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  1. Commercial property: Cambridge
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Next generation lawyers (region-wide)

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At Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, ‘the overall level of service is excellent and the firm is very attentive to clients’ needs’. The firm has a growing national and international reputation for its wide-ranging expertise in real estate matters, though it particularly stands out for its expertise in transport, education, care home and residential projects. Development and regeneration project partner Dominic Morris is ‘knowledgeable in his subject area, timely in his responses and always professional in his approach’. Clare Whitaker is recommended for investment and corporate occupier work and has specific expertise in the hotels and leisure sector, where she acts for a wide range of investors, developers, occupiers and funders. Senior associate Megan D’Souza-Mathew specialises in development and regeneration work for private and public sector clients. Her recent work includes advising on a town centre scheme leisure development and acting for senior living developers on a series of conditional contracts and option agreements for care home and retirement village developments. Associate Jamie Cawthornhas a very detailed and in-depth knowledge of the residential development industry; he can use his experience acting for both buyers and sellers to his clients’ advantage in negotiations’. He focuses on residential and mixed-use development work, regularly acting for national homebuilders. Associates Claire Morgan and Geoff Street are recommended for infrastructure and development work in the transport sector. A key deal for the Cambridge team saw Cawthorn act for the Fairfield Partnership on the £18m sale of a site at Hellingly Green in East Sussex, and on securing planning permission for 460 new dwellings. Richard Birks joined DWF.

A class above many others in the region’, Mills & Reeve LLP’s team is ‘very efficient and knowledgeable, and very good value for money’. Planning partner Beverley Firth oversees a department, which clients rate as ‘10 out of 10 for value and appropriateness of advice’. The firm is a respected national player that handles high-quality work on a regional, national and international level for investors, nationally known developers, strategic landowners, major corporates, and education and health and care providers. Charles Staveley leads the firm's real estate investment group and his clients include institutional pension funds, management houses, property companies and both onshore and offshore investors. Vincenzo Maggio is ‘knowledgeable, responsive and easy to work with’. He focuses on investment work and landlord and tenant matters for a client base that includes Cambridge colleges and pension funds. Michelle Cookson specialises in complex investment and development projects and is ‘highly skilled and a pleasure to work with’. Nick Finlayson-Brown is recommended for advising UK and overseas clients on investment and development projects. Christine de Ferrars Green, who regularly advises Urban&Civic, is ‘hugely knowledgeable and hands-on’. Tim Allsophas very good attention to detail and provides excellent advice’. He has particular expertise in major development projects, joint ventures and real estate finance. Clients also recommend senior associates Rachel Kent (who is ‘an up-and-coming lawyer with good negotiation skills’) and Tom Nash (who ‘never shirks going the extra mile’). The firm’s key deals included advising Brookgate on the multimillion-pound CB4 city centre regeneration project in Cambridge.

At Birketts LLP, ‘the industry knowledge of the key individuals is excellent and the appropriateness of advice is always sound’. Katherine Herbert can ‘clearly see how to unlock potential issues in a swift and practical way’. She leads a team with a national reputation for strategic property matters, and which was strengthened by the arrival of Gavin Acheson, who joined from Farrer & Co and advises on commercial real estare matters for institutional, corporate and private clients. He specialises in the acquisition, funding, asset management and disposal of investment, development and occupational property for prominent UK property investment funds, property companies, endowed charities, livery companies and landed estates. The firm has real strength among its senior associates; standout figures include Nick Pickersgill, for real estate finance matters; Claudia Haisman-Green, who leads on corporate and commercial occupier matters; strategic land specialist Deborah Marshall, whose ‘attention to detail and due diligence are fantastic’; Natalie Biggs, for development work; and Isabel Wightman-Cooper, who handles real estate finance. The firm also hired associate Emma Medina from Freeths LLP; she brings experience in residential and commercial development, property management and landlord and tenant work. Recent work includes acting for Brasenose College, Oxford, on a multimillion-pound promotion agreement for a 500-acre greenbelt site, and assisting Svenska Handelsbanken AB with the refinancing of a multimillion-pound portfolio of six hotels owned by a company in Suffolk.

The team at Hewitsons is ‘extremely thorough and always has experts on tap’. Clients also praise its ‘high-quality work delivered to tight timescales’ and its team of ‘technically strong lawyers who go out of their way to help meet deadlines and help to work out the commercial risks’. The firm maintains a strong track record on major development projects such as Hill Residential’s multimillion-pound scheme at a University of Cambridge development site. It also stands out for its advice to clients such as Turnstone Estates on large and complex projects in the leisure and residential sectors. Its team also has a track record on strategic land deals, and regularly acts for life sciences companies, Oxford and Cambridge colleges and other significant clients in the education and charity sectors. James Simpson leads the Cambridge real estate team and regularly advises on investment and development deals, pre-let agreements, option agreements, property funding and leasehold matters. Strategic land and development specialist Martin Smith and senior associate Ceri Riddellprovide invaluable support in complex matters; they are thorough and yet still act in a timely manner’. Also recommended are Graeme Sampson, for his work on development, investment and landlord and tenant matters, and the ‘knowledgeable, practical, calm and constructiveSusanne Hinde and associate Michael Russell. The team acted for Howard Lewisham on the refinancing, redevelopment and letting of a site in Lewisham, which included construction documentation for new industrial units. It also advised key client the Homes and Communities Agency on development projects including the grant of a building lease to Harlow Rugby Club for the construction of a new sports facility.

Ashtons Legal is ‘very strong and has good technical knowledge that underpins a responsive and personal service’. The firm has a strong reputation across the region for residential, commercial and mixed-use development projects, which is reflected in a diverse client base that includes WN Developments Ltd and Bennett Homes. Charles Webb has more than 30 years’ experience in all aspects of commercial property work and is highly praised for his work for developers. He regularly advises on the acquisition and assembly of sites for development in Cambridge and further afield in East Anglia. ‘Proactive and widely experienced dealmaker’ Magnus McManus is ‘extremely well regarded amongst the academic community’ and acts for several Cambridge colleges, owner-occupiers, retailers and developers. Associate Charlotte Vallins is also recommended for her commercial landlord and tenant work. The firm’s recent highlights include acting for Abel Homes on the £6m acquisition and financing of development sites at Watton, Swaffham, Little Melton, Hingham and elsewhere with a gross development value exceeding £50m. Webb also acted for the National Institute of Agricultural Botany on the relocation of its headquarters in Cambridge, which involved strategic land advice, splitting the site for development and leasehold matters.

Howes Percival LLP has three highly experienced partners in Cambridge in team head Jonathan Greenhalgh, Michaela Henson and Steven Beach. The firm provides a broad real estate service to developers, banks and investor clients across the whole of East Anglia and it is known for its ‘efficient service and excellent client care’. Greenhalgh regularly advises many of the region’s leading developers, investors, landlords, tenants and funders. Henson specialises in land development and promotion, commercial development and site assembly, property investment, landlord and tenant negotiations and advising on commercial property issues for investors, operational businesses, technology companies and charities nationwide. Beach has 30 years’ experience in commercial property. He acts in property investment transactions and assists landowners with commercial and residential development schemes. 2016 highlights included acting for Turnstone Estates Limited on the development of a cinema-anchored leisure village in Ely, and on mixed-use retail developments in Southend-on-Sea and Colchester Northern Gateway.

The team at Penningtons Manches LLPhas very detailed knowledge in this field and always explains things fully in a language clients can understand’. It is ‘a standout firm for local projects thanks to its knowledge of the land and its strong local connections’, and lead partner Sarah Coates is ‘very responsive and doesn’t just tick boxes’. Associate Emma Spencer garners praise for her ‘friendly, accurate and prompt advice’. The small team in Cambridge works in close concert with the national real estate and is handling a growing stream of work in East Anglia. Highlights included advising Svenska Handelsbanken CB on the refinancing of a portfolio of six properties in the Cambridge area, and on the refinancing of a multimillion-pound property portfolio that required input from the firm’s respected banking practice. Spencer also advised Samsung Cambridge Solution Centre on the surrender of its high-value lease and the negotiation of a new agreement with the landlord.

Taylor Vinters’ ‘outstanding’ team in Cambridge is a core component of the firm’s cross-office real estate practice, which acts for a diverse range of clients in East Anglia, London and across the UK, ranging from innovative and entrepreneurial businesses to individuals and charities, and including prominent names such as Elgin Energy Limited, Jockey Club Estates and Babraham Research Campus. The ‘excellent’ Helen Mutucumarana, who was promoted to partner in 2016, now leads the commercial real estate team and is the firm’s lead lawyer for non-contentious landlord and tenant work. Other key figures include James Slinger, who regularly deals with complex acquisition, development and leasing transactions, and associate Elliot Wilson, a rising star who regularly handles property aspects of corporate mergers and acquisitions as well as land development and landlord and tenant matters. Slinger and Wilson acted for promoter EW Pepper on land promotions in Hertfordshire valued in excess of £10m, which included the negotiation of complex promotion agreements to further the development of residential, commercial and retail projects in Royston.

Dixon Phillips has a strong following among SME clients and is rated for its ‘super-fast responses and appropriate and useful advice’. Paul Dixon is ‘quiet, passionate, determined and thoughtful; he knows commercial property law inside out’. Michelle Atkins is recommended for sales, acquisitions and landlord and tenant work. 2016 saw the firm act for a number of investor and trader clients on the sale and purchase of pubs and restaurants in the Cambridge area, including the acquisition of a Bella Italia outlet by new independent restaurant Millworks. The team also acted for Solar Associates on the acquisition, under option, of a 30-year lease for a 15-acre solar farm site.

Greenwoods Solicitors LLP has an increasingly strong real estate practice in its Cambridge office, with associate director Kelly Peck, associate Neville Drummond and solicitor Alexandra Olivier handling a growing pipeline of work. Peck leads the Cambridge team and is ‘a no-nonsense, proactive and highly skilled lawyer who interacts well with clients to achieve positive outcomes’. Her practice covers a wide range of property matters including lease acquisitions and the management of property portfolios. Drummond has 18 years’ experience in commercial, residential and agricultural property transactions and frequently acts in the acquisition of development sites and on the full range of development matters, from construction through to disposal. He also acts for both landlords and tenants on commercial leasing transactions. The team’s highlights included advising the majority shareholder in a logistics company on the lease of freehold sites to a food producer.

Tees Law is ‘a friendly and professional company of lawyers that is ahead of its field in many ways’. Clients praise its ‘market awareness, commerciality and excellent value for money’. The firm has a solid reputation for residential development projects and is steadily growing its workload of promotion and option agreement matters for developers and local landowners. James Dowson leads the team and is ‘knowledgeable in a vast array of legal areas; he has a real sense of perspective, so he knows when to push and when to exercise caution’. Associate David Marsh ‘has an acute understanding of what needs to be done, knows the law incisively and has a good sense of humour’. Solicitor Lisa Coubrough is also recommended. The firm’s highlights included acting for a national haulage contractor on the acquisition of substantial property assets as part of a multimillion-pound corporate transaction. The team also acted for landowners of a 27-acre site in St. Ives on a strategic promotion agreement with a regional developer.


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