AN AWARDS scheme launched with the backing of the Daily Echo will recognise achievement among Dorset’s 1,000 legal professionals.

The Dorset Legal Awards were devised by Bournemouth-based IT consultancy QuoStar and legal recruitment firm ASH Elite.

They were launched at the Italian Villa at Compton Acres, with the event sponsored by South Coast Events.

QuoStar chief executive Robert Rutherford told guests: “Every other sector has some sort of awards which recognise talent or achievement.

“The service sector locally is quite impressive and we looked around and realised there was nothing to recognise talent in the legal sector.

“We decided to create something.”

Sofie Scott, director and founder of ASH Elite, said: “We came up with the idea to take this opportunity to celebrate the local legal community.”

Dorset had more than 1,000 legal professionals in 200 practices regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, she said.

“There’s so much going on in the county and it’s a shame nothing has been set up to celebrate that already. We’ve had fantastic recognition so far, with firms and individuals here from the very north and west of the county to the very east of the county,” she said.

Sponsors are being lined up, with the Iceberg Partnership LLP already sponsoring the Family Team of the Year award and Saffery Champness sponsoring Partner of the Year.

Other categories are Rising Star, Contribution to the Community, Engagement With Education, Lawyer of the Year, Practice Manager/Director, Best Use of Technology, Small Law Firm, Law Firm, nine Team of the Year awards (family, property, private client, company/corporate commercial, dispute resolution/litigation, personal injury/clinical negligence, employment, crime, in-house) and Lifetime Achievement.

Nominations are open now and close on October 27, with shortlisted entries revealed in the Daily Echo on December 1. A ceremony to announce the winners will be held in February 2018.

The independent judges include Dr John Knowles, former chairman of DEK; John Ainsworth, retired district judge; barrister Elizabeth McGrath QC; and Darren Slade, business and technology editor of the Daily Echo.