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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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At DLA Piper UK LLP, Birmingham head of finance Stephen Bottley advises international banks and major UK banks on leveraged finance, corporate finance and asset-based lending and, in 2016, he continued to be active in a variety of major cross-border deals for both lenders and borrowers. Examples of his work include advising a three-bank syndicate of HSBC, RBS and Clydesdale bank on the £74,500 facilities agreement and £22,000 receivables finance facility agreement relating to the management buyout of City Sprint Group, and representing Dechra Pharmaceuticals in the £205m refinancing and subsequent amendment and restatement of the revolving credit facility provided to the group by HSBC, Barclays and RBS. On the real estate finance side, Brian Woolcock is well known in the market and was busy in relation to the refinancing of property portfolios, as well as on new credit facilities secured against investment and development properties. Changes to the team include Laura Cashmore’s promotion to legal director and a number of hires at associate level. Leeds-based Sarah Day heads the team.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s team deliver ‘first-class response times, cross-market knowledge that is wider than LMA, and real understanding of current terms, notably even in deals in which they have not been directly involved’. The team remained highly active in its focus areas of private M&A, real estate finance and corporate lending, and in one significant deal, newly promoted partner Richard Davies, who leads on real estate finance, advised Bridgepoint Development Capital on financing its £23m buyout of Practice head Patrick Davis provides a ‘very balanced approach to risk and commerciality, and never waivers from the ultimate aim of delivering a long-term relationship banking deal for lenders and client’. Davis acted for a trio of banks, including RBS and HSBC, on the £175m refinancing of Domino’s Pizza Group, and also advised the same banks on the £200m acquisition of Putney by Dechra Pharmaceuticals. Another name to note is senior associate Nathan Pritchard, who is ‘developing well’. The practice focuses on acting for lenders and, as well as advising all the main UK banks, also represents international banks and private equity houses such as Svenska Handelsbanken AB and Lloyds Development Capital.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s substantial practice has a lender focus and covers a full range of work, including syndicated lending, real estate finance, acquisition and leveraged finance, asset-based lending, social housing finance, securitisations and debt capital markets. The team is led by David Doogan, who was active on a number of key deals in the region, including advising Barclays on the finance related to the £140m IPO of Joules Group, and acting for HSBC in its funding for the £12m take-private of SWP Group. Besides corporate mandates, Doogan was also busy in the real estate space, where he represented Lloyds Bank as agent and Scottish Widows as lender in relation to a new facility of £45m to Custodian REIT. The practice is noted for its strong asset-based lending capability, with national head of asset-backed finance and debt capital markets Edward Sunderland the name to note in this regard; Sunderland and Doogan represented RBS and RBS Invoice Finance on the funding to Hills Numberplates in connection with its £10m acquisition of Faab Fabricauto.

Gateley Plc’s broad practice takes in private equity and acquisition finance, real estate finance, asset-based lending and consumer credit. Head of practice Andrew Madden has particular expertise in leveraged and corporate finance deals and, in one highlight, advised a syndicate of international insurers on the provision of £300m of insurance bonds to support the UK pension scheme of an international trading group. Madden also handled a number of MBO financings, including acting for Santander in connection with financing the MBO of Panther Warehousing. Carol Betts leads on real estate finance and asset-based lending, and acts for clients such as ABN Amro Commercial Finance and Santander Invoice Finance. Betts is particularly commended for her ‘knowledge and commerciality in the real estate sector’. James Dyson moved to Freeths LLP.

At Gowling WLG, Chris Brierley has worked for funders and borrowers in a number of sectors, including health, energy, franchising and social housing, and in one example of work, he advised Sanctuary Housing Association on its entry into a new revolving credit facility with HSBC. The team is particularly noted for its project finance expertise, with Brierley advising on a number of energy projects, including acting for Ecotricity on the second tranche of funding with Aviva Investors relating to a portfolio of operational wind and solar parks across 21 sites, and advising Primrose Solar on the debt financing with Deutsche Bank to refinance its Eveley solar farm in Hampshire. Principal associate Navin Prabhakar was active on various private equity-related mandates, including assisting LDC with the finance for the MBO of Panther Warehousing, and acting for HSBC in the £52m sale by its borrower Avingtrans of its aerospace division in a buyout backed by private equity house Silverfleet Capital. Nick Iliff divides his time between Birmingham and London and focuses on project and real estate finance.

Browne Jacobson LLP has particular strength in advising on funding within the health, social housing and residential housing sectors, and the team continued to be busy in these areas in 2016. Head of practice Paul Ray and Emma Hinton acted for Local Space Housing Association on its £250m funding to refinance existing facilities and to provide finance to fund the acquisition of 800 new homes; and Hinton advised Clydesdale Bank on a £10.5m revolving credit agreement for Horizon Care and Education. Ray, who ‘provides guidance and explanations in simple terms while dealing with complex situations’, focuses on the public sector and regularly acts for the lending division of the Homes & Community Agency on the funding for residential housing developments. The team’s expertise extends to asset-based lending and, in one example, Ray is acting for the Fogarty Group on its raising of £9.9m of additional funding from Close Brothers to provide finance for its future development plans.

Irwin Mitchell’s team is ‘proactive, as well as reactive when required, and is highly knowledgeable about receivables finance and asset-based lending’. The practice covers all aspects of asset-based lending, including factoring, receivables finance, off-balance sheet finance, inventory lending and distribution finance. Head of practice Jon Bew, who ‘always listens and comes up with solutions that are commercially viable’, represented Hills Numberplates in relation to a £10m new financing package consisting of a combination of term loans and receivables financing from NatWest Bank, RBS Invoice Finance and Finance Birmingham; and, in another highlight, Bew and senior associate Natalie Barnes advised Shawbrook in relation to the provision of finance facilities to Calumet Photographic and Bowens International. ABN AMRO and Close Brothers are key clients.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP’s practice is led by Naomi Tudor, whose debt expertise spans advising borrower and lenders in the charity and education sectors to crowd funding. Tudor advised New Blue Chip and Blue Chip Customer Engineering on an LMA loan agreement for a term loan of £32m from Lloyds Bank, relating to the company’s MBO. Another name to note is Christopher Gayle, who works across the firm’s Birmingham and London offices. Gayle, who is ‘extremely efficient and knowledgeable, gets things done on time, on budget and without fuss’, was active on a number of real estate finance mandates, including acting for Allied Irish Bank on the £2m refinance of two care homes. On the corporate finance side, Helen Readett handled various refinancings, including acting for Summit Media on the restructuring of its debt in advance of the company’s sale to TCC Media.

At Shoosmiths LLP, areas of strength include real estate finance transactions, asset-based lending deals, corporate lending in the mid-market, leveraged and private equity-backed deals and complex pensions funding. David Adams heads the practice and handles a good mix of lender and borrower mandates; recent examples of his work include advising August Equity and Berkeley Home Health on working capital and acquisition finance facilities from HSBC for the acquisition of a number of healthcare targets, and acting for Kier Living in connection with its debt investment into a joint venture with Spectrum Property Ventures to develop a residential mixed portfolio of housing. National head of real estate finance James Needham represents both major commercial lenders in property-based funding transactions, and also borrowers seeking funding, whether by secured debt or interim development finance.

Squire Patton Boggs provides ‘commercially orientated advice based on a good understanding of the requirements of finance providers’. Practice head Roy Grist, who is ‘not only technically excellent, but excellent regarding client relations and project coordination’, handles a varied caseload that takes in acquisition finance, real estate finance, asset-based lending and general bank lending. In one highlight, Grist acted for Barclays in connection with financing the acquisition by Mellors Group of Fantasy Island theme park. Areas of specialist expertise include acting for education institutions in connection with investment, development and general finance, and advising on pension fund financing; an example of the latter was Grist acting for Kier Group Pension Trustees on funding matters relating to the sale by Kier Group of its Mouchel Consulting business to WSP Global.

DWF’s ‘knowledgeable’ team was particularly busy on real estate finance mandates, often with a cross-border component. Head of practice Alice Broadfield, who is ‘easy to work with and keeps transactions flowing’, acts for a range of major lenders, and has niche expertise in areas such as education finance and charity finance. The team was developed by the return of senior associate Richard Holmes from secondment, and the hire of real estate finance specialist Stuart Reynolds from Gateley Plc.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s team is increasingly instructed on international finance mandates for lenders including Wells Fargo and Webster Business Credit Corporation. It also wins praise for its specialist sector knowledge, with one client stating, ‘its knowledge of the agri-food sector is particularly strong - and a differentiator’. Head of practice David Varnham provides ‘Magic Circle-quality advice’ and ‘makes complicated subjects easy to understand’, and advised the management of SWP Group on funding from HSBC for the £18m purchase of the shares of SWP Group by a NewCo; in another deal, the same lawyer advised PNC Financial Services (UK) on the restructuring of its existing facilities to Bright Blue Foods. The practice was strengthened by the hire of two senior associates, real estate finance specialist Arvin Bhamra, who joined from Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP, and acquisition finance lawyer Rory Milligan, who joined from Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP and has experience in cross-border transactions.

Aaron & Partners LLP’s provides ‘precise and speedy responses’ to clients such as Santander, for whom the team was active on a number of matters, including the financing for three major hotel projects. Other key clients on the lender side are HSBC and Clydesdale Bank. The practice is led by the ‘pragmatic and commercialHugh Strickland, who is particularly strong in the corporate finance space; in one standout transaction, he advised Zwanenberg UK on a group refinance package with a consortium of ABN AMRO and Rabobank to support the ongoing growth of the company.

At Brethertons LLP, Mary Anderson focuses on secured lending in the healthcare sector and has in-depth experience in representing project financiers; in one example of work, Anderson advised Sussex Health Care (Rapkyns) on a £31m loan to an offshore company secured over all of the trading assets of the company. The team also regularly acts for Lloyds Bank on real estate finance mandates, and advised the bank on a £1m loan to Office Pads on a multi-let property in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Other clients are Svenska Handelsbanken and London Mutual Credit Union.

George Green LLP’s team advises borrowers and lenders on cash flow as well as asset-based lending, covering syndicated loans, short-term lending, acquisition finance, real estate finance and development loans. The team is led by Philip Round, who specialises in bridging finance and is ‘an outstanding banking lawyer, particularly with respect to documentation’. Round was active on various matters for Ortus Secured Finance, including advising on a multimillion-pound secured loan to finance a property acquisition. In another piece of work, the same lawyer acted for St Philips Care Group on Clydesdale’s refinancing of £27m of Barclays debt.

Wright Hassall LLP’s team covers all mainstream funding work and has particular expertise in social housing, real estate development and financial restructuring work (often involving asset-based finance and receivables finance). Key players include Keith Ainsworth, who focuses on corporate finance for clients such as Hilco Capital, and senior associate Christopher Jones, who is ‘strong at leading the transaction, working with customers, lawyers and the bank’. Jones’ caseload included advising Hadrian’s Wall Capital on its first post-IPO financing, and acting for Lloyds Bank on the £7m refinancing of Heartlands Furniture Group.

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