(L-R) DLA Piper’s Simon Levine, Andy Williams, Michelle Milnes and Stas Kuzmierkiewicz with awards judge and former Allen & Overy senior partner David Morley

Finalists: Allen & Overy; Debevoise & Plimpton (highly commended); Dentons; Gowling WLG; Hogan Lovells (highly commended); Mayer Brown; Travers Smith.

DLA Piper was the standout firm in the CSR/diversity initiative of the year category for its Access to Justice project, which seeks to tackle the huge cuts to legal aid in the UK by offering pro bono legal support and advice to marginalised and disadvantaged individuals in communities around the country.

Having established a network of legal clinics and legal education programmes across the UK, DLA Piper last year provided more than 4,500 hours of advice, assistance, education and support to vulnerable people.

The firm’s flagship initiative is its Deaf Children’s Disability Benefits clinic, which it runs in partnership with the National Deaf Children’s Society and is set up to provide representation to families of children with hearing loss who have had their claims for Disability Living Allowance refused – securing a positive outcome in 90% of the completed cases it has taken on.

DLA Piper has also developed a legal empowerment programme that involves providing legal education modules to people from disadvantaged communities on areas of the law such as police stop and search powers and neighbourhood housing disputes, helping to improve individuals’ knowledge of the law and their rights.

“A vast access to justice project with a big impact on British society, and it’s scalable,” a judge said.