THE second Dorset Legal Awards celebrated the industry’s high flyers in a ceremony at the BIC.

Blanchards Bailey – which has offices in Blandford, Dorchester, Shaftesbury and Weymouth – was among the big winners of the evening.

It took the awards for Law Firm of the Year with up to 99 employees, Company Commercial Team and Private Client Team.

Bournemouth-based Ellis Jones won Dispute Resolution Team and Engagement with Education, while Clair Phillips of Ellis Jones was named Rising Star.

Dutton Gregory – with branches in Poole and Bournemouth as well as London and Hampshire – dominated the individual awards, with William Warnock and Emma Menzies taking home Lawyer of the Year and Partner of the Year respectively.

Laceys Solicitors, in Bournemouth and Poole, was named Law Firm of the Year with 100-plus employees.

Trethowans – with offices in Poole and Bournemouth – won Family Team and Personal Injury/Clinical Negligence Team. Amigo Loans won the In-House Team trophy, while Farnfields won for Property Team and Contribution to the Community.

This year’s awards featured a new “mystery shopper” element which contributed to the final results. Each firm was awarded a score on their rapport with the prospective client, their knowledge of the enquiry, and how valued the client felt.

The awards were organised by Robert Rutherford, chief executive of business IT firm QuoStar, and Sofie Scott, managing director of legal recruiter ASH Elite.

Rob Rutherford said: “Many people believe that sequels never can top the original, but this year’s instalment of the DLA completely debunked that theory. Competition was fiercer than ever, and succeeding in showcasing the amazing work that these individuals and firms have done throughout the year.

“Adding the mystery shopper feature to the final scores was an important element to make sure the firm’s engagement with clients was fairly taken into account. For those who have won, we wish them a huge congratulations for their contribution to the sector. We hope to see everyone again this time next year.”

Sofie Scott said: “From the first entry, to the last face-to-face interview, the panel of judges have been blown away by the quality, knowledge and skills of the Dorset legal community. Across all categories, it has been incredibly difficult to select just one as the winner, and never before have we seen such close calls as we did this year. It is an honour and a privilege to work alongside the legal professionals in this county and we hope these awards will help showcase the talent we have here even further afield.”