Ian Forrest, managing partner of the Birmingham office of law firm Hammonds, was last night crowned Managing Partner of the Year at the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards.
He beat off strong competition from Mills & Reeve counterpart Guy Hinchley to collect the accolade at a ceremony at the International Convention Centre.
Under Mr Forrest's leadership, Hammonds' Birmingham office has pushed ahead after a difficult period some years back. In the year to April 2007, the overall firm saw turnover increase to £127.6 million.
Having joined the then Edge Ellison as a trainee, Mr Forrest was subsequently handed responsibility for training and mentoring, which remains a central part of his role.
Today, Hammonds claims one of the best retention rates for its trainees of all the national firms, with 82 per cent taking up places on qualification in September 2007. In Birmingham the figure was slightly higher, with 85 per cent of trainees taking up positions within the firm. Mr Forrest has also been pivotal in pushing through the £10 million refurbishment of the firm's office at Rutland House, where it has been based since 1963. The extensive refurbishment will provide its 230 staff with much improved office space.
Kevin Martin, past president of the Law Society and chairman of judges for the Legal Awards, said: "Ian is a very successful lawyer who has brought great progress to a proudly expanding and successful firm, but with a complete understanding of the vital issues of diversity and client care. He also demonstrated a huge involvement in pro bono activities."
Despite narrowly missing out on the Managing Partner of the Year award, Mr Hinchley collected the prize for Law Firm of the Year (over 15 partners) on behalf of Mills & Reeve. Law Firm of the Year (under 15 partners), which Mills & Reeve won in 2006, was awarded to Sydney Mitchell.
Other winners included Ronald Deakin of Howell & Co (Legal Executive of the Year); Harjinder Samra, Hammonds (Trainee Solicitor of the Year); Luke Daniels, Irwin Mitchell (Assistant Solicitor of the Year); Emma Dickson, Browne Jacobson (Commercial Solicitor of the Year); Callum Nuttall, HBJ Gateley Wareing (Solicitor of the Year); and Alistair MacDonald, St Philips Chambers (Barrister of the Year).
It is the seventh year that the awards have taken place. Headline sponsor of the event was Wesleyan for Lawyers, which backed the awards for the second successive year.
Other sponsors included Chiltern Railways, St Philips Chambers, Baker Tilly, Allied Irish Bank (GB), Learning and Skills Council, software development company 3Sixty Systems, data archiving specialist Commvault and Giles Insurance Brokers.