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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 > Human resources > Employment: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40 > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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Index of tables

  1. Employment: Thames Valley, Berks, Oxon, M4/M40
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Next generation lawyers

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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Blake Morgan LLP provides ‘value for money' and a 'practical’ service, led by the head of the firm’s employment, pensions, benefits and immigration team, William Downing. Clients of the practice include Oxford BioMedica, Brasenose and Worcester Colleges, Oxford, and Keyzone Computer Services. Downing primarily works out of the firm’s Oxford office, while spending some time in Reading, and assists a number of large Thames Valley-based corporates including Grafton, Cobham and GreenSquare Group. Downing advised Medical Imaging Partnership on the removal of its chief executive alongside the ‘excellent, confident’ Rajiv Joshi, dealing with sensitive internal issues and liaising with the client’s private equity investors. Joshi’s client base ranges from key technology sector clients, including NTT Security and Inmarsat, to clients in the health and social care sectors and local and police authorities. Rebecca Ireland operates alongside Joshi in Reading and focuses her attention on the technology and education sectors. Ireland also assists the Thames Valley commercial and insolvency teams, primarily on TUPE-related issues, and is the firm’s client relationship partner with the University of Reading. Associates Rhiannon Jenkins and Vicky Schollar are rising stars.

Boyes Turner is ‘always prompt, available, pragmatic, flexible in approach and possessing a deep understanding of issues’. The team handles a wide range of work, including tribunal litigation, TUPE transfers and matters arising out of corporate transactions, for clients including LEO Pharma, Tesla and Reading Borough Council. Practice head Barry Stanton handles a range of high-value and complex discrimination and whistleblowing cases, particularly in the technology and professional services sectors. Stanton and director Laurence Anstis defended a digital marketing entity against claims by three former employees with a total value of several million pounds. Helen Goss, who leads the leisure and hospitality sector team, has been advising Portico Corporate Reception Management in relation to its dress code and policy, with the policy on high heels provoking a debate in the national media. 'Real legal innovator' Michael Farrier] represented an international electric car manufacturer in litigation commenced against its new employee by a former employer relating to post-termination restrictions, which had an important impact on the client’s research and development plans. Senior associates Andrew Whiteaker, Darren Smith and Emma O'Connor are all highly regarded.

Clarkslegal LLP, in the view of one commentator, ‘beats other firms in the employment sector because they have fast response times, do what they say when they promise and are much better value than many other firms’. Firm chairman and practice head Michael Sippitt has notably been advising Carillion in respect of senior-level terminations and collective consultations across the organisation in light of restructuring efforts prior to the company’s insolvency. Managing partner Monica Atwal] is ‘an enthusiastic and down-to-earth character who puts clients instantly at ease with her direct, accurate and commercial advice’ and continues to hold an active fee-earning practice advising on all aspects of employment law, with particular expertise in disability discrimination cases. Helen Beech ‘provides timely, succinct and pragmatic advice while always knowing the right questions to ask’, leading on a number of the team’s most significant recent projects, including representing a UK-based charity in a dispute involving an employee based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and advising an overseas High Commission in Europe on employment issues connected to its obligations under the new Pensions Act Regulations. Anita Mishra ‘provides exemplary service to her clients, and has a sensible and intelligent approach to all cases', regularly advising on employee relations and industrial disputes as well as senior executive terminations and negotiations, employment documentation and discrimination issues.

CMS provides ‘excellent response times, very commercial resolutions, excellent business acumen and an understanding company culture’. The team handles a range of contentious and non-contentious employment matters, acting primarily for employers. The firm’s client roster includes high-profile international corporates such as Microsoft, Coca-Cola and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Gary Henderson, whose ‘strength is his style, personality and business acumen’, heads the practice, while senior associates Rachel Zani, Edward Arnold and Anita Wisby are noted as significant team members. Wisby works as a part-time employment judge alongside her fee-earning capacity. The team has handled a wide range of instructions for clients, including HR training, exit arrangements and pensions advice as well as tribunal claims and senior-level hires for energy, entertainment and technology sector companies.

Doyle Clayton ‘inspires confidence and takes time to understand the client’s strategy and aims’. Practice head Tina Wisener has particular expertise in outsourcing and TUPE transfer matters, restructuring, and employment-related FCA issues, as well as whistleblowing and discrimination cases. Wisener recently advised telecoms company Lebara on all the employment law considerations of its sale to Palmarium, and, alongside Victoria Burnip, also defended Chestertons before the Court of Appeal in a landmark case surrounding disclosure in the public interest. Piers Leigh-Pollitt is an expert in advising on the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), working with clients and specialist consultants on the move towards uniform GDPR compliance. Senior associate Verity Saxon heads the firm's Reading office litigation team and regularly defends clients in complex multi-discrimination employment tribunal claims. Recent mandates for James Anderson include collective redundancies, discrimination claims and wage deductions. Sukhpal Matharoo is strong in assisting financial services clients with their employment law concerns, recently advising a bank on the appropriate strategies to follow in a major reorganisation of its business.

Lewis Silkin LLP has ‘superb strength in depth’ and routinely advises multinational clients on cross-border matters relating to global contracts and M&A transactions, where collective redundancies, restructurings and various other matters arise. Other specialist areas on which the practice continues to focus its attention include gender pay gap reporting, workplace data protection (including GDPR implementation and audits), boardroom issues and TUPE. Russell Brimelow heads the practice and frequently advises international corporates in the media and broadcast, IT, telecoms, and technology sectors, among others; he acted for an Oxford-based FTSE 250 company on a range of matters, including its move to a new London HQ, board-level issues and EWC negotiations and strategy. Head of the TUPE group Jonathan Carr (‘quickly understands a situation and provides very clear and helpful advice’) advised a Thames Valley-based pharmaceuticals client on a serious confidentiality breach, entailing a detailed investigation and correspondence with the former employee responsible. Other key team members include Carolyn Soakell , James Storke and Hannah Price.    

Osborne Clarke provides a ‘fantastic service, with very quick responses’ with ‘excellent industry knowledge for the technology area’. The firm has a strong following among US companies, with the firm handling many multi-jurisdictional employment matters, and has developed a particular focus on employment advice to the technology and digital business sector through collaboration with the firm’s Silicon Valley office. Experienced practice head Danielle Kingdon is ‘very responsive and always provides helpful and commercially astute advice’, with a focus on discrimination, maternity, TUPE and contractual issues. Kingdon advised longstanding client The British Standards Institution on a number of contentious employment matters and represented a leading consulting company on a sensitive grievance matter involving alleged bullying, victimisation and discrimination. Team members assisted with employment considerations in a number of corporate M&A deals, with senior associate Emma Ladley assisting lead corporate partner Rob Wood] on LDC’s investment in Blue Bay Travel and Kingdon working alongside corporate team members based in Bristol on VTech’s $72m acquisition and post-completion integration with LeapFrog Enterprises.

Penningtons Manches LLP is experienced in the education, life sciences and technology sectors, counting Merton College, Oxford Nanopore Technologies and IVI UK as clients. Daff Richardson and Eugene Wojciechowski are the key partners servicing the Thames Valley market out of the firm’s Oxford and Reading offices respectively. Richardson co-leads the firm’s education practice, with clients in this field including higher education institutions, independent schools and charities. Richardson also has specialisms in data protection, strategic reorganisations and severance arrangements for senior executives and academics. Wojciechowski advised M20 Property Group on all employment and pension-related matters in respect of the client’s preparation to sell a portfolio of properties across the UK, and successfully defended One Housing Group against claims for unfair constructive dismissal, breach of contract and discrimination. Senior associate Duncan Bain  is noted for his specialist expertise around the crossover between employment and immigration; he is assisting Ocado on an ongoing basis with cases where employees’ and job candidates’ rights to work are brought into question. Bill Smith is well versed in corporate-related work, especially transactions involving university spin-out companies.

At Shoosmiths LLP, ‘advice is always given with the wider commercial context in mind’. The team is experienced in a range of employment work as well as business immigration matters. Jonathan Naylor leads the Reading practice and advises on a full range of contentious and non-contentious employment issues; recently he successfully had claims against client Wilson James for unfair dismissal and discrimination dismissed on all grounds as completely unfounded. National department head Kevin McCavish has particular expertise in the financial services sector and also acts for international companies, being the client partner for Fisher-Price, HiT Entertainment and Calor Gas, among others. McCavish and pensions partner Heather Chandler acted for The National Trust on its re-acquisition of Shugborough Hall, which involved negotiating the terms of transfer relating to employees, collective consultation with employee representatives, individual consultation with employees and ultimately their hiring or dismissal. Paula Rome is highly regarded for CAC hearings, high-profile exits, non-contentious trade union work and employment work related to corporate deals. Clients also include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Old Mutual Global Investors and the Open University.

The ‘excellent’ Blandy & Blandy LLP offers clients a ‘timely response, which is particular important with employment matters’, and is noted for its ‘sound advice and good technical knowledge’. Developing areas of practice include disability discrimination claims, education-related HR issues, business immigration matters and assisting with clients with GDPR compliance. Project highlights included representing private clients in claims against a county council for discrimination on a number of grounds and against an NHS Trust for unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and alleged breach of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Practice head Sue Dowling deals primarily with complex employment litigation involving unlawful discrimination and also frequently assists company clients with handling the restructuring of management teams and the departure of high-level executives. Firm joint managing partner Tim Clark and solicitor Andrea Corr are recommended as being ‘highly professional, very experienced, understanding, non-judgmental, sympathetic and above all very human’.

‘Very responsive, pragmatic and good value for money’ boutique firm Cater Leydon Millard is strong for employment work in the health and education sectors, with a client roster including Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Optima Health, St Edward’s School, Oxford, and King’s College School. Practice head Wendy Leydon] represented an NHS Trust in the dismissal of a consultant anaesthetist for professional misconduct under applicable regulatory rules and advised a listed company on three large and complex internal investigations. The ‘efficient and dynamic’ Stephen Conlan advised LA Fitness on the employment aspects of the closure of some branches of its chain of gyms and the transition of others to new operator PureGym. Nathan Millard is recommended for his knowledge of the employment law issues facing independent schools. Shelia Carter, Colin Henney and Lisa Harris are other names of note.

The ‘very responsive and helpful’ team at Field Seymour Parkes LLP has particular expertise in tribunal litigation, recently representing clients in claims relating to equal pay law, allegations of fraudulent manipulation of expenses and indirect and direct sex discrimination in recruitment processes. Practice head Ian Machray is ‘very practical, gives simple straightforward advice, understands clients’ level of knowledge and where they may need more in-depth assistance, and is friendly and approachable’. Machray advised Whistl UK on the employment implications of the closure of its Leeds and Warrington depots and the opening of a ‘super hub’ in Bolton, affecting over 500 employees, and has been strategically advising VMware UK on its gender pay reporting obligations. Significant new client instructions have been received from Lefort Group and Clearview Intelligence Group. At associate level, Louise Smyth and +Katie Burley have expertise in the education sector, with Burley heading the education team and Smyth acting as firm principal contact to client St. Neot's School, while Jackie Denham is strong in dealing with large corporate organisations and handling large-scale restructures and reorganisations.

Pitmans LLP's main areas of activity include the technology, automotive and manufacturing, and retail sectors; it regularly advises clients on an ongoing basis about their HR issues. Department head Mark Symons notably acted for a private client in his successful appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in a claim against the British Council, a decision which is set to have a longstanding impact on global employers’ HR policies. Angela Shields possesses a wealth of experience in the telecoms, media and technology, and pharmaceuticals sectors, and senior associate Jenny Littlewood is a key team member.

The service at Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors is ‘excellent, offering succinct advice and giving options with good explanations to facilitate sound decision making’. The team excels in the technology, pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Head of employment Alison Gair ‘is outstanding, inspiring confidence, extremely knowledgeable and works really hard’. In one important case Gair acted for Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) and its parent company Kohler in respect of an unfair dismissal claim made by one of UPS’ employees and associated allegations, successfully having the claims struck out at the preliminary hearing. Other highlights included advising clients on the exit of senior executives, office relocation and resulting staff redundancies, and restrictive covenants issues. Senior associate Robert Cherry ‘gives advice in clear language without jargon and gets straight to the point’.

The 'simply excellent' Crossland Employment Solicitors is recommended as ‘always technically sound, giving clear guidance and advice, super responsive and having excellent judgement and perspective’. The firm has several notable industry trade associations among its clients, such as the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Association of Optometrists. ‘Outstanding’ managing director Beverley Sunderland heads the team and recently acted for an insurance-broking client to obtain injunctions against former employees to prevent destruction of confidential information belonging to the client. Director Barry Ross recently advised a motor industry client in relation to the departure of a number of high-level employees as part of a restructure, assisting with settlement agreements, negotiations and exit packages. Consulting barrister Kevin Charles is recommended for his expertise in large-scale reorganisations and complex discrimination and whistleblowing matters.

Herrington Carmichael LLP provides ‘an excellent, timely and professional service at all times’, with ‘exceptionally fast response times without any compromise on quality of advice and professionalism of service’. Highlights included bringing a high-profile claim against the defunct firm King & Wood Mallesons on behalf of over 200 employees, as well as defending a financial services client against an Employment Tribunal claim worth around £10m and advising a laundry company on the reorganisation of its business. Practice head Alistair McArthur is widely lauded, with reviewers recommending him as an ‘exceptionally bright and discerning lawyer’, ‘commercially savvy and decisive’, ‘always making himself available’ and ‘possessing strong business acumen’. Other key individuals for the team are senior solicitors Katie Harris and Katherine Clay and 'efficient and responsive' solicitor Robert Frampton .

Brethertons LLP's employment offering is headed by ‘dynamic rainmaker’ Amy Edwards, who is highly experienced in transactional and contentious employment considerations, advising on TUPE transfers, complex inter-group restructures, structural reorganisations and employment tribunal proceedings, among other matters. Edwards and HR advisory and business immigration specialist Hazel Robbins ‘are both extremely supportive and very efficient and helpful’. The team was recently strengthened by the hire of experienced employment litigator Kerry Hudson, who has expertise in employment matters connected to personal injury including complicated stress at work claims.

Specialist employment law practice Draper Lang LLP is ‘a cracking niche firm’ that ‘feels like an extension of clients' HR functions’. David Blomfield] has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, with particular strength in advice on TUPE, reorganisations, restrictive covenants and executive terminations. Nicholas Snowden regularly advises on a wide range of non-contentious employment issues, including corporate reorganisations and redundancies, TUPE, directors’ service agreements and employment contracts. Stephen Cates and Emma Griffiths are also noted.

At Employment Law Plus, ‘very communicative, knowledgeable and supportive’ sole practitioner Jill Kelley routinely advises businesses and individuals on everything from disciplinary actions to negotiating employment contracts. Kelly’s recent workload includes advising a client on the impact under TUPE of the loss of a major public sector contract, representing a whistle-blower professional executive on termination settlement negotiations with their employer in the oil industry, and advising an employer on strategy and the implementation of a collective redundancy situation. Clients include ADM Group, Boswells Coffee Company and Olam Europe.

Mark Emery joined Freeths LLP in September 2017 to develop the firm’s employment law presence in the Thames Valley corridor. The team is noted for its expertise in the food and drinks and education industries, representing clients before employment tribunals, undertaking all its own advocacy, and handling TUPE claims. Emery and dispute management associate Paul Brown] are acting for the former managing director of Orchid Field Marketing in an employment tribunal claim for sex discrimination and unfair dismissal. Emery is also handling a group action on behalf of eight former employees against Meta VS and others for TUPE breaches and unfair dismissal.

Senior associates Michelle Morgan and  Julie Taylor head up Gardner Leader LLP's employment practice. Recent highlights include Morgan revisiting and amending employment contracts and service agreements for new client Premier Pipeline and Taylor handling constructive unfair dismissal and unusual disability discrimination claims. The team has niche expertise in advising agricultural estates in Hampshire and Oxfordshire on their diverse workforces and the incidental complexities including tied accommodation and agricultural workers.

‘Excellent niche employment practice’ Julian Taylors Solicitors is recommended as ‘very knowledgeable, very responsive, and very good value for money’. With ‘business acumen which is second to none’, name partner and ‘leading light’ Julian Taylor is ‘a delight to work with’, with ‘excellent client care and a sharp eye for detail’. Taylor is particularly strong in dealing with contentious matters in the Employment Tribunal and the High Court, and has particular expertise in dealing with cases involving restrictive covenants. Taylor is assisted by ‘calm and commercial’ senior associate Nicola Wallbank, who is ‘a great listener’ and ‘very practical in her approach, with great client care skills’. Between them Taylor and Wallbank service employment matters for a broad range of clients including UK companies, the UK subsidiaries of international corporates, sports bodies and charities, and senior executives, including Blackwell UK and Rapid Engineering Supplies.

Boutique firm mpm legal solutions Limited adopts ‘a deal-making attitude’ and acts for well-known employers such as Honda, Kuoni and Space NK. Work for the practice includes advice on workforce management, business protection, contracts and policies, and business immigration. Mark Minns acts for clients on the full range of employment law issues, with expertise in supporting clients with complex workforce restructures. Adrienne Hardy is an expert in employment law issues arising in the retail sector and has experience of business immigration support matters. Peter Beisty is noted for his experience in employment tribunal matters.

The team at Royds Withy King is ‘always attentive, knowledgeable and proactive’, and is noted for its advice to clients in life science, education, professional services and the electronics and technology sector. Oxford-based partner Kate Benefer has proven experience in dealing with complex collective issues, business reorganisations and TUPE, and regularly advises businesses and senior executives on all aspects of employment law. Swindon-based national employment head Malcolm Gregory spends time in Oxford, primarily assisting large companies with difficult issues arising from transactions or reorganisations. Associate Paul Hayward joined the team from dph legal, while Mark Emery left to join Freeths LLP.

Spratt Endicott provides ‘extremely reliable advice’ on employment matters, ‘reacting promptly to instructions and providing excellent value for money with advice as good as one would get from a London firm’. ‘Brilliant’ directors Philomena Price and Carol Shaw lead the practice on a range of work including grievances, disciplinary processes, employment tribunals and business immigration matters. Food sector expert Shaw is ‘fast to respond with clear information and is excellent in interpreting and explaining the law within the particular context’. Price ‘understands the needs and culture of her clients’ businesses’, and handles large-scale redundancy exercises, tribunal claims, training and senior executive severances.

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