All 10 finalists were on tenterhooks as the winner of Future Legal Mind 2016 was unveiled at a lunchtime ceremony at Lincoln's Inn in central London on Wednesday 9 March.
Following a tightly fought contest, it was announced that the overall winner of this year's scheme is Tom Phillips, a GDL student at City Law School who is aiming to study for the Bar. Entry for the award is by essay.
"I still can't quite believe that I won," said Tom. "I'm immensely grateful to everyone involved. It will make a huge difference to me, not just financially, but also in terms of giving me a real opportunity to compete with a pool of extremely talented aspiring barristers."
"It's a fantastic opportunity. I know that all of the finalists will take a huge confidence boost from their success, especially given that we are all starting out and, at this stage, the rejections tend to come far more often than the yeses."
"Personally, winning takes a lot of the pressure off me to take up paid employment this summer. It will hopefully enable me to spend a few weeks working at the Free Representation Unit on pro-bono cases for people who have disability benefits appeals but do not have the resources to employ a fully qualified lawyer."
Tom is aiming for a career in public law following his undergraduate degree at Oxford University, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics. He wins a bursary of £5,000 along with a work placement at National Accident Helpline panel law firm Simpson Millar LLP, where he will be given the opportunity to sample several areas of law.
Simon Trott, National Accident Helpline Managing Director and chair of judges for Future Legal Mind, said:
"Our congratulations to Tom, who really stood out for his originality of thought and clear understanding of the issues currently facing the legal profession.
"On behalf of the judges I'd also like to offer congratulations to all 10 finalists. They came up with some really fresh thinking and gave us all great hope for the future of our legal system."
Birmingham University of Law student George Croft was presented with the highly commended award and a bursary of £2,000 at Wednesday's ceremony. George, a fellow Oxford University alumnus, is studying for his GDL, and will also secure a work placement at Simpson Millar LLP.
The remaining eight finalists - Nada Aswad, Birkbeck College, London; Isaac Creighton, London Metropolitan University; Daniel Doig, Leeds Beckett University; Simone Farrer, Glasgow University; Charlotte Jose, Portsmouth University; Ryan Pledge, Portsmouth University; Rebecca Titus-Cobb, BPP University Manchester; and Pavlos Xagoraris, City Law School - each received a cheque for £250 and a framed certificate to mark their success.
Future Legal Mind is an annual awards scheme run by National Accident Helpline to support young legal talent and highlight the importance of access to justice via quality legal services.
For more information, and to register for next year's award, visit the Future Legal Mind page on the National Accident Helpline website.