The best performing individuals, teams and firms in the Scottish legal profession were revealed at the national awards celebration for lawyers held as a live digital broadcast on 4th November.

Over 250 guests watched online to celebrate with colleagues at the 17th annual Scottish Legal Awards after the live event was cancelled due to the pandemic.  The announcements followed a record high volume of entries in the awards near two-decade history. 

The ultimate award of the night, Firm of the Year was presented to Anderson Strathern after the judging panel praised the firm’s continued success and impressive results.  They were joined in celebration by Edinburgh-based Balfour Manson who collected two awards for Litigation Team of the Year and also Chairman of the Year, presented to Elaine Motion after her long serving leadership of the firm and recently advising on a number of high profile instructions in constitutional law cases.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by The Times, was presented to Ian Forrester QC, the former Judge of the General Court of the European Union whose tenure came to an end due to Brexit in January.    The Glasgow University educated QC had presided over a wide variety of cases including child abduction, food safety, trademarks, fishing, and police cooperation.

18 awards were presented on the night to individuals and teams.  The highly regarded Lawyer of the Year Award was presented to Iain Smith of Keegan Smith.  Other winners included Shepherd and Wedderburn for Leigh Herd who collected the award for Rising Star of the Year.  The firm were also commended for their work in the Support Team of the Year category.  Aegon Asset Management (formerly Kames Capital) won the award for In House Team of the Year and MacRoberts collected the award for Corporate and Commercial Team of the Year.

The most competitive award of the night with eight finalists was for the Community Contribution Award and this was shared by Digby Brown and the University of Strathclyde Mediation Clinic with CMS also collecting a Commendation in the category.

The independent programme is presided over by a large expert judging panel, chaired by Shonaig Macpherson, she commented;

“It’s testament to the high regard in which these awards are held, that again this year there has been a record-breaking number of entries.   Thank you to all the finalists for their forbearance and understanding as we present these awards after a necessary delay in the schedule this year.   Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to our sponsors whose continuous support in this new digital format has been very much welcomed.”

The awards also raise funds for two charities, It’s Good 2 Give and LawScot Foundation.


The 2020 Winners in full:

Firm of the Year

WINNER: Anderson Strathern



Digby Brown Solicitors

Ergo Law

Harper Macleod




Lawyer of the Year sponsored by Law Society of Scotland

WINNER: Iain Smith, Keegan Smith


Elaine Motion, Balfour+Manson

Alan Kelly, MacRoberts


In-House Lawyer of the Year sponsored by Wolffe

WINNER: John Reilly, Raytheon Systems

FINALIST: Sean Henry Dorian, Cloudhelix


Paralegal of the Year sponsored by Millar & Bryce

WINNER: Donna Clark, Macleod & MacCallum

HIGHLY COMMENDED:  Emma MacKenzie, Gilson Gray


Debbie Beattie, Blackadders


Rising Star of the Year

WINNER: Leigh Herd, Shepherd and Wedderburn


Yousif Ahmed, Cannons Law Practice

Sean Henry Dorian, Cloudhelix

Emma Boffey, CMS

Ross MacRae, Gillespie Macandrew

Shawn Wood, Watermans Legal


Litigation Team of the Year

WINNER: Balfour+Manson



Ascent Legal Scotland


Digby Brown Solicitors



Corporate and Commercial Team of the Year

WINNER: MacRoberts





Real Estate Team of the Year sponsored by Property Searches Scotland


HIGHLY COMMENDED: Gillespie Macandrew 






Residential Property Team of the Year sponsored by Property Searches Scotland

WINNER: Neilsons Solicitors and Estate Agents


Gilson Gray

McDougall McQueen

Watermans Legal


In-House Legal Team of the Year

WINNER:  Aegon Asset Management


Lloyds Banking Group

University of the West of Scotland


Criminal Defence Firm of the Year

WINNER: Moir and Sweeney Litigation


Beltrami & Co

Martin Johnston and Socha


Family Law Team of the Year

WINNER: MacRoberts


Support Team of the Year

WINNER: Property Searches Scotland

HIGHLY COMMENDED:  Shepherd and Wedderburn


Anderson Strathern


Millar & Bryce and DUAL Asset Underwriting

Moore Legal Technology

The Cashroom


Excellence in Client Care

WINNER: Ascent Legal Scotland



Community Contribution Award sponsored by Frasia Wright Associates

WINNERS: Digby Brown Solicitors & University of Strathclyde Mediation Clinic



Blackadders - Private Client Team

DWF - Edinburgh and Glasgow

Govan Law Centre

Shared Parenting Scotland

University of Edinburgh Free Legal Advice Centre


Legal Technology Award sponsored by Eclipse Legal Systems

WINNER:  Registers of Scotland

HIGHLY COMMENDED:  Gillespie Macandrew


Millar & Bryce

Shepherd and Wedderburn

The Cashroom