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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 > South East > Crime, fraud and licensing > Crime: general > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

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Index of tables

  1. Crime: general
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next Generation Partners
  5. Rising stars

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next Generation Partners

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Rising stars

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Blackfords LLP is a significant presence in serious criminal cases, particularly violent crime, drug-related offences and sexual offences. The firm's large team includes 15 solicitor-advocates and two barristers, and is headed by Gary Bloxsome  and Trevor Francis. Diana Payne leads the general crime team and is notable for her work in the youth courts and in relation to major criminal offences. Other key names include barrister Rachel Wilson, along with solicitor-advocates Lucinda Shand and Hannah Giles, the latter heads the Woking-based arm of the firm's criminal defence team.

Practice head(s):Gary Bloxsome; Trevor Francis

Other key lawyers:Diana Payne; Rachel Wilson; Lucinda Shand; Hannah Giles

Testimonials

'They are an excellent organisation with some first class solicitors.'

'Lay clients have always demonstrated a confidence in them which speaks volumes.'

'Always accessible to both lay and professional clients.'

'Enthusiastic capable practitioners who go the extra mile for their clients.'

'Gary Bloxham is one of the best criminal law solicitors I know and he is very well supported by many of his associates including Anne-Marie Geraghty, Rachel Wilson and Lucinda Shand.'

'Diana Payne is an excellent, dedicated solicitor with superb client care.'

'Hannah Giles is capable, diligent, excellent to work with. '

'Lucinda Shand is enthusiastic, empathetic with clients, very well prepared.'

Work highlights

  • Acting for a Premier League footballer charged with a number of offences.
  • Defending a client accused of murder, where the charges were eventually reduced to manslaughter.
  • Defending a client charged with murder, with the client eventually being acquitted of all charges on self-defence grounds.
  • Defending a client charged with a Section 20 wounding in a high-profile case and secured a suspended sentence.
  • Defending a client charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Joanne Gibbons heads the crime team at Uxbridge-based IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett), which acts in cases for both private and legal aid funded clients. Deputy team leader Eddie Tang has significant experience in murder cases as well as other serious crime matters. Other key lawyers at the practice include Caroline Dunne and Kam Varaitch. The team is particularly notable for its work involving kidnapping, serious violent crime, organised crime, drug offences and sexual offences.

Practice head(s):Joanne Gibbons

Other key lawyers:Eddie Tang; Caroline Dunne; Kam Varaitch

FIRMS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

GT Stewart Solicitors & Advocates

GT Stewart is a specialist crime firm that deals with crime at all levels, offering clients a very high standard of client care. The firm undertakes mainly publicly funded work, although it is developing an increasing private client base.

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Reeds Solicitors' large south east team operates across several offices, most notably Reading and Oxford, and acts on the full spectrum of criminal cases.  The 'well-organised and efficient' practice is home to a team including barristers and solicitor-advocates who deal with high-profile historic sexual offences, terrorism and serious violent crime cases, as well as drug and modern slavery-related cases. 'Extremely knowledgeable' practice co-head Stuart Matthews is noted for his work in serious and complex cases, along with fellow co-heads Neil Jarvis and Julian Richards.

Practice head(s):Neil Jarvis; Julian Richards; Stuart Matthews

Other key lawyers:Amy French; Alexa Clement

Testimonials

'Reeds demonstrated a professional and personal practice in its undertaking of my case.'

'The firm proved itself well able to deal with the demands of a huge case, putting in the hours and working through a huge amount of material to make sure the client got the best service.'

'Reeds is an effective and efficient set of lawyers who appear to want to go the extra mile for the client and are not simply concerned with the next case.'

'Reeds has impressed me with its attention to detail, straight talking and experience.'

'Stuart Matthews has a particular ability to engage with his clients on a personal level, and as a result is extremely popular.'

'Stuart Matthews stands out as a committed, dedicated and passionate defence solicitor.'

'Neil Jarvis is a seasoned professional who goes to great efforts to ensure that cases are handled expertly.'

'Julian Richards shows both an impressive breadth of knowledge within his field and a very personal and engaged manner with those he is representing'

'At Reeds, there is a real passion for the work and clients recognise the dedication that is given to securing the best possible results.'

'Julian Richards is a first-class litigator and lawyer'

Work highlights

  • Represented a client in a very high-profile, historic sexual abuse case.
  • Representing a client charged with a terrorism offence.
  • Successfully represented a client jointly charged with another for common assault by beating.
  • Securing a conditional discharge for a repeat offender charged with a non-dwelling burglary.

Taylor Haldane Barlex Solicitors LLP is a key name in Essex for criminal law matters, serving clients at all levels of the court system including military and youth courts. Peter Barlex heads the practice and fellow founding partners Matthew Taylor and Russell Haldane all have a strong track record in criminal law work. Taylor and Haldane also handle health and safety and professional misconduct respectively. Gavin Burrell's expertise covers serious crime work, including violent crime and sexual offences.

Practice head(s):Peter Barlex

Other key lawyers:Gavin Burrelll; Gavin Cowe

Testimonials

'Taylor Haldane Barlex are really strong across the board.'

'They have four outstanding partners.'

'They are a highly respected firm.'

ABV Solicitors handles a broad range of cases for both legal aid-funded and private clients, including sexual offences, drug-related cases and serious violent crime. It is most notable for its work on cases featuring a cross-border element, defending clients in high-profile cases involving people or drug-smuggling. Akhtar Ahmad leads the practice, along with Robert Borwick. Borwick is notable for his significant experience in sexual offences cases, while Ahmad has a track record in international cases including extradition and terrorism cases, as well as violent crime and sexual offences.

Practice head(s):Akhtar Ahmad; Robert Borwick

Other key lawyers:Hanisha Godhania; Sunita Mehta

Testimonials

ABV provide a stellar service - many of their staff are extremely able and talented.'

'Sunita Mehta and Hanisha Godhania are the unsung stars of ABV.'

'Sunita Mehta and Hanisha Godhania are hardworking solicitors - they handle the most difficult of clients and cases. It is a pleasure to work with them both.'

Blaser Mills Law undertakes the full spectrum of defence work for both private and publicly funded clients, but particularly specialises in drug-related offences, serious sexual offences including historic offences, and violent crime. The 'committed, flexible, and accessible' team is headed by Daniel Martin who has specialist expertise in cases concerning the use, sale, and importation of offensive weapons, alongside a strong general crime practice. Associate Ben Langley is notable for his work in magistrates and youth court cases, as well as his work on cases involving sexual offences.

Practice head(s):Daniel Martin

Other key lawyers:Ben Langley

Testimonials

'The team are very professional, understanding and have always wanted the best results for our case from day one.' 

'They have worked extremely hard on a complicated case for a year to achieve a positive result.'

'Daniel Martin's cool calmness under pressure, coupled with his unrelenting attention to detail make him every prosecutor's nightmare.'

'Blaser Mills LLP is an incredibly professional and slick firm.'

'The team  is particularly adept at marrying the appropriate client with counsel to ensure a smooth running case.'

'Dan Martin is an extremely intelligent and brilliant defence lawyer.'

'Their high level of service was consistent between the fee-based work and when the case moved to legal aid - we experienced no change in the level of support we received.'

'Both Dan Martin and Emily Wright were incredibly responsive and able to explain our situation in understandable terms.'

Work highlights

  • The team acted for an individual involved in a large-scale prison mutiny, which caused hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of damage.
  • Representing a youth client accused of terrorist activity after being found in possession of extremist material and explosives.
  • Acted for an elderly client accused of serious, historic sex offences against family members.
  • Representing a defendant accused of county-lines drug supply between London and Wales.
  • Secured acquittal for a client accused of possession of indecent images of children.

Clarke Kiernan LLP Solicitors acts for clients across the full spectrum of criminal defence and prison law. It also has a strong track record in tackling cases involving people trafficking, people smuggling, and modern slavery. Catherine McCarthy heads the practice, and is known for assisting clients including those with special needs and other vulnerabilities. Other key names at the practice include Daniel Bonich who handles a broad range of serious crimes, a number of which have attracted media attention.

Practice head(s):Catherine McCarthy

Other key lawyers:Daniel Bonich; Dennis Clarke

Work highlights

  • Represented a 16 year old accused of the murder of a 17 year old.
  • Represented a female in criminal proceedings charged with a number of hacking  and revenge porn offences.
  • Represented a man accused of operating a large-scale drug trafficking operation.
  • Represented a man accused of the murder of his son, a case involving positional asphyxiation.
  • Defending a male facing a criminal trial for rape.

As a specialist criminal law firm, Jerman Samuels & Pearson LLP has significant experience in all aspects of criminal defence, including violent crimes, sexual offences, and drug-related cases, while the firm's in-house advocacy department provides continuity of representation for clients. Founding partners Mark Jerman, Mark Pearson, and Simon Samuels are all highly experienced defence lawyers, along with Ian Clift and Jane Werry, who head the Crown and Magistrates Court departments respectively.

Practice head(s):Mark Jerman; Mark Pearson; Simon Samuels

Other key lawyers:Ian Clift; Jane Werry; Matthew Bone; Bethany Brown; Carly Denniss; Christopher Whitcombe

Work highlights

  • Acted for a defendant charged with the murder of a door step loan collector.
  • Acted for a defendant charged with murdering her son, and was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.
  • Acting for a defendant who was jointly charged with another with the murder of a relative.
  • Represented a defendant charged with offences of violence committed against vulnerable residents at a care home.
  • Representing a defendant accused of serial sexual offences committed against elderly and vulnerable people.

Operating across the South East, Lawtons Solicitors has specialist departments focusing on issues including serious violence and assault, firearms and drugs crime, and an increasing number of sexual offences, among others. The firm undertakes private as well as legal aid cases and serves clients on a national basis. 'Excellent criminal law specialist' Stephen Halloran heads the team alongside Nick Titchener, both of whom have strong track records in serious and complex cases.

Practice head(s):Stephen Halloran; Nick Titchener

Other key lawyers:Nick Seeley

Testimonials

'Lawtons is an outstanding firm. Approachable, professional and reliable.'

'They have excellent client care skills in terms of communication and understanding.'

'The team are all very hard working, no corners are cut, they are truly passionate about representing their clients.'

Work highlights

  • Represented a client charged with two rapes on two women.
  • Represented a defendant in respect of a Health & Safety Executive prosecution following the death of an farm labourer in an accident at work.
  • Acted in an historic sexual offences case in which the client was assessed as not fit to plead and was found not guilty of all charges.
  • Provided advice to a client in relation to an indecent images case.
  • Represented a defendant accused of the theft from her bank employer of over £76,000.

SVS Solicitors' criminal defence team is led by Sash Sidhu, who specialises in gang-related violent crime, assisted by supervising solicitors Shenel Johnson and Rob Johnson. In addition to cases of violent crime, the firm has experience dealing with cases involving firearms and other offensive weapons, and also represents clients charged with drug-related offences. Solicitor James Ojukwu heads up the firm's Magistrates Court work.

Practice head(s):Sasha Sidhu

Other key lawyers:Shenel Johnson; Rob Johnson; James Ojukwu

Work highlights

  • Represented a client in relation to a charge of attempted murder.
  • Represented two clients, charged along with another on a single count of murder, and one other defendant charged with assisting an offender, securing acquittals for all defendants.
  • Represented a client charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
  • Representing a client charged with arson - being reckless as to whether life is endangered.
  • Represented a client charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs as part of a county drugs case.

Gerard Maye Legal acts on a wide range of serious and complex criminal cases, with a particular focus on those with an international element. Founder and managing director Gerard Maye heads the team, and has a strong track record in a range of serious criminal cases including sexual offences and violent crime, as well as serious fraud cases. He is highly valued: 'He never let any of our clients down and has done amazing work with some very dire situations'.

Practice head(s):Gerard Maye

Testimonials

'Gerard Maye is a serious talent in the field of criminal defence work.'

'We refer all our work to Gerard Maye at the earliest stage because he takes a strategic approach to the situation.'

'The practice is professional, committed and hard-working.'

Work highlights

  • R-v- Whittington
  • R-v-Balmont
  • R-v- Milan
  • R-v- Karim
  • R-v- Hollick

GT Stewart Limited acts for clients across all levels of the criminal justice system, including a specialist youth court team. Managing director Greg Stewart heads the team, while Julie Ann Boyle oversees the firm's Kent and Essex-based offering from its Dartford office. The firm is retained on matters across the spectrum of criminal law, including violent crime, sexual offences, and theft cases.

Practice head(s):Greg Stewart

Other key lawyers:Julie Ann Boyle

Gullands Solicitors provides a full service to clients in its criminal law practice, acting in cases concerning serious violent crime, sexual offences, regulatory offences and historic offences. Managing partner John Roberts heads the practice, and is notable for his experience in defending clients against prosecutions brought by agencies other than the Crown Prosecution Service. Another notable name at the practice is Patrick Bligh, a general criminal practitioner most notable for his former experience prosecuting cases.

Practice head(s):John Roberts

Other key lawyers:Patrick Bligh; Michelle Pibworth

Operating from St Albans and West Drayton, Wells Burcombe LLP 'offers a boutique service that is closely tailored to the individual needs of each client'. It provides the full range of criminal defence services, with particular specialisms in the areas of historic sexual offences, prison law, and appellate work, in addition to violent crime and drug offences. The highly rated founding partners Alan Burcombe and David Wells have strong track records in appeals cases while Ravinder Khumra is a key contact for business crime, as well as undertaking high-profile sexual offences cases.

Practice head(s):Alan Burcombe; David Wells; Ravinder Khumra

Testimonials

'They have a sensitivity to the pressures of those facing criminal charges that sets them apart - their client care is exceptional.'

'They have a very efficient team of support paralegals and associates who give invaluable assistance.'

'The team is very hard working and totally committed, as a practice, to the defendant and client.'

Work highlights

  • Presenting application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission to review a conviction in a high-profile murder case.
  • Acting in a case concerning allegations of historical sexual abuse in the 1970’s by a former high-ranking member of the Catholic Church.
  • Defending a client in the first prosecuted case concerning the use of drones to traffic drugs into prisons.
  • Acting for a client in a prison mutiny case involving 13 defendants.
  • Defending a client accused of attempted murder of a police officer following a robbery attempt.

Duncan Lewis Solicitors provides the full range of criminal law services, but is particularly notable for its work with vulnerable clients, including those with mental illnesses as well as youth clients. The firm also operates a large, serious crime practice, with a particular focus on gang-related violence and drug offences. Rubin Italia heads the team from the Harrow office and is most notable for his work involving the defence of insanity in addition to business crime cases.

Practice head(s):Rubin Italia; Nicholas De Freitas

Other key lawyers:Linda Barker; Laurence Grant; Simon Connolly; Jiban Miah

Testimonials

'The team prioritises their clients to ensure that they are given the most appropriate support and guidance throughout.'

'The Duncan Lewis' crime team go above and beyond in client care.'

'Each time I have engaged with this firm they are efficient, knowledgeable and available to answer queries.'

'Duncan Lewis are remarkable for the fact that, despite being a large firm, they provide a personal service and give exceptional attention to detail to every case they deal with.'

'Rubin Italia has very good empathy with clients, and provides excellent advice.'

'Simon Connolly's knowledge of the law relating to confiscation is unparalleled and would put a great many counsel to shame.'

Work highlights

  • Represented the defendant in relation to allegations of multiple, historic sexual offences.
  • Represented the defendant in relation to an allegation of double homicide, a case complicated by the defendant’s mental health issues.
  • Represented the defendant in a complex drug importation case.
  • Representing a defendant in respect of on-going high value confiscation proceedings.
  • Representing a defendant in relation to an alleged sexual assault.

JSP Law Limited is a prominent name in the regional market, and has significant experience in cases involving gang-related offences, particularly violent crime and kidnapping. The firm is also known for its work on serious organised crime matters, including large-scale drug-related cases. 'Skilled litigator' Matthew Bliss leads the firm's Crown Court department, and specialises in serious drugs cases in addition to fraud work. Founding partner  Vinesh Patel is noted for his commitment to his clients - and is highlighted for his work on gang-related, serious violent crime.

Practice head(s):Matthew Bliss

Other key lawyers:Vinesh Patel

Testimonials

'JSP Law are a young and vibrant firm who have been able to strike a good balance between private clients and running a busy and extremely well-respected legal aid firm in the local community.'

'JSP has a very strong team with a good reputation in fraud and general crime and I have been impressed by the way they work on a case with their clients.'

'Matthew Bliss has first rate client handling skills, is available at all times for his clients and offers an exceptional service.'

'James Bailey-Woodward is extremely able and good with clients.'

'Vinesh Patel is a true leader who involves himself from the off and engages throughout.'

'Matthew Bliss is down to earth and has star quality.'

'Matt Bliss typifies the qualities of the firm.'

Key Clients

Allesandro Iembo

Jordan Worth

Nathan Charles

Matthew Warr

Anne Ashforth

Moss

Maksims Boikovs

Warren Sneddon

Omar Lobban

Work highlights

  • Gang murder at the Old Bailey – defendant successfully acquitted
  • Represented a defendant in an unusual kidnapping case including 12 other defendants - case discontinued.
  • First female to be sentenced for controlling & coercive behaviour under the Serious Crime Act 2015
  • Represented L one of seven men charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs from Birmingham across county line to Swindon.
  • Instructed to one of six defendants charged with offences of kidnap and conspiracy to kidnap

Levy & Co Solicitors  handles criminal defence work from its Essex base -  serving both legally aided and private clients. Founding partner Steven Levy  is based at the firm's Witham office, and is known for his work with armed forces clients facing court-martials. Evelyn Hicks specialises in assisting vulnerable and mentally ill clients, and Katie Armstrong-Mason advises on gang-related offences as well as violent or drug-related crimes.

Practice head(s):Steven Levy

Other key lawyers:Evelyn Hicks; Katie Armstrong-Mason; Paula Fell

Work highlights

  • Defended a client accused of murder, who was eventually convicted of s.18 GBH.
  • Defended a client  accused of murder along with two co-defendants, securing a reduction of the charges to manslaughter and assault by beating.
  • Represented a client on an indictment of murder where the client pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.
  • Defending a client facing charges of sexual touching and stalking.
  • Defending a client facing charges of arson with intent to endanger life and peverting the course of justice.

Headed by Ben Thomas, the criminal defence team at Sternberg Reed is a prominent force in the East London and Essex legal market. In addition to the firm's substantial fraud practice, the team also acts on a wide range of criminal matters, including sexual, drug-related, and violent crime offences. Richard Cooper has a particular focus on complex, multi-defendant cases, while consultant solicitor David Barbone is notable for his work with clients accused of sexual offences.

Practice head(s):Ben Thomas

Other key lawyers:Richard Cooper; David Barbone; Kenneth Carr

Work highlights

  • Acting for a client in committal for sentence on a Category 1 Section 18 grievous bodily harm with intent conviction.
  • Acting for a client in connection with an investigation into unlawful disturbance of human remains.
  • Acted in a long-running case of conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.

Operating on an entirely private basis, Woodfines LLP defends clients across the country in a variety of criminal cases. Mike Hayward heads the team, and focuses on serious crime, motoring offences, and confiscation proceedings. Other key names at the practice include Michell O’Garro, a road transport and regulatory offences specialist with experience working at the Serious Fraud Office, and Jane Anderson.

Practice head(s):Mike Hayward

Other key lawyers:Michelle O'Garro; Jane Anderson; Nathan Taylor-Allkins

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