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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 > Public sector > Education > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Education
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Birketts LLP provides 'excellent service including timely and tailored responses, sector knowledge, foresight in anticipating potential concerns and sensitivity to financial implications', according to one client in the education sector. The firm's multi-disciplinary practice works for clients from all parts of the education sector including pre-schools and nurseries, preparatory and independent schools, academies and academy trusts, and FE and HE colleges. The practice is led by employment partner Abigail Trencher but also includes experts in construction, planning, property, commercial law, litigation, student issues, charities and governance. Trencher recently acted for Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. Consultant Tim Tyndall also handles employment law. Corporate and charities partner Erika Clarke counts College of West Anglia among her clients. Senior associate Sara Sayer is the key contact for disputes and student issues. Senior associate Liz Brownsell, who is co-head of the firm's charities and social enterprise group and who frequently advises on academy conversions, is 'exemplary in her thorough preparation and commitment to providing a professional service; she is personable and sensitive to the clients' requirements, and provides valuable advice'. Senior associate Dwight Patten is recommended for property transactions.

At Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP 'response times are always very good, and the advice is pragmatic and current, reflecting experience in the FE and HE sector'. Head of the firm's international education and corporate governance practice Glynne Stanfield, who splits his time between London and Cambridge, draws on his experience of corporate and commercial law to support clients in the sector and is a recognised leader in the field of education mergers. He acted for Capella Education Company in the sale of Arden University. He also assisted US-listed De Vry Inc. with the move of 1000 staff and students from their campus in St Maarten, which was affected by hurricane Irma, to a temporary campus at the University of Central Lancashire. This matter involved complex HR, student issues and immigration issues. Matthew Kelly and Geoffrey Mead are key partners in the firm's education employment practice. Kelly recently acted for Tresham College of Further and Higher Education in its merger with Bedford College, while Mead supported Cambridge Regional College in its merger with Huntingdon Regional College to create a new FE institution.

Mills & Reeve LLP¬†is ‚Äėsuperb-plus‚Äė, according to one client who remarks that¬†‚Äėresponse times are usually same-day from initial inquiry to telephone discussion in depth, all staff are very courteous, knowledgeable, and business-like, and the firm represents very good value for money‚Äė. The firm's national multi-disciplinary education group is led from Cambridge by¬†'good all-rounder'¬†and higher education (HE) law specialist¬†Gary Attle, who has shown ‚Äėflawless performance over a decade and is the expert in HE-related legal matters', according to one client.¬†National head of projects and construction Raith Pickup¬†specialises in student accommodation. Property partner¬†Caroline Dean¬†handles development projects for landowners including charities and education sector clients. Principal associate¬†Jonathan Greenwood¬†is recommended for corporate and commercial advice, real estate partner¬†Andrew Wood¬†for student accommodation transactions,¬†Nicola Brown¬†for employment law, and¬†Sarah Seed¬†for banking work. Seed handled a ¬£300m listed bond issue for the University of Southampton. Associate Alison Williams¬†in the firm's regulatory, public law and commercial disputes group is 'very good on legal detail'.

Stone King LLP operates a national specialist education practice through five offices in the UK, each of which has a full-service team. The national practice, which comprises more than 70 lawyers, is led by Roger Inman in Cambridge and has more than 30 years' experience in advising state-funded schools, as well as a much longer history of acting for independent schools. The practice handles all aspects of school law including governance, educational provision for students, employment, property, capital funding and construction. Inman recently handled the rapid reorganisation and development of Eastern Multi-Academy Trust, which added six primary schools in a period of a few months. The Cambridge office expanded significantly last year with the addition of legal executive and local authority education specialist Christopher Jones, senior HR consultant Brian Chapman from Action for Children, senior associate and immigration specialist Julie Moktadir from IPSEA, and property solicitor Emma Webster from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP.

At¬†Greenwoods GRM¬†‚Äėthe level of service is very high, responses are¬†swift and the team has good business knowledge and good depth‚Äė. The firm has a long track record of advising high-profile clients in the education sector including a growing number of Cambridge Colleges and large independent schools. The firm's academies schools team regularly advises on setting up multi-academy trusts. The multi-disciplinary team includes¬†employment law, which is a key part of the firm‚Äôs education practice and associate Joanna Scally¬†is ‚Äėvery approachable and knowledgeable in her subject both generally and particularly relating to education‚Äė. She recently acted for Emmanuel College, Cambridge, on the restructuring of its front-of-house and catering team. Managing partner Robert Dillarstone¬†¬†also advises on employment matters.¬†Head of corporate¬†¬†David Woods, associate Victoria Robinson, property partner Stephen Illingworth¬†and associate Kelly Peck¬†are all key players in the practice.

Hewitsons is 'overall a very good firm - its knowledge of the education and charity sectors is very good'. One client remarks that the firm 'offers a very thorough and comprehensive service that we value greatly'. It has a diverse client base consisting of schools and further or higher education institutions, to which it provides expertise in real estate and construction projects, freedom of information and data protection issues, academy and independent school restructuring, commercial matters and employment law. Practice head Chris Knight now works from the Northampton office but the firm retains highly recommended practitioners in the Cambridge office such as 'very thorough and knowledgeable' senior solicitor Martyn Robinson. Robinson acted with Knight for a multi-academy trust on a sponsor licence to allow access to students from outside the European Economic Area. Clients also recommend property partners James Simpson and Susanne Hinde for their 'prompt responses, pragmatic and commercial advice with deep specialist expertise'.

At specialist HE firm JG Poole & Co. LLP & Ely 'the advice is always pragmatic and tailored, but intellectually rigorous; administrative responsiveness is excellent and it offers excellent value for money compared to larger firms'. The firm gets 'full marks for service; it is a lovely firm to work with, as it provides excellent advice and is very efficient and proactive whilst being approachable and friendly'. Set up five years ago, the firm acts for many schools and universities, including new client University of Brighton. The practice led by senior partner Jason Poole focuses mainly on student accommodation projects, which last year included a £40m project for Buckinghamshire New University. Jan Harris has almost 25 years' experience in advising universities, colleges and independent schools. 'Responsive, efficient, knowledgeable and clear' legal director Katherine Souter joined from Mills & Reeve LLP & Cambridge in late 2017 and is a specialist in construction, public procurement and state aid matters. She is recommended for her 'responsiveness and accessibility, and her ability to meet challenging deadlines'. Associate Jo Farrington 'knows HE and can get to the nub of the matter quickly and efficiently'. Associate Rebecca Quinn is 'extremely informative, striking the perfect balance between the technical and the practical; she is also very approachable and friendly'.

Penningtons Manches LLP is 'very good in this practice area' and clients praise employment partner Hilary Aldred for 'trying her best to follow the client’s instructions carefully even in difficult situations'. One client in the education sector remarks that 'we receive an excellent level of service from the employment team, with immediate response times, pragmatic advice and a good understanding of the sector' and notes that Aldred has 'unrivalled in-depth knowledge and understanding of the higher education environment and academic employment and contractual matters'. The practice, which spans all of the firm's UK offices, is best-known for its work in the higher education sector, and is on the panel of the London Universities Purchasing Consortium for student disputes, employment and governance matters. Aldred assisted Stanford University on the dismissal of a member of its UK staff. Senior associate Sophie Whitbread is also recommended.

Academy conversions are a key area of work for the practice at Steeles Law, which is led by corporate partner Richard Bailey. He is currently acting for six multi-academy trusts and his team has previously converted more than 30 schools to academy status, though the firm also acts for further education colleges and a local specialist university. Head of real estate Michael Fahy plays a key role in the practice and his recent work includes advising on the property aspects of the development of a new free school, and handling letting agreements for a multi-academy trust seeking to allow a charity to develop a nursery on part of its existing site. Employment partner Oliver Brabbins provided specialist advice to a local college in relation to its senior management, which included a relevant transfer under TUPE.

Leathes Prior¬†has a multi-disciplinary team that acts for numerous¬†schools and universities in East Anglia. Head of employment¬†Dan Chapman¬†is a key member of the practice, as are employment partner¬†Sarah Appleton¬†and associate¬†Gareth Stevens, whose clients include schools, academies and multi-academy trusts. The firm also call on¬†Mike Barlow's litigation department, in which associate¬†Polly Langford¬†has a niche specialism in education cases, acting on behalf of maintained and independent schools, and for individual parents.¬†¬†She advises on a wide range of matters including admissions policies, appeals policies, challenges to suspensions and exclusions,¬†and securing special needs provision.  

The education practice at Taylor Vinters comprises skilled lawyers in the firm's charities and employment practices. Christine Berry, whose practice covers both disciplines, is the key contact since Caroline Eade left to join a faith-based charity. Berry handles governance, employment matters and student issues for many of the firm's higher education clients. Patrick Farrant deals with intellectual property issues, Helen Mutucumarana handles property transactions, and litigator Luke Hibbert advises on contentious matters. Among the Cambridge colleges for which the firm acts are Peterhouse, Girton, Jesus, King's and St Edmunds. Villiers Park Educational Trust and the UK's largest adult education charity, Workers’ Educational Association, are also among the firm's clients.

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