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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 Midlands > Public sector > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings




Index of tables

  1. Education
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

  1. 1

Leading individuals

  1. 1

At Browne Jacobson LLP, the team‚Äôs specialist knowledge of academy conversions, multi-academy trusts and PFI schools is 'invaluable and unique‚Äô. The ‚Äėexcellent‚Äô Mark Blois¬†heads up the practice, which counts academy transfers, academy trust mergers and expansions and academy rebrokerage among its core strengths. Other work includes property advice, education-specific GDPR implementation, regulatory work, parent complaints and disputes as well as discrimination claims.

Practice head(s):Mark Blois;

Other key lawyers:Adrian Shardlow;


'Exceptional sector knowledge and coverage of the areas of potential risk to multi-academy trusts'.

'Their work is top drawer. Their strengths are: 1. Deep understanding of the sector - hence such strong roundtable events when they host; 2. Mastery of both the precise (for example, regulatory governance in multi-academy trusts); and the strategic (very good horizon scanners and policy commentators/influencers); 3. Political acuity and a tremendous empathy'.

'Mark Blois is extremely professional, competent, pleasant and helpful'.

'Mark Blois, the assignment partner, is excellent, as he had very good knowledge and understanding of governance in a single academy trust'.

'Always willing to go the extra mile and provide consistently a steady steer through legal frameworks, due diligence and the laws expectations of schools and colleges'.

Key Clients

Greenwood Academies Trust

Flying High Trust

Redhill Academy Trust

Community Inclusive Trust

RC Diocese of Nottingham

Believe Academy Trust

Diverse Academies Learning Partnership

Lionheart Academies Trust

Rushey Mead Academy Trust



Spencer Academy Trust

Horncastle Education Trust

Nova Education Trust

Atlas Multi-Academy Trust

Lawrence Sheriff School

Dronfield Junior School

Loxford School Trust

The Elliot Foundation Academy Trust

Our Lady of Lourdes Academy Trust

Boarding Schools Association

Thomas Deacon Education Trust

Holyport College

Ashfield Academy

Heart Education Trust

Learning Academies Partnership

Academy Transformation Trust

RC Diocese of Leeds, Westminster, Birmingham

Archdiocese of Birmingham

Central Learning Partnership Trust

Sevak Education Trust

Diocese of Bristol Academy Trust

Russell Education Trust

Zenith Multi-Academy Trust

Tees Valley Collaborative Trust

Torfield Saxon Mount Academy Trust

The Legacy Learning Trust


Rugby High School Academy Trust

Transform Trust

Humber Education Trust

Raleigh Learning Trust

Apollo Partnership Trust

Aspire Multi-Academy Trust

Archway Learning Trust

Work highlights

  • Leading national provider of legal advice to Roman Catholic Dioceses in relation to academy projects.
  • Acted for Lawrence Sheriff School Academy Trust in a harassment claim against a head teacher.
  • Representing a junior school in relation to a disability discrimination claim brought by the parents of a former pupil.
  • Providing advice to and representing a number of local authorities and academy trusts on special educational needs and disability appeals.
  • Advising school and academy trust clients on a range of contentious and non-contentious matters relating to the application of the Equality Act 2010 covering protected characteristics including gender reassignment, race and disability.

Freeths LLP's client roster includes various schools and colleges, as well as several major universities. Academy conversions are a key strength, with the practice undertaking a broad range of contracts and governance work, property-related instructions, student issues and employment disputes. Team head Stephen Pearson is an expert on governance contracts, procurement and state aid issues.

Practice head(s):Stephen Pearson;


'The team is accessible, well-informed and proactive'

Key Clients

University of Nottingham

CPC “Crescent” Consortium (various schools and colleges)

Birmingham Metropolitan College

Shrewsbury Roman Catholic Diocesan Board of Education

Loughborough University

Nottingham Trent University

University of Birmingham

University of Lincoln

Oxford Brookes University

Work highlights

  • Advised the University of Nottingham on complex arrangements concerning termination of contract with government department.
  • Acted for an academy trust on a major dispute with another academy trust, culminating in successful mediation and FOI disclosure issues.
  • Acted for the University of Nottingham on commercial and property agreements with National Foundation, including partnering with Academic Departments.

Howes Percival LLP has a cross-practice team, which provides support on corporate, property, construction, commercial and data protection issues. Primary, secondary and faith schools turn to the group for advice on single academy conversions and multi-academy trusts. The firm also generates work from colleges and universities.  Graham Irons (who co-heads the practice with Daniel Banton and Mark Davies) advises on restructuring and employment matters, as well as the management of parent companies.

Practice head(s):Graham Irons; Daniel Banton; Mark Davies;

Key Clients

Milton Keynes College

Coventry University

De Montfort University

Learner’s Trust

Elston Hall Multi Academy Trust

Northwood Park Educational Trust

Learning Link Multi Academy Trust

Services 4 Schools Limited

Christ the King Catholic Collegiate

Perry Hall Multi Academy Trust

Lumen Christi Catholic Multi Academy Trust

Codsall Multi Academy Trust

St Bartholomew’s CE Multi Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising Perry Hall Multi Academy Trust on the conversion of Woodthorne Primary School into an academy within the Perry Hall Multi Academy Trust.
  • Advising All Saints Church of England Primary School on its conversion to academy status within St Bartholomew’s CE Multi Academy Trust.
  • Advising Lumen Christi Catholic Multi Academy Company on updating its academy documentation.
  • Assisting Codsall Multi Academy Trust with constitutional issues.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP acts for academies, higher and further education institutions, and various schools. Nicola Bennison, who is the name to note, specialises in education-related Employment Tribunal matters, as well as student issues and regulatory challenges.

Other key lawyers:Nicola Bennison;

Geldards LLP specialises in advising primary and secondary schools, multi-academy trusts and Church of England schools on academy conversions. Additional bedrocks of the practice include advising Church School Trusts on property and governance issues, as well as rebrokerage matters. In addition, the firm is increasingly active in HR support mandates. Michelle Craven-Faulkner heads up the department.

Practice head(s):Michelle Craven-Faulkner;

Key Clients

University of Leicester

Nottingham College

Nottinghamshire County Council

Work highlights

  • Acting for Nottingham College on the acquisition and development of its new Skills Hub, and also its disposal of the existing Maid Marian Way facility.
  • Acting for a large multi-academy trust on academy conversions and general HR matters.
  • Act for a school in all HR related matters, which includes dealing with a lengthy grievance involving several allegations against staff members and negotiating, drafting Settlement Agreement.
  • Advising a Multi-Academy Trust with a religious affiliation on its academy conversions.
  • Advising religious educational charity on significant property development and incorporation.

Hewitsons' multi-faceted practice covers areas such as data protection, development and construction, dispute resolution, employment and regulatory advice for clients. It is also adept in independent school mergers and acquisitions, as well as single and multi-academy conversions. Practice head Chris Knight advises a number of clients from the charity sector on education-related issues.

Practice head(s):Chris Knight;

Key Clients

The Wilson Foundation

Maidwell Hall School

Becketts and Sargeants Educational Foundation

United Church Schools Trust

United Church Schools Foundation

United Learning Trust

Bedford College

Kimbolton School

Northampton Free School Trust

Oundle School

Wellingborough School

Work highlights

  • Advice to a major schools group on the acquisition of a school with an unusual structure.
  • Assisted The Wilson Foundation with acquiring a residential outdoor centre for school children from the local authority.
  • Ongoing advice to a major local educational grant making charity.
  • Advising a large schools group on the sale of Caterham School.

Langleys Solicitors LLP advises nurseries, local authorities, independent schools, colleges and universities on a broad range of education-related matters. Academy conversions are a particular speciality, with the team handling all aspects of the conversion process. Additional types of work undertaken include advising on property and commercial issues, parental and student disputes, admissions and exclusions. Practice head Kate Hindmarch is an expert in employment matters.

Practice head(s):Kate Hindmarch


'Their advice is always sound and pragmatic, based on a good understanding of business context and needs'.

'Aleksandra Flack and Kate Hindmarch are extremely competent, responsive, professional and personable'.

Key Clients

Priory Federation of Academies Trust

Gorse Academies Trust

Lincoln College Group

University of Lincoln

Work highlights

  • Advising Priory Federation of Academies on acquiring additional schools, bringing its total to ten.
  • Defending a High Court breach of contract claim.
  • Advising a trust on a parental dispute.
  • Obtaining an injunction restraining a parent from harassment.

Nelsons Solicitors Limited has a varied workload, which includes academy conversions, misconduct and grievance investigations and contractual disputes. Practice head Laura Kearsley is an expert in all forms of discrimination (including sex, disability, race and religion), industrial relations and discipline and grievance issues, among other employment issues. Other members of the team advise clients on GDPR and corporate affairs. The client base comprises of various schools, academies and education providers, as well as teachers and other employees.

Practice head(s):Laura Kearsley;

Work highlights

  • Advised a client on her rights on the withdrawal of a job offer following an adverse reference from her former employer school.
  • Advising a teacher client on suspension and proposed disciplinary procedure for safeguarding issues.
  • Acted for a university in a dispute with a former student over unpaid tuition fees.
  • Advising an alternative education provider on the lease of premises.
  • Advising an assistant head teacher on possible constructive unfair dismissal.


Index of tables

  1. Health
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Browne Jacobson LLP is a market-leader in the health and social care sector. It has a national NHS client base and is one of only four firms to act for both NHS Resolution and a medical defence organisation. It also generates work from major private healthcare providers. Practice head Simon Tait handles a wide range of contentious mandates, including inquests and regulatory matters. The firm also has an excellent track record in clinical negligence, corporate and commercial, and Court of Protection work.

Practice head(s):Simon Tait;

Other key lawyers:Oliver Pritchard;

Key Clients

Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Trust

NHS England

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYB ICS)

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

NHS Birmingham Cross City CCG; NHS Birmingham South Central CCG; NHS Solihull

Work highlights

  • Representation of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust at high profile inquest.

  • Acting for the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust at an inquest into a death of a lady who suffered an inpatient fall, leaving her paralysed from the neck down.
  • Advised Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on its successful £650m merger with Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Establishment of Derbyshire Pathology.

Freeths LLP has core strengths in acquisitions, disposals and mergers in the private healthcare sector. In addition, its team is experienced in handling land acquisitions and subsequent developments for senior living facilities and supported living units. Other specialist areas include end of life consent matters, inquests and other regulatory enforcement matters, as well as corporate governance and procurement. Clients include public sector entities, care providers and real estate investment trusts. Thomas Golding, James Clamp and Phil Baigent jointly lead the practice.

Practice head(s):Thomas Golding; James Clamp; Phil Baigent;

Key Clients

LNT Group / Ideal Care Homes

Maria Mallaband Care Group, including Countrywide Care Homes

Athena Care Homes

One Housing / Baycroft

Bank Leumi UK Plc

NHS Shared Business Services

NHS Property Services Limited

Anchor Trust

Country Court Care Homes


Work highlights

  • Acting for LNT Care Developments Limited on the forward commit sales to institutional fund (Octopus Healthcare) of 3 new build luxury care homes with a combined turn-of-key value of £30m.
  • Advising CareSolve Care Group on its first forward commit institutional 35 year lease of a prestige new care home in Wales.
  • Acted for Anchor Hanover Trust on the sale of the business and assets of a care home to Kirklands Care Limited for a total of £1.6m.
  • Advised BKR Care Consultancy Limited on its inspection and audit partnership with Laing Busson, aimed at operators throughout the UK.

Local government

Browne Jacobson LLP¬†delivers¬†expertise in planning and environment, administrative and procurement law, criminal law and health and safety investigations, and local heat networks. It also advises clients on investment property, state aid and commercial contracts. On the contentious front, it demonstrates strong capabilities in procurement challenges and judicial reviews. Richard Barlow¬†and the ‚Äėexcellent‚Äô Peter Ware¬†jointly lead the practice.

Practice head(s):Richard Barlow; Peter Ware;


'They have advised on several high profile pieces of work and bring sharp legal focus and excellent customer service'.

'Peter Ware is an excellent lawyer & a truly valuable resource to have at the end of a phone. He understands the local government context, has a sharp legal mind and is both commercial and practical'.

'Approachable,  friendly,  practical and thorough.  A safe pair of hands sympathetic to public sector challenges'.

'Very approachable and very professional. They have a very quick understanding of a particular issue and during a particular project you feel they are on your side'.

Key Clients

Leicestershire County Council

Herefordshire County Council

London Borough of Croydon

Broxtowe Borough Council

Devon County Council

Shropshire Council

West Midlands Combined Authority

Nottinghamshire County Council

Nottingham City Council

London borough of Enfield

Work highlights

  • Acting for Shropshire Council on the acquisition of 3 linked shopping centres in Shrewsbury by acquiring the Jersey Property Unit Trusts which held the assets.
  • Advising Herefordshire County Council on the establishment of its Development and Regeneration Programme with Keepmoat Homes Ltd and Engie Regeneration Ltd following a competitive dialogue process.
  • Advising Leicestershire County Council on the establishment of a corporate trading arm through which ESPO, a highly successful collaboration between a number of local authorities, will expand its commercial activities.
  • Advising the London Borough of Croydon on its 'good to great programme', which is a total redesign of its IT infrastructure and support.
  • Acting for Derby City Council on entering into a 3.4km underground cable easement with Western Power Distribution Services Limited through land owned by the client to enable a power connection to a Rolls Royce factory in Derby.

The team at Freeths LLP advises its clients on planning and environmental issues, regeneration and redevelopment projects, commercial contracts and employment matters. On the contentious side, its work includes representing local authorities in property litigation and defending judicial review proceedings. Birmingham-based Nathan Holden serves as practice head.

Practice head(s):Nathan Holden;

Other key lawyers:Stephen Pearson; James Hart;


'The team is knowledgeable, helpful and quick to respond'.


Key Clients

Nottinghamshire County Council – Pension Fund

Cherwell District Council

Middlesbrough Borough Council

Surrey County Council

Wigan Council

Milton Keynes Development Partnership

Mole Valley District

Guildford Borough Council

Cumbria County Council

Luton Borough Council

London Borough of Camden

Tandridge District Council

Milton Keynes Council

Royal Borough of Greenwich

Staffordshire Moorlands District

Birmingham City Council

Derby City Council

Leicestershire County Council

Kettering Borough Council

Cambridge City Council

Leeds City Council

Kirklees Council

Leicester City Council

Cheshire East Council

Telford and Wrekin Council

Halton Borough Council

Walsall Council

Rushmoor Borough Council

London Borough of Newham

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Advice to Rushmoor Borough Council on the creation of the Rushmoor Development Partnership, a new joint venture entity with Hill Investment, which is planned to transform Farnborough and Aldershot Town Centres.
  • Acting for Melton Borough Council on a complex project related to long-term outsourcing contract for all waste collection and processing, together with the operation of a green waste club.
  • Acted for Nottinghamshire County Council on the forward purchase of The Pavilion and The Oast House, Spinningfields, Manchester from Allied London.
  • Acted for Milton Keynes Council on the acquisition of strategic residential development land at Tickford Fields Farm, Newport Pagnell from Inter MK Limited for £11m,
  • Acted for Derbyshire Dales District Council on the procurement of new waste collection and disposal services over 10-year period.

Geldards LLP's team, which is jointly led by Tiffany Cloynes and Paul Hilsdon, is knowledgeable about a wide range of matters, such as state aid, public procurement, employment, planning and highways. Its recent work has included town centre regeneration schemes, housing developments and other major projects involving the public-private sector. The client base comprises of local and regulatory authorities, as well as central government.

Practice head(s):Tiffany Cloynes; Paul Hilsdon;


'Locally based (but with national coverage), the firm is well connected, with individuals providing high quality specialist skills'.

'Paul Hilsdon has strong commercial awareness and is able to simplify complex issues'.

'The team is very approachable and works well together across a wide range of specialisms in order to support the client on complex regeneration and development projects'.

'The individuals within the Geldards' team are well practised and knowledgeable within their specialisms; project leads (especially Tiffany Cloynes) bring the team together in a coherent and concise manner'.

Key Clients

Bolton Council

Bristol City Council

Carlisle City Council

Charnwood Borough Council

Derby City Council

Derbyshire County Council

Leicester City Council

Liverpool City Combined Authority

Nottinghamshire County Council

Sheffield City Council

South Derbyshire District Council

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council

Walsall Council

Warrington Borough Council

Wellingborough Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Derby City Council as part of its strategic plans for the redevelopment of Becketwell in the City Centre.
  • Advising Warrington Borough Council on the acquisition of two solar farms in Hull and York and all the commercial and power distribution agreements.
  • Acting for Carlisle City Council on the development of a new retail park at Gateway 44 in Carlisle.
  • Acting for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority in relation to a funding agreement.
  • Advising Leicester City Council on the first phase of its Waterside Regeneration Scheme.

At Weightmans LLP, the local authority and governance work includes licensing, anti-social behaviour matters and advice on new highway codes of conduct. The group also handles public inquires, and is knowledgeable about adult and social care issues. The firm undertakes a significant amount of work for police authorities, particularly in the context of litigation and general governance matters. Names to note include Robin Constable, Belinda Moore and John Riddell.

Practice head(s):Belinda Moore; John Riddell; Andrew Clarke; Robin Constable; Asema Natha; Joanna Carty; Asad Hadadi; Sera Jones; Amy Roberts-Morrow; Fiona Evans; Richard Osborn;

Key Clients

EM Lawshare

Leicestershire County Council

Derbyshire County Council

Derby City Council

Rotherham MBC

Nottinghamshire County Council

Rutland County Council

Charnwood Borough Council

Independent Commission to Investigate Haiti Sexual Exploitation

Chief Constable of Warwickshire

Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire

Chief Constable of Norfolk

Chief Constable of Suffolk

Peterborough City Council

Bolsover District Council

Walsall MBC

University of Loughborough

University of Leicester

Bassetlaw District Council

Hinkley and Bosworth District Council

Work highlights

  • Advising Rotherham MBC on a report into child sexual exploitation issues.
  • Repeat instructions on age assessment cases for asylum seekers from Derby City Council.
  • Instructed at short notice by Hinkley and Bosworth to deal with injunction breach and committal hearings  at the county court and closure order applications at the magistrates court.
  • Advise the Independent Commission to Investigate Haiti sexual exploitation claims on all governance and related issues, including GDPR, cyber security, its constitution, reporting formats, confidentiality and privilege and cross jurisdictional issues.

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