Diane Morrison wins Law Society Excellence Award!!!!!
HCLC is delighted to announce that following her shortlisting for in two categories of this year’s Law Society Excellence Awards, HCLC solicitor Diane Morrison (pictured below) beat off stiff competition to become this year’s ‘Solicitor of the year – in house!'
The winners were announced by BBC broadcaster Mishal Husain at a special awards ceremony held on the 9th of October 2014. From part-time typist to qualified solicitor, the judges said Diane is an inspirational in-house solicitor renowned for her exceptional work and client care skills.
They said they were impressed that in addition to spearheading HCLC’s employment service, Diane runs HCLC's telephone advice line, HCLC's intern programme and HCLC's "innovative" library pop-up service where she has given advice to over 700 residents.
*Read more about Diane's background and work HERE*.
Three of the clients Diane has helped - Ashley, Keithley and Christine - made statements in support of her award nomination. Keithley (pictured ) told the judges: "I worked as a cabbie for six years then I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was off for two months but when I came back to work my employers sacked me. They said there was no job anymore but I know that wasn’t true as they had hired a new person to replace me. They sacked me at Christmas and it was planned.
Other people knew I was going to be sacked before I did. Some of my other colleagues made monkey noises around me. I was under so much stress working there. When they sacked me they offered me only two weeks’ pay. They didn’t tell me that I should get legal advice about the offer. As it happened over Christmas, and I had no money, I felt forced to just accept it. I went to Hackney Community Law Centre and Diane took on the case. She wrote to the company for me but they didn’t respond so she helped me to lodge an Employment Tribunal claim.
The company had been making itself bankrupt every two years so every employee had to keep being reemployed on new contracts. I felt very badly treated. I was a loyal worker. I had always been on time. Diane really prepared the case well for me. She listened properly to what I had to say. She’s a good lady. If the Law Centre hadn’t helped me I wouldn’t have been able to bring the case. I was still recovering from the cancer and there is no way I could have afforded private lawyers. I feel so much better now that the case has been dealt with. I have got justice. I am very pleased and grateful Diane was my solicitor".
*Read Ashley and Christine's statements HERE*.
Reacting to the news that she had won the Excellence Award Diane Morrison said: “I am really pleased to win this award. It still hasn’t really sunk in. I feel that the award is a recognition of Hackney Community Law Centre’s (HCLC’s) hard work over many years. At HCLC, we have to do so much with so little for so many. I am so grateful for the support I have received from my colleagues past and present. I’d particularly like to thank the judges for their decision. It will inspire me to continue working in social welfare law and inspire the whole HCLC team to continue providing access to justice”.
HCLC Chair Ian Rathbone said: "Diane has worked for the law centre nine years and in that time has quietly made a significant and important impact on all we do. Her story is very encouraging to anyone looking to become a lawyer but lacking confidence or feeling they don't have the wherewithal. Diane has shown that dedicated lawyers of high calibre can work in such difficult environments because they passionately believe in access to justice for poor people, and as such can still compete at the highest level with other lawyers around the country - and be judged by their peers as worthy of the highest accolade".
Following the awards ceremony, Matt Sullivan, Head of Business Development and Consultancy at the Law Society, visited HCLC's offices to present Diane with her award formally. Matt (pictured above with Diane) said: "Diane is a shining example of an innovative lawyer. The judges were struck by Diane's irrepressible quest for excellence and her powerful sense of civic and moral duty".
Miranda Grell, HCLC's Development Officer (pictured above right with Diane) prepared Diane's award nomination. Miranda said: "I am absolutely thrilled that Diane has won this award. When I applied to become a HCLC volunteer nearly 4 years ago, Diane was the person who interviewed me, let me in and then fully supported my progression as a HCLC volunteer, HCLC intern and then HCLC Development Officer. At every stage, Diane has nurtured not only me but a whole range of HCLC volunteers and interns who would have never been given an opportunity to gain legal experience anywhere else".
*Many thanks again to all of those people who supported Diane’s nomination, shortlisting and victory at the Law Society Excellence Awards 2014. The entire HCLC team is very grateful!!!!!!*