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

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Blake Morgan LLP marked an uptick in employment litigation in the High Court and employment tribunal. It also added a number of new clients to the roster, such as The Turney Group, Simon Hegele Logistics and Service, Lewisham Homes, Inmarsat and Slough Children’s Services Trust; the latter has retained recently promoted partner Rajiv Joshi in a significant whistleblowing and race discrimination tribunal claim against a current employee. Rebecca Ireland focuses on the technology and education sectors and is defending the University of Reading in a high-profile unfair dismissal and sex discrimination dispute with a former lecturer. Practice head William Downing has been assisting Cobham plc with a range of matters, including disability discrimination disputes, replacing a bonus structure and cross-border work concerning employee dismissals and transfers. Associate Rhiannon Jenkins is a rising star. Mike Wilson was promoted to managing partner and James Simpson departed to Blaser Mills.

Regional leaderBoyes Turner is a ‘safe pair of hands’ for a range of work, including tribunal litigation, TUPE transfers and matters arising out of corporate transactions. Helen Goss, who leads the leisure and hospitality sector team, advised a global medical technology company on transferring hundreds of employees to a new location as part of centralising several of its offices, which involved collective redundancies, a remote working policy and outsourcing teams to subsidiaries in Switzerland and third parties. Practice head Barry Stanton defended Gartner UK in an employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal (EAT) case against an employee claiming that the company breached its contract and discriminated against age by stopping permanent health insurance payments. Tesla, LEO Pharma and Beaver-Visitec International are additional clients of the practice. Michael Farrier is ‘a real legal innovator’; senior associate Andrew Whiteaker is ‘prepared to go the extra mile to make sure the correct result is achieved’; and Darren Smith, who was promoted to senior associate, is ‘professional, very easy to work with and dedicated’. Senior associate and training group head Emma O'Connor is also highly regarded, as is recently promoted director Laurie Anstis, who leads the business immigration team with senior associate Claire Taylor-Evans.

CMS acts for multinational companies such as Liberty Global and Biogen on a range of matters, including data protection issues and domestic and international reorganisations. The firm also services clients through CMS Law Now, a resource that enables employers to stay up to date with changes in employment law. Gary Henderson leads the team and has been handling HR training, exit arrangements and pensions advice as well as tribunal claims and senior-level hires for energy, entertainment and technology sector companies. Also recommended are senior associates Rachel Zani, Jenny Grogan, Edward Arnold and Anita Wisby; the latter is also a part-time employment judge.

At Clarkslegal LLP, firm chairman and practice head Michael Sippitt is an expert in industrial relations and represented Carillion in challenging GMB’s Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) application to be recognised by the company regarding collective bargaining for cleaning staff. HR departments are supported through the firm’s consultancy business Forbury People. ‘Solutions-orientated’ managing partner Monica Atwal ‘has a deep understanding of the tribunal system’ and is representing Wincanton in appealing the EAT’s decision stating that contractual claims brought by a group of employees is in the public interest for protected disclosure; the dispute is with a former employee who alleged that they were unfairly dismissed for making claims about the allocation of overtime. Currie & Brown was a recent client gain and has instructed the firm to handle its takeover of Sweett Group, which has seen Helen Beech handle dismissals, TUPE transfers and a restructuring, among other matters. Naureen Hussain now works in-house at Huawei Technologies (UK).

Doyle Claytoninspires confidence and takes time to understand the client’s strategy and aims’. Practice head Tina Wisenerbrings a wealth of skill to her work’ and, together with recently promoted senior associate Victoria Burnip, is appealing an EAT ruling on behalf of Chestertons, which outlined public interest in the context of making protected disclosures; the claim was filed by former senior manager, who alleges that they were unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing. Recent mandates for James Anderson included collective redundancies, discrimination claims and wage deductions. Financial services and insurance sector work is another core strength of the practice; Sukhpal Matharoo, who divides his time between London and Reading, is acting for a bank in a trade union dispute concerning salary changes. Associate Verity Saxon ‘is a great listener, who asks good probing questions and makes clients think about all areas of risk’, and Piers Leigh-Pollittgoes above and beyond’ for clients in the data protection and the employment aspects of corporate transactions, among other matters.

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. Notable clients include Invesco, Jaguar Land Rover and Viacom and its subsidiaries MTV, Channel 5 and Paramount Pictures; practice head Russell Brimelow assisted the latter subsidiary with a restructuring following the outsourcing of its global distribution business to Universal Pictures. In addition to receiving referral work, Carolyn Soakell’s law firms team advises other legal practices on an array of matters, including structuring partner benefits, partnership exits and age discrimination cases. Holiday pay, discrimination and equal pay claims also feature on the recent workload. Head of the TUPE group Jonathan Carrquickly understands a situation and provides very clear and helpful advice’. Also recommended are recently promoted partner James Storke and media and entertainment sector expert Hannah Price. At managing associate level, Ailsa Morris ‘provides sound, pragmatic advice’ and Alison Clements, who leads the non-permanent workforce group, receives praise for ‘understanding the viewpoint of employers and the need to find practical solutions’.

Penningtons Manches LLP is experienced in the education, life sciences and technology sectors, counting Merton College, Oxford Nanopore Technologies and IVI UK as clients. Under the leadership of Daff Richardson and the ‘particularly goodEugene Wojciechowski, the team has also been advising companies from the social housing sector on TUPE transfers, discrimination and trade union matters related to equal pay. Richardson also jointly heads the education team and has been retained by senior executives for restrictive covenants and severance advice. Other recent work has included advising on restructurings, senior-level redundancies and unfair dismissals. At senior associate level, Duncan Bain has the ‘ability to see the wider picture’ and the recently promoted Bill Smith is well versed in corporate-related work, especially transactions involving university spin-out companies. Sally Nesbitt is now with Moorcrofts LLP.

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 recently acted for Regus Group Services and Regus Management (UK) during large-scale restructurings, senior level exits, and disputes relating to TUPE transfers and breach of bonus schemes. With national department head Kevin McCavish, ‘the key considerations are always explained clearly’ and, together with Naylor, he represents Hewlett Packard Enterprise in tribunal claims, including defending Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services UK in a whistleblowing dispute with a senior manager. 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 Guide Dogs for the Blind, Tech Data and Old Mutual Global Investors.

At Field Seymour Parkes LLP, practice head Ian Machrayidentifies the risks and evaluates the best course of action’ in TUPE and restrictive covenants matters. The firm is advising VMware UK on the integration and TUPE transfer of AirWatch (now trading as VMware AirWatch)’s workforce, which forms part of VM’s $1.54bn acquisition of the company. Another recent mandate saw the practice assist the executive directors of red24 with service agreements, resignations and terms of departure following the company’s acquisition by iJET International. The firm also defended John Madejski Academy against 180 claimants in an equal pay claim relating to a TUPE transfer, and advised Reading FC on hiring Jaap Stam following its work on terminating the employment contracts of Steve Clarke and Brian McDermott. TP Group, Bewley Homes and Daniel Owen are other clients. At associate level, Louise Smyth ‘balances business interests with sound legal advice’, Katie Burley was recently promoted and Jackie Denham joined from BG Group.

Osborne Clarke has a strong following among US companies, where the firm handles multi-jurisdictional employment matters. ‘Very knowledgeable and attentive’ practice head Danielle Kingdon advised RichRelevance on restructuring the company’s EMEA operations; assisted Actavis UK with commercial agreements, TUPE provisions and pensions advice during its £603m divestment by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to Intas Pharmaceuticals’ subsidiary Accord Healthcare; and represented a leading professional services company in two tribunal claims against an employee, who was allegedly subjected to sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Fitbit, Tech Mahindra and Nominet UK are also clients. Senior associate Emma Ladley transferred to the firm’s Silicon Valley office and Anna Chamberlain now works as in-house counsel at Expeditors.

At Pitmans LLP, department head Mark Symons successfully represented an expatriate employee before the EAT in a case regarding unfair dismissal, whistleblowing and discrimination claims filed against the British Council (BC); the matter set a precedent for expatriate employees by allowing claims against BC to be heard by employment tribunals, something that has been challenged by the respondent. Other key figures include Angela Shields and senior associate Jenny Littlewood. Entrepreneurs, starts-ups and large employers such as Westcoast, Panalux and Advanced also feature on the client roster.

Blandy & Blandy LLP is ‘excellent’ in discrimination claims and was active in filing disability and race claims against employers on behalf of employees. On the defence side, the practice is representing a financial services company in a tribunal case, where unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, wage deduction and several other claims have been brought by a former school worker. Other employer clients include technology, construction and education sector companies. Tim Clark is ‘efficient and diligent’ in reorganisation, restructuring, redundancy and TUPE matters, while ‘very professional’ practice head Sue Dowling provides ‘considered and sensible advice’ during litigation prevention, restructurings, senior-level departures and disability discrimination matters.

Specialist firm Cater Leydon Millard has a ‘particularly strong track record’ in representing NHS and education sector clients in litigation relating to discrimination, protected disclosure and other claims. Nathan Millard is defending Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in numerous cases concerning institutional racism against a group that represents black and minority ethnic staff. Wendy Leydon is ‘immensely experienced’ in employment tribunal disputes and recently acted for Serco Group in an EAT claim, which outlined that case management orders are not subject to variation or revocation by a judge of equal level to one that made the order, unless it is in the interests of justice and there has been a substantial change to circumstances; the claim arose from an unfair dismissal allegation brought by a former employee. Chiltern Way Academy, Arysta LifeScience and Secomak are other clients. Lisa Harris and the ‘very efficient and dynamicStephen Conlan are also names to note.

Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors excels in the technology, pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Recent work includes advising a software company on various matters, including senior executive exits, disciplinary actions and preventing litigation concerning pregnancy and sex discrimination claims. The ‘very personableAlison Gair leads the practice and represented the Reading Hebrew Congregation in a dispute with a Rabbi and Rebbetzin, who filed unfair dismissal, breach of contract, holiday pay and a series of other claims against the charity. Senior associate Robert Cherry is also recommended and recently advised an automotive sector company on flexitime, staff absences and terminating employment contracts. Knight Strip Metals, Longacres Garden Centre and Uninterruptible Power Supplies are other clients.

Boutique firm Crossland Employment Solicitorsgives the very best practical advice’ during discrimination issues, breach of contract claims, large-scale reorganisations, senior executive exits and other matters. Consulting barrister Kevin Charles represented a UK-based plc in a sex discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal dispute with a senior employee, who brought claims against other colleagues, and the ‘fantastic’ Beverley Sunderland acted for a senior executive in an unfair dismissal and whistleblowing dispute. Director Barry Ross is another key contact. The firm’s clients include M&C Saatchi, asra Housing Group and Intertek Group.

Draper Lang LLP is ‘a cracking niche firm’ that ‘feels like an extension of clients’ HR functions’. The ‘sharp, practical and engaging’ Nicholas Snowden is advising a data storage company on making a number of redundancies, while London and Henley-on-Thames-based David Blomfield represented a senior executive in bringing a claim against their employer, which allegedly failed to implement an Enterprise Management Incentive scheme. Law firms, BMS and Crew Clothing are also clients. The firm recently hired Stephen Cates from Laytons, who divides his time between London and Henley-on-Thames. Senior consultant Melanie Slocombe is also highly recommended. Senior associate Katrine Clay is now with Herrington Carmichael LLP.

Herrington Carmichael LLP is ‘fantastic value for money’ and has brought a high-profile claim against the defunct firm King & Wood Mallesons on behalf of over 200 employees, who allege that the firm failed to enter into a consultation process before making redundancies. Other work highlights included advising a laundry company on reorganising its business, assisting with redundancies and relocating employees. Practice head Alistair McArthur impresses with his ‘knowledge and articulation of complex legal issues’ in restrictive covenant matters, TUPE issues, tribunals claims and other matters. Senior solicitor Katie Harris is ‘responsive’ and associate Katrine Clay recently joined from Draper Lang LLP. Clients also include Forest Care, Adtech Global and BSG Financial Solutions.

At Employment Law Plus, Jill Kelly’s ‘knowledge and expertise are impressive’, and she routinely advises businesses and individuals on everything from disciplinary actions to negotiating employment contracts. The firm’s recent workload included negotiating a £1m exit package for an expatriate manager from a building materials company and advising on calculating holiday pay. Boswells Coffee, Browning International, ADM Group are clients.

Gardner Leader LLP’s growing client list includes Gillespie Lavelle Morrison and a number of high-net-worth individuals. Senior associate and practice head Michelle Morgan was a key hire from Freeths LLP. Senior associate Julie Taylor previously led the practice and was particularly active in representing employees; a recent highlight saw Taylor bring a race discrimination claim against the employer of a high-net-worth individual regarding their dismissal and participation in a high-value equity scheme.

Boutique firm mpm legal solutions Limited adopts ‘a deal-making attitude’ and acts for well-known employers such as Graze, Honda and Space NK. Business immigration expert Adrienne Brown is the name to note along with Mark Minns, who excels in advising on workplace changes such as restructurings, redundancies and outsourcing. Peter Beisty advised a global company on pan-European restructuring across 11 jurisdictions and defended a financial services company against whistleblowing, discrimination and unfair dismissal claims that were brought against the employer and senior executives. Legal director Sarah Wilder is also recommended and recently joined from an in-house position at Coca-Cola European Partners.

The team at Royds Withy King is ‘always attentive, knowledgeable and proactive’, and has been handling a varied workload including tribunal claims, redundancy matters, partnership disputes and disciplinary actions. Mark Emeryprovides advice that alleviates future problems’ and is representing the former CEO of CXR Biosciences, who alleges that he was unfairly dismissed after the company was sold to Concept Life Sciences. ‘Confident, positive and supportive’ senior associate Kate Benefer joined from Knights Professional Services Limited and is acting for an individual in appealing a case regarding a race discrimination and whistleblowing claim against the NHS; the employment tribunal claim was handled at Benefer’s previous firm.

Food sector expert Carol Shaw heads the practice at Spratt Endicott, which acts for employers and employees in an array of disputes, covering everything from unfair dismissal to enforcing restrictive covenants. Philomena Priceunderstands the needs and culture of her clients’ businesses’, and handles large-scale redundancy exercises, tribunal claims, training and senior executive severances. Data subject access requests, holiday pay and sex discrimination claims were also among the firm’s recent mandates. Novus Leisure, Fine Lady Bakeries and Involvement Packaging (trading as INVOPAK) are key clients.

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