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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 > London > Public sector > Education: institutions > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Education: institutions
  2. Leading individuals

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The 'good all-round team' at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP advises a range of educational institutions including universities and educational bodies on matters ranging from setting up overseas establishments to the merger of schools. Its comprehensive expertise spans high-level policy advice, in addition to advisory and disputes matters. It acted for a number of further education colleges on their extensive work participating in the national Strategic Area Review and also acted for the Association of Colleges and Havering Sixth Form College on a judicial review challenge to the decision of the Department for Education to approve a new sixth form college at a school in the Borough of Havering. Key team members include Glynne Stanfield, Alison Oldfield and Nicola Bennison. Simon Chamberlain specialises in property-related matters, and Ben Wood handles employment and governance. With a 'national reputation', Diane Gilhooley is the well-known head of the firm’s national and international education sector group.

Farrer & Co's team 'is highly knowledgeable, easily approachable and offers very clear advice'. It provides extensive expertise across charity, constitutional and employment law together with safeguarding matters and large-scale collaborative projects and joint ventures. David Copping is the chair of the higher education group; Sam MacDonald, who is 'excellent in all respects', and David Smellie, 'who has excellent industry knowledge', are two of the senior specialists within the team; and Julian Smith focuses on charity, trusts tax and governance matters for universities. The team advised Imperial College London on safeguarding matters following an audit, and in other work it assisted King’s College London’s international directorate - King's Worldwide - on the correct structuring of international collaborations, work that included producing a suite of contracts and the formation of a new subsidiary company. Its client roster includes Oxford and Cambridge colleges, the London Business School and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Mills & Reeve LLP is highlighted for its 'quick response times and very good sector knowledge that is then backed up by specialist lawyers'. A substantial multi-disciplinary team undertakes diverse domestic and international work. Gary Attle, the team leader, has expertise in higher education legislation, governance and data protection. He advised Queen Mary University of London on a freedom of information matter relating to a large-scale clinical trial. The team also advised a number of universities on student disciplinary matters involving issues of potential criminal misconduct, sexual harassment and hate crimes. In other work, it assisted the University of Cambridge in setting up its Cambridge India Research Foundation. Other key members of the group include Richard Sykes, who specialises in contentious matters and is advising an education client regarding a student with a criminal conviction; Christian Bull, who assists universities and colleges with property-related matters; and financing expert Sarah Seed, who is noted as 'an industry expert for re-financing and raising corporate bonds'.

With 'sector-leading experience', Victoria Goddard heads an education department at Pinsent Masons LLP that 'consistently provides a joined-up and in-depth team service and the advice is always pragmatic and well-balanced'. It advises on matters such as financing, debt capital markets, development, procurement, planning and charity law. Martin Priestley leads the universities international group and is advising the University of Sheffield on the expansion of its partnership with Nanjing Tech University to establish a joint Institute for Science. Other names to note are Chris Martin and the 'excellent' Helen Corden, who brings employment expertise to the sector. The team is advising a number of universities on expansion projects, including assisting the University of Sussex with its modernisation project, which involves the procurement of new student accommodation and a new records system.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP provides 'excellent service' to universities and education sector bodies encompassing advice on student-university relationship issues; governance; employment; construction; and home and international collaborations. It is advising a college on expanding into a Middle Eastern country and is advising other clients on extensive building and refurbishments of campuses. It is also assisting two education sector bodies with lobbying for changes to the Higher Education and Research Act. Smita Jamdar is credited with leading a team that 'between them have a broad and relevant range of experience and knowledge'. Geraldine Swanton and Joanna Forbes are also names to note, as is Catherine Yule, 'whose professional approach and attention to detail make litigation comprehensible and uncomplicated'. Jonathan Nicholls joined the team in February 2017 from the University of Cambridge.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) serves an impressive breadth of clients including education investors across the whole of the education sector, with expertise in real estate, governance, state aid and charity law as well as areas such as cyber security. It continues to advise Brunel University London on an array of matters including policy reviews, disciplinary and grievance issues, and other disputes. Bettina Rigg and Emma-Jane Dalley head the higher and further education teams, which have expertise in employment law as well as student pastoral and diversity matters. Con Alexander 'provides practical and easily digestible advice', and on the real estate side the 'accessible and responsive' Michael Halsey and Clive Read are other key team members.

Bates Wells Braithwaite’s education service is headed by Caraline Johnson. It is hailed for 'providing a specialist team of outstanding experts in education backed up by first-rate solicitors in employment, property and public policy'. On the employment side, William Garnett assists colleges; he counts the Association of Colleges among his clients and is considered to have a 'richly deserved national reputation'. Other core team members include Lucy McLynn and recently promoted partner Emma Dowden-Teale, who handles regulatory and safeguarding laws. In a highlight matter, the team advised Bromley College (and Greenwich and Bexley Colleges) on the proposed merger between Bromley and Greenwich, a highly complex matter that included the design of a partnership management model. It is also advising Trinity College London on employment, real estate, IP, governance and commercial matters. Julian Blake has recently moved to Stone King LLP.

DAC Beachcroft LLP's 'level of service is very good and the people handling the work are very experienced and knowledgeable'. It has a reputation for providing regulatory and funding advice and is advising the Higher Education Funding Council for England on a range of work, including the conduct of its review of additional funding for specialist higher education institutions. It is also involved in policy development matters such as the development of the new Higher Education and Research Act. Julian Gizzi and Stephen Hocking co-head the group and Eve Gregory leads the employment law advice. The team is advising ESCP Europe Business School on various matters including the setting up of its executive master's programme. It is also advising a number of clients on investigations into cases of historic sexual misconduct. Other clients include Ofsted, the University of Sheffield and Queen Mary University of London.

At Weightmans LLP, team head Martin Vincent is the client partner for universities including Bangor University, Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire. Other key partners include real estate expert Janice Weatherly and highly regarded employment law lead Mark Leach. Vincent is advising Birmingham City University on expansion models aimed at expanding into the Vietnam market. In other highlight work, the team is advising Queen Mary University of London on its contract to deliver a global MBA programme through the University of London International Academy. Partner Andrew Roberts handles contentious matters and is advising Middlesex University on a fitness for practice challenge involving matters such as student discipline, professional practices and compliance with procedural requirements.

The substantial, multi-disciplinary team at¬†Blake Morgan LLP¬†is highlighted for providing 'excellent service'.¬†Matthew Smith, who¬†is especially adept in all aspects of non-contentious and contentious employment matters and has chaired a number of disciplinary and appeal hearings for universities, heads the practice.¬†It acts for a range of higher education clients as well as having links with education bodies such as the Association of University Legal Practitioners and the Sixth Form Colleges' Association. The team is acting for Swansea University and the trustees of the university pension scheme in relation to a case that is examining the meaning of ‚Äėunfavourable treatment‚Äô under section 15 of the Equality Act 2010 ‚Äď an action¬† brought by a former employee. Emyr Lewis¬†advises on a wide range of commercial matters and Richard Wade¬†is advising Keble College, Oxford on a construction project that will extend the college‚Äôs campus. Other key partners include¬†Susie Dryden;¬†Rachel Gwilliam,¬†who advises on areas such as construction and engineering; and Penri Desscan,¬†who specialises in procurement and other commercial matters.

BLM is noted for its 'extensive experience in cases involving educational institutions and regulators' and counts universities such as Cambridge, Surrey and Newcastle, as well as insurance companies, among its clients. The highly experienced Richard Wilkins advises both colleges and insurers on a range of contentious and advisory matters, including acting for Bridgwater & Taunton College in a claim brought by the University of Plymouth which alleged that the college was liable for payments made by the university to over 30 students due to breaches of obligations by the college in course delivery. Elliot Pound and associate Geneviève Rich are defending the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in High Court proceedings brought by a former lecturer who was dismissed after a disciplinary hearing; the matter is further complicated by an Employment Tribunal case being handled by a different firm.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP offers a full service to an impressive range of universities, colleges, student unions and education support organisations. It can provide sector-specific advice in areas ranging from charities law and governance to corporate and real estate and is especially in demand for procurement matters. It is advising Durham University on the delivery of two new colleges via a long-term public-private partnership. Emma Moody  and Kevin Robertson are advising Gateshead College on its response to the government’s local area review process by developing a Career College to focus on the construction industry. Christina Tolvas-Vincent is especially noted for her expertise in employment matters and is advising the Arts University Bournemouth on the introduction of a new academic career framework for its academic staff. Craig Moore is also noted for his real estate work.

Burges Salmon LLP¬†is 'excellent, responsive and knowledgeable'¬†and¬†is one of the ten firms that has been appointed to the ‚Äėone-stop shop lot‚Äô for the national legal services framework agreement for the higher education sector. Matthew Ramus¬†leads the group; Roger Bull¬†handles employment advice; and Marcus Harling¬†advises on construction and procurement projects. The team advised the University of Oxford on a joint venture with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which included advising on corporate, partnership, IP and licensing issues. It is also advising universities on funding matters, including one in respect of the funding for the construction of new research facilities. Some of its clients include the Department for Education, the University of Bristol, York St John University and the University of the West of England.

Penningtons Manches LLP offers 'practical, high-quality advice' and is 'sensitive to the needs and issues of higher education', according to clients. It assists a host of UK, international and alternative providers of higher education, including with immigration issues. Hilary Aldred, who provides 'no-nonsense, practical advice', and Daff Richardson, who has a focus on disputes in this sector, co-head the department. Other noted team members include Pat Saini and Alison Talbot. Aldred leads a team that is advising Florida State University on all its UK employment matters, and in other work it is advising the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance regarding a claim from a disabled student in respect of allegations regarding his fitness to study and practice.

Assad Maqbool leads the education group at Trowers & Hamlins LLP, which includes property specialist Sangita Unadkat; Amardeep Gill, who focuses on commercial matters; and Helen Randall, whose expertise includes complex education governance and contractual issues. The team advises a broad range of educational institutions as well as the Secretary of State for Education and local authorities. It is advising the Education and Skills Funding Agency on a range of procurement matters including major school building projects, and is assisting the Police and Crime Commissioner with the establishment of a new academy focused on crime prevention and policing skills.

As part of the charities and philanthropy team, education specialists at Withers LLP offer a full service covering areas such as employment, immigration, health and safety, IP, data protection, international tax and real estate. Alison Paines, Chris Priestley and Richard Cassell are the leading partners in a team whose work includes advising an impressive roster of American colleges. It is advising the University of Illinois on setting up a dual-qualified charitable structure in the UK, and is also assisting Global University Systems, an international network of higher education institutions, with setting up in Asian countries and acquiring a college in the US.

Penny Chapman heads the Bircham Dyson Bell charities and social enterprise group, which assists higher education colleges in addition to its extensive roster of schools clients. Chapman advised on the establishment of the Parents' Association of Magdalen College School, Oxford as a separate charity, and is also assisting Eltham College with a refinancing exercise ahead of a redevelopment project. Other team members include Jonathan Fewster, who heads the real estate work, and Jesper Christensen, who focuses on employment matters.

Fenwick Elliott LLP offers construction expertise to UK and overseas universities and other further education institutions. It advises on large-scale procurements, builds and refurbishments of campuses and student accommodation, as well as the construction of research facilities. Victoria Russell continues to advise University College London on all aspects of the design and construction of a new, state-of-the-art research facility valued at between £25m and £30m, including dealing with delays caused by the main contractor. David Bebb and Jatinder Garcha also advise on high-value procurements and construction in the higher education sector. Other clients include King's College London and the University of the Arts London.

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