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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 > West Midlands > Corporate and commercial > Corporate and commercial: Birmingham > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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  1. Corporate and commercial: Birmingham
  2. Leading individuals
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DLA Piper UK LLP’s corporate team is ‘very good, and responsive – it provides practical and appropriate advice on day-to-day matters and large corporate transactions.’ Noel Haywood and senior associate Gareth Davies advised Morgan Advanced Materials on the £47m sale of its UK electro-ceramics business to CeramTec, and Helly Hansen and its private equity owner Ontario Teachers Pension Plan on the purchase of Musto from Phoenix Equity Partners. As far as public M&A is concerned, Charles Cook delivers ‘practical advice with a very good depth of knowledge’ – he, working with the firm’s Johannesburg office, advised FirstRand on its £1.1bn purchase of former FTSE 250 bank Aldermore. He and senior associate Robert Newman also handled Clinigen Group’s £150m purchase of Quantum Pharma (a merger of two AIM-listed pharmaceutical companies). John Campion handles complex restructuring matters, alongside other matters, with Tim Lake’s practice also including complex cross border work. Other clients include the management shareholders of CPA Global, which Cook and senior associate Simon Wright advised on the sale of a majority stake from Cinven to Leonard Green & Partners. Jim Lavery is now at Jim Lavery Law Limited.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP handles both heavyweight M&A deals and significant outsourcing deals. Susan Lewis and James Trevis handled various due diligence elements of National Grid’s separation of its gas distribution business in preparation for the business’s sale, working alongside Linklaters LLP in London. Theresa-Marie Stodell, a new partner promotion, advised Legal & General Senior Living on the purchase of two senior living villages for £40m. Nigel Cooke advised BBA Aviation on its acquisition of GE’s avionics business. Mark Beardmore advised Livingbridge on the purchase of restaurant and catering company rhubarb, for a figure reported to be around £75m, by Livingbridge 6, the fund’s first acquisition. Catherine Eley, who also handles M&A deals, advised Anglian Water on forming a joint venture with Northumberland Water to retail water and sewerage services to business customers. As far as commercial contracts are concerned, Kelly Holmes  advised Hammerson on re-tendering cleaning provision for all twelve of its shopping centres.

Gowling WLG is ‘excellent – very responsive, commercial and client focused’. Chris Towle advised Lloyds Development Capital on on its sale of a majority stake in Forest Holidays to Phoenix Equity Partners, which was structured as a sale of the entire company followed by an investment in a new holding company – he also advised HEREF Farnborough on the sale of the company to Frasers Property International. David Lowe (who clients single out for his ‘expertise and client focus’) and Robert Breedon advised Kraft Heinz on re-aquiring several brands (inter alia, Kraft ketchup) which were licensed to Mondelez in parts of Europe. In the energy space, Stuart Young advised the owners of Opus Energy on selling the company to Drax Developments for over £340m. Jeremy Millington  advised Rigby Group on its purchase of Bournemouth Airport from Manchester Airport Group. Another M&A name of note is Baljit Chohan, who has ‘great expertise, commitment and client management skills’. Commercial contract deals of note include Sally Mewies’ advice to Argos on a partnership with eBay for click-and-collect purchases. Principal associate Caroline McNally ‘combines excellent technical skills, strong commercial awareness and real client focus’.

Gateley Plc provides ‘an exemplary level of overall service’ is ‘very efficient and timely in its communications – the advice clients receive is well-thought out and appropriate, explaining things in language clients can understand’. The firm handles a range of commercial contracts matters and management buy-outs space, alongside some expertise in AIM capital markets. Paul Cliff  and Tom Rush, a June 2017 partner promotion, advised Franchise Brands on its reverse takeover of Metro Rod, which necessitated a re-admission of the company on AIM. Elsewhere in capital markets, the two also advised Stockdale Securities as Nomad to the £16.9m AIM IPO of Verditek, which owns several cleantech businesses. Chris Reed  ‘works hard, keeping things rolling and most importantly getting the best deal for clients in the long term’ - his work includes significant buy-side MBO deals; Tom Durrant advised Inflexion Private Equity on the management buyout of PCMS Group, which provides point of sale software to retailers including Waitrose. Simon Gill advised Palatine Private Equity on an investment in TTC Group. Mike Ward advised My Policy Limited on the company’s sale in a management buy-out backed by Inflexion Private Equity. Simon Pigden is a key contact for outsourcing contracts, many of which concerning technology. Other clients include Gymshark. Kirstin Roberts has moved to Freeths LLP.

Mills & Reeve LLP is a ‘go-to team’ that is praised for its ‘very flexible, rigorous and practical approach'. Peter McLintock  advised RVB Investments and its owners on the sale of the company to property fund Paloma for an initial £90m. Separately, he advised the management of PCMS Holdings on the purchase of the company with the backing of Inflexion Private Equity. Julian Smith  advised Elysium Healthcare on its purchase of Broadham Care, which provides residential care facilities for learning disabled adults. Ryan Hawley was promoted to the partnership in June 2017 – he advised MBO Hotels on its purchase of Luxury Family Hotels, which owns five hotels, from Patron Capital. He also played a role in a multi-office team from the firm advising the management team of Weetabix on the company’s sale to Post Holdings. Junaid Haroon, a principal associate, advised Agrolimen on exercising a call option to purchase the Natures Menu group and Allinea Software on its sale to ARM for £18.1m. Senior associate Hayley Simonds is another name of note below partner level. Turning to commercial contracts and outsourcing, Jane Hussey advises SilverRail Technologies on providing SaaS products, and separately advises Elster Metering on a supply contract as part of the smart meter rollout. Principal associate Ruth Andrew handles various deals such as negotiating a hotel management agreement for L’Oscar concerning a property in Holborn.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s ‘local presence and national reach is a big differentiation – its capabilities are as good, if not better, than many of the other players in the regional market’; ‘what separates it from others is that it wants genuine business relationships with clients, so looks to add broader value than just the day-to-day legal’. Andrew Hornigold advised Imperial Commercials, a South African-listed company, on its £28m purchase of Pentagon Motor Holdings. Nicole Livesey is ‘highly legally proficient, so clients have full trust in her opinion – she is also very commercial and pragmatic, as needed to get deals done; she is able to draw on broader specialist expertise relevant to the risks of the parties, which is a huge added value point’. Livesey's commercial highlights included advising Cargill on forming a joint venture with Faccenda Foods to create a food company producing chicken, turkey and duck, which required restructuring all of Cargill’s UK fresh chicken operations into one company, and separating it away from the core of the company. On the transactional front, she advised Headlam Group on purchasing Domus Group for £35.4m. In the health and social care sector, Joanne Ellis  advised Embrace Group on seventeen disposals of care homes; she also advised Jacobs Holding on purchasing the Southern Dental Group. Clare Francis, who is ‘excellent – her ability to explain complex issues in a straightforward way, pragmatic approach and excellent legal knowledge make her a joy to work with’, advises OFWAT, as well as handling various commercial partnership work. Other clients include the shareholders of iForce, which Livesey advised on the sale of the company to Eddie Stobart in parallel to Stobart Group's IPO on AIM.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP is a ‘a great firm to work with – all partners and other members of the team are incredibly friendly, experts in their field and a pleasure to work with; clients feel totally reassured that their best interests are at the forefront of all work carried out for them’. The team has capabilities in M&A, some of which concerning the manufacturing sector, with an uncommon capability outside London in the form of investment funds. Keith Spedding led a team advising Ansell on its purchase of Nitritex in a £56.5m for the healthcare equipment manufacturer; he also advised Avingtrans on the purchase of Hayward Tyler Group in a reverse takeover, and a subsequent readmission of the company to AIM. Richard Wrigley advised on the sale of Armitage Pet Care to Rutland Partners. Adam McGiveron handled fifteen corporate acquisitions for Alliance Automotive. Gary Davie, who has expertise in employee ownership schemes, ‘makes clients feel welcome, reassured and cared-for – he takes a personal interest in the work that is done for clients, and is incredibly thorough and careful to ensure they understand the advice provided and the potential outcomes’. His work includes private equity transactions. Kim Hawkins advised Shunfeng International Clean Energy on selling assets covered by renewable obligation certificates to a fund managed by BlackRock. Andrew Hartshorn handles various commercial contracts matters, some of which for the region’s most prestigious names in business. In investment funds, ‘leader in the field of venture capital trust lawKavita Patel has ‘rapier-like intellect, and is always well informed and up to date with changes in tax law and happy to take on big and small projects alike’ - she advised Foresight 3 VCT on its merger with Foresight 4 VCT, structured through the liquidation of the former and its assets being transferred in to the latter in exchange for new shares.

Squire Patton Boggs  ‘provides very good advice, while remaining approachable and very easy to deal with – it is a team of very good negotiators who provide commercial and pragmatic advice’. The firm handles a range of work in the space, covering both corporate transactions and contracting. Geoff Perry is ‘very knowledgeable and approachable’ – he advised Corbally Holdings on the sale of St Francis Group and DSM Demolition as part of a management buyout, and in a separate deal advised Park-Ohio Industries on the purchases of Heads & Allthreads, which has operations in Poland and India. Edward Dawes ‘leads his team well and is very personable’ – he and Andrew Glaze advised Marston’s on its purchase of Charles Wells Brewery for £55m. In a separate deal, Glaze advised Dalata UK on the purchase of Hotel La Tour Birmingham Limited, which was subsequently rebranded as the Clayton Hotel Birmingham. As far as cross-border work is concerned, Glaze, working with the firm’s Prague office, advised Walton Street Real Estate fund on purchasing the company which owns the Marriott Prague. Associate Claire O’Connor advised Veolia on its purchase of Arden Wood Shavings. The firm also handles some capital markets work – Dawes advised Rotala on a £3.5m placing of shares on AIM. On the commercial contracts front Stuart James advised HCA International on the negotiation of contracts with University College Hospitals Birmingham for the establishment of a new £65m private healthcare facility at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital campus in Birmingham. David Hull, who relocated from the firm’s London office to Birmingham, advised Uniserve on a share subscription and debt-for-equity swap in Blue Inc and The Officers Club. Simon Jones joined in June 2017 from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP .

Browne Jacobson LLP 'has good industry knowledge and excellent experience and knowledge of clients’ businesses – the advice is always set out in ways that non-lawyer clients can understand’. Mike Jackson  advised the shareholders of Heads & All Threads on its sale to ParkOhio Holdings for £18m. Jackson also has experience in AIM capital markets work, advising Image Scan on placing another £525k. Other key figures in Birmingham include Kevin Jones, who advises local authority pension schemes on purchasing interests in investment funds; Michael Stace , who is ‘diligent, understands the issues and communicates well, so clients feel safe in his hands’; and Matthew Woodford, who has competition law expertise and handles a range of advisory matters, some of which for automotive sector clients, as well as merger control matters. Associate Ryan Harrison is a key contact in Birmingham for commercial contracts – he is ‘highly responsive, with a great knowledge of clients’ businesses and explains things articulately’. TCL Group is another client.

Emms Gilmore Liberson ’s corporate and commercial team ‘has a great depth of knowledge – clients are always confident that their interests are properly and expertly represented’. The firm handles corporate transactions in a range of sectors, including professional services (in which Stephen Gilmore advised a law firm on a merger), opticians, logistics and manufacturing. Associate director Jon Start (‘very knowledgable and goes above and beyond’) takes leading roles in eight-figure deals, and fellow associate director Ruth Murday takes leading roles in complex tax-driven corporate transactions such as capital reductions demergers. Matthew Jackson (also an associate director) joined from BPE Solicitors LLP in Cheltenham, bringing commercial contracts expertise in areas such as IT outsourcing. Director Gurmeet Jakhu joined the firm from Knights plc in 2018 and is noted for his franchising expertise. Gregory Emms is another key contact at partner level. Clients include Frontmatec Group, which Start and director Peter Adkins advised on the purchase of Accles & Shevloke.

Fieldfisher LLP attracts praise for its ‘exemplary service and straightforward advice’, and for its track record in deals with a private equity element. Graham Muth led a team advising Enzen on both a fundraising, and several equity investments in technology companies in the Netherlands and Spain. Muth's other clients include Metamorph Law, for which it handles acquisitions of high street law firms . Jane Thomas  has experience of cross-border deals in heavily regulated sectors, and handles medical sector distribution agreements. Chris Hill  has a strong track record in M&A transactions, including sales to private equity firms. Director Iain Wilton is also a name of note.

Freeths LLP's Birmingham-based practice handles a range of deals, many of which feature cross-border elements and private equity involvement. Tom Brown  advised the sellers of BWB, including Catapault Ventures, on the company’s sale to CAF. Ateeq Ahmed advised Phoenix Ventures (a part of the Sri Lankan company Brandix) on its purchase of Quantum Clothing Group, and separately advised Tarmac Trading on buying JB Riney. Lee Clifford  advised Away Resorts, a subsidiary of Lloyds Development Capital, on its purchase of Sandy Balls Estates, and, among other management buyout deals, the management of Clamason Industries on a deal backed by Connection Capital and Santander.

Irwin Mitchell ‘pitches the work as clients like it, because they get a single point of contact who is knowledgeable about their company and the way they conduct their business’. Nick Dawson advised Turkish company Anatolia AŞ on purchasing Whitworths, with which it had a four-decade relationship as a supplier. He also advised Gravity Trampoline Parks on a £5m partial sale to Guinness Asset Management. Separately, he advised Reconomy (which was owned by Bregal Investments) and its management on the sale of the company to EMK Capital. Sarah Riding  (who is noted for her ‘good client relationship skills’) acts for the National Grid on a range of matters, including subcontracting metering service. She also advised ATS Euromaster on a technology outsourcing, and advises the British Chamber of Commerce. Other clients include Thyssenkrupp, which the team advised on the purchase of Hytrac Lifts. Robert Laugharne left the firm to become director of group legal services at Hills Numberplates.

Shoosmiths LLP handles a range of deals, many of which involve private equity and venture capital backing. Ben Turner  advised Hotel La Tour on the company’s sale to Dalata Hotel Group, and also advised FX Meiller on its acquisition of Boweld Truck Bodies for £10m. In an illustration of the firm's track record in venture capital deals, Alastair Peet advised MML Capital on a buyout of Property Information Exchange. Peet also advised Aramark on its purchase of Pelican Procurement Services. As far as commercial contracts are concerned, David Jackson continues to advise the Solicitors Regulation Authority on a major business transformation project, including the total replacement of its IT systems. Joe Stephenson  also has expertise in IT outsourcing.

Clarke Willmott LLP ‘draws in expertise from its various offices to work together on specific projects’. In Birmingham, John Irving  advised Elwell Wachtorn and Saxton on purchasing another insolvency firm, including the relevant regulatory approvals, and advised a private individual on the sale of a joinery company. Senior solicitor Andrew Beedham is ‘an outstanding corporate lawyer, who has the ability to focus on key issues and has a business-like awareness and assessment of risk, bringing a calmness to negotiations and the ability to defuse confrontational situations’ – he advised Aberclay Limited on forming five joint ventures.

DWF’s Mark Gibson advised Park Holdings UK on the company’s sale by Caledonia Investments to Intermediate Capital Group. Other deals include advising Inflexion Private Equity on purchasing My Policy, plus various hotel and medical deals.

Legal Clarity has ‘a friendly, positive team culture, which works well with clients’ – ‘compared with other law firms, clients find it to be more able to speak in layman’s terms about the technical legal items’. Richard Underwood , who is ‘able to advise clients and answer any concerns they have throughout the process using his invaluable experience’, advised JPE Investments on its purchase of Translift Group, and Filtermist International on its purchase of Dustcheck; he also advised Hampton Knight on the company’s £2m sale to Medigold Health Consultancy. Chris Wright is ‘outstanding – he is extremely personable, has great professional acumen and is an exemplar of probity’ – he advised the shareholders of Evac+Chair on the company’s sale to its management team and advised The Modality Partnership on eighteen general practitioner practice mergers. Other clients include Sadlers Brewhouse, which Underwood and senior associate Martin Clifford  advised on the company’s partial sale to Halewood International, Numeric Futures, and Firstserve Holdings, which the company advised on its sale to Rema Tip Top.

Weightmans LLP’s Matthew Harvey advised Leacy MG on purchasing the Xpart division of Neovia Logistics, which produces spare parts for classing MG Rover cars, and advised the sellers of Nexus DMS to Apex Medical Group, a care-sector bed manufacturing element of a Taiwanese listed company. In addition, he advised Maven Capital Partners on reviewing its equity investment precedents for its participation in the “Northern Powerhouse” investment fund, and the same fund sponsor on its investment into Hiring Hub from the “Northern Powerhouse” fund.

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