Aika Stephenson, Co-founder and Legal Director at Just for Kids Law, has won the Criminal Defence Lawyer of the Year prize at the 2018 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards. Aika is the only person ever to win two individual LALY awards - her first was Young Legal Aid Lawyer in 2007. She was presented with the award by Baroness Doreen Lawrence on Tuesday July 17 2018.
Aika is an incredibly hardworking, committed and skilful defence lawyer - but she is so much more than that.
Anna Jones, compere at the awards, said, "Aika has specialised in youth justice work throughout her 17-year legal career. She leads the criminal defence team at Just for Kids Law, which she co-founded 10 years ago. In April last year, it became the first UK charity to hold a criminal legal aid contract and Just for Kids represents young people at every stage of the criminal justice system, from the police station to the Supreme Court. Aika is an incredibly hardworking, committed and skilful defence lawyer - but she is so much more than that. What drives her is her determination to bring about systemic change that benefits all children and young people caught up in the criminal justice system. Aika leaves no stone unturned on their behalf, employing cutting-edge arguments to ensure she gets the best possible results. She is one of the first defence lawyers to successfully use of the Modern Slavery Act to ensure that vulnerable young people who have been groomed by gangs into selling drugs are recognised as victims, rather than treated as offenders."