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Addleshaw Goddard’s practice regularly handles blockbuster deals in the region, and is best known for its private equity expertise and its high-profile financial services clients. Yunus Seedat leads the team and focuses on private equity transactions; he is closely supported by Garry Elliott and Neil Woolhouse, who are experienced in handling M&A transactions for private and public companies. M&A specialists Mark Hallam and Tim Wheldon are also noted. Rosanna Bryant’s practice sits in the cross-section of finance and corporate work, while managing associate James Tatro handles a variety of work including M&A, disposals, joint ventures and private equity in the retail sector. Recent highlights include handling Lenlyn’s £196m disposal of its international currency exchange business, ICE, to Global Fortune 500 company, China’s HNA Group; advising NorthEdge Capital and the management of Sumo Digital on the £50m sale of Sumo Digital to Perwyn, which included handling cross-border issues involving India; and assisting the management of Shearings Group with the sale of its business to funds managed by Lone Star Funds.

DLA Piper UK LLP provides ‘good value for money’ and is, for one client, ‘the firm of choice for contract negotiations’. Andrew Davies, who heads the corporate practice, has notable expertise in sale and purchase agreements pertaining to the aviation industry. Commercial group head Matthew Duncombe ‘has great knowledge of commercial contract law, and an ability to point out and reduce risks’. Corporate healthcare head Stephen Atkinson is an M&A and private equity specialist, Paul Routledge handles domestic and international M&A matters, Jonathan Procter is an expert on financial services-related corporate transactions and senior associates Amar Maan and Hitesh Tailor have strengths in the banking and insurance and hotel and leisure sectors respectively. Recent highlights for the team include advising B&P Engineering on contract negotiations with German company SMS group pertaining to the design, build and installation of a new smelting facility in Iceland, worth in excess of £600m; assisting technology investment firm, C5 Capital, with its acquisition of ITC Global Security for approximately £24m; and handling several hotel transactions for Marriott International in various jurisdictions.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s team receives ‘repeat instructions’ largely due to the ‘premium service’ offered and its ‘ability to provide a full service of advice across disciplines’. Practice head Robin Skelton and principal associate Jonathan Pollard, who handles various acquisitions and disposals, takeovers and private equity transactions, are ‘top quality corporate law advisers’. Other notable individuals include Amanda Partland, who specialises in advising large corporates on mainstream M&A transactions; Alison Starr, who advises several Yorkshire-based listed companies on stock exchange and takeover matters; and M&A and energy specialist Charles Reynard. The group advised Dublin-headquartered Greencore Group on its £440m rights issue to fund the acquisition of US-based Peacock Foods. Other highlights included assisting Elysian Capital with the £30m purchase of Sambro International, a Manchester-based toy distributor of licensed children’s brands, and handling the acquisition of Hesco on behalf of Betafence. Other clients include Iron Mountain, Marshalls, Mayborn Group, Inflexion Private Equity and Kromek.

According to one client, ‘nobody is more driven’ than Andrew Kerr, who jointly leads Pinsent Masons LLP’s practice with commercial partner Martin Priestley. Kerr advised Indian chemicals manufacturer, Nirma, on its $1.4bn acquisition of LafargeHolcim’s Indian operations and assisted Exertis UK with its £51m purchase of the entire issued share capital of Hammer Consolidated Holdings; senior associate Joanna Jowitt was involved in both deals. Other highlights included advising CBPE Capital on its secondary buyout of caravan manufacturer ABI, advising Synova Capital on its £25m investment in Fairstone Group and assisting SIG with the purchase of the entire issued share capital of Metall Architektur and SIG’s simultaneous acquisition of the Proteus Engineered Facades Business. Other notable names include private equity specialist Peter Wood and Andrew Black, who acts for UK and US-based listed companies. Legal directors Catherine Hemsworth and Michelle Kershaw have strengths in private equity transactions, while fellow legal director Lisa Harley handles IT supply contracts.

One of the leading firms locally, Squire Patton Boggs’ experience spans private equity, capital markets, domestic and international M&A, and a range of corporate transactions primarily in the chemical, and food and drink sectors. Jonathan Jones, Richard Hunt, Paul Mann and Hannah Kendrick are the key names on the corporate side, while senior associates Francesca Fellowes and Paul Jinks are noted for their commercial expertise. Mann advised video game developer and new client Team17 on a £16.5m investment from Lloyds Development Capital. Hunt led a team which advised JSE-listed Imperial Logistics on its purchase of Palletways Group from Phoenix Equity Partners. London-based corporate partner Adam Hastings, who spends time in Leeds, assisted Luceco with its successful IPO on the LSE. Kendrick advised Clipper on an agreement with John Lewis to establish a joint venture company.

With one of the largest practices in the region, Walker Morris LLP draws on its considerable resources to provide a wide variety of expertise to clients from the food and drink, retail, waste and energy, healthcare, technology and IT, industrials and financial services sectors. Corporate head John Hamer has notable strength advising on public and private company takeovers and acquisitions, public market listings, private equity investments and joint ventures, managing partner Ian Gilbert handles MBOs, secondary buy-outs, fundraisings, IPOs and disposals, Debbie Jackson is experienced in venture capital and private equity matters and Richard Naish has public company expertise, Daniel O’Gorman focuses on capital markets and commercial head James Crayton handles commercial arrangements across customer, supplier and partner relationships. O’Gorman handled three acquisitions for Data Intensity, a provider of Oracle cloud and in-application management services, including the UK operations of the Enrich group, which has UK and India operations, and Red Stack Technology, which has operations in the UK, Australia and Poland. Paul Emmet retired in 2016.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s practice is jointly headed by Simon Pilling and Nigel Williams. The duo are best known for their private equity and venture capital expertise, and experience handling corporate matters and M&A across the chemicals, manufacturing, automotive and healthcare sectors. Recent highlights include advising Cairngorm Capital on its majority investment in Polyframe Group in support of an MBO by its executive team; assisting Polyframe Group and its majority investor, Cairngorm Capital, with Polyframe’s purchase of The Window Bureau; advising FTSE 250 client DS Smith on the acquisition of TRM Packaging; and handling Noble Organisation’s multimillion-pound sale of Brighton Pier. Managing associate and private equity specialist James Cook joined from Gordons LLP. Alistair Scott-Somers departed for Progeny Private Law.

Offering a fresh approach in a mature industry’, Clarion’s ‘speedy and efficient’ practice ‘provides a greater depth than many’. Richard Moran advised Hesco on the sale of its entire issued share capital to Betafence and assisted the founding shareholder with the MBO of Armstrong Priestley; he and Matthew Hattersley jointly head the practice. M&A partner Jonathan Simms has considerable expertise in the digital media, marketing and haulage sectors; he advised Simon Gibson Transport with the sale of 75% of its issued share capital to logistics provider GCA Europe. Legal director Tony Berry’s arrival from Addleshaw Goddard adds experience in large cross-border M&A deals.

James Fawcett leads Gordons LLP’s ‘experienced’ team, which is, according to one client, ‘the first choice for all corporate and M&A activities’. Duncan Firman made partner in 2016 and ‘is excellent for M&A and provides balanced advice’; he and Fawcett advised new client YFM Equity Partners on its £2.75m investment in Sipsynergy, a cloud collaboration solutions provider to SMEs. Jonathan Asquez advised global environmental and sustainability consultancy ERM on its purchase of JSC International, the client’s first UK acquisition, and also assisted the managing director with the sale of HB Clark to Kitwave, a private equity-backed food and drinks consolidator. John Holden and Andy Brian are the other names to note.

Schofield Sweeney is, for one client, ‘in a class of its own in terms of value for money’. Chris Schofield leads the practice and is closely supported by Martin Sweeney, who ‘exudes a quiet competence and confidence which leaves the client feeling like things are in control’. Commercial head Luisa D’Alessandro, director Catherine Rhodes, and associate Laura Salvati ‘provide good, decisive leadership and specialist knowledge’. Other key names include Chris Blantern, Adrian Ballam, David Strachan, Steven Millward, who recently made partner, and Rob Kelly, who joined the team following the firm’s merger with Armitage Sykes Solicitors in 2016. Highlights included advising AIM-listed 4D pharma on its €12m acquisition of Tucana Health.

Gateley Plc’s team is ‘professional, responds quickly, and is accessible and knowledgeable’. The practice, which is led by Nick Emmerson and David Armitage, is well known for its international reach, as well as its experience in domestic and offshore corporate investments, industrial and commercial corporate finance and capital markets work. Recent highlights include advising Gaist on the acquisition of Optimint; assisting WH Ireland with the reverse takeover and the admission of Healthperm Resourcing to the ISDX; and advising Deltatre and LMGR on the sale of the majority shareholding in Deltatre to Bruin Sports Capital, and the related acquisition by Deltatre of the minority shareholding held by Paul Bristow in Deltatre Media. New clients include Ark Home Healthcare, Bet 21, Core Capital Partners, Gresham House, Keepmoat Homes, and Keyland Developments. Sandip Khroud, who ‘has good judgement of situations’, was promoted to the partnership.

Lupton Fawcett LLP’s ‘directors are very hands-on and are involved at all points in a transaction’. Led by Andrew Lindsay, the team was recently strengthened by Neil Large joining the firm’s Sheffield office from Taylor & Emmet LLP; he covers the full range of corporate transactions and acts for clients including Santander and LX Engineering. Highlights included advising Horsley Capital, Dyson and Paturel on the £100m sale of Exemplar Care Group to private equity firm Agilitas; Jonathan Oxley led the advice. Other names to note include Daniel McCormack, Giles Clegg and Julian Moran who are in the firm’s Leeds office, York-based Martin Frost and Michele Phillips in Sheffield.

Marcus Armstrong leads Shulmans LLP’s practice, which has in-depth sector expertise in healthcare, pharmacy, IT and data-driven businesses. Emma Roe joined from DWF and brings a wealth of experience in commercial contract law. Andrew Bradley focuses on the IT and financial services sectors, Mark Lumley has strengths in regulatory and contractual matters, Emma Greenwood handles acquisitions, disposals, MBOs, group reorganisations, joint ventures and company law and Christian Peace has niche expertise in the pharmacy sector. Highlights included assisting Bayfields Opticians with the acquisition of two additional practices in Harrogate and Newcastle-under-Lyme worth approximately £2m.

3volution Limited’s team, which is a key name for SME clients, is ‘knowledgeable, responsive and quick to understand the pressures on commercial businesses’. Corporate head Jonathan Priestley ‘is someone you can rely on to deliver’, and Michael Cantwell, who has expertise in MBOs, secondary buy-outs, acquisitions, joint ventures and disposals, was a new arrival from HLW Keeble Hawson. Recent highlights include advising OLR Group on the sale of its subsidiary Conexus to Texas-based PFSweb, and assisting the existing managing director and shareholder of Melrose Textile with the acquisition of 75% of the company shareholding.

DWF’s practice is led by Lester Wilson, who is supported by banking partner Chris Ramage and commercial tax head John Toon. The team has extensive experience in corporate finance; it frequently handles flotations, fundraisings, M&A, restructurings and reorganisations for clients including plc’s, large private companies, SMEs, entrepreneurs, private equity houses and venture capitalists. Recent highlights include advising Learning Technologies Group on a proposed £54m cash offer to takeover AIM-listed NetDimensions. Emma Roe departed for Shulmans LLP.

Harrowells Solicitors typically acts for mid-sized corporates and SMEs on domestic and international contractual issues, and has expertise assisting owner-managed businesses. Commercial team head Susie Mortonson and senior solicitor Nick Eleanor ‘provide concise and prompt advice’. Philip Ogden is experienced in advising medical practices on acquisitions and commercial structures and consultant David Black advises local businesses on new commercial ventures. Recent highlights include advising a prominent international brand on a new supplier contract for its computer network, handling commercial negotiations for a sportswear manufacturer, and assisting with the commercial, joint venture and partnership arrangements for a large UK-wide GP practice.

Irwin Mitchell’s national practice is led by Birmingham-based Chris Rawstron, with key contacts in Leeds including head of commercial contracts Joanne Bone, who is a key name for regulatory compliance matters. Recent highlights include advising Business Growth Fund on a £25m investment package provided to Sheffield-based Coppergreen Developments, which included £11m of growth capital provided by the client with the remaining £14m supplied by HSBC; the financing was then used to fund the acquisition of Piperdam Golf and Leisure Resort and 350 acres of adjoining land. Other work included assisting private equity-backed Transformational Capital, which is based in Canada, on its cross-border acquisition of Surrey-based Mighty Deals. Philip Goldsborough and James Foster joined Shoosmiths LLP.

LCF Lawprovides good quality advice at a lower cost than larger regional firms’ and is best known for advising clients from niche sectors, such as IFA businesses, those in the biocidal products market, and GPs. Corporate head Susan Clark ‘is a true business partner’ and commercial and IP partner James Sarjantson ‘is extremely thorough and provides very careful, reliable work’. The duo were part of a team that advised the retiring majority shareholder of shipping and freight group Graypen on the sale of the company to the management team. Leeds-based Clementine Duckett is another key team member and has notable strength acting for family-owned businesses; she handled Clayton Glass’ acquisition of Romag. Thomas Coates left to establish FTA Law in 2016.

Christian Hunt leads the team at York-based Langleys Solicitors LLP, which handles a wide range of M&A matters for a client base ranging from international corporates to regional owner-managed businesses. Recent highlights include assisting the shareholders of adept4 with its £7m sale to Pinnacle Technology; handling Turbine Efficiency’s £4m sale to Core Capital, which included a group refinancing; and assisting two shareholders of Right Angle Marketing with an MBO. Bauer Consumer Media, Crompton Lamps, Korbond Industries and The Inspired Branding Group are also clients. Assistant solicitor Fiona Kingscott, who joined in January 2017 from an in-house position with the University of Leeds, focuses on commercial law and non-contentious IP.

At Ward Hadaway, Newcastle-based corporate head Martin Hulls and Leeds-based commercial head Philip Jordan are the key contacts. Other names to note include Gavin Maddison, banking specialist Mark Smith and James Nightingale, IP specialist Gareth Yates and competition head Andrew Finfer. The team acts for owner-managed businesses on medium- and large-sized deals, often with an international dimension, and also has considerable expertise handling private equity investments. The team is experienced in handling MBOs, recently assisting Mitre and Grimsby-based Global Shipping Services with separate MBOs. Other work included advising two shareholders on the sale of Wakefield Skillcentre to a North West-based training company.

Blacks Solicitors LLP’s team is led by Nigel Hoyle, who establishes ‘excellent working relationship’; he is closely supported by David Paterson, who is recommended for his ‘breadth of corporate knowledge and patience’, and Richard Buono, who was recently promoted to the partnership. The practice predominantly acts for local SMEs and UK-wide companies. Recent work includes advising a client in the financial services sector on the share purchase of a private limited company, and drafting a wide variety of contractual agreements, including third and fourth party logistics, freight forwarding agreements and general logistics agreements, for a high-net-worth company. Solicitor Peter Konieczko-Hansom joined from James Legal Solicitors.

Mills & Reeve LLP’s practice is led by Paul Johnson, who has expertise advising AIM-listed companies and privately owned businesses on raising finance through public markets and private investment. Johnson handled various acquisitions for The Co-Operative Group in 2016, including the purchase of the business and assets of a J and P Brundall-owned retail convenience store and the acquisition of a convenience store in Nottingham, and also advised the client on establishing a convenience store in Lancashire. Other clients include WHIreland, Property Partner Nominee, and new clients Christeyns, Kings Security, and GPI.

At Needle Partners Limited, managing partner Sharon Needle handles UK and international corporate transactions for individuals, private and listed companies, governments, banks and other financial institutions, as well as having niche expertise in Islamic finance. Corporate lawyer Tim Wimbush has a financial services sector focus; he is adept at advising on business structures, M&A, disposals and corporate reorganisations. Solicitor Grace Richardson is dual-qualified in Singapore and the UK; she is experienced in capital markets matters, M&A, restructuring, takeovers, drafting commercial agreements and advising on statutory compliance issues. In a recent work highlight, the team handled the sale of a majority stake in an insurance brokerage for the selling shareholders.

Harrogate-based Berwinstakes the stress away from the client by bringing everything together as seamlessly as possible’. Founding partner and team head Paul Berwinis down to earth, keen to help, and always acts in his client’s best interests’. Highlights included advising nine shareholders on the sale of Antivia to insightsoftware.com (now known as Hubble), and assisting the shareholders of the Harrogate franchise of TaxAssist Accountants with the sale to the existing management team, which involved a complex, multi-year deferred payment structure. Associate director Mike Patterson and associate solicitor James Talbot are also noted.

McCormicks provides ‘excellent’ advice. Corporate head Lewis Goodwinhas an excellent appetite for work and attention to detail’ and specialises in advising on complex finance arrangements for a broad range of clients, including SMEs, private investors, high-net-worth individuals, international corporates, family companies, charities, sports organisations and clients from the hospitality and leisure sector. Senior partner Peter McCormick is highly regarded; he advises the Premier League on corporate matters, including governance and board functions. Recent highlights include advising the Premier League Charitable Fund on joint venture arrangements with Comic Relief, Barclays and others; advising a hotel on a multi-million pound refinancing and development facility; and assisting the Isthmian League with changes to its constitution. Other clients include Leeds United, Cleveland Process Designs, Plantagenet Media and Walsall FC.

Ramsdens’ practice is led by commercial partner Stephen Newman, who is supported by Richard Dean, who joined in 2016 from Milners Solicitors, and Greg Dolan. The practice has wide-ranging expertise spanning M&A, MBOs, asset sales and purchases including the incorporation of partnerships and LLPs, private equity investments, joint ventures, share option schemes, and negotiating partnership, LLP and shareholder agreements. The team assisted with the management buy-in of Sash UK by Praesidian Capital and advised on the MBO of Southern & Redfern Industrial Solutions. Nick Metcalfe joined Dublin-based Mason Hayes & Curran.

Raworths, according to one client, ‘cannot be faulted in any area of its service delivery’. Practice head Simon Morris focuses on the SME sector, in particular family-owned, high-net-worth, entrepreneur and owner-managed businesses. The team advises on MBOs, shareholder and partnership agreements, M&A, investment agreements, employee incentive and share options and succession planning. Recent highlights include assisting with the sale of a multi-site professional services business to an international purchaser, and advising an owner-managed business on a share sale, which involved a prior asset restructuring process.

Andrew Francey leads Watson Burton LLP’s practice, which works closely with the firm’s Newcastle office. Areas of expertise include advising owner-managed businesses on a range of M&A issues, including MBO/MBIs, loan agreements, reorganisations, commercial contracts and joint ventures. Recent highlights include advising a private equity firm on its investment into a Sheffield-based environmental company, handling the acquisition of a utility services company for a multidisciplinary construction group, and assisting with the reorganisation of a manufacturing business.

Michele Mathers leads Weightmans’ team, which is able to draw on the resources of the firm’s Manchester office, and corporate and commercial head Paul Raftery in particular. The team is best known for its corporate advisory and transactional work, and assisting with high-value commercial contracts, and is a popular choice for owner-managed businesses, mid-to-large corporates, and public authorities. The group handled several matters for Real Life Options, including advising on the purchase of a charity for autism, assisting with constitutional and regulatory matters, and advising on a high-value IT contract. Other highlights include handling a corporate restructuring for software company BJSS, which involved a share reclassification, new share rights and options, and advising on bonus scheme and constitutional arrangements for UK and US employees and shareholders.

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