Pooley

Sarah Pooley is the Dean of the Guildford and Reading Campuses of the University of Law. Sarah has a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Sheffield and an M.Litt from the University of Cambridge. She studied for the Common Professional Examination and Law Society Finals at the University (then College) of Law in London. She trained and qualified as a solicitor at Slaughter and May and worked in financial regulation until she moved into legal education. Sarah is a former Head of Students at Guildford and Head of Tutors at the London Moorgate campus. She is the Chair of the Ethics Committee at the University of Law and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She was made an Associate Professor in 2015.

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John Hyde

John Hyde is Deputy News Editor at The Law Society Gazette. He reports extensively on all matters impacting the legal profession and has his finger on the pulse of latest developments.

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Rita Leat

Rita Leat is the Chief Executive of the Institute of Paralegals and a founder and Managing Director of the overarching voluntary regulator for Paralegals, the PPR. With over 27 years experience in the Paralegal sector, representing the interests of Paralegals Nationally, Rita has become known as the Chief Executive of All Things Paralegal.

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Julian McEvoy

Julian is a Solicitor, Mediator & Collaborative Lawyer at Julian McEvoy Family Law.
He qualified as a solicitor over thirty years ago and has since become a qualified Collaborative Lawyer and Family Mediator. He has practised in the Guildford and Surrey area since the mid-80s, and was one of the earliest members of Resolution.

Julian has practised with several Guildford firms over the years before running his own niche practice, Delano McEvoy between 1996 and 2010. From 2010 to 2018 he worked with two local Guildford firm in their family department. He is again now running his own niche firm.

Julian has been a committee member with Surrey Resolution for more than fifteen years, and for the last six years has been Chair of the group. He firmly believes that fostering a collegiate atmosphere amongst family lawyers in Surrey and beyond helps to bring the whole profession together, and collectively to seek better outcomes for clients.

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Is it free to enter?
Our firm has many individuals doing excellent work. Is there a limit on how many entries can be submitted?
No, but you will need to complete separate entries for each firm/individual category you choose to enter. Please note that nominations have now closed, but we'd be delighted to receive your submissions next year.
What is the criteria and format of each award?
Please refer to the Award Categories & Criteria page for specific entry instructions.
Can non-solicitors enter?
Yes. We accept entries from Solicitors, Barristers, Legal Executives, Licensed Conveyancers and from paralegals and support staff where appropriate so long as the firm and/or individual is a member of the Surrey Law Society.
Can I nominate someone for an individual award if I don’t work in a Law Firm?
What is the deadline for nominations?
The final deadline for entries was midnight on Friday 21 May 2021. Please note that all firms/individuals nominated must be members of the Surrey Law Society.
How do I nominate?
Nominations are now closed, but if you're thinking of nominating for our 2022 Awards, it couldn't be easier. Simply download the relevant Nomination Form for the category of your choice and return this to helen.opie@surreylawsociety.org.uk. You may support your nomination by submitting independent objective evidence of the nominees achievements from 3rd parties, for example, in the form of testimonials received on letter headed paper, by email, via press cuttings etc. – these should be concise and no more than three sides of A4.
When do the judges consider the nominations?
Between 28th June and 1st September 2021.
When will the shortlist be announced?
The shortlisted individuals/firms will be contacted during the week commencing 21st June 2021.
When will the winners be announced?
The winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner and Ceremony on Thursday 16th September 2021 at the Mandolay Hotel Guildford.
Who can attend the Awards Dinner?
Tickets are available to everyone - you don't need to have entered the awards.

Contact us

Please do not hesitate to get in touch should you have any queries regarding an award category, the shortlist, judging process or the Awards Dinner.
Email: helen.opie@surreylawsociety.org.uk or phone: 0333 577 3830 Mobile : 07597 582400