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Who Represents Who

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Birketts LLPdemonstrates a high level of professionalism’, with clients citing the team’s ‘accurate, in-depth and timely advice’. The three-partner team in Cambridge can draw on expertise from across the firm’s network of four offices nationally to act for a diverse client base of start-up businesses, established family-owned enterprises and public companies covering sectors such as food, technology, energy, agriculture, transport and distribution. In an illustration of its growing workload of high-value international mandates, the firm advised Expedeon on its €35m reverse takeover of Frankfurt-listed German company Sygnis AG. Other 2016 highlights included acting for Lawrence Dawson on the £27m sale of shares in Medisafe Holdings to US-based STERIS; and assisting John Henry Group with a £23m equity investment and the partial exit of its management team, which involved a pre-investment reorganisation and investment by Growth Capital Partners comprising a mixture of equity and an issuance of Guernsey loan notes. The firm also counts Palletforce, Respoke and Kirton Healthcare among its clients. Key figures include corporate finance partner and team leader Adrian Seagers, corporate transaction specialist James Allen and ‘excellent corporate lawyerQuentin Golder, who focuses on deals in the technology sector involving early-stage companies and is ‘helpful, thorough and able to support clients in complex matters involving many different jurisdictions’.

Mills & Reeve LLPconsistently provides timely, concise and effective advice at very reasonable rates, often exceeding clients’ requirements’. The firm is among the strongest regional players and also has a growing national presence. Many of its corporate matters have an international element; in 2016 it handled deals involving more than 75 jurisdictions including China, Canada and Australia. It is regularly called on to assist listed companies, as demonstrated by its advice to technology distributor Midwich on its £165m AIM listing, which included a £75m fundraising round and involved cross-border due diligence due to the company’s interests in France, Germany and Australasia. Other public company highlights included acting for Paypoint on the £14.4m sale of its online payment business to Capita. On the private company side, the team advised StepStone UK on the acquisition of graduate recruitment website Milkround Online Limited from News UK, and assisted Kaplan International Colleges UK with the creation of a new joint venture with the University of York to facilitate the recruitment and teaching of overseas students. The team is jointly led by Tom Pickthorn, who specialises in international matters, and Claire Clarke, who has particular expertise in the education sector and in the formation of investment funds. ‘Pragmatic and robust’ venture capital specialist Zickie Lim is noted for her ‘acute drafting and negotiating skills and commercially-rounded, sensible advice’. Clients also recommend charities expert Neil Burton for his ‘attention to detail, availability and proactive involvement’; capital markets lawyer Stephen Hamilton; and Anthony McGurk, who is ‘outstanding for high-level work’ in the private equity space.

Taylor Vinters is ‘very good in terms of response times, appropriateness of advice and pragmatism’. The firm has a strong focus on innovative and entrepreneurial clients, making it a regional powerhouse in the high-growth company space and a go-to firm for venture capital funds investing in the region. It also acts for a number of London-based and international clients. In an illustration of its VC expertise, the firm handled a major Series A investment for Streetteam Software Limited, which was led by Spring Partners, Frontline Ventures and Saatchinvest. The firm has an outstanding reputation for technology-related M&A and private equity investment. Other highlights included advising new client Bionical on its multimillion-pound acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Emas Pharma Limited and its Australian subsidiary, which involved preparing and negotiating the sale agreement to a tight deadline; and advising the owner-managers on their sale of MacGregor Welding Systems Ltd and its subsidiary, which included complex negotiations with Chinese counsel to advise on issues arising from the company’s joint venture activities in China. Head of corporate Adam Bradley leads a team that includes the ‘superb’ Sian Scanlon, who is ‘extremely hardworking, clear in her advice and has great knowledge of her subject’. Growth-company and angel investment specialist Charles Fletcher is ‘very knowledgeable’ and acts for a number of venture capital funds.

Taylor Wessing LLP attracts praise for its ‘excellent response times, knowledge of clients’ business and understanding of transactions’. The team in Cambridge, which is noted for its combination of ‘a high degree of technical ability with the ability to provide considered solutions to practical issues’, specialises in work for IP-rich companies and works closely with the firm’s European office network. David Mardle leads the firm-wide corporate practice, which is seen as an international leader in the venture capital, technology and life sciences markets, where it provides ‘excellent, straightforward advice’. Mardle and Simon Walker have strong international reputations for venture capital work; ‘their knowledge and experience give clients confidence that they can complete processes in impressive time’. 2016 highlights included advising artificial intelligence systems developer Magic Pony Technology Limited on its acquisition by Twitter; acting for longstanding client Citymapper on its £26.5m Series B investment round; and assisting Kymab Limited with its $100m Series C funding round led by investors ORI Healthcare Fund. The firm also counts Google, Index Ventures, Amadeus Capital Partners and Cambridge Innovation Capital among its clients.

Greenwoods Solicitors LLP’s practice is ‘always quick to respond with commercially-minded advice’ and is noted for its expertise in the technology, food, media and manufacturing sectors. ‘First-class commercial lawyerDuncan Walker, who ‘really cares about his clients and his work’, and senior solicitor Mark Williams are the key figures in Cambridge and were joined in 2016 by Douglas Linnette, who arrived from Australian law firm Kemp Strang, with which the firm has an alliance. Linnette advises UK clients on their business activities in Australia. In a key deal for the team, Walker advised Owlstone Medical its sale of a $7m equity stake to an investor from the Middle East and on the issue of new shares. The firm also acted for Rafik Jallad on the sale of the entire issued share capital of Cambridge Executive Limited to Sierra Wireless. Nitritex and Cambrionix are also clients of the firm.

Hewitsons is a strong regional player with a loyal client base in the local business community around Cambridge. Working closely with the firm’s corporate finance team, the corporate practice acts for owner-managed businesses in a wide range of industries and has extensive experience in capital markets transactions. It is also growing its M&A profile for technology-related SMEs in the region, as well as handling transactions and fundraising for larger UK companies and overseas enterprises. 2016 highlights included advising AIM-listed LiDCO Group on a £3m private placement and share subscription. The firm also counts US corporation SMC, Nuformix, Amino Technologies and Domino Printing Sciences among its clients. Head of corporate James Lawrence and partner Jason Williams are known for their depth of experience and their pragmatic approach to transactions. On the commercial side, Andrew Priest specialises in technology and outsourcing deals, and Bill Thatcher often acts for public-sector organisations, charities and multinational technology companies.

At Penningtons Manches LLPthe overall level of service is excellent, response times are fast and the advice is first rate’. The firm’s ‘always prompt and professional’ corporate team is led from Guildford and includes Helen Drayton, who has ‘a commercial attitude and the ability to offer clear, concise and pragmatic solutions’; James Stephen, who handles both domestic and cross-border matters and is ‘brilliant – he has fantastic knowledge and is superb at advising young companies’; and corporate finance and capital markets specialist Ross McNaughton, who is ‘excellent and highly supportive’. Senior associate Rachel Bradley stands out for her commercial work in the life sciences and publishing sectors. In an illustration of the firm’s life sciences expertise, McNaughton led the team advising biopharmaceuticals company Akarna Therapeutics on its $50m sale to Allergan. Other highlights included acting for Vindis Group on its acquisition of the SEAT dealership in Milton Keynes, and assisting early stage biotech company Oppilan Pharma with a $12m Series A fundraising.

Ashtons Legal is known for providing ‘great service that is prompt, clear and very professional’. The firm has a strong regional presence, including in Cambridge where associate Matthew Downing leads the local corporate and commercial team; he relocated from the firm’s Norwich office, where he was regarded as one of the leading M&A practitioners in Norfolk. His recent highlights include advising a sports clothing company on a private equity and crowdfunding investment round; acting for the buyer on its acquisition of a stake in an outdoor equipment company, which involved an employee buyout; assisting the sellers with the disposal of a property development business; and advising an education-sector client on the sale a business to a large national group. Mark Whittaker left the firm to join gunnercooke LLP in London.

Boutique firm Dixon Phillips focuses on assisting SME clients across East Anglia, with particular emphasis on those around Cambridge. ‘A sharp mind with a passion for what he does’, Oliver Phillips is ‘brilliant; he gives incredibly useful advice on contracts and legal matters, and is completely trustworthy’. Phillips and assistant solicitor Matthew Dempsey completed 12 sale and purchase transactions, buy-backs, reorganisations and investment deals in 2016 with an aggregate value of £30m. Highlights included advising the majority shareholders of Cambridge Publishing on an MBO, and Classic Products Limited on a complex demerger of its property investment business.

At Howes Percival LLP, corporate partner Nathan Horton is now splitting his time between Norwich and the young Cambridge office, which has been built up principally around the firm’s commercial property offering. Solicitor Venetia Phipps joined from Hewitsons, adding to the office’s corporate credentials. In 2016, the firm acted for a pharmaceuticals company in joint ventures and the acquisition of a retail pharmacy; advised a bitcoin company on setting up its operations; and assisted a manufacturing company with the negotiation of the terms of its supply arrangements with a large international corporate in the rail industry. Adam Kudryl joined Ansons in Lichfield.

The ‘astute’ team at Tees Law is noted for its ‘strong work ethic’. The Cambridge office works closely with the teams in Chelmsford and Bishop’s Stortford to handle share and asset acquisitions and disposals large and small; recent highlights include the high-value acquisition of a haulage company, a major corporate reorganisation that resulted in a multimillion-pound share sale to an AIM-listed financial services group, and a number of corporate finance transactions involving senior lending, mezzanine financing and inter-creditor arrangements. In another key matter, newly promoted associate Sarah Ilic acted for the buyer on the MBO of a large UK-based agricultural equipment manufacturer. Ilic leads the Cambridge team with support from solicitor Katy Carson. Martin Woodruff retired.

Woodfines LLP has built a reputation for both domestic and international deals, acting on cross-border matters for companies based in China, India and other jurisdictions. Team head Stephen Oliver has more than 20 years’ experience and is well known for his work on joint ventures, shareholder agreements and many other corporate issues. He is supported by one paralegal. Among Oliver’s many highlights was his work on a joint venture for a company in the property sector that was seeking investment for a multimillion-pound development project. Oliver also acted for a leading UK agricultural business in arranging an international distribution contract for its innovative technology.


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