Twitter Logo Youtube Circle Icon LinkedIn Icon

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.
Click here for more details

United Kingdom > Scotland > Public sector > Education > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Who Represents Who

Find out which law firms are representing which Education clients in Scotland using The Legal 500's new comprehensive database of law firm/client relationships. Instantly search over 925,000 relationships, including over 83,000 Fortune 500, 46,000 FTSE350 and 13,000 DAX 30 relationships globally. Access is free for in-house lawyers, and by subscription for law firms. For more information, contact


Anderson Strathern has a strong client base consisting of higher, further and secondary education institutions, which the team frequently advises on regulatory, governance and construction matters, and IP and IT licensing issues. In an example of its ability to handle complex employment litigation, Barry Nichol defended the University of Stirling in a protective award complaint brought by an academic trade union pertaining to fixed-term contract employees whose contracts were not renewed. The team, led by Alun Thomas, also advised five further education colleges on contentious and non-contentious industrial action matters. Other clients include the University of St Andrews, Glasgow Caledonian University, Fife College and the University of the West of Scotland.

Working in conjunction with the firm’s public sector, corporate and employment practices, Brodies LLP’s education team is known for its experience advising further education and higher education clients, including the University of Edinburgh, Queen Margaret University and the University of St Andrews, on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters. Team head Brenda Scott, who attracts praise for her ‘good eye for detail’, advised The University of Edinburgh on a number of commercial initiatives involving partnerships and collaborations with higher education institutions and other partners. This involved drafting and negotiating agreements and advising on regulatory and data protection issues. In other work, the ‘knowledgeable’ team advised the Glasgow Clyde Education Foundation (GCEF) on governance issues, and assisted the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) with a wide range of matters, including advising on its qualifications approval and accreditation functions. Chairman Christine O’Neill, who ‘is excellent at providing practical advice on the spot’, defended the Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in a civil action raised by a former student before the Inner House of the Court of Session claiming breach of contract and breach of human rights. ‘Nothing seems too daunting forLynne Marr, who advised Queen Margaret University on a number of employment law issues, including the termination of a fixed-term contract on grounds of redundancy.

CMS’s ‘client-friendly and commercially minded’ team has ‘excellent knowledge of the university sector’ and is praised as ‘providing an outstanding service in a timely manner’. Recent highlights include acting for longstanding client the University of Glasgow on all aspects of its multimillion-pound campus redevelopment project. Darina Kerr, who has ‘excellent knowledge of the real estate sector’, acted for the Glasgow School of Art on its acquisition of the former Stow College from Glasgow Kelvin College, while ‘effective communicatorCarina Healy, who is also noted for ‘her outstanding knowledge of the life sciences sector alongside an immensely pragmatic approach and excellent inter-personal skills’, advised the University of Aberdeen on the creation of Islexa Limited, a new university spin-out which is developing a novel technology to produce laboratory grown islets (the organoids responsible for insulin production). This included assistance with the negotiation of the licence and management agreement with Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. Team head Laurence Ward advised the University of Dundee on the procurement of a cloud-based integrated business solution.

Clients of Burness Paull LLP single out the ‘clear, informed and pragmatic advice’ provided by the education team, which regularly advises clients on construction projects for schools and universities and which has ‘very good sector-specific knowledge of government policies’. The ‘highly skilled and experienced’ team advised Skills Development Scotland on the development of a Scottish Institute, which involved advising on its corporate structure and constitutional requirements. James Forbes assisted the University of St Andrews with construction aspects of the university’s estate development plan, and advised East Renfrewshire Council on matters arising from building defects in a recently constructed special needs school. Other key figures include Chris MacKay is ‘extremely knowledgeable’ and ‘a very experienced strategist’ while director Graeme Palmer is ‘consistently strong in procurement law, government policy and public service structuring matters’. Scott Wilson retired.

Maclay Murray & Spens LLP’s practice is singled out for its track record in construction projects, employment issues and IP commercialisation matters. Team head Mark Macaulay assisted Glasgow Academy - War Memorials Trust with the negotiation of the pre-construction services agreement alongside the advance works and building contract related to the academy’s acquisition of a tenement building adjoining the main school site in order to redevelop it into a new science building. In other work, Amanda Jones advised the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) on a number of employment law matters, including contentious discrimination, whistleblowing, working time and pay-related issues. Other clients include Fife College and Glasgow Clyde College.

The ‘supportive’ team at Pinsent Masons LLPprovides high-quality service’ to higher and further education clients, which frequently involves advice on infrastructure projects, employment and real estate as well as IP and IT matters. Team head Chris Martin advised the University of Edinburgh on a range of employment issues, including business-critical immigration matters arising from the Brexit decision. It also assists the same client with IP matters. In another key mandate, the team acted for The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on plans for the development of its estate in central Glasgow, including the development of new student accommodation. This role involved advising on the disposal of student accommodation to a private provider and on subsequent arrangements for the leaseback. Joanne McIntosh was promoted to legal director.

Thorntons Law LLP acts for a number of higher and further education clients, as well as other school sector participants such as research centres, in matters where commercial, corporate, governance and employment advice is required. Practice head and ‘good communicator’ Lesley Larg assisted the University of the Highlands and Islands with a review of student terms and conditions and a review of the university’s admission procedures to ensure CMA and legislative compliance. The team also advised the client on the grant of research degree awarding powers via an order of the Privy Council and its effect on the university’s constitutional arrangements. In another highlight, the team advised Glasgow Kelvin College on the sale of a major campus to another education institution. The James Hutton Institute instructed the team to assist with the negotiation of collaboration agreements and subcontracts for a research project involving the agricultural industry in Brazil and India. Liam McMonagle is another key member of the team.

BTO Solicitors LLP provides ‘thorough’ employment law advice to higher and further education sector clients, as well as a number of private schools. The team has strong experience in litigation, and regularly defends educational institutions against discrimination claims and insurers of educational institutions against claims raised by students and parents such as failure to teach, failure to identify learning difficulties and complaints about course formats and structures. ‘Knowledgeable and experienced’ team head David Hoey represented a private school in a discrimination claim at the Additional Support Needs Tribunal brought by a former pupil.

Contentious work is a key area of focus for Clyde & Co LLP’s team, which is experienced in defending educational institutions against claims for failure to educate and personal injury claims, as well as representing its clients in disciplinary proceedings and employment tribunal proceedings. The team recently acted for the University of Glasgow in a failure to educate claim under the Equality Act 2010 on account of the pursuer’s disability. Graeme Watson represented the Educational Institute for Scotland (EIS) in regulatory proceedings that were brought against the client by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Ranald MacPherson and Gina Wilson jointly head the team.

Harper Macleod LLP’s ‘reliable and proactive’ team ‘provides straightforward advice’ and ‘has the ability to express complex legal issues in a clear and concise way’. In conjunction with the firm’s infrastructure and projects practice, the team frequently advises on development projects and planning matters. Ken Ross advised the University of St Andrews on the development of its student accommodation at Fife Park, which involved the construction and operation of a new 196-bed student development in a joint venture arrangement with Campus Living Villages. Euan Pirie (who attracts praise for his ‘good and clear advice’) assisted hub North Scotland with negotiations for a project agreement with Aberdeen City Council pertaining to a new secondary school in Aberdeen to replace two existing secondary schools. Other areas of expertise include advising on commercial matters, university spin-outs and contentious issues. The ‘sensible, clear and intelligent’ Jennifer Jack represented the Highland Council in an appeal against a decision refusing consent to the proposed closure of four schools on the island of Skye. The ‘personable and professional’ Euan Mitchell heads the team.

MacRoberts LLP assists educational institutions and education authorities with large projects, providing advice on procurement, finance, construction and real estate matters while clients also appreciate the team’s experience in handling sector-focused employment and IP work. Notably, the team advised the University of Strathclyde on a wide range of matters pertaining to the construction of a technology centre, including assistance with the acquisition of the site, the procurement of tenders and the negotiation of all construction-related contracts. Other recent work includes assisting Fife College with procurement and real estate matters. Dumfries and Galloway College is another client of the team, which is now led by Katy Wedderburn following the departure of former practice head Robin Corbett.

Morton Fraser acts for further and higher education institutions, private schools and education bodies on construction and project development work, governance and employment law matters – including advising on immigration issues – and in litigation. The team acted for a local authority in a judicial review brought by a parent, which pertains to the decision of a council not to provide funding for a child to attend a private school. It also acted for a number of Non-British academics on immigration matters such as their ability to remain and work in the UK after Brexit. The ‘experienced’ David Walker heads the team, which includes ‘friendly and professional’ senior associate Lorna Davis, who is praised for her ‘impressive depth of knowledge’ and for ‘considering various approaches and scenarios to identify a way forward that allows for risk assessments and the consideration of potential consequences’. Glasgow Kelvin College is among the firm’s clients.

Shepherd and Wedderburn’s ‘very professional’ team is best known for providing education sector clients with employment, pensions, property and procurement advice, as well as assisting with governance, construction and corporate matters. Main contact Neil Maclean advised Skills Development Scotland on the TUPE and employment implications of taking over responsibility for various employability services from the Scottish government. Similarly, the University of Edinburgh instructed the team to assist with employment and HR-related issues, as well as property transactions, including recently advising on entering into a nominations agreement for student residential accommodation at St Leonards in Edinburgh. In a separate matter, Rhona Harper advised South Ayrshire Council on the procurement of a number of new schools, including Dailly Primary School, Tarbolton Community Campus and Ayr Academy.

GC Diversity and Inclusion Report

In partnership with...

International comparative guides

Giving the in-house community greater insight to the law and regulations in different jurisdictions.

Select Practice Area

Press releases

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

Legal Developments in Scotland for Education

  • How far is the internet colliding with the law?

    With innovation, comes the need for new adaptation. Law must continually adapt with the inventions and development of mankind to keep order, withhold ethics or resolve conflict.
    - Hudson McKenzie

Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

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