Shoosmiths scooped the double accolade of Court of Protection Team of the Year and Best Contentious Wills and Probate Team at this year’s British Wills and Probate Awards, organised by Today’s Wills and Probate magazine.
Now in their fourth year, the awards recognise the work of those in the wills and probate sector, particularly when faced with the unprecedented challenges of the past 18 months. This is the second year running that the Shoosmiths Disputed Wills and Trusts team has won the best Contentious Wills and Probate category and the win for the Court of Protection (CoP) team recognises the way they pulled together to support each other and their clients.
Both had to give evidence of the ability to deliver high standards of service and support, with a proven track record of success, while also demonstrating a transparent and clear approach to pricing and to explaining costs and fees. The judges noted the CoP team in particular was evidently ‘driven by their client service, expertise and passion for their clients’.
The Court of Protection team manages the property and financial affairs of clients who do not have mental capacity to do so themselves, for example because of a brain injury, a neuro-degenerative condition such as Alzheimer’s dementia, or mental illness.
Sue Bowler, partner who heads the Court of Protection team, said: “The last year has been the most challenging and inspiring that this team has ever seen. Covid-19 resulted in many of our clients being hospitalised and we had to be at the forefront of supporting them and their families. Difficult decisions about care teams had to be made when carers or clients were ill or self-isolating. This award is fully deserved recognition of all the great efforts everyone in the team has made, and continues to make, on behalf of vulnerable clients.”
The Court of Protection team showed great dedication to clients, working entirely remotely during the first lockdown, with no diminution of service, supporting clients through devastating isolation, moving support to virtual platforms and sourcing PPE when it was almost impossible to obtain. The team’s guidance on organising shopping for vulnerable clients was one of the most viewed articles on the Shoosmiths website and proved to be a hit on social media.
Adam Draper, who heads the Disputed Wills and Trusts team, said: “We’re delighted that once again our team has been recognised for delivering outstanding client service that secures our clients’ future with integrity and compassion, and it’s equally pleasing that the firm’s court of protection practice, which provides outstanding support to our efforts, has also been successful.”
Despite the challenges, the Disputed Wills and Trusts team has recruited additional members this year, extending into Birmingham, whilst also growing its specialist charity division. Their work in supporting the campaign by Fabian Hamilton MP to reform the law relating to predatory marriage has achieved widespread recent media coverage as has their efforts to help protect the position of same-sex cohabitees.