Joanne Cecil wins Legal Aid Barrister of the Year and Una Morris wins Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year at 2019 LALY Awards

Thursday 11 July 2019

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that two of our barristers won awards at the seventeenth annual Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards on 10 July 2019.

Joanne Cecil won Legal Aid Barrister of the Year. Joanne was nominated by Chris Henley QC, Chair of the Criminal Bar Association

Una Morris won Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year. Una was nominated by Kelly Darlington of Farleys Solicitors

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The LALYs continue to play a vital role in recognising and celebrating the lawyers who go the extra mile to achieve life-changing results for their clients. This is an outstanding and richly deserved achievement for two of our stars at the Bar, demonstrating their commitment to publicly funded work and access to justice. 

11 winners were announced last night at a ceremony in central London in front of an audience of nearly 500 legal aid lawyers. They were presented with their awards by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.

Joanne and Una’s award submissions were supported by a host of stellar references from clients, campaigners, NGOs and counsel.

Joanne Cecil - Legal Aid Barrister of the Year 2019

Joanne was called to the Bar in 2005. She combines a mixed serious crime and public law practice with criminal justice-related judicial review and civil litigation in the civil liberties sphere. She has a strong appellate practice both domestically and internationally, appearing at all levels including the Supreme Court. 

She has developed expertise in strategic litigation and acting for intervenors such as the Howard League for Penal Reform and Just for Kids Law, often on a pro bono basis.

Amongst many highlights over the last year, Joanne conceived and organised the project to crowdfund the purchase of the Secret Barrister book to send to every MP, and through her work with the Criminal Bar Association, persuaded the Labour Party to hold a full parliamentary debate on the crisis in criminal legal aid. Joanne is an Executive Committee Member of the Criminal Bar Association. 

Joanne was also an Independent Commissioner on Lord Bach’s Commission on Access to Justice. Lord Bach commented that “her contribution to our work was outstanding and many of our proposals on criminal legal aid came from Jo.”

Joanne is a member of Garden Court's Public Law and Crime Teams. 

Una Morris - Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year 2019

Una was called to the Bar in 2012. She is a specialist civil liberties, human rights and public law practitioner with expertise that includes claims against the police and other public authorities, inquests particularly those involving Article 2 – the right to life - and judicial review. Una is co-convenor of the Garden Court Chambers Civil Liberties Team. 

Una is highly praised by her referees as "fearless and courageous" against the toughest opponents, with a "mastery of her cases" that belies her year of call and wins the respect of the court. 

Over the last year Una's cases have included a neglect conclusion in the Terry Smith police restraint inquest, which is thought to be the longest running individual inquest to be held in the UK. 

She also successfully secured a High Court ruling quashing the initial inquest conclusion and ordering a second inquest into the death of Dexter Bristol, a Windrush man who died suddenly after his uncertain immigration status prevented him from seeing his GP and accessing benefits.

Una is a member of Garden Court's Civil Liberties Team

LALYs 2019

At a time when legal aid is being decimated, the LALY Awards offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the work of those who remain committed to ensuring access to justice is attainable for all.

Thanks must go to Chris Minnoch and the Legal Aid Practitioners Group for organising the event and making it such a success.

Finally, we would like to offer our congratulations to all the nominees and award winners who we hope will remain comrades in the fight to save legal aid.

The full list of winners can be found here: Legal aid 'heroes' honoured at special ceremony

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