(L-R) Kennedys’ Christopher Dunn, Tracy Head, John Bruce, Deborah Newberry, Christopher Carroll, Jenny Boldon, Nick Williams, Janet Sayers and Christopher Malla with Legal Week reporter Alex Berry

Finalists: Gunnercooke; Harbottle & Lewis; Mishcon de Reya (highly commended); Shoosmiths; Stevens & Bolton.

Kennedys collected the UK law firm of the year prize for its efforts to expand both domestically and globally, particularly with regard to its insurance business.

Kennedys spotted a growth opportunity in Latin America where major insurance companies have been decentralising their claims functions, with the firm establishing offices in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru in the last 12 months to tap into that trend.

It also completed a strategic merger with US boutique insurance firm Carroll McNulty & Kull, as well as domestic mergers with boutique marine and shipping firm Waltons & Morse and commercial litigation specialists Berg.

That growth strategy has seen revenue edge up 8% in 2016-17 to £138.8m, with expectations for 19% revenue growth during the current financial year.

Investment in people continues to be a key part of Kennedys growth ambitions, with a more than 30% increase in partnerships during the last year to 62 worldwide. In addition, the firm’s apprenticeship scheme continues to be a success, with 11 new paralegals joining its two-year programme in the past year.

And its £600,000-a-year investment in innovation has seen it install a head of research and development, and enter into a partnership in India to accelerate investment in machine learning and blockchain technology.