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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 > Human resources > Employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Employment
  2. Hall of Fame
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Who Represents Who

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Birketts LLP¬†fields a 'pragmatic and efficient' employment practice whose ‚Äėservice standards are exceptional‚Äė. The ‚Äėvery down-to-earth,¬†unflappable'¬†Jeanette Wheeler¬†‚Äėinstils confidence‚Äė and leads the firm-wide practice from Norwich. Clients recommend her for her ‚Äėbreadth of knowledge and her common sense approach'. She recently assisted a client in the healthcare sector with an investigation into a senior staff member's conduct. Also in Norwich, the ‚Äėvery knowledgeable,¬†friendly and approachable‚Äė Matthew Newnham¬†is praised for his¬†‚Äėwonderful calm demeanour and his practical advice'.¬†Investigations and Employee Relations Consultant Lorna Townsend¬†leads the firm‚Äôs HR consultancy and investigations service, which focuses on employee relations.¬†'Thorough and pragmatic' associate Sam Greenhalgh¬†and legal director Tom Sharpe¬†are also recommended. In Cambridge, Abigail Trencher¬†is the key contact. For a UK employer, she handled TUPE matters arising from a foreign acquisition. Senior associate Katie Harris-Wright¬†is ‚Äėvery personable and easy to talk to; she takes the time to understand clients‚Äô business'. Fellow senior associate Lottie Seaborn¬†is ‚Äėgreat to speak to and has a unique personal touch to her work'. Consultant¬†Tim Tyndall¬†is also recommended. Catherine Johnson¬†¬†takes the lead in Ipswich, where senior associate¬†Lisa Hayward¬†specialises in share schemes.

Cambridge Employment Law LLP¬†‚Äėprovides an excellent level of service and ensures advice is both appropriate and pragmatic; the team consists of experienced employment solicitors who have gained clients‚Äô trust and confidence through giving good sound advice over a range of challenging employment law matters'. One clients describes ‚Äėhigh-quality, pragmatic advice and a responsive service ‚Äď the¬†guidance is excellent value for money'. The firm is one of the UK's foremost employment law boutiques and its roster of clients includes numerous companies in the technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals sectors, as well as high-growth start-ups, Cambridge colleges, charities and senior executives. Among these are Cambridge Consultants,¬†The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Trinity College. The ‚Äėprofessional, responsive and proactive‚Äė¬†Oliver Pryke¬†leads the practice and shows ‚Äėgreat attention to detail'. He assisted a¬†leading research institute with the removal of two board members. ‚ÄėWe value her and trust the advice and support she provides‚Äė, say clients of ‚Äėstraight-talking, robust and¬†trusted advisor‚Äė Eleanor Freeman, who is ‚Äėa knowledgeable employment solicitor who takes time to ask questions to ensure she has a good understanding of the matter in hand before she gives advice'. Partner and qualified barrister¬†Mandy Lyne, who advised a client on an internal dispute between the members of its staff association, is also recommended.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP¬†is ‚Äėexcellent all round; the team can turn work around at very short notice and provide specific resolutions to complex problems'. The practice is 'very detail-oriented, very careful, always available and able to give appropriate advice'. The Cambridge office is a key part of the firm-wide human resources practice group and handles a high volume of international employment matters. Its expertise includes specialist knowledge of sectors such as¬†education, financial services, pharmaceuticals and transport and among its clients are Queen Mary University of London and Roche Products Limited. It handles advisory work and litigation including¬†complex Employment Tribunal cases and numerous whistleblowing claims involving financial institutions. The firm is currently assisting¬†technology business ARM with global employment issues, which include the operation of an international employment helpline and UK gender pay gap reporting.¬†Simon Tytherleigh¬†is senior partner of the Cambridge office and an experienced tribunal advocate, and he leads the employment practice.¬†Elizabeth Graves¬†is a leading light in cross-border employment matters and clients describe her as ‚Äėan exceptional lawyer ‚Äď dependable and commercial with high emotional intelligence and good regulatory insight‚Äė.¬†Constanze Moorhouse¬†leads the firm's international employment counsel team. Clients also recommend partners¬†Matthew Kelly¬†and¬†Geoffrey Mead¬†for their work in the education sector, as well as principal associate¬†Rachel Bennett¬†and associate Ivan Moriarty¬†in a practice that 'provides tailored, insightful advice that moves issues forward in a constructive way'. Senior associate¬†Sasha Willmott¬†also garners praise for her work in¬†life sciences, not-for-profit and education sectors. Owen Warnock retired from the firm.  

Greenwoods GRM¬†is ‚Äėvery strong in the employment law area‚Äė and ‚Äėadvice is always pragmatic and timely‚Äė. The firm has one of the largest employment and employee benefits practices in the region, and it is led by the highly regarded¬†John MacAulay, who regularly advises clients on large-scale business reorganisations and difficult TUPE transfers.¬†Managing partner Robert Dillarstone¬†is still actively engaged in fee-earning and clients describe him and associate¬†Keith Williams¬†as ‚Äėvery good at coming up with the pros and cons of a situation such as the benefits of a textbook approach versus a pragmatic approach'.¬†‚ÄėVery approachable‚Äė¬†newly promoted partner¬†Joanna Scally¬†in Cambridge is highly recommended for her ‚Äėclarity of advice and reliable service'. Scally and senior solicitor¬†Siobhan Thomson¬†recently advised Bedford Borough Council on the employment aspects of its move to a digital operating model by 2020, which includes a major staff restructure and more than 250 proposed redundancies. The practice has many strong associates including¬†Suzanne Wrench¬†who has experience in TUPE transfers and tribunal proceedings;¬†Vincent Galea¬†who handles senior hires and departures, and post-termination restrictions; and¬†Natalie Wiliams¬†who is known for complex tribunal litigation.

Mills & Reeve LLP¬†provides 'a very good, efficient service'. 'The advice is always pragmatic and useful', remarks one client. National head of employment David Mills¬†leads the practice from Cambridge.¬†He has 25 years' experience and¬†advises business of all sizes from small start-ups to plcs on the full range of employment issues including board disputes, contractual matters, restructuring, redundancies, business transfers and dismissals. With associate Andrew Secker, who focuses largely on TUPE transfers and restrictive covenant disputes and is described by clients as ‚Äėa very practical and knowledgeable lawyer who¬†provides clear and thoughtful advice', Mills handled a court action for a business and its US subsidiary facing the¬†enforcement of post-termination covenants against two new hires.¬†Stuart Craig¬†leads on¬†work for health sector clients in the East of England and London, acting for,¬†inter alia,¬†national NHS bodies, acute NHS Trusts and clinical commissioning groups.¬†Veteran employment lawyer¬†Ian Mather¬†has nearly 35 years' experience and counts employers such as Olympus UK among his clients. James Kidd¬†leads the employment, pensions and immigration department in Norwich and is 'an excellent lawyer with some good junior support'. Consultant¬†Tracy Yates,¬†education specialist¬†Nicola Brown¬†and principal associates¬†Rebecca Cockerill,¬†Alex Russell¬†(who is 'very competent, efficient and responsive') and¬†Patrick Gass¬†(who¬†is 'very approachable and a pleasure to work with') are also recommended.

Taylor Vinters¬†has an employment practice that is¬†‚Äėof high quality and very responsive'. One client reports that the firm is 'first-class in terms of its responsiveness, approachability and commerciality; the team is forward-thinking and practical in its approach'. The department is led from the London office, but the firm retains significant expertise in Cambridge and handles a significant caseload of¬†cross-border matters alongside complex and high-value domestic work for clients such as Qualcomm Europe, Inc.,¬†The Royal Society of Chemistry,¬†Booking.com and¬†ESI Media, which¬†owns¬†the Evening Standard, Independent titles and London Live TV. Former practice head¬†Roger James¬†moved to¬†Ogletree Deakins International LLP¬†in London, so the department is now led by¬†Dominic Holmes¬†who works between the London and Cambridge offices, as does key partner¬†Jo Edgley. Christine Berry¬†handles employment law and charities work, and she counts¬†The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and its sponsored research institutes among her clients.¬†Senior counsel Rachel Ashwood, who handles cross-border projects, is ‚Äėvery sharp'. Holmes and Ashwood supported¬†boutique corporate management, fiduciary and trust company Three Rivers Management Limited in¬†litigation arising out of the closure of the only UK office.

Ashtons Legal¬†has a ‚Äėflexible and commercial‚Äė employment practice that is best-known for its work in specific industry sectors including education, in which it acts for numerous¬†Cambridge Colleges, manufacturing, food and beverage, and oil and gas. The firm also has a¬†growing client base in the healthcare sector, and the addition of a regulatory team focused on road transport and logistics is generating employment law matters from that sector.¬†Ross Strowger¬†leads the practice from Norwich and last year he handled employment issues for Dingles Motor Group arising from the sale of its business.¬†In Cambridge,¬†Claire Sleep¬†is the key contact. With solicitor¬†Carrie March, she assisted St John's College School with a range of employment matters.¬†Associate¬†Colin Makin¬†in Ipswich is ‚Äėalways available and his knowledge of TUPE is exceptional; not only has he got outstanding employment law knowledge, but he also understands the commercial side of decisions made and is great fun to work with'.  

Buckles Solicitors LLP has a growing client base of regional and international companies, thanks to its alliance with CastaldiPartners in Paris and Milan. One international matter that came through this relationship saw practice head Giles Betts advise the French owners of a telecommunications infrastructure company on the closure of the London office of its subsidiary, which included advice on redundancy consultation, settlement agreements, unfair dismissal issues, TUPE and incentive packages for the transfer of staff. Senior solicitor Nicola Cockerill and solicitor Alison Banerjee are also recommended. The practice also advised the general counsel of a US company on UK employment law matters including unfair dismissal and disciplinary procedures, and acted for a UK media company on new arrangements for a senior executive who is a foreign national living abroad.

Ellisons Solicitors¬†in Ipswich has a highly respected lead partner in Julian Outen, who is a qualified mediator and has many years' experience in TUPE matters resulting from outsourcing agreements and business acquisitions and mergers, and in complex litigation including boardroom disputes. The practice currently acts for a large client base in East Anglia and elsewhere in the UK, as well as handling cross-border matters for clients based in¬†Europe, Israel and the US. A sign of the growing value and complexity of the work coming into the practice was Outen's work for an international data analytics company on a ¬£50m corporate transaction that required the intra-group transfer of employees and the novation of employment contracts. He also acted for a large industrial company in managing the exit of a senior and long-serving director, which resulted in accusations of age discrimination and unfair dismissal. The matter was successfully settled.  

Clients of Gotelee Solicitors¬†are¬†'very pleased with response times and the team‚Äôs depth of knowledge; the lawyers are very thorough, and good at understanding business needs and following up with appropriate action'. The firm is seen as having one of the most prominent employment practices in Ipswich, though it supports clients from across East Anglia in business immigration,¬†TUPE matters, settlement agreements, contracts, policies, disciplinary hearings, discrimination cases, employment tribunals and much more.¬†Andrew West¬†leads the practice and is a regular advocate in tribunals, as well as handling employment issues that arise in corporate transactions. He recently acted for a large local employer in a complex disability discrimination grievance. Consultant¬†Brian Morron¬†has more than 30 years' experience as an employment law specialist and until recently sat as a tribunal judge. Business immigration and employment law specialist Marie Allen¬†is ‚Äėpatient, knowledgeable and good at looking ahead at possible problems that may occur'.  

At¬†Greene & Greene¬†‚Äėthe overall level of service is¬†outstanding‚Äė. Clients describe the firm as ‚Äėa true partner‚Äė and note that ‚Äėthe advice is exceptional and the team is¬†very approachable and seems to delight in giving the personal touch‚Äė. One remarks that ‚Äėextremely supportive and non-judgemental‚Äė¬†department head Selene Holden¬†‚Äėtakes the time to truly understand clients‚Äô business culture and build an effective business relationship‚Äė and that¬†‚Äėknowledgeable, passionate and unflappable‚Äė senior associate¬†Greg Jones¬†‚Äėreally¬†understands our business, our culture, and our approach to commerciality, and the advice he provides is always pertinent‚Äė. Barrister and ‚Äėconfident, highly motivated‚Äė¬†senior associate¬†Angharad Ellis Owen¬† provides ‚Äėwell-balanced and diligent counsel and insight‚Äė and is ‚Äėextremely commercial and precise‚Äė. Alongside the firm‚Äôs local work in sectors such as insurance, manufacturing and transport, it handles a growing caseload of national and international matters. For Nexus Underwriting Management, Jones handled employment due diligence for two significant corporate acquisitions. He also advised a large UK food processing company on its modern slavery policy.

Hewitsons provides 'excellent service, great depth of knowledge and quick response times'. 'We use them for the depth of their knowledge', remarks one client who also notes that 'responses to instructions and queries are prompt'. The firm's main strengths lie in High Court litigation, including restrictive covenants, confidential information and breach of fiduciary duty disputes; business reorganisation including individual and collective redundancies; Employment Tribunal matters; and commercial transactions and outsourcing including TUPE transfers. Valerie Lambert, who regularly acts for commercial clients in High Court disputes, is praised for her 'strong interpersonal skills, depth of knowledge and commercial appreciation'. Key partner Elizabeth Swinburn is 'able to communicate on all levels with all different types of people and is extremely professional, personable, approachable and patient; it is a real pleasure to work with her'. The practice counts Avionicare Limited and VKR Group among its clients.

Howes Percival LLP's employment practice continued to grow its profile in both Norwich and Cambridge last year. Leading light¬†Matthew Potter¬†leads the practice from Cambridge and his varied caseload from 2017 included defending an injunction in the High Court arising from restrictive covenants, which settled after a preliminary hearing; pursuing and¬†employment tribunal¬† on behalf of national employer; complex TUPE litigation arising from failure to provide accurate employee information; defending complex discrimination claims on behalf of employers;¬†advising on restructures and changes to term and conditions; and¬†assisting with senior executive exits. Oyster Marine and EMCOR (UK) Group plc are among his clients.¬†Associate¬†Nicola Butterworth¬†in Norwich has 15 years' experience in employment and HR matters, most notably in the¬†leisure and tourism, and energy sectors. She advised the family shareholders of Aspall Cyder Limited on issues arising from its sale to a foreign company.  

Penningtons Manches LLP¬†is¬†‚Äėvery professional, fast and thorough‚Äė and one client describes the practice as ‚Äėtop class‚Äė. The practice is ‚Äėvery quick to respond and keeps clients well informed'. 'I have been really impressed with the quality of both the legal knowledge and case preparation' remarks one barrister. Hilary Aldred, who regularly acts for clients in the education sector, is recommended for her 'excellent customer service ethic, her personal touch and her¬†unrivalled, in-depth knowledge of the sector'. She worked with the firm's London team to advise Ocado Retail on data protection and HR matters. With senior associate¬†Senior associate Sophie Whitbread, she also assisted¬†UCL Business plc on various matters including¬†the response to a flexible working request from a key member of staff. Whitbread is ‚Äėvery professional and explains things well, so non-legal people can understand the terminology‚Äė. Counsel notes that 'her legal knowledge is excellent, she takes a very good analytical view of the case, she is incredibly thorough and she is a good tactical litigator; if I were a client, I would want her as my solicitor'.

'I cannot praise the firm too highly', says a client of Prettys Solicitors LLP in Ipswich, adding that 'it always provides top-notch contextual advice'. 'The level of support we receive is exceptional', says one client who adds that the practice has 'the ability to consider the commercial aspects that are important to us as a business; it provides superb value for money and expert advice'. Head of employment Kelly Sayers stands out with one client noting that 'although the whole team is approachable, knowledgeable and professional, she should be singled out for particular recommendation - she really knows her stuff'. 'Her expertise is highly commendable,' notes another who adds that 'she is very responsive and has both a pragmatic approach and dynamic personality that is a blessing to work with'. As part of their busy caseload Matthew Cole and senior associate Vanessa Bell handled high-value holiday pay claims. The addition of senior associate Laura Pharez Zea from Mayer Brown International LLP adds experience in both contentious and non-contentious matters to a practice that 'goes the extra mile to understand its clients’ business needs and objectives; its no-nonsense approach is a very refreshing attribute'.

At¬†Quantrills Solicitors¬†‚Äėthe level of service is very good, response times are excellent, the solicitors are knowledgeable and the charges are reasonable‚Äė. The firm specialises uniquely in employment law, on which its advice is 'always well considered, appropriate and thorough, yet commercially aware'. The firm has an established reputation for¬†employment law and HR matters, acting for both employers and employees, and it advises on strategic HR matters as well as representing clients in employment tribunals and High Court proceedings. 'Consummate professional'¬†Simon Quantrill¬†leads the two-partner practice, in which¬†Julie_Temple¬†is ‚Äėextremely practical and very easy to deal with; her advice is always clearly expressed‚Äė.¬†'Thorough and helpful' associate¬†Marsha Robinson¬†is also recommended. Among the firm's clients are leading academic institutions and large local employers.

Former barrister and HR manager Oliver Brabbins leads the employment practice at Steeles Law, which handles both domestic and cross-border matters for a diverse client base that includes well-known names such as Premier Foods, Hovis Limited, Pasta Foods Limited and Robinsons Motor Group. Brabbins, who has in-depth knowledge of industrial relations, large-scale reorganisations, discrimination complaints, TUPE and the exit of senior managers, and associate Robert Hickford assisted Hovis with a nationwide review of all its employment contracts and policies. They also helped Crown Chicken with employment due diligence, the exit of senior managers and the management of potential liabilities arising from its existing employee base. Another key highlight was their work for Premier Foods on a large-scale restructuring of its head office, which called on them to examine the implications of collective redundancies and settlement agreements.

Blocks in Ipswich has an experienced partner in the 'highly responsive, supportive, robust, meticulous and pragmatic' Frances Barker who is recommended for her 'excellent practical approach with the emphasis on the law and the needs of the business'. 'The overall level of service is excellent and the advice always very practical', remarks one client. Another notes that 'Barker is regarded as a leader in her field; she delivers very efficiently and produces best possible outcomes at prices which compare very favourably'. She frequently acts for SMEs and high-value employees from the private and public sectors in unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. One recent case involved assisting a senior company officer with allegations against him made by a malicious staff member, which involved aspects of the Official Secrets Act.

Legal executive Nicola Strefford leads the employment law practice at Clapham & Collinge Solicitors, which is known for 'an exceptional level of service, as well as detailed, timely, accurate, clear advice and excellent value for money'. One client remarks that Strefford 'has a great depth of expertise around employment law and she had great understanding of the situation clients are in, so she provides solid options to reduce the risk'. She works closely with barrister Neil Ashley of Octagon Chambers on contentious matters. Their highlights from 2017 included a class action redundancy claim on behalf of employees seeking unpaid redundancy pay, which resulted in a the recovery of all monies owed. On the defence side, Strefford also represented a client in the leisure industry facing charges of unfair dismissal, whistleblowing and disability discrimination.

Hegarty LLP in Peterborough has a small employment team that punches above its weight thanks to the experience of its partners. Practice head and tribunal judge Martin Bloom, who has been a partner at the firm for 35 years, provides comprehensive advice on all areas of employment law including contracts, unfair dismissal and discrimination claims, consultancy agreements and employment tribunals. Veteran employment lawyer Tim Thompson has 40 years' experience in dismissal and discrimination cases, disciplinary proceedings, terminations and tribunal advocacy.

Leathes Prior's employment team acts for several household name employers in East Anglia and has a strong track record in employment tribunals and in litigation. Its experienced team is led by the greatly respected Dan Chapman, who frequently acts for employers as a tribunal advocate. He is also proficient in the drafting and enforcement of restrictive covenants, health and safety cases, and employment matters in sport. Newly promoted partner Sarah Appleton is also recommended for complex TUPE and redundancy matters. Associates Gareth Stevens, who handles contract drafting and tribunal matters, and newly promoted Harriet Howes, who prosecutes and defends discrimination  claims with a focus on those relating to disability and family-friendly rights, are also recommended.

At¬†Woodfines LLP¬†‚Äėthe advice is detailed, in-depth and comprehensive‚Äė. The firm¬†acts for employers and executives on the full spectrum of employment issues, both contentious and non-contentious. Its employer clients range from SMEs to national and international businesses in sectors such as transport,¬†recruitment and manufacturing. Practice head¬†Nick Sayer¬†¬†‚Äėmakes himself available at short notice and he is¬†particularly good at trying to close matters in a quick time frame, rather than letting things go on too long‚Äė. He recently provided a range of employment advice to JW Suckling Transport Limited, and handled tribunal claims and the enforcement of restrictive covenants for a client in the packaging industry. He also counts Saffron Building Society and Murfitts Industries among his clients.

Fraser Dawbarns has 'a very friendly and helpful team giving timely responses at a reasonable cost'. Head of litigation Neil John is the key contact. Associate Kim Cross has 'a very good understanding of a range of personnel issues and her guidance is given with consideration of care for the individual whilst protecting the rights of the business'. She acted for an employer in a complex case involving an employee on long-term sick leave. Legal executive Gerald Bloye in King's Lynn is 'very professional and has a pragmatic approach, providing candid, considered and realistic advice'.

At¬†Kerseys Solicitors¬†in Ipswich ‚Äėthe level of service is exceptional, all the way through from the initial introductory meeting to the final conclusion of the case‚Äė, according to one client who reports that ‚Äėthe advice was excellent and timely, but more important for me was the empathy they showed for my personal situation‚Äô. The firm joins the ranking on the strength of its growing team and steady flow of work for both employers and employees. Head of dispute resolution Anthony Wooding¬†oversees two lawyers who focus on contentious employment matters.¬†Solicitor¬†Adrian Green¬†is 'exceptional, I cannot speak highly enough of him', says one client who adds 'Kerseys would certainly be my first choice should¬†I need legal advice in the future'. Green defended a local company against a claim of unfair dismissal, reaching a settlement for a fraction of the initial claim. Solicitor Kate Barnes¬†joined from Bates Wells & Braithwaite¬†in 2017.

Rogers and Norton has a significant client base among the local business community in the region around Norwich, and it frequently acts for employers in cases of unfair dismissal, particularly those relating to age discrimination. Consultant Phil Kerridge often appears in Employment Tribunals both within East Anglia and further afield. He also supports the firm's commercial department by providing advice on employment aspects of business acquisitions and disposals, particularly in relation to the transfer of undertakings, the drafting employment contracts of employment, disciplinary procedures and compromise agreements.

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Legal Developments in East Anglia for Employment

  • Companies should plan now to minimise their pension protection levy

    The amount that pension schemes have to pay to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) for the year 2006/07 may have increased by as much as five times the previous year's levy. Employers who ultimately bear the cost of many pension schemes will need to make plans now to ensure the levy payable for the year 2008/09 is kept to a minimum.
    - Stephenson Harwood

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