Small law firms battle it out for the big prize at…

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With the Leicestershire Law Society Awards fast approaching, we can reveal the finalists for the Small Law Firm of the Year award.

Crystal Law Solicitors and Emery Johnson Astills will be vying for the coveted award.

Crystal Law, based in Charles Street, Leicester, specialises in social welfare law and the current partners were previously heads of the welfare benefits and family departments at the Community Legal Advice Centre, which closed in 2013 due to legal aid cuts.

They set up Crystal Law to help individuals and communities who might otherwise miss out on legal help.

City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby officially opened the firm’s city office in January 2016.

Sir Peter said at the time: “This is a very exciting time for a young vibrant firm to open in the heart of Leicester to help people access justice at a time when there have been drastic cutbacks in legal aid.

“Providing high quality advice to marginalised communities and individuals is what Crystal Law was founded upon.”

The firm has a niche specialism in civil benefit fraud and is an expert of choice attracting recommendations from larger established practices.

In 2016 alone, Crystal Law saved its clients more than £400,000 in wrongly accused fraud allegations and has prevented numerous prosecutions.

In 2015, Leicester City Council invited Crystal Law to hold weekly pro bono clinics at Belgrave Library.

Two fully funded pro bono cases a month are provided for the benefit of local residents and one partner regularly offers free support and advice with the Family Lives project, a registered charity.

Making law crystal clear and wanting clients to become part of the Crystal Law family has allowed the firm to go from strength to strength.

In 2013, Emery Johnson and Astills merged to launch a shared commitment to the delivery of client care and excellence while specialising in different areas of work.

The firm prides itself on its down to earth but efficient ethos, which has brought it recognition on a local and national level with founder and managing partner, Helen Johnson, being named solicitor advocate of the year in the national Law Society Excellence awards for England and Wales in 2016.

She was recognised for high profile representation of defendants in the criminal courts and her contribution to the legal and wider community.

The firm is very active in the broader community and has trustees in local charities including Warning Zone, Abbeyfields and Homefield College, as well as involvement in other community initiatives like the racial equality group, LGBT Leicester.

It also takes part in the annual Leicester schools courts competition giving local school pupils the chance to take part in a trial involving real judges, barristers and solicitors.

The small firms category is being sponsored by KCH Garden Square Barristers.

The winner will be revealed at a glamorous awards dinner at Athena, Leicester, on May 19.

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