Martha Cover, joint head of Chambers, has been announced as the 2018 Legal Aid Barrister of the Year.
This year’s ceremony was led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE and took place in front of over 500 legal aid lawyers. In addition to Legal Aid Barrister of the Year, other categories included Public Lawyer of the Year and Housing Lawyer of the Year. The highest award, this year’s Outstanding Achievement award, was given to Lord Justice Andrew McFarlane, incoming President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice.
The Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards are presented by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, and in their 16th year. They “are known for celebrating those lawyers whose skills and commitment directly transform the lives of so many vulnerable people – and rightly so” said Director, Carol Storer.
The Barrister of the Year award goes to a barrister who has shown extensive involvement in the legal aid community and a dedication to advancing legal aid matters.
Over her 40-year career at the bar, Martha has dedicated herself to access to justice and legal aid. She has been at the forefront of legal aid and has been involved in landmark cases involving highly specialist expert evidence and on Supreme Court matters such as UKSC 2017/0037 and  UKSC 15. Martha is praised for her hopeful persistence and forensic skills and is a tireless advocate for children’s rights, described as “tenacious in her representation of some of the most vulnerable children and parents [while] against a background of rising child poverty and complex social and mental health problems in client populations.” Her work for publicly-funded matters has set precedents and received UK wide attention, ensuring that public bodies are held accountable, families are not unnecessarily separated, and that an outcome is what is best for the child.
In addition to her legal work, Martha has displayed tremendous leadership in the profession. She is the honorary lifetime vice-president of the Association of Lawyers for Children and is a member of the FLBA, the Human Rights Lawyers Association and Liberty. She also sits on committees concerned with the welfare, rights and voice of children including NYAS, the Unaccompanied Migrant Children’s Court Project and the Interdisciplinary Alliance for Children. Martha has also devoted time to policy and legal reform on adoption and children’s rights, giving evidence before the House of Lords and the Petitions Committee of the EU Parliament and contributing to establishment of the FDAC courts.
Fellow colleagues describe Martha’s driving force as “access to justice, equality before the law, and due process.” As an advocate, “she is completely lovely with vulnerable clients. She is fierce and unafraid in court – but does not take it outside the court. She is brilliant and has a dry sense of humour – making difficult situations much more manageable.”
“It is a great honour to be in the company of the other winners of these awards – it is astounding to hear of the work they have done,” said Martha.
We are proud to have Martha as our head of Chambers and wish her congratulations on this well-deserved recognition.
Seen in photos below:
Christina Blacklaws (President of the Law Society), McFarlane LJ (incoming President of the Family Division) and his daughter Laura.