A high-flying Birmingham lawyer says the city's prestigious legal awards scheme has helped her rapid rise through the ranks of her profession.

Just four years after winning the award for Assistant Solicitor of the Year in 2002, Alex Bishop has been made one of the youngest partners in the Birmingham office of national law firm Shoosmiths.

She believes the awards are not only a great way of helping young solicitors progress, as they did for her, but also for showcasing the city's legal talent to the rest of the country. Alex's endorsement comes just weeks before this year's Legal Awards, which are being sponsored by Allied Irish Bank (GB), are due to be held at the ICC on April 6.

Her legal career began with DLA, where she qualified in 1997. Five years later, shortly after winning the award, she was promoted from assistant solicitor to associate.

Today, as well as being a partner at Shoosmiths, she also heads up the firm's newly formed dispute resolution team in Birmingham.

She said winning the Assistant Solicitor of the Year title had aided her career progression.

"Winning the award definitely played a part in helping me to get where I am today," she said.

"As a young solicitor trying to forge a career path in a very competitive industry, the awards helped to raise my individual profile, plus that of the firm I was working for at the time."

Now in its fifth year, the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards has established itself as the top event for the city's legal sector.

This year's nominees will be battling it out in the seven award categories, including Legal Executive of the Year, Trainee Solicitor of the Year, Barrister of the Year and the award that Alex won four years ago, Assistant Solicitor of the Year.