Double award win for inspirational NLS Legal team
Two members of Nottingham Law School’s teaching law firm, NLS Legal, have received awards for their commitment to providing access to justice and inspiring lawyers of the future.
Solicitor, Katie Smith, and Practice Manager, Carlota Gonzalez Laynez, took away accolades from the Nottinghamshire Law Society Annual Awards 2023.
Katie Smith received the highly contested Solicitor of the Year award in recognition of outstanding leadership, her impact on students and junior lawyers, and her dedication to addressing an unmet legal need in the Nottinghamshire community.
In 2022 Katie launched the NLS Legal pro bono family service, which advises on matters such as divorce and financial remedies, child arrangements and domestic abuse. The full-service offering also includes providing pro bono representation throughout court proceedings and is the only service of its kind in the county.
Over the past 12 months, Katie has assisted more than 30 clients, achieved financial settlements worth approximately £85,000 and provided more than 40 law students with work experience.
Head of NLS Legal, Laura Pinkney, said: “Katie is an inspiration, a role model and provides access to justice to those that would otherwise be denied it. She is incredibly humble and never shouts about her own achievements. She just quietly gets on with changing the world.”
Carlota Gonzalez Laynez was recognised with the Business Support Champion award for her ‘unwavering commitment’ to NLS Legal and the positive impact she has on staff, volunteers, clients, and partner organisations.
Carlota has initiated and led a number of projects at NLS Legal, including developing, promoting, and facilitating public legal education initiatives; implementing a new case management system; and a collaboration with a local mental health charity to deliver resilience and wellbeing webinars to law student volunteers.
Her pivotal role in establishing the new Support Through Court service at Nottingham Law School was also noted. The charity provides practical and emotional support to people going through court without representation and Carlota’s work has ensured a seamless transfer of the service from Nottingham County Court to the University.
Laura Pinkney added: “Carlota is at the heart of everything we do, and she brings initiative, care, and passion to every aspect of her work. Often the external face of our firm, she takes every opportunity to advocate the firm’s mission of promoting access to justice and training the lawyers of tomorrow.”
As a not-for-profit teaching law firm with charitable status, NLS Legal was the UK’s first law firm fully integrated into a law school when it obtained an ABS (Alternative Business Structure) licence in 2015.
Supervised by a small team of experienced lawyers, Nottingham Law School students support members of the local community with free and affordable legal advice on a range of areas, including employment, family, housing, business, civil litigation, intellectual property, special educational needs and disability, welfare benefits, and victims’ rights. NLS Legal also delivers public legal education sessions to raise awareness of legal rights and responsibilities.
The firm has achieved financial awards totalling in excess of £6 million for the benefit of its clients. More than 4,000 students have been involved in NLS Legal activity, supporting the firm to deal with over 2,500 cases.
NLS Legal has also won numerous prominent accolades, including being named Law Firm of the Year at the Lexis Nexis Legal Awards 2022 after being nominated alongside five private national and international law firms.
Executive Dean of Nottingham Law School, Jenny Chapman, said: “The whole NLS Legal team is dedicated to providing an important service to people who are unable to afford, or unable to access, legal services. Katie and Carlota are shining examples of this, they are an inspiration to everyone involved with the firm and these awards are truly deserved.”
Notes for editors
About Nottingham Trent University
Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.
The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.
NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).
NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.
Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.
NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.
NTU is ranked the second most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).
- Category: Press office; Nottingham Law School