Legal eagles win first Paperweight awards

Lawyers honoured for their 'selfless giving of time and expertise' in initiative created in memory of Leonie Lewis, herself a passionate volunteer for Jewish advice charity


When former family lawyer and ex-judge David Taylor retired in 2016, a friend suggested he used his spare time to volunteer for Jewish advice charity Paperweight.

“I wanted to do something useful and use my skills in a way that would help people,” he told the JC after being recognised at Paperweight’s inaugural Leonie Lewis Awards.

Taylor, who received an award for Outstanding Volunteering, has been helping the charity’s service users in matters of family law for the past seven years.

The awards were created in memory of Leonie Lewis, who was a trustee of Paperweight and a passionate volunteer herself.

Lewis died in April 2022, six weeks after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

“It is a great honour to be linked to her memory,” said Taylor, who received his award from Leonie’s husband, Howard. “She was a good friend and I had known her and husband for many years.

“I don’t feel I deserve it at all, but it is nice to be recognised.”

The other recipient of the honour was Arlene Barc, who received her award from Paperweight patron Lady Elaine Sacks. Barc co-runs Paperweight’s family law unit with Taylor.

“Arlene tends to help those in areas of domestic violence or where clients might need extra hand-holding,” Taylor explained.

“Most people who come to us for help want to get a divorce or are getting one, and they need to know where they stand.

“They don’t have money to spend on lawyers, and I am there to help them work out what it is they want and need and what forms they need to fill in.” He said Paperweight was like a

“Jewish Citizens Advice” and that he was “never surprised by how little people know and how they are often surprised by the rights they have”.

He said: “It can be a stressful time for people. I always see them face-to-face to go through their options.”

The third award was for Outstanding Professional Firm Contribution. It was presented by Paperweight’s CEO, Bayla Perrin, to Victoria Constanti from Brightstone Law, which provides advice pro bono.

Bayla Perrin, Paperweight’s chief executive, said: “We feel there is no greater compliment than to introduce annual awards to recognise unparalleled voluntary work in honour of Leonie.

“It is an almost impossible task to select one volunteer, so our inaugural awards have focused on the family law team.”

Talking about the recipients, she said: “Arlene, David and Victoria are extraordinary individuals whose commitment to the betterment of our community through the selfless giving of time and expertise makes a significant difference.”

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