Hudgell Solicitors’ founder and managing director Neil Hudgell has been shortlisted for the Law Society’s prestigious Excellence Awards, the highest accolade for lawyers in England and Wales.
The recognition comes 21 years after Mr Hudgell launched the business as a one man operation in Hull, and in a year which has seen him return to personally representing clients on some of the firm’s biggest and highest profile cases.
His shortlisting in the 2018 Solicitor of the Year (Private Practice) category comes after restructuring his management team over the past 12 months and leading the development of new areas of work.
It has seen Hudgells, which now has offices in Hull, London and Leeds, recruit many experienced and highly-respected solicitors for its growing civil liberties, travel and abuse claims departments.
Alongside long-established and successful personal injury and medical negligence teams, the firm is now supporting more than 10,000 clients across England and Wales each year.
Chief Executive Amanda Stevens, who was appointed to the role last year to oversee the firm’s new national strategy, says Mr Hudgell is an ‘inspirational’ figure, not only to those at Hudgell Solicitors but across the legal sector.
“Neil continues to lead from the front by personally driving the continued growth of his firm after more than 20 years at the helm,” she said.
“His innovative approach has been demonstrated over the past year as he has led a corporate restructure of the business and a staff engagement exercise, whilst personally running high-profile cases in new work areas.”
Mr Hudgell played a significant role in his firm securing a Court of Appeal ruling (Budana) in which it was ruled that ‘no win no fee’ agreements can be validly transferred from one firm to another.
It is a ruling which will ensure potentially thousands of people who suffer a personal injury will be able to secure the legal representation they need, especially as many firms have been leaving the market.
Mr Hudgell has also jointly led the representation of the four families of the victims of murderer Stephen Port, as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigates possible failings by the Met Police.
He is also personally representing the family of former Welsh Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant, who was found dead days after being sacked from the Labour party.
Mrs Stevens added: “Neil’s foresight and innovation has ensured our firm has been prepared for changes to the industry which could have a major impact in the years to come.
“He has been focussed on future-proofing the business and the clear message to our staff has been that we will be a ‘beneficiary and not a victim’ of any changes ahead.
“Neil looks at things from a different perspective and looks for new ideas. That has seen new staff recruited from outside the legal sector to bring a refreshing perspective on business development, whilst he has also ensured our staff have been engaged in the development of ideas for the business and given the opportunities to progress their careers.
“The Budana ruling was huge for firms like ours and clients alike. Whilst some lawyers would not have wanted to risk four years of costs litigation on a test case, he pressed ahead and relied on his gut instinct as to what was right for clients. He is an inspirational figure in the legal world and that is why he is deserving of this recognition.”
Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: “There are more than 9,000 firms and 140,000 solicitors in England and Wales, so to be shortlisted for an Excellence Award is to be recognised as being among the best of the best.
“All the firms and solicitors who are shortlisted should be congratulated for the work they do day-in day-out to support their clients, many of whom are navigating complex and challenging legal problems.
“At a time of immense pressure on the justice system, the incredible work being done by solicitors across the country should be applauded.”
Winners are announced at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards ceremony in London on 17 October.