A lawyer who led a landmark battle for justice after a child almost drowned during a school swimming lesson has been recognised with a top award.
Jennifer Maloney was crowned legal professional of 2016 at the annual Manchester Young Talent Awards, which celebrate the city’s best and brightest young businessmen and women.
The 30-year-old, a serious injury lawyer, was praised for her work with Manchester law firm Slater and Gordon, including securing a seven-figure settlement for her client Annie Woodland earlier this year, who was left brain damaged after almost drowning at the age of 10.
Jennifer took her case all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in a change in the law after it ruled that the local authority – despite having contracted out school swimming lessons to a third party – did in fact owe their pupils a ‘non-delegable duty of care.’
It helped that client, but it will help other clients as well because of the wider changes to the law that it made.
Jennifer, from Chorley, Lancashire, who picked up her award at a ceremony at Imperial War Museum North, said: “Receiving the award was amazing because there’s so much legal talent in Manchester. It was an honour to be shortlisted, but to actually win was the cherry on top and the things the judges said were really nice to hear.
“I could never have imagined that work I was involved in would lead to the law being changed. Not many lawyers are able to say that they’ve had that opportunity in their career so it felt really significant. It helped that client, but it will help other clients as well because of the wider changes to the law that it made.”
Jennifer, who studied law at the University of Oxford, wanted a career that was both intellectually challenging but also where she could help people.
She said: “I’m really fortunate working as a serious injury lawyer, because it gives me both of those things.
“The hardest part of the job is remaining detached from what are really tragic circumstances. You’ve got to be sympathetic but you’ve got to be professional as well so you have to restrict your advice to the legal issues and the ways you can help, but sometimes you really do want to just give that client a big hug – and sometimes you do.”
“I say it’s the hardest thing about the job, but it’s also the best thing because you can get justice for people you feel so much empathy for.
“That kind of work goes on every day so to have it recognised in this way means a lot.”