October 19, 2012

Withy King partner named finalist in prestigious legal awards

The outstanding achievements of Paul Rumley, partner in Withy King's Clinical Negligence team in Swindon, have been recognised by the judges of the most prestigious awards in the legal calendar.

Paul Rumley was a finalist in the ‘Solicitor of the Year – Private Practice’ category at the Law Society's Excellence Awards which took place in London yesterday (18 October). He was being recognised for his ‘It’s not about us, it’s about them’ campaign in which he lobbied government to raise awareness of the devastating impact their Legal Aid Reforms Bill will have on severely disabled children.

Paul’s campaign saw him lobby all 649 elected MPs, including the Bill Scrutiny Committee, to improve their understanding of the implications of the proposals on the lives of people who are injured while in the care of medical professionals. Paul’s suggested points and amendments to the Bill were used as supporting information in the Committee minutes by Andy Slaughter, Labour party spokesperson and Shadow Justice Minister.

He has also developed relationships with national charities, such as the Erbs Palsy Group, as well as industry bodies and the media, in an effort to highlight what he sees as “totally unacceptable consequences” of withdrawing Legal Aid funding.

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Paul said: “I am very proud and humbled to have been shortlisted for this prestigious award because it represents all that is good about the work we do as solicitors – namely standing up for those in our society who have no real voice or power of their own. As the campaign said, this was never about the lawyers – it was always about the general public - our clients.

“It was a real privilege to have stood up for disabled children in respect of the recent legal aid cuts, and so helped to retain a small element of funding for them for clinical negligence claims. I am only sorry that I was not able to achieve more, in terms of preserving legal aid funding for all severely disabled children injured through no fault of their own. As the true and devastating effect of these cuts becomes more apparent to the general public, I am sure there will yet be a political backlash for the coalition parties in having railroaded them through in the face of common sense, warnings from the Judges about the implications for the justice system as part of our democracy and the specific advice of the author of the general funding changes, Sir Rupert Jackson.

“I hope my shortlisting gives other solicitors the courage to continue to stand up for the rights of the ordinary citizens of this country, as I believe we are called to do, because it is still amazing what can be achieved by a campaign such as the one I ran.”

The Excellence Awards reward the most outstanding practitioners in the legal profession and are open to the entire legal sector, not just solicitors. Entries were judged by specialist judges, including Adam Sampson, chief executive of the Legal Ombudsman; Frances Gibb, legal editor at The Times; and Chris Marston, head of professional practices at Lloyds TSB.

Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said of this year’s entries: “The quality of this year’s entries is astonishingly high and a testament to the fact that the profession continues to innovate and deliver high-quality legal services even in these economically challenging times.

“The marketplace is changing quickly, with greater external pressure and competition, so it’s great to see that firms are showing no signs of complacency. Far from it, this year’s entries show that the UK legal sector continues to spearhead solutions that allow it to stay at the top of the game.”
Paul Rumley was named the winner of Bristol Law Society’s Outstanding Achievement Award for his ‘It’s not about us, it’s about them’, campaign in 2011.

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