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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: Elsewhere in the West Midlands > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Corporate and commercial: Elsewhere in the West Midlands
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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George Green LLP stands out in the market for its ability to handle mid- to large-cap cross-border M&A, and the team was active again in this regard, with private equity specialist Guy Green acting for Bakk AL Holdings in its acquisition of 51% of the shares in Bakkavor Group from Icelandic Institutions. In another significant cross-border deal, senior partner Paul Bennett, who heads the practice, acted for the shareholders of Dot Net IT in the sale of the company to Epicor. Bennett is also well versed in handling distressed transactions, and acted for Ash & Lacy Building Systems in its acquisition of Accordial Group’s business and assets from the administrator. While the team mainly operates from the firm’s Cradley Heath office, it also has presence in Wolverhampton, where Philip Round is noted for his expertise in the financial services sector; Round advised the shareholders of Network Direct on the £4m sale of the company to Harwood Wealth Management. The practice’s commercial offering was developed by the hire of James Bird, who joined from Wright Hassall LLP.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys’s substantial team is well known for its expertise in sectors such as healthcare, defence and security, and private equity, and the team is also well versed in handling M&A for listed companies. Notable clients include Gemini Group, Belgravium Technologies and London Graphic Supplies. The practice has particular depth in the firm’s Worcester office, where managing partner Rod Thomas, who is a ‘class act’, Alison Scott, and healthcare specialist Charlotte Thornton-Smith are based. Arpinder Dhillon is the name to note in Ross on Wye. Inger Anson, who is also located in Worcester, made partner.

Higgs & Sons continued to be highly active across a range of sectors and noted an uptick in cross-border work. In the telecoms space, Richard Griffiths acted for the management team of Wavenet regarding their private equity-backed buyout of the company, and department head Nick Taylor advised Encription on its sale to BlackBerry. Griffiths was also busy in the construction sector and advised the Stanford family on the sale of their shares in the management buyout of Stanford Industrial Concrete Flooring. Another key player is John Heaton, whose transactional work encompasses the retail, automobile and energy sectors; in one highlight, Heaton advised AF Blakemore & Son on the acquisition of the business and certain of the convenience stores owned and operated by MLCG and ML Convenience. In February 2017, Peter Manford joined from an in-house role to strengthen the practice’s commercial offering, and the practice was also boosted by the return of Adrian Cutler from a consultancy role.

Practice head Robert Lee and Steven Halkett ‘provide strong leadership’ at Wright Hassall LLP, where the team is commended for its ‘strong skill set and reputation across the South Midlands’. Areas of sector expertise range from healthcare and not-for-profit to advanced manufacturing, and the team has also developed a specialism in distressed retail. Highlights in 2016 included Halkett advising the shareholders of Flixmedia on its cross-border sale to a European joint venture between Advantage Solutions and Smollan Group, and Monica Macheng acting for Zip Textiles in its £18m sale to Johnson Service Group. In another significant cross-border transaction, Halkett represented High Performance Doors in its sale to Record UK. Lindsay Ellis is in charge of the commercial team, which acts for a portfolio of leading IT outsourcing providers; in one example of work, Christine Jackson assisted Q Associates with both private and public sector supply contracts across sectors such as defence, emergency services and higher education.

Ansons continued to feature strongly in deals within the pharmacy area, where the team has a reputation for being ‘diligent and proactive in its approach, on behalf of both buyers and sellers’. Former pharmacist Neil Jones, who along with Hilary D’Cruz heads the team, has a ‘strong understanding of the client’s position and is able to take both a pragmatic and commercial view’. The team also focuses on other healthcare-related businesses, including care homes, dentists, domiciliary care and children’s day nurseries. In other highlights, D’Cruz – who is a ‘first-class lawyer’ - advised on various multimillion-pound commercial contracts in the renewable energy sector. The fast-growing team expanded further with the hire of senior associate Adam Kudryl, who joined from Howes Percival LLP.

FBC Manby Bowdler LLP reported a strong increase in transactional work in 2016, and the team was busy on a number of multimillion-pound deals for its target audience of SMEs in the manufacturing sector. Another area of focus is the health sector, where newly promoted partner David Preece undertakes a range of corporate and commercial mandates for veterinary and dental practices. Practice head James Sage and Kam Johal are leading figures in the firm’s Wolverhampton office, and in Shrewsbury Stuart Rea is ‘technically good and comes across well with clients’. Rea’s caseload extends to the agricultural sector, where he has experience advising on significant cross-border acquisitions.

Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Limited is a ‘niche corporate practice’ whose fixed-fee approach makes it ‘very competitive on price’. The team is best known for handling transactions on behalf of substantial SME clients and entrepreneurs, and it has a broad-ranging client base that takes in steel stockholders, manufacturers and healthcare organisations. Work examples in 2016 included acting for the shareholders of Blundell Productions on the sale of the company to Hilco Capital, and advising Foragri on the cross- border sale of the company to a listed PLC based in Turkey. The team also advised on a number of corporate reorganisations for clients such as Ercho and Gilbert (Holdings). Practice head Colin Rodrigues is a ‘practical and commercially minded lawyer’ who ‘understands the wider aspects of deals’.

Beswicks Legal has a ‘wealth of experience in providing legal advice to owner-managers of businesses on sale’ and the team was active in a number of company share sales: Peter Ellis, who ‘comes up with innovative solutions to legal issues and defuses potentially contentious situations’, represented the shareholders of Motiva Group in the sale of the company to SG Fleet, and also acted for the shareholders of MCL Group Industries in the disposal of the entire issued share capital to the Cubis Group. The practice is led by managing partner Nick Phillips, who has particular expertise in advising sports organisations on commercial issues. Phillips also handles transactional work and assisted the owners of Burma Bacon Supplies with the sale of the business to a private company. Another name to note is solicitor Tom Sutcliffe, who is ‘very knowledgeable and always contactable’.

Knights Professional Services Limited handles a full range of corporate advice, including share and asset sales and purchases, private equity, MBOs/MBIs, and company restructuring. Key players include Jonathan Tyson, who specialises in the healthcare sector, with a particular focus on the sale of dental surgeries, pharmacies and children’s nurseries; and Lisa Bridgwood, whose commercial expertise takes in advising retail industry brands on the implementation of e-commerce and multi-channel initiatives, as well as negotiating franchising and agency agreements. The team is able to draw on the experience of CEO David Beech.

Under the leadership of Gráinne Walters, Lanyon Bowdler provides ‘first-class support’ to clients such as Assured Group Holdings, Jupiter Marketing and Dodd Group Midlands. As well as handling corporate M&A, buyouts, reorganisations and joint ventures, Walters has strong experience in the education sector, and is advising Severn Bridges Multi-Academy Trust on the formation of a multi-academy trust for three schools in Shropshire. At associate level, names to note include the ‘experienced and practical’ Edward Burrell and Timothy Roberts, who respectively focus on the agricultural and renewable energy sectors. In one example of work, Roberts advised Woodland Heritage on the acquisition of Whitney Sawmills. Commercial specialist Ruth James left for an in-house role.

Lodders Solicitors LLP’s ‘very customer-focused team goes out of its way to get deals over the line’. The practice is probably best known for its expertise in the healthcare sector, where it acts for clients such as Healthcare Management Solutions; in 2016, the team handled a number of high-value care home business sales. In other highlights, the well-regarded Kim Klahn acted for New Co on the purchase of shares from two individual shareholders, and the same lawyer also advised on the cross-border sale of a business to a private Belgian company. Head of practice Victor Matts is ‘flexible and unflappable’, and Mark Lewis, who leads on charities and not-for-profit matters, is a ‘strong manager of his team’.

mfg Solicitors LLP continued to see a good flow of cross-border work, with Kidderminster-based Stephen Wyer advising Isomerase Therapeutics on a £5.5m investment by Neurovive Pharmaceutical, and Worcester-based James Hayes assisting a foreign investor with a joint venture in the healthcare space. Wyer is also noted for his expertise in the education sector, where he assisted South Worcestershire College with its statutory merger with Warwickshire Group of Colleges. In other highlights, Hayes represented Skymark Packaging International in a multi-tranche share buyback from an insolvent company, and energy specialist Miles Dearden - also based in Kidderminster - advised Ecotricity Group on its first white label supply agreement for electricity and gas with Glide Utilities.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s team has expertise in a wide range of sectors and is particularly recommended for its work in the health sector, where it continued to handle a high volume of sales and corporate reorganisations relating to pharmacies and GP and dental surgeries. Andrew Smith leads the team and was active on a number of matters for key client Whitworths Holdings, including advising on the £36m acquisition of Carr’s Flour Mills from Carr’s Group, as well as the acquisition of the cake and heat treated flour business of Jas Bowman & Sons. Smith was also busy active in the distressed space, where he assisted Lee Longland & Co with its purchase of four retail stores and related assets from the administrators of the Furniture Barn.

Thomas Horton LLP’s ‘very responsive and highly knowledgeable’ team is led by

Jeff Taylor, who advises on a full range of commercial contracts, partnership agreements, corporate acquisitions and disposals, and start-up matters. Examples of the team’s varied caseload include acting for Global Pacific in a joint venture with Morrisons Supermarkets, and advising a medium-sized financial services software company on its proposed sale. In another piece of work, Taylor advised the Lord of Grafton and family in redrafting their partnership agreement concerning the Grafton Manor Hotel and conference facility. The practice also operates in niche areas, such as forestry.

Thursfields Solicitors has a ‘fantastic reputation for delivering commercial, honest and technically relevant advice’ to clients such as SFC Group and Level Peaks Holdings. The team is led by Gareth Burge, who is ‘very commercially astute and doesn’t hesitate to grasp and solve difficult issues promptly and efficiently’. Another name to note is consultant Stuart Price, who has particular expertise in assisting investors and start-up businesses with seed investment schemes in the film and technology arenas. The practice saw strong growth at the senior associate level in 2016 with the hires of commercial contracts specialist Jane Rudge, who joined from Higgs & Sons, and Tim Edwards, who joined from The Wilkes Partnership. Edwards specialises in the motor racing and media sectors and ‘adopts a pragmatic, level-headed and commercial approach’ to transactional work.

The well-regarded Sean Byrne leads the practice at Band Hatton Button LLP, which handles a good balance of corporate and commercial mandates. Recent highlights include acting on the £1.2m sale of a chemical cleaning company, and advising in relation to the £2.5m acquisition of a timber supply company. On the commercial contracts side, the team handled a range of supply agreements, including assisting with a long-term supply agreement relating to the supply of garden equipment. Other names to note include Haydn Jones and senior associate Marta Fisher, who has particular expertise in acting for healthcare professionals.

At Brethertons LLP, solicitor Katherine Cereghino specialises in the health, retail and property management sectors and draws on her previous experience as a commercial property lawyer. In 2016, she provided advice on a number of high-value business share sales to publicly quoted companies, including acting for the shareholders of Pentagon HS in the £14m sale of the company, and representing the shareholders of Malmesbury Medical Enterprises in the £10m sale of the business. Cereghino also handled various sales by way of asset purchase agreements, including assisting Carwood Motor Units with the purchase of the assets of Diesel Injection (UK). Colin Witherall has retired from practice.

Managing partner Samantha Wright heads the team at Brindley Twist Tafft & James, which works with a range of businesses, from long-established companies to start-up enterprises, as well as not-for-profit organisations. Wright is particularly active in sectors such as equipment sales and manufacturing and, in 2016, handled the £2m sale of a materials processing company, as well as the £4m purchase of 49% of a family-owned manufacturing company. Other names to note are consultant John Ruddick, who focuses on the not-for-profit sector, and John Chadaway, whose commercial expertise takes in a variety of commercial contracts, including distribution agreements.

Enoch Evans LLP’s ‘well-informed, capable and conscientious’ team is led by healthcare specialist Sukie Shemar, who ‘handles matters promptly and efficiently’. Shemar has particular experience dealing with the sale and purchase of pharmacies and continued to be highly active in this space for key client Medi-Zen Healthcare Services. Other names to note are senior solicitor James McFarlane, who was busy on a number of share purchases and reorganisations, and solicitor Amy Hylton, who ‘provides valuable guidance’ on commercial contracts. The team is able to draw on the experience of managing partner David Evans, who is ‘very easy to get along with’.

Hatchers Solicitors LLPalways provides very timely responses, especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as purchasing shares from outgoing shareholders’. The practice saw an increase in instructions from charities and not-for-profit organisations, where work included advising on the creation of Fields Multi-Academy Trust and the conversion of two primary schools to academy status. Other areas of focus are the manufacturing, farming and agricultural sectors, and the team assisted with the management buyout of a designer and installer of renewable power and heat systems serving the poultry and wider agricultural sector. Key contacts are practice head Ann Fisher, who wins praise for her ‘really good manner and communication skills’, and consultant David Saunders.

Martin Kaye had a strong year in 2016, with instructions buoyant in areas such as shareholder agreements and corporate restructuring. The practice also noted an uptick in instructions from newly incorporated businesses, particularly in the IT sector. Recent highlights include advising on the £4m share sale of a commercial engineering recruitment company to a leading PLC, and assisting with the restructure of a substantial Irish developer. In another multimillion-pound deal, the team assisted a mortgage broker with the £6m share sale of the company to a major national business. Key contacts are associate Eliot Hibbert, who heads the practice, and solicitor Barry Doherty.

At Pickerings Solicitors LLP, practice head Craig Davies handled a number of acquisitions for local accountants, and also advised a specialist vehicle company on a €14m joint venture partnership agreement with a manufacturing partner based in France. The team was also busy in the education space, with Davies acting for the vendor on the purchase of shares and property in a children’s day nursery, and solicitor Keri Pointon, who wins praise for her ‘clear, in-depth knowledge’, representing a pre-school on its liquidation and transfer of assets to an academy school. Pointon’s experience extends to sectors such as manufacturing, IT and agricultural, and in another example of work, she acted for a recruitment company in the purchase of shares in a company, accompanied by the assignment of intellectual property rights.

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