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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 > North > Human resources > Employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Employment
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Who Represents Who

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Boutique employment firm Collingwood Legal stands out for its ‘excellent response times’ and ‘business acumen’ alongside its ‘pragmatic and practical’ advice. The team primarily acts for employers but also assists executives with the full remit of employment law matters, most notably in the education and not-for-profit sectors, which constitute two key areas of expertise for the ‘efficient, polite and responsive’practice, in addition to winning new clients from the manufacturing, food and sport industries. Managing partner and‘excellent and vastly experienced’ team head Paul McGowan advised an employer, a director and a connected independent self-employed contractor on breach of contract matters, fiduciary duties and related litigation, while the ‘very practical’ Paul Johnstoneassisted High Voltage Partial Discharge with a number of cross-border issues such as the secondment of a sales executive in the United Arab Emirates and the set-up of an Australia-based company. Other key areas of expertise include TUPE-related work, collective redundancies, industrial relations issues and restraint of trade claims as well as representing clients in whistleblowing and discrimination proceedings. Solicitor Charlotte McBride is‘extremely knowledgeable and fast-working’, while clients also note her ‘excellent communication skills’ and her ‘ability to adapt to a wide range of scenarios’. Consultant Sarah Fitzpatrick is another name to note as is ‘very helpful’ solicitor Alexandra Besnard, who is singled out for her ‘pragmatic approach’ and ‘ability to deal with fragile clients where extra care is required’. Associate Jane Sinnamon is also recommended.

Ward Hadaway predominately acts for employers and covers a wide range of contentious and non-contentious employment law matters spanning various sectors. Paul Scope, who jointly heads the team with Jamie Gamble, continues to advise Newcastle United Football Company on various employment law matters pertaining to its players: recently, he advised on the termination of employment and transfers of Tim Krul, Siem de Jong and Emmanuelle Riviere, and, in a separate matter, he assisted the Home Group with contractual arrangements with a neutral vendor supplier for all temporary labour on a national basis. Gamble advised Newcastle University on the transfer of Durham University=’s School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health to Newcastle, which included TUPE and pre-transfer redundancy matters, while, in the contentious space, consultant Joe Thornhill defended Architectural Powder Services against unfair constructive dismissal and disability discrimination claims brought by the SME’s managing director. In other contentious work, consultant Tim Smith acted for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in out-of-hours service-related equal pay claims brought by two senior nurses. Bernard Hodgson is another key individual of the team with a focus on contentious work and the recommended Graham Vials specialises in education sector work.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s ‘experienced and knowledgeable’ team provides a ‘first-class service’ to commercial and public sector clients; the latter includes local government, policing, education, health and third sector clients. With a specialism in equal pay and discrimination matters, ‘approachable and friendly’ team head Shirley Hall ‘tackles any issues quickly and thoroughly’; recently, she defended Northumbria Police in employment tribunal proceedings pertaining to allegations of unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, sex and disability discrimination and victimisation brought by the client’s former director of legal services, and acted for Northumberland County Council before the employment tribunal in defence against unfair dismissal and disability discrimination claims brought by two employees following a restructuring process and subsequent redundancies. Other clients include a NHS foundation trust, a major logistics provider and Nissan Motor Manufacturing. Associate Jessie Uppal is experienced handling business immigration mandates.

Muckle LLP provides an ‘excellent service’ alongside ‘clear and constructive advice which balances the legal position with the client’s commercial reality’. With a focus on acting for employers, the ‘very responsive and highly competent’ team receives a steady flow of instructions from owner-managed businesses, educational institutions, sporting clubs and organisations as well as charities and other third sector clients but also handles work for senior executives. Its contentious and non-contentious employment law expertise spans executive terminations, TUPE matters and employment tribunal representations. As a transactional highlight, the team advised South Tyneside College (STC) on a number of employment law matters pertaining to its merger with Tyne Metropolitan College (TMC) to create Tyne Coast College, including collective redundancy and transfer of undertakings matters, while, in different work, the practice assisted a North East-based domiciliary care business and a sports organisation with HMRC national minimum wage investigations. In litigation, the ‘superb’ Tony McPhillips, who is also noted as being ‘down-to-earth and approachable’ and having ‘strong commercial acumen’, acted for a trainee consultant in a claim for disability discrimination against the client’s lead employer NHS trust. Chris Maddock heads the team.

Sintons LLP ‘always offers reasoned and appropriate advice’ and is particularly active in the healthcare, education, charity, energy and construction sectors. The team acts for clients including the  North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. In the non-contentious arena, ‘measured, honest and practical’ team head Keith Land, who also has a ‘great sense of humour’, provides regular advice to the North East England Chamber of Commerce on a number of general employment law matters including redundancy, the potential transfer of employees and restructuring matters. He also assisted Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust with employee transfer provisions contained in an agreement between the client and NHS England. Senior associate Donna Anderson is another key member of the team.

The ‘professional, knowledgeable and experienced’ team at Watson Burton LLP is ‘easy to deal with’ and ‘able to cut to the chase’. Clients benefit from its ‘good commercial approach’ and the team’s ‘focused and pragmatic advice, which adds value to the client’s business’. Recent work includes acting for a manufacturing sector client in TUPE transfer matters and a dispute with a trade union, defending a different client against claims for disability discrimination, and assisting a company with TUPE and LGPS implications of its public procurement tender. In co-operation with the firm’s corporate department, the group also handles a number of transactional matters. Team head Christopher Graham provides ‘excellent advice’, most notably on unlawful discrimination, outsourcing and industrial actions, and is ‘authoritative and tenacious when needed’. The ‘business-focused’ Jacqueline Turner is also recommended, particularly for employment tribunal work pertaining to unfair dismissal and discrimination claims.

With a sector specialisation in technology, retail, utilities, healthcare, education and chemicals, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s ‘highly responsive and proactive’ team acts for a roster of well-known regional and national clients and stands out for its ‘extremely high level of service’. Covering a broad field of employment law work, recommended team head James Wilders’ expertise includes representing clients in tribunal proceedings covering unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. On the non-contentious side, instructions frequently pertain to collective redundancies and restructuring issues as well as transactional TUPE matters. In recent work, Wilders advised a holiday company on the closure of one of its two head offices, involving the redundancy of over 100 members of staff, and assisted a large further education college with employment law matters arising from a merger between the client and a local sixth form college, which included restructuring issues to avoid redundancies. In contentious work, the team successfully defended Cumberland Building Society against a claim of constructive unfair dismissal brought by a managing director. Other clients include an insurance company and a public authority. The latter received TUPE-related advice.

Baines Wilson LLP’s ‘professional and dedicated’ team provides ‘reliable advice’ and is praised as ‘communicating appropriately and effectively’. Its advice is exclusively aimed at employers including large companies, family-owned companies, sole traders and entrepreneurs, who frequently instruct the team with contentious and non-contentious matters pertaining to the dismissal of senior managers and executives, mergers and acquisitions, TUPE and redundancies. Practice head Joanne Holborn is ‘confident and trustworthy’ and demonstrates particular expertise handling sickness absence and rehabilitation matters, while Tom Scaife is regularly called upon to assist with employment law matters pertaining to business sales and acquisitions. Recent instructions include advising a client on the closure of a part of its business, and providing advice on grievance and sickness absence dismissals to a different client.

Noted for its ‘excellent level of service’, Burnetts is noted as providing ‘detailed advice in a timely and professional manner’ and ‘good value for money’. Regular instructions include representing employers across various sectors in employment tribunal proceedings concerning claims of constructive unfair dismissal and age discrimination. In non-contentious work, the ‘very friendly and approachable’ team advised Workington Academy on support staff restructuring matters including redundancies, and continues to assist Henry Lonsdale Trust with general HR and employment law issues. The ‘very knowledgeable’ Natalie Ruane heads the team which includes Kuba Strycharczyk. Former co-head Joanne Stronach  joined Cartmell Shepherd  in January 2018.

DAC Beachcroft LLP’s wide-ranging expertise includes contentious and non-contentious employment law matters with the ‘very experienced’ team demonstrating ‘in-depth knowledge in the healthcare sector’. Routinely acting for large corporates and public sector organisations, its scope spans matters involving organisational changes, equal pay, transactions and TUPE transfers, while, on the contentious side, the team has been representing various clients in victimisation cases and other discrimination claims before the employment tribunal. Guy Bredenkamp is ‘extremely knowledgeable and excellent with clients’ and heads the team, which includes senior associate Sarah George; she is particularly well versed in handling transactional work involving TUPE matters, and employment litigation. NHS England, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are all clients.

The team at Hay & Kilner is ‘very approachable’ and ‘takes the time to understand the client’s business to give the best advice’, which is provided ‘promptly’ and with ‘great commercial awareness’. Its ‘good standard of service’ is ‘competitively priced and provided in a professional manner’. The team acts for directors and shareholders, particularly in matters concerning termination packages, but focuses on contentious and non-contentious work for employers which includes reorganisations and corporate support. Team head Neil Dwyer ‘has the ability to understand customer requirements and apply the relevant employment law in a format that non-legal practitioners can understand’, while clients also consider ‘his use of appropriate humour to be very engaging’. Recently, he advised the UK subsidiary of a large company on various employment law aspects pertaining to a large-scale restructure of its labour operation, which included assistance with its redundancy programme, re-shaping job functions and changing terms and conditions. Other key individuals include the ‘very personable and knowledgeable’ Sarah Hall and Sarah Furness. PaJunk UK Medical Products is among the clients.

Archers Law LLP’s ‘efficient, helpful and polite’ practice ‘always keeps the client up-to-date’ and is singled out for its ‘excellent level of service’. Its expertise includes advising on TUPE matters, service contracts and restrictive covenants alongside transaction and redundancy-related issues, among others, which the team predominately provides to employers while also acting for senior management employees. As well as its expertise in the non-contentious arena, ‘polite and professional’ team head Elizabeth Casey, who has a specialism in business employment law, also acts in employment tribunal proceedings. Assistant solicitor Joanne McHale-Young is ‘exceptionally friendly, polite and professional’ and ‘makes the client feel at ease’; in recent work, she acted for a client in pursuing claims for the recovery of holiday pay and pension contributions. Also recommended, associate Lauren Mills advised an employee on redundancy-related matters. New Horizons (Teesside) is a client.

DWF provides ‘solid, timely and relevant advice’ and demonstrates ‘good commercial acumen and awareness’. The practice is led by senior associate Stephen Cairns, who is ‘good at listening to the problem in hand and converting it to a sensible legal solution’, and noted for his ‘professional work ethic and sense of empathy’. He acts for public and private sector employers in employment tribunal proceedings, and in the non-contentious sphere, he advises clients on restructuring-related issues such as redundancies, cross-border TUPE transfers and HR processes.

At Endeavour Partnership LLP, the ‘level of service is excellent and the knowledge is top-notch’. Team head Stephen Elliott ‘is able to explain complex issues in a way that is readily understandable by clients’ and advises them on various contentious and non-contentious employment law matters including data protection and pension issues. In an illustration of its work for education sector clients and professional services firms, the team defended a North East-based consultancy business against disability discrimination claims brought by a former employee, and assisted Galileo Multi-Academy Trust with various employment and pension law issues pertaining to the formation of a new multi-academy trust and the conversion to academy status of 11 primary schools in East Cleveland. Solicitors Laura Kirkpatrick and Jessica Maine are the main contacts for data protection issues.

Mincoffs Solicitors LLP acts for individuals and commercial clients - most notably in the manufacturing, construction, real estate, IT and recruitment sectors - in a wide range of contentious and non-contentious employment law matters. Regular instructions pertain to investigations and disciplinary procedures, matters concerning long-term sickness absence, equality law and executive employment terminations as well as TUPE, redundancy and restructuring issues. Team head Nick Smith and associate Robyn Shepherd advised LB Foster Rail Technologies on the employment termination of senior executives and managers alongside disciplinary and grievance procedures. Smith also assisted the residential estate agent Sarah Mains with redundancy matters, and Housekeeping Inspector Specialists with TUPE compliance work following the transfer of a cleaning contract from a large national company. Smith also provides pension law advice.

Max Winthrop heads the employment law practice at Short Richardson & Forth, which has a strong profile for contentious work and acts for claimants - most notably senior employees - as well as defendants such as SMEs and PLCs. Winthrop is assisted by David Gibson, who has particular expertise in charity sector work, and associate Seema Ahmed.

The ‘efficient and highly professional’ team at Swinburne Maddison is ‘always happy to go the extra mile’ and rated for its ‘excellent response times’ and ‘tailored advice’. Team head Jonathan Moreland is praised for his ‘excellent knowledge and expertise’ alongside his ‘cheery approach combined with tenacity and diligence and an attention to detail’; he ‘listens to issues carefully and provides well-structured advice clearly outlining options and potential risks’. Predominately acting for employers but also for senior employees and executives, the team advised a company on a disciplinary process with an employee, who was dismissed for gross misconduct for verbally abusing and intimidating a colleague, and subsequent employment tribunal proceedings. An educational sector client - an area of particular expertise for the team - retained the practice to advise on long-term sickness absence issues. Corporate support work as well as assistance with TUPE and pension law issues complement the team’s offering.

At the start of 2017, BHP Law’s ‘very professional’ employment department merged with the firm’s dispute resolution team, increasing its number of instructions from commercial clients, who also receive assistance with non-contentious matters such as transactions, redundancy schemes and TUPE transfers. In individual employment law, the team advises directors and senior employees on employment termination issues and unfair dismissal proceedings. Clients single out the practice for its ‘extremely good level of service’ and ‘quick response times’ and praise solicitor Philippa Roberts as being ‘extremely professional and very knowledgeable’ as well as having ‘a lovely calm disposition’. Associate Graham Tyler heads the team.

Acting for employers and employees, Cartmell Shepherddeals with all matters promptly and professionally’ and increased its bench strength by adding team head Joanne Stronach from Burnetts in January 2018. Director Mark Aspin ‘provides clear guidance’ and is the main contact for employment litigation; he recently acted for an employee in employment tribunal proceedings pertaining to flexible working hours alongside discrimination and victimisation matters. On the non-contentious side, the team is well versed in handling data protection work and providing corporate support for mergers, business sales and acquisitions as well as share transfers. The ‘very helpful and pragmatic’ Claire Davies advised an employer on the TUPE implications of an outsourcing agreement, and assisted another employer with the negotiation of termination settlements for various employees accused of gross misconduct.

Having ‘an in-depth understanding of immigration matters’, much of David Gray Solicitors LLP’s work pertains to business immigration, family migration and EEA law issues with a particular focus on the IT, healthcare, service, leisure and academic sectors. The ‘knowledgeable, approachable and helpfulBryony Rest heads the team and is note for her  ‘honest and straightforward advice’. In recent work, she advised an organisation on the suspension and subsequent revocation of Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsor licences, and assisted an individual with the application to remain as a Tier 1 migrant.

Public and private sector employers routinely retain the team at Jacksons Law to assist with a range of contentious and non-contentious employment law matters and benefit from its expertise in health, education, food and drink and logistics sector work. Recent instructions include advising a client on TUPE matters, defending an employer against the claim for unfair dismissal and breach of contract, among other allegations, as well as providing transactional support. In other work, the team acts for employees in various disputes covering unfair dismissal, age discrimination, statutory redundancy pay and unlawful wage deductions. The team is now led by associate Paul Clark after former team head Mark Foster left the firm. Senior associate Julie Dalzell is experienced in employment tribunal advocacy.

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