I am delighted to announce that my colleague and fellow director, Kevin Donoghue, has been short-listed for the Outstanding Lawyer Award at the prestigious 2023 Liverpool Law Society Legal Awards.
Kevin is shortlisted alongside four other lawyers:
- Emma Charnock, Provenio Litigation
- Lisa Edmunds, Unit Chambers
- Matthew Taylor, Stowe Family Law
- Thomas Prince, CG Professional
What are the Liverpool Law Society Legal Awards?
The Liverpool Legal Awards highlight “the law at its best”. They celebrate legal excellence, talent, diversity, and skill across Merseyside and beyond. 2023 marks only the tenth year the awards have been held in the Society’s 196-year history. This scarcity, along with the high calibre of law firms and lawyers involved, means that shortlisting for an Award is a considerable achievement.
Awards will be given in eight categories, including:
- Outstanding Lawyer Award
- Law Firm Award (100+ employees)
- Outstanding Team Award – Dispute Resolution & Litigation
What is Liverpool Law Society?
Liverpool Law Society is one of the largest law societies in England and Wales. It was formed in Liverpool in 1827 and has more than 2,500 practising lawyer members.
Liverpool Law Society is based in Liverpool city centre. Its members are from Merseyside and the North West of England. The Society’s lawyers practice in all areas of law: from commercial to criminal; family to actions against the police.
Fierce competition for Legal Awards
There were a record number of nominations in the eight categories for this year’s Liverpool Law Society Legal Awards. Nominees include large and small law firms, barristers, in-house teams, legal advice centres, and individuals. Read the full list of firms and shortlisted nominees on the Liverpool Law Society website.
They were judged by an independent Panel, which is separate from the Society to avoid any appearance of bias.
The Panel included senior lawyers and experts in the area, including His Honour Judge Graham Wood KC, the Designated Civil Judge for Cheshire and Merseyside.
As the independent judging panel said when reviewing the nominations:
“Reading the outstanding applications submitted for the LLS Legal Awards makes one wonder why lawyers get such a bad press. Many had glowing testimonials from clients and peers, which is testament to the fantastic work going on, in and around Liverpool. Maybe Merseyside lawyers, of all specialties, are just the best in the UK.”
Why Kevin Donoghue is on the shortlist for the Outstanding Lawyer Award
Among other things, the Legal Awards Judging Panel was interested in how Kevin Donoghue exemplifies the values of someone who practises “law at its best”. I have worked with Kevin for over 17 years, and can confidently say that he does this both
- internally, as a person and as the solicitor director of Donoghue Solicitors, and
- externally, in his public work and interactions with clients, other lawyers, the courts, etc.
A big part of Kevin’s approach can be traced back to his family and pride in his “scouse” roots. He is Liverpool born and bred, comes from a working-class family, and epitomises our city’s values of hard work, determination, and grit.
These values make Kevin who he is. This is how he embodies them.
How Kevin Supports His Clients
One way Kevin shows his character is in his work involving police officers who abuse their position for a sexual purpose.
I also work in this very discrete “niche within a niche”. From experience, I can say that it takes exceptional empathy, sensitivity, and understanding. Kevin’s reputation and compassionate approach means that he is sought after by victims of this heinous police misconduct throughout the country and is known as a fearless campaigner for their rights.
I can think of no better example of how he handles these cases than his client Shannon Mulhall.
Shannon was sexually abused in a womens’ refuge by PC Simon Miller, who was a Humberside Police officer at the time.
She reported the assault to the police. Because Shannon helped the investigation, PC Miller was sacked and later convicted of the improper exercise of police powers at Grimsby Crown Court.
Getting Miller off the streets was important to Miss Mulhall. But she wanted to go further and publicise how police officers abuse their power for sexual gain. By doing so, Shannon hoped to help others who have suffered, and help to bring about societal change.
Both Kevin and Shannon knew that would mean going public and waiving her right to privacy. This would be difficult, as Shannon could expect sharp criticism, especially on social media. Kevin supported his client by meeting her at home in Scunthorpe to discuss the pros and cons, and, with her involvement, helped Sky News develop a report about the case. He even backed her by appearing in an on-camera interview himself.
Sharing Expertise Publicly
Kevin also shares his knowledge with the public, media, academics, and the wider legal community. He has a deserved reputation as a “thought leader”, especially in the specialist area of actions against the police. Although it is often difficult and time-consuming, my colleague considers it his duty to raise the profile of police misconduct, an issue which has become more well-known partly due to his efforts.
Kevin even trains other lawyers in actions against the police and police abuse of authority for sexual gain compensation claims. Some might think that sharing knowledge with competitors is bad for business. But Kevin doesn’t see it that way. He genuinely believes in helping others, and knows that, if more lawyers have the tools to succeed in these cases, we will all be better off.
How Kevin deals with risk sets an example for everyone in the firm. Civil litigation is an inherently risky business. Often, both sides are convinced that they are right, even though one of them must be wrong. And, in claims against the police, there is a massive imbalance in resources: the police are funded by the state; the individual suing them is not.
Most of our cases are funded by conditional fee agreements (also known as “no win no fee” agreements). As you can read on our Funding Options and No Win No Fee Police Claims page, no win no fee agreements help people get access to justice by delaying payment for legal fees until after settlement (or success at trial). But what if the claimant does not win? Then the lawyer, who has often invested years of time (which could have profitably gone elsewhere), and thousands of pounds of billable hours, gets nothing.
This risk means that you must have courage in your convictions. As the founder and a director at Donoghue Solicitors, Kevin shows this by putting his own money where his client’s mouths are. For an example, see his long-running case of Edwin Afriyie. Mr Afriyie was Tasered by City of London Police officers. He lost his case at the High Court but has sought permission to appeal. We await confirmation that the Court will take the case, which is funded by a “no win no fee” agreement, a risk Kevin is willing to take to help Edwin and others similarly affected.
Helping the Next Generation of Lawyers
Lastly, Kevin has shown the way in his own career path.
He qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive before becoming a solicitor and believes in helping the next generation of lawyers “earn their stripes” too. He invests in his staff by being generous with his time, along with practical and financial assistance. This support directly led to me, Kemmi Alfa, and Jack Hudson qualifying as Chartered Legal Executives. We could not have done it without him.
On a more personal note, I’m thrilled for Kevin. He’s a good friend to me and my family. He is an inspiration to me and my colleagues. He is a fearless lawyer, who gives his all for his clients and uses seemingly boundless reserves of energy to help them get the justice they deserve. It’s fantastic that he is being recognised for his contribution to the legal profession.
I look forward to celebrating Kevin’s achievements at the Liverpool Law Society Legal Awards dinner on 9 November.