THE NPA GALA FINAL TOOK PLACE ON THURSDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER 2023.
The National Paralegal Awards, celebrating the very best paralegals across the UK and the businesses that support them, has awarded its outstanding achievement award to Rita Leat, founder of the Professional Paralegal Register and former chief executive of the Institute of Paralegals (IoP), reflecting her commitment to the paralegal profession and access to justice.
Rita worked both as a commercial lawyer and in paralegal education before becoming the chief operating officer of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals in 2011 and later, the chief executive of the IoP where she oversaw its modernisation, growing the membership to over 1000 paralegals. In 2014, she was one of the founding directors of the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR), the voluntary register and regulator for professional paralegals.
Paralegal of the Year was awarded to Philip Nam, a civil litigation paralegal, reflecting his hard work in setting up his own business – White Collar (Legal and Admin) Ltd – from scratch. National Paralegal Business of the Year went to IP firm, Mewburn Ellis in recognition of its investment in its paralegals and their progression.
Now in its fifth year and hosted by CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) and the Professional Paralegal Register (PPR), the awards ceremony took place at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham on Thursday evening.
The other award winners were:
- Best Family Law Paralegal – Stacey Griffiths – WSP Solicitors
- Best Conveyancing/Real Estate Paralegal – Clare Waters, Brachers LLP
- Best Employment/HR Paralegal – John Paul Stothard, self-employed
- Best Intellectual Property Paralegal – Sarah Devereux, EIP Europe
- Best Litigation Paralegal – Philip Nam, White Collar (Legal and Admin) Ltd
- Best Probate Research Paralegal – Claire Miller, Langton Genealogy
- Best Will Writing Paralegal – Serena Ely, Lucas & Wyllys Solicitors
- Community Champion of the Year – Rachel Collier, Mewburn Ellis LLP
- Best Newcomer/Young Practitioner of the Year – Lucy Cleary, Dentons UK and Middle East LLP
- Best Paralegal Apprentice of the Year – Emily Dupont, Plymouth City Council
- Best Legal Profession Supplier Award – BARBRI
- Probate Research Organisation of the Year – Anglia Research Services
- Will Writing Business of the Year – The RightLegal Group Ltd
- Best Law Firm Paralegal Development – Pinsent Masons Vario
- Paralegal of the Year Midlands & North – Claire Miller, Langton Genealogy
- Paralegal of the Year South – Hannah April Campbell, Attwells Solicitors LLP
Linda Ford CEO of CILEX, which acquired the Institute of Paralegals (IoP) and the PPR earlier this year, said: “Paralegals play an increasingly vital role in the delivery of legal services and these awards recognise their hard work and achievements. This was an important opportunity to celebrate paralegals across the country who, like national paralegal award winner Philip Nam, are doing great work, and employers such as Mewburn Ellis and Pinsent Masons Vario, firms which are providing workplaces where paralegals can thrive, develop and build their careers.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to outstanding achievement award winner Rita Leat who has done so much for the paralegal profession, through her work on paralegal qualifications, in modernising the IoP and founding the PPR. She has been a true champion of the profession, representing paralegals and their interests during a time when their role in legal services has grown increasingly important. She has created a significant legacy.”
Rita Leat said: “I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive the outstanding achievement award. Throughout my career in the legal sector I have striven to improve the status of paralegals – re-writing the competency standards and bringing in robust regulation through the formation of the PPR.
“Paralegals are the backbone of our legal services sector and there is a greater demand now than ever before. As the founder of the NPAs, I am delighted to see so many paralegals celebrating their achievements here today.
“There is still much to do to bring more recognition to the paralegal profession and I look forward to watching the sector grow under CILEX’s direction.”