The Legal 500

East Midlands

United Kingdom > East Midlands > Overview > Regional review


The East Midlands is a diverse region. Business is often centred on Nottingham, Leicester and Derby, where the area’s corporate work is typically practised. Its smaller towns, such as Lincoln and Northampton, maintain traditional agricultural practices, but still compete for the regional, and sometimes, national work. Firms in the region continue to expand beyond these traditional boundaries, and many of the larger names are part of national networks, which share clients and resources on multi-jurisdictional deals.

In 2013, the regional market saw increased signs of activity after several painful and sluggish years. Although pre-crisis levels of work are not in sight, the increase in corporate and property transactions provided room for optimism among many practitioners. Family and personal injury departments continue to feel the pinch of cuts to legal aid, which came into force in April 2013. Increased consolidation in the claimant market is expected, especially among firms which depend on lower-value, high-volume cases.

Browne Jacobson LLP ‘stacks up very well against the competition', and it is widely regarded as one of the leading firms in the region. The firm is strong across the board and is particularly noted for its dedicated public sector offering and for its strength on the corporate side.

Freeths has seen steady and impressive growth over the past few years. It continues to expand beyond its origins in the East Midlands, and now numbers 11 offices across the UK. Its traditional expertise in property and construction law is now complemented by its family and contentious trusts teams.

Eversheds LLP is the only national and international firm operating in the East Midlands. It provides ‘a comprehensive, timely and appropriate' service. Its Nottingham office is particularly strong in major corporate law and IP/IT matters.

Gateley is ‘competitive in its circle of firms' and has ‘all the technical expertise in house'. It operates across both Nottingham and Leicester, and has particular strength in corporate law and IP.

Geldards LLP ‘turns things round on very tight timescales' and its excellent overall service is appreciated by clients.

Shakespeares continues apace in its plan to be a heavyweight firm with a £50m turnover. It has completed seven mergers since 2010 and recently merged with Marrons and the Coventry-based Newsome Vaughan.

Shoosmiths LLP is a national player with regional offices in Northampton and Nottingham. The former office handles major corporate, property and employment work, while the latter is known for professional negligence and debt recovery. Clients are ‘extremely satisfied' with the level of service.

Derby-based Flint Bishop LLP is well known for its contentious work, and has one of the top licensing practices in the region.

Howes Percival LLP fields respected teams across the gamut of practice areas, and is home to strong IP, family and property departments.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited ‘offers a City service' and ‘a strong regional presence' through bases in Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. Clients also praise the firm’s partner-led service.

Spearing Waite LLP is ‘significantly cheaper than London alternatives for a similar quality of responsiveness and diligence'. It continues its ascent in the corporate and litigation spheres, and maintains a strong property presence.

Wilkin Chapman LLP has a wide-ranging practice, and is highly ranked for debt recovery, family and agriculture.

Other firms of note include Actons, which recently added partners in employment and dispute resolution; Chattertons, which has strength in insolvency and litigation; the ‘solid and effective' Fraser Brown, which has been in Nottingham since 1770; specialist private client and corporate firm Hewitsons; Lincoln-based Langleys Solicitors LLP, which is a stalwart in the region with a highly regarded commercial and agricultural practice; Rothera Dowson, which maintains its dominance of the transport sector; Smith Partnership, which maintains a stellar family practice; and Leicester-based Weightmans LLP, which has expertise in health and safety, employment and personal injury work.

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Legal Developments in the UK

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  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

  • Behind the corporate veil: is that all there is?

    That companies have an existence entirely separate to that of their shareholders and directors is a foundational principle of English law and commerce.

  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

  • The role of arbitrators in EU antitrust law

    In May 2014, it will be ten years since Regulation No 1/2003 entered into force. When the legislator of the European Union adopted this Regulation on 16 December 2002, its main objective was to decentralise the enforcement of the two main provisions of EU antitrust law, Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Where do the arbitrators fit in this picture?

  • New Immigration Bill, October 2013: cause for concern or appeasing public sentiment?

    The year 2013 has seen a string of reforms to the immigration system by the current coalition government. On 10 October, the government published a Bill aimed at continuing its drive to reduce net migration figures. 

  • New Schengen EU Regulations: impact on short-stay visa visitors

    The publication on 26 June 2013 of the European Union Regulation EU 610/2013 modified the incumbent Regulation EU 562/2006 in relation to third country nationals (ie non-EU citizens) and those travelling on a short-stay visitor visa, as well as those who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria. Exceptions include EU and EEA nationals travelling to other EU/EEA states within the Schengen area together with foreign nationals holding either long-stay or residence permits for their destination Schengen countries.

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces
  • Silence is not always golden

    In PGF II SA v OMFS Company 1 Ltd [2013], the Court of Appeal considered, for the first time, whether a failure by a party to respond to an invitation to mediate should be treated as an unreasonable refusal to mediate - previous cases having focused on situations where there had been an express refusal to do so. 

  • Continued uncertainty for international manufacturers in the US

    For manufacturers that export, a key strategic issue for in-house counsel is assessing the risk of being sued in another jurisdiction - particularly the US. 

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

Press Releases in the UK

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to