Panel sits in judgment in Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards

North’s largest independent corporate law firm Carson McDowell among initiative’s business partners

WEA Awards
Carson McDowell partner and head of the employment Orlagh O'Neill with Irish News editor Chris Sherrard (right) and business editor Gary McDonald. Picture: Colm Lenaghan

A nine-strong judging panel, under the scrutiny of independent head adjudicator Ellvena Graham, who is chair of Tourism NI and Catalyst, will meet on Wednesday to select the winning and commended organisations in this year’s Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards.

Among the judges are representatives of the initiative’s key business partners, including law firm Carson McDowell, which will be represented by partner and head of the employment Orlagh O’Neill.

“We are proud to renew our sponsorship of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards, which provides a platform for companies to profile their achievements, values such as diversity and inclusion, and incredible talent across the region,” she said.

Carson McDowell is the north’s largest, independent, full-service corporate law firm. Headquartered in Belfast, with a sister office in Dublin and a headcount of close to 200,it has more specialist lawyers working across more practice areas than any other law firm in the jurisdiction.

“We continue to outrank all local law firms in the two prestigious industry guides. In Chambers & Partners UK, we rank in 26 practice areas, achieving ‘Band 1 status in 20. In addition, an unprecedented 40 lawyers received individual recognition, including 24 ‘Band 1″ rankings,” Orlagh said.

In The Legal 500, Carson McDowell achieved the top ‘Tier 1′ ranking in 11 practice areas and saw a 28% increase in individual lawyers’ rankings for exceptional performance. The firm is also home to the only Northern Ireland Planning and Environmental legal team to receive the prestigious’ Tier 1′ ranking for the fifth consecutive year.

In addition, Carson McDowell is the only Northern Ireland law firm to be ranked in The Lawyer 2024 UK Top 200 Independents Guide at position 147.

“Our unrivalled experience and reputation mean more than 50% of Northern Ireland’s top 100 companies have chosen Carson McDowell as their legal representative,” Orlagh added.

“In addition to representing a large number of commercially sophisticated local businesses, our high-profile international clients include major US companies like Microsoft, EY, and Seagate and many home-grown international players.

“In the 2023 financial year, we were involved in many significant projects. For example, our retail and investment experts advised on four of NI’s five largest retail scheme sales, totalling £145m.”

She went on: “Carson McDowell is a leading law firm because of our people. We attract and retain the best talent by providing rewarding careers and a supportive and inclusive working environment, allowing our people to maximise their potential and fulfil their ambitions.

“We are proud to continue supporting these awards, and as a judge I look forward to reading about the outstanding work and accomplishments of the entrants.”

  • Judging takes place on Wednesday April 24, and the short-listed companies will be revealed in the Irish News on Tuesday April 30. More details on the awards at