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  1. Employment: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire
  2. Leading individuals (region-wide)
  3. Next generation lawyers (region-wide)

Next generation lawyers (region-wide)

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According to some clients, Addleshaw Goddard’s Leeds employment practice is ‘without doubt top tier in the region’. The practice is now headed by Sally Hulston following the departure of former practice head Emma Whiting, who established York-based employment boutique Torque Law LLP. Hulston, who was promoted to partner in May 2016, handles local and national employment law matters, with a particular focus on employment litigation. She leads a team of five other lawyers in Leeds, including associates Andy Graham, who joined in September 2016 from Nabarro LLP, and Emma Cousins, who joined in April 2016. Rounding out the team is managing associate Gerri Elliott, who is ‘an absolute joy to work with; her attention to client needs makes her extremely popular’. The practice has a track record advising key regional employers and – in keeping with its national and international footprint – FTSE100 and FTSE250 businesses on the full range of employment matters, from handling the employment aspects of corporate transactions, through to advising on redundancy exercises, assisting with executive terminations and recruitment, and acting in employment tribunals. In 2016, the firm was appointed to FTSE250 company Dixons Carphone Group’s first post-merger legal panel, advising on TUPE outsourcing and other HR matters. On the contentious employment front, the firm is acting for NHS Improvement in a multi-strand discrimination case brought by a senior employee concerning allegations of race, sex and disability discrimination. Other highlights included advising Castle Metals Europe on several rounds of redundancy exercises and on changes to the client’s bonus scheme in UK and Europe; and assisting the founders of ZyroFisher with its sale to Lloyds Development Capital, which involved the termination of the founders’ employment contracts and their entry into new fixed-term employment arrangements to enable them to continue to participate as board members.

DLA Piper UK LLP’s employment team in Leeds is regularly called upon to advise on complex and developing employment law issues, as illustrated by its track record of handling issues arising from the growth of the ‘gig’ economy. The firm also has notable strength in handling regulatory compliance issues arising from the growth of investigations into gender pay and Modern Slavery Act reporting. Jane Hannon heads the Leeds practice, which includes Christopher Baker, whose expertise covers both contentious and non-contentious issues, including defending clients in employment tribunals; and Louise Hendry, who is noted for her expertise in equality and diversity issues and change management. The firm’s network of offices worldwide makes it a natural choice for multi-jurisdictional mandates; in an illustration of the practice’s cross-border capability, Hannon is leading the advice to sports footwear manufacturer New Balance on the employment aspects of its recent expansion of retail stores across Europe, which involves extensive on-boarding, contracts and policy issues. Other multinational clients for which the Leeds office provides HR advice include Wyndham Hotel Group and De Beers. In addition to handling corporate employment matters arising from international outsourcings, large-scale change programmes and reorganisations, the practice also has considerable expertise in public sector outsourcing; highlights for 2016 included advising thebigword Group on its successful bid to provide linguist services to the Ministry of Justice. Other key mandates included advising the administrators of BHS on employment issues arising from its administration, which involved multi-site redundancies and the transfer of one group of staff to a purchaser.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s Leeds employment team was strengthened at partner level with the recruitment of Christopher Mordue from Pinsent Masons LLP; he brings his extensive higher education and industrial relations expertise to a team that already benefits from the further education and higher education expertise of partner Ben Wood; and the executive dismissal tribunal advocacy of joint practice heads Paul Cotton and Simon Rice-Birchall. The team handles a range of employment issues for household names including DHL, Thomas Cook, Morrisons plc and new client Hermes Parcelnet. In an illustration of Rice-Birchall’s track record handling highly complex and well-publicised tribunal cases, he is representing British Gas in Lock v British Gas, which has reached the Supreme Court and will have far-reaching implications concerning the calculation of holiday pay for workers throughout the UK. In another key matter highlighting the firm’s wider national coverage, Rice-Birchall acted alongside Birmingham-based pensions specialist Gary Delderfield on the TUPE aspects of the pooling of two local government pension scheme (LGPS) funds. Cotton’s highlights included leading the advice to Ecco Safety Group on the collective redundancy exercise and consultation process related to its closure of a site in Bridlington and the opening of a new site in Leeds; and advising Eggborough Power on a redundancy consultation involving discussions with trade unions and transition arrangements to be drafted following the UK government’s request to keep Eggborough power station open throughout 2016. Legal director Louise Lightfoot, who advised on the LGPS matter, has an extensive track record advising on the cross-border transfer of employees.

Pinsent Masons LLP has firmly established itself as a go-to firm for employment matters concerning the financial services, higher education and retail sectors, with a track record spanning advice on senior board exits, corporate reorganisations, equal pay and enforcement of restrictive covenants. Jon Fisher is the key figure for equal pay matters in the insurance and retail sectors, and leads the Leeds employment team, which includes Chris Booth, who acts on a range of employment matters for clients including William Hill and Grant Thornton. Booth acted for the former client on the restructuring of its retail business, involving a consultation process concerning its approximately 12,000 employees. Fisher has also assisted clients in senior executive departures, settlement agreements, the closure of defined-benefit pension schemes, and TUPE issues related to employee moves. Other clients include Direct Line, RBS and HSBC. Christopher Mordue joined Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in 2017.

For many, Squire Patton Boggs is considered a market leader in the retail sector and attracts praise for its ‘excellent service levels, practical advice and understanding of the client’s business’. The team provides employment law advice to a number of national retailer clients, including Pets at Home and Card Factory, new clients for 2016. Matthew Lewis (who is highly valued for his ‘practical and pragmatic advice’) leads the firm’s retail sector offering worldwide and handles the full range of employment issues, including precedent-setting holiday pay matters, advising on the TUPE aspects of pan-European restructuring projects, and assisting with collective consultation procedures. Andrew Stones (‘an expert in his field and trusted adviser’) has an extensive track record advising on industrial relations issues and has been heavily involved in holiday pay matters. Senior associate James Keogh attracts praise for his ‘enthusiastic and proactive approach and ability to find business-specific solutions to problems’. Other clients include Staples and Majestic Wines.

Clarion’s ‘strong employment team’ attracts praise for its ‘excellent response times and commerciality’ and for its ‘insight and understanding of the client’s organisation and the constraints it works within’. Sarah Tahamtani heads a team that includes fellow partner John Robinson – who is ‘an excellent employment lawyer with particular strength in tribunal matters; his clients rate him highly’ – and four other lawyers, which collectively handles the full spectrum of contentious and non-contentious employment matters. The firm’s client base comprises a mixture of national and multinational corporates, including Nobia, Allied Glass Containers and Arla Foods, which is a new client win for 2016, as well as a number of medium-sized and owner-managed businesses active throughout Yorkshire and the North of England. Tahamtani has an extensive track record advising employers on a range of issues, including high-value employment litigation, board level disputes and change management issues arising from business restructurings, reorganisations and redundancy processes. In addition to acting for employers, the firm also handles a large number of matters for senior employees, and has negotiated £1m-worth of severance packages for executives and board directors. Other recommended individuals include senior associates Deborah Warren and John Robinson.

DAC Beachcroft LLP fields a ‘responsive, knowledgeable’ team that provides ‘clear, commercially focused advice in a manner that suits the client’s business’. In keeping with the wider firm’s healthcare strength, the employment practice in Leeds acts for a range of public and private healthcare sector clients on contentious and non-contentious matters. James Rhodes jointly leads the practice and is the key figure on healthcare-related work; he brings 18 years of experience handling TUPE matters, senior exits and complex litigation, among other employment matters, for healthcare clients. The Leeds employment team is working in conjunction with the firm’s Manchester office for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust in the defence of Employment Tribunal proceedings brought by a consultant surgeon concerning whistleblowing, race discrimination, unfair dismissal, unlawful deduction of wages and breach of contract claims; following a six-week hearing, all claims were dismissed or withdrawn, with the exception of a finding of procedural unfair dismissal. Beyond the healthcare sector, fellow joint head Louise Bloomfield leads the practice’s advice to corporate employers including McDonald’s, which the team advised on the implementation of minimum hours contracts for its restaurant employees, the outsourcing of its payroll function, the restructuring of pay and flexible working hours for all salaried staff, and a restructuring of its head office teams. Other corporate employer clients include a national logistics and mail distributor, which the firm advised on the restructuring of its national finance team, involving the exit of senior personnel and widespread redundancies at managerial level; and Transversal Corporation, a market leader in knowledge and search engine software, which the firm advised on the removal of its financial director. Recently promoted legal director Zoe Thomas is rated for her ‘willingness to tackle any issue, however bizarre it may be’. The team was joined in 2016 by Andrew Tomlinson from Weightmans.

DWF’s employment team in Leeds acts for a number of household names and particularly stands out for its expertise in the education, healthcare, real estate and retail sectors. On the education front, the practice acts on a range of day-to-day employment law issues, including settlement agreements, grievances and collective and trade union matters for a number of grammar and private schools. In an illustration of its contentious expertise, practice head Rob Riley and Philippa O’Brien acted for Charity People, a recruitment consultancy specialising in the non-profit sector, on the successful resolution of claims against the client’s former senior managers concerning breach of employment contracts and covenants through the managers’ setting up of a competing business.

Gordons LLP’s employment team stands out for its expertise in retail, transport and education. The practice has also leveraged its work for the Dioceses of Coventry, West Yorkshire and Durham, and Coventry Cathedral, to win a new appointment to provide employment law support to all of the Church of England’s institutions nationally. Other new clients for the team include insurer Allianz and Yorkshire Building Society. Philip Paget heads the team; he brings more than 26 years of experience in employment law matters and is regularly called on to handle large-scale strategic planning and restructuring exercises, with a particular emphasis on litigation. Other key members of the team include Tim Gooder, who has defended a range of claims before the Employment Tribunal, including unfair dismissal and discrimination; and Bryony Goldspink, whose expertise includes TUPE transfer matters and equal pay mass litigation. Simon Robinson and Paul Stokey joined Shoosmiths LLP in 2016.

Lupton Fawcett LLP’s employment practice operates across the firm’s offices in Leeds, York and Sheffield, making it uniquely placed to cover the Yorkshire and Humber region for its employer clients, which include a number of household names. Andrew Gilchrist heads the team and splits his time between the Leeds and York offices; his highlights included acting for KPMG in potential claims arising from an administration involving over 100 employees, in which the firm was able to secure a favourable and cost-effective outcome for the client. Gilchrist also leads the ongoing advice to national vehicle hire company Northgate in its employment and HR issues, including handling settlement agreements, disciplinary matters and data protection. Louise Connacher in Leeds is highlighted for her track record in restrictive covenant disputes, data protection, national minimum wage investigations, immigration matters, and HR issues governing charities and not-for-profits; her clients include UK-based retailer Mamas & Papas, for which she is handling a review of the client’s anti-bribery and corruption policy, drafting Modern Slavery Act policy, and advising on employment tribunal claims. Also based in Leeds, Angela Gorton handles a range of employment issues for businesses and senior executives, and is continuing to advise Seabrook Crisps on employment issues arising from its MBO, including handling minimum wage issues and changes to terms and conditions. Other key figures include York-based partner Brian Harrington, whose clients include Chaucer Foods Limited, which Harrington advises on multi-jurisdictional employment issues related to its sites in the US, France, Germany and China.

Walker Morris LLP’s employment team acts for national and international businesses as well as a number of leading Yorkshire-based companies; food manufacturer Symington’s, retailer Moss Bros, Starbucks, business process outsourcing company Capita and Toyota all call on the firm to handle business-critical UK employment issues. David Smedley heads the team, which includes food and drink expert Andrew Rayment; Rayment’s clients include Asda Stores, which he is advising on employment issues arising from the sale of the client’s photo business, and Ainscough Crane hire, which he is advising on a strike organised by Unite the Union involving over 500 employees across several of the client’s sites. In another highlight for the firm, Smedley led the team acting for Landis+Gyr, a global metering solutions provider, on several matters, including the UK aspects of a multi-jurisdictional restructuring; defending the client in a discrimination and victimisation claim; and handling a number of senior management exits. Shakeel Dad, who was also involved in that matter, has established a considerable reputation for his work advising Premier League and Football League clubs on a range of employment law issues, as well as for his work in the food and drink sector. Dad’s recent highlights include acting for Chipotle on the appointment of a new European managing director, advising the client on a misconduct dismissal, and assisting with the drafting of bespoke post-termination restrictions.

Ward Hadaway’s three-partner employment team covers a broad spectrum of employment matters, including TUPE transfer matters, trade union issues, redundancy consultations, industrial actions and disciplinary hearings, for clients including FedEx and Turner & Townsend. Practice head Harmajinder Hayre is routinely called upon to advise board directors on HR and employment issues arising from corporate restructurings and reorganisations. Hayre’s highlights included providing ongoing support to Welcome Financial Services’ former employees, who have been exited as a result of the company’s winding-down process, and assisting Leeds United Football Club with its well-publicised issues regarding former employees, including one seeking more than £500,000 in damages following her successful Employment Tribunal claim. Hayre is ably assisted by Edward Nuttman, who joined from Gordons LLP and has a particular focus on transport and healthcare. Nuttman acted for London Sovereign in its successful appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal concerning an unfair dismissal claim. Other key figures in the team include Flora Mewies, who regularly handles business immigration matters and defends clients in Employment Tribunal claims. Richard Port left the firm in 2017 to establish his own practice.

3volution Limited’s two-partner team handles the full range of contentious and non-contentious employment matters for a mixed client base of local SMEs and large employers, including Cape Industrial Services and Kensington Power, a new client win for 2016. The firm’s track record covers TUPE matters, advising on whistleblowing and discrimination complaints, and representing clients in Employment Tribunal claims. In addition to acting for employers, the firm is also advising a growing number of senior executives on severance issues. Gearalt Fahy successfully defended Great Northern Envelope Company in a claim for race discrimination brought by a former employee, and represented Cleveland Potash Limited in a three-day hearing before the Newcastle Employment Tribunal arising from a claim for unfair dismissal related to the client’s restructuring of its business at Boulby mine. Paul Ball handles restructuring and redundancy processes and advises on TUPE transfers.

Blacks Solicitors LLP’s clients highlight the firm’s ‘excellent overall service’ and ‘common-sense and grounded approach’. The employment team assists employees and SME employers with contentious and non-contentious issues, and is particularly adept at handling executive settlement packages, restrictive covenants and employee shareholder status issues. Chris Allen heads the employment practice, which includes Tom Moyes, who impresses with his ‘communication skills and legal knowledge – he is able to communicate on both a lawyer level and personal level extremely well’; Richard Parr, who attracts praise for his ‘entrepreneurial style and approach’; and associate David Ward, who is singled out for his ‘ability to explain the legal process in simple terms’.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s employment practice spans the firm’s national office network, which it leverages to act for a national client base, as well as key Yorkshire-based employers. Ed Duffield has taken over as head of the practice in Leeds following Claire-Jane Nicol’s retirement, and was joined in 2016 by Alan Kennedy from Shulmans LLP. Duffield has a particular focus on advice to clients in the chemicals and manufacturing sectors, and recently provided employment support to an international manufacturing client related to the sale of its European surfactants business. Other highlights included assisting Dnata, which operates ground handling services at Heathrow and Manchester airports, with the TUPE transfers of a number of its employees, and advising Saint Catherine’s Hospice on compulsory redundancies arising from its restructuring and on the successful resolution of an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.

Capsticks LLP has a market-leading reputation nationally for its healthcare-sector expertise and its employment team in Leeds is a key adviser to the NHS, for which it handles the full range of employment matters. Rachael Heenan heads the team and led the advice to NHS Employers, the national body responsible for producing policy and guidance to employers in the NHS, on issues arising from the proposed introduction of the new Junior Doctors contract, including successfully representing the client in Judicial Review proceedings brought by the British Medical Association, as well as undertaking an equality impact assessment, advising on proposed industrial action, and assisting with whistleblowing provisions entered into with Health Education England. Other highlights included advising Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust on the disciplinary process for a consultant following a serious patient complaint. The firm also provides employment advice to a number of GPs and acts for social housing provider Stonewater on safeguarding issues. Other key figures include Ron Simms, whose track record includes advising an NHS board on the employment aspects of a governance improvement action plan, which involved complex discrimination and whistleblowing issues; and Claire Reynolds, who acts for not-for-profit and third-sector organisations on a range of matters, including business reorganisations, TUPE matters and executive terminations.

Glenn Hayes leads Irwin Mitchell’s employment team in Leeds, which handles a mixture of day-to-day employment matters for its national employer client base, in addition to acting in complex and high-value tribunal matters. Hayes is ably assisted by seven associates, including business immigration specialist Padma Tadi and Jenny Arrowsmith, who leads the firm’s education offering in the North. Tadi’s highlights included advising Leeds Brewery Company on the employment aspects of the sale of its pubs to Camerons Brewery, which involved advising the owners on information and consultation obligations under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 and negotiating employment warranties and indemnities contained within the corporate transaction documents. On the contentious side, Arrowsmith and Hayes are representing Capita Group in a dispute with an existing employee.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP has wide-ranging expertise in employment matters, from advising on executive employment issues to handling discrimination and equal pay claims to employment issues arising from large-scale restructurings and redundancies. The firm is especially well regarded for its TUPE expertise, and fields a leading authority in this space in the form of Dr John McMullen, whose highlights included acting for a multi-academy trust in a reorganisation programme involving the rationalisation of terms and conditions of employment, and acting for a charity in the North West on the TUPE implications of its merger with another charity. In addition to acting for charities and educational institutions, the firm also handles employment matters for national and multinational corporates, as well as senior executives; in an illustration of the latter, McMullen assisted the senior executive of a UK plc with negotiating severance arrangements, including share option rights bonuses and a six-figure compensation package. Chris Billington heads the practice, and handles whistleblowing claims and advises charities on post-transfer changes to terms and conditions of employment; his recent highlights include acting for an educational charity in allegations brought against a member of staff involving public indecency.

The employment practice at Berwins handles day-to-day employment issues, ranging from managing recruitment to handling settlement agreements and Employment Tribunal claims arising from dismissals. Mike Patterson’s highlights included advising California-based Impex Fitness, a supplier of home fitness equipment, on the employment aspects of a key acquisition forming part of the client’s international expansion strategy. He also acted for the managing director of Platinum Financial Planning in a review and update of the client’s existing employment contracts, policies and procedures to ensure compliance with current legislation and business needs, and advised Berwin & Berwin on the dismissal of a store manager on the grounds of misconduct and poor performance.

Langleys Solicitors LLP’s practice is headed by Mini Setty, a diversity and equality specialist who acts for clients from a range of sectors, including transport, retail, financial services and education. The firm handles a variety of contentious and non-contentious employment issues, and is focusing on strengthening its business immigration expertise. Tribunal work continues to be a key area of activity, as does assisting employers on issues arising from breaches of restrictive covenants.

Schofield Sweeney’s employment practice handles a range of contentious issues, including Employment Tribunal matters, as well as providing HR and employment law support to commercial and education sector clients. Advice to schools and academies has been a growing trend; in 2016, practice head Simon Shepherd successfully defended an independent school in two separate matters before the Employment Tribunal: the first claim involved proceedings for constructive dismissal and allegations of breach of contract; and the second claim involved proceedings for unfair dismissal and disability after the claimant was made redundant following the closure of a club operated commercially by the school. Shepherd is ably assisted by Alex Clements, whose expertise covers public sector employment matters as well as advice to corporates. Her highlights included defending Williams Lea in a claim brought by a former employee involving 22 separate allegations of race discrimination. Other clients include JD Sports Fashion and Horton Housing Association. Bradford-based associate Gemma Sherbourne is also recommended.

Shulmans LLP’s expanding employment practice is led by Ian Dawson and includes Jim Wright, who joined in August 2015 from DWF. The firm, which has particular strengths in the road transport, education and financial services fields, handles a range of day-to-day HR matters for its clients, as well as contentious employment issues. Clients include Brewster Pratap Recruitment Group, which the firm assists with high-level departures and restrictive covenant disputes; and Finance and Credit Corporation Limited, which the firm advised on employment issues arising from the restructuring of its business, involving the exit of previous managers. Associate Tom Watkins has extensive experience in employment issues concerning educational institutions. Other highlights included acting for Audio Technica on performance issues regarding one of its managers, which involved potential race and discrimination claims.

Ben Daniel leads the employment practice at Weightmans, which has a strong focus on handling employment issues for its transport-sector clients, including FirstGroup and National Express. Daniel brings 20 years of experience in the heavily unionised transportation sector, handling industrial disputes and Employment Tribunals. He also has expertise in employment matters concerning local authorities and NHS trusts. In a key highlight, Daniel led the team advising Hoyer Petrolog UK on the outsourcing of BP’s fuel distribution to the client, which involved TUPE transfer issues. Associates Nick Newman and Susan Matthews are also recommended.

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