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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > East Anglia > Finance > Banking and finance > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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The 'professional, competent and client-focused' practice at Birketts LLP¬†is ‚Äėexcellent ‚Äď very responsive and easy to deal with providing good advice from a reasoned viewpoint‚Äė. One client highlights 'excellent response times, good commercial acumen and service that is reasonable in terms of price'.¬†Mark Henry¬†in Ispwich leads the practice, which counts¬†Barclays Bank,¬†HSBC Bank and¬†Ipswich Building Society among its clients.¬†Banking partner¬†James Allen, property partner Chris Schwer, corporate partner¬†Greg Allan¬†are all key names in the practice. Senior associate Nick Burt¬†is 'always available, good to deal with and commercially very sound'. Another client notes that he¬†‚Äėimpresses with his knowledge, speed of response and practical approach to getting the deal completed'. Legal director Alex Schaafsma's strengths are her 'speed of response, articulation of the impact of proposed changes, and her open, pragmatic and commercial approach'. A highlight for the firm was its work for borrower Time Group GB in a ¬£42.2m loan transaction to finance acquisitions.

Mills & Reeve LLP¬†¬†provides 'excellent service, and its particular strengths are its industry knowledge, commercial approach and value for money'. 'In terms of sector knowledge and business acumen, the firm is on a par with City firms for¬†asset-based lending', remarks one client.¬†William Roles¬†leads the banking and finance practice and clients praise him for his 'industry knowledge and commercially-minded approach'. He assisted lender HSBC bank with a ¬£20m acquisition finance provision to¬†the Spicerhaart Group. Acquisition finance and asset-based lending expert¬†Zak Virgin¬†is 'an excellent banking lawyer ‚Äď creative and pragmatic'. Both Roles and Virgin are 'approachable and readily at clients' disposal for ad-hoc advice as well as more detailed instructions'.¬†Sarah Seed¬†and¬†Laura Holdaway¬†are recommended for not-for-profit and real estate finance respectively. Seed and principal associate Simon Warburton¬†( who specialises in fintech, crowdfunding and ABL and is 'superb - he is knowledgeable, has endless patience and provides excellent advice') advised The Cambridge Building Society on a ¬£15m investment from the Cambridgeshire County Council Pension Fund.

Commercial property and secured lending expert Ron Clare¬†in Thetford leads the banking and finance team at Ashtons Legal, which is ‚Äėa very well respected and decent firm of solicitors'. The firm acts predominantly for lenders including NatWest Bank, HSBC Bank and¬†Svenska Handelsbanken.¬†Clare assisted Santander with a security package for a ¬£10m overdraft facility for a client in the retail sector.¬†'They are up there with the best in the area‚Äė, says one client, while another remarks upon a ‚Äėvery diligent and thorough team with good experience and knowledge which they bring to the fore‚Äė.¬†Clare and associate Scott Hilton¬†are¬†‚Äėvery approachable, thorough and prepared to work with clients to highlight any issues and provide options‚Äė. Agriculture finance specialist Jeanette Dennis¬†in Cambridge is ‚Äėvery thorough, approachable, well thought of and professional with an eye for detail‚Äė. Corporate partner¬†Geoff Hazlewood¬†also plays a role in the practice.

Greene & Greene provides 'very good service, very prompt responses and good value for money, particularly compared to London firms', according to one client who describes the practice as 'pragmatic and aware of the challenges SMEs face'. Corporate partners Simon Ratcliffe and the 'quick, knowledgeable' Andrew Cooper frequently act for Nexus Underwriting Management Limited in M&A deals, in which they handle complex acquisition finance arrangements. One recent deal involved a £44m secured loan. Cooper handled a £1.5m investment from a Chinese pharmaceutical company on behalf of Cipher Surgical Limited. Corporate finance specialist Neil Walmsley and partner Mark Daly, who regularly advises shareholders of high-growth VC backed science and technology companies and also handles fundraising and investment transactions for PLCs, SMEs and shareholders, are both recommended.

Hewitsons has 'a responsive team with decent strength in depth'. The firm's practice spans its entire office network and is led from Northampton by Neil Harpham, but the Cambridge office has significant expertise in the form of corporate partner James Lawrence, commercial real estate partner James Simpson and residential property partner Tim Middleton. The firm handles a broad range of secured lending work, particularly in deals in which property is used as security, as well as acquisition finance and debt funding transactions for SMEs. Among its lender clients are domestic banks, multi-national companies and private investors, and it also acts for numerous borrowers. It is on the panels of Santander UK, Lloyds Bank and Svenska Handelsbanken. A highlight from 2017 was its work for both the lender and the borrower in a multimillion-pound mortgage deal secured against a large portfolio of residential properties.

At Howes Percival LLP¬†'the service is exceptional, with a quick turnaround even on matters of complexity; the advice is pragmatic and not of the "ivory tower‚ÄĚ academic variety which has little relevance to the needs of the business client'. One client remarks that 'the firm is good value for money, particularly compared with other ‚Äúbig-hitters‚ÄĚ in the region'. Another says 'I rate them higher and consistently better than other local firms for property-related bank lending'. Commercial property partner Joanna Nicholls¬†and corporate partner Robert Colman¬†lead the practice, which focuses heavily on real estate finance. Nicholls is 'the epitome of quiet competence'¬†and property specialist¬†Tessa Haskey¬†is 'readily approachable and confident'. Steven Beach¬†is also recommended for advising banks and private lenders on property security matters. A recent highlight saw Haskey advise Svenska Handelsbanken on the grant of a development loan facility for two sites. She also acted for R Q Capital Limited, Winterton Capital Limited and Markerstudy Insurance Company Limited in securing a development loan.

Penningtons Manches Cooper acts for both lenders and borrowers in complex financing matters and it has particular expertise in sectors such as real estate, travel, leisure, education, retail, energy and technology. 'I have been particularly impressed by her work' remarks one source who worked with practice head Helen Drayton on a high-value deal. The firm recently secured an appointment to the panel of HSBC and counts Svenska Handelsbanken, Santander and AIB Group among its clients. The Cambridge office plays a central role in the firm's nationwide banking and finance team, and Drayton is a recognised expert in acquisition finance and development finance. She recently handled a £30m loan by Lloyds Bank to client Industrial Chemicals Group Limited to refinance existing debt and fund capital expenditure. Sarah Coates, who is a specialist in real estate finance, is also highly recommended.

Greenwoods GRM has corporate finance specialists in both Cambridge and Peterborough who advise numerous borrowers, commercial banks and other lenders on acquisition finance and real estate finance, while the litigation team handles financial services disputes. Alastair Gunn leads the practice and calls upon litigators Huw Wallis and associate Jamie McConnell , head of commercial property Karin Horsley and associate Samantha East. Among the firm's highlights are contentious matters including McConnell's work for a currency trader in a dispute with an international banking group, and financing matters including the arrangement of a £400,000 loan on behalf of the lender to fund a share acquisition.

Steeles Law has banking and finance expertise in its experienced corporate and commercial partners, who work with the firm's commercial property and dispute resolution practices to advise investors and borrowers on financing transactions. Its client base includes multinational corporations and high-net-worth individuals both in the UK and overseas. Head of company commercial Richard Bailey and corporate partner Nigel Lubbock are the key contacts. Corporate and employment solicitor James Hopgood frequently works with Lubbock; they acted for an international business in restructuring its existing bank arrangements to assist with the transition of its business model from manufacturing to IP licensing. Jeyes Group and Robinsons Motor Group are among the firm's clients.

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