The Sunday Business Post
by Dave Boland, 18 May 2014
The complex machinations of the Irish legal world may have come under more scrutiny than usual with the resignation of Justice Minister Alan Shatter, but the mood was one of celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin on Friday, May 2 with the hosting of the third Annual Irish Law Awards, hosted by trained solicitor Miriam O'Callaghan.
The awards, which exist to recognise excellence across the legal profession including law firms, legal practitioners and in-house legal teams, comprised 25 distinct awards in total, for which the judging panel received a record 360 submissions - a 20 per cent increase on the previous year.
The big winner on the night was William Fry, which scooped the prize of Law Firm of the Year, arguably the most prestigious accolade given by the judging panel, while Cork-based firm Ernest J Cantillon received the Special Merit Award for its work on the Louise O'Keefe case. The award was presented in recognition of the landmark lawsuit against the Irish state, which saw Corkwoman Louise O'Keeffe take Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights for failing to protect her as a child.
Other winners included Marion Campbell of Marion Campbell Solicitors, who took home the Sole Practitioner/Principal Law Firm of the Year award and McCarthy & Co for Legal Website of the Year; while Litigation Case of the Year (sponsored by The International Bar Association) was presented to Byrne Wallace.
The Pro Bono/Public Interest Lawyer/Team of the Year was awarded to KOD Lyons, while The Bar Council's Human Rights' Award was presented to the Magdalen Commission Volunteers - barristers who voluntarily represented the victims of the Magdalene Laundries.
Arguably the most popular award of the night was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to Maurice Gaffney, SC, who has practised law for almost 60 years. Known as The Father of the Bar', the 97-year-old was recognised for his outstanding and continuous contribution to the legal sector in Ireland.
''Lawyers of all hues play an influential role in the lives of all who live on the island of Ireland, said Dr Eamonn G Hall, solicitor and notary public and chairman of the judging panel of The Irish Law Awards. ''Of course, lawyers do not exist for their own sake; lawyers must remember they serve their fellow man and woman. That is why we celebrate the service of the dedicated law firms and individual lawyers who have been acclaimed as having demonstrated in an exemplary manner exceptional achievements in the law during 2013.