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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 > Yorkshire and the Humber > Public sector > Education > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Education
  2. Leading individuals

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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The cross-departmental education team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is considered 'excellent in all respects'. The team acted for the University of York on the development of a new college, which included variation to an existing partnership agreement, construction and property documentation as well as handling funding documents with the US parent company.  Praised for his 'thorough professional knowledge' and 'an outstanding quality of service' Ben Wood advised both Doncaster College and North Lindsey College on all aspects of their merger. Litigation partner Alison Oldfield is a key name to note and leads the dispute resolution team for clients across the education section. Chris Mordue joined from Pinsent Masons LLP, bringing extensive employment law experience in the higher education sector. Other changes to the team include James Fry's departure to join Mills & Reeve LLP, and the promotion of Mark Taylor and Ash Woodcock to partner,  Robert Gray to the role of legal director.

The 'always helpful and knowledgeable' education practice at DLA Piper UK LLP is comprised of specialists based in both the Sheffield and Leeds offices, who 'understand the business and provide pragmatic solutions'. The Leeds-based Andrew Clarke heads the team alongside Richard Taylor, who splits his time between the Sheffield and Birmingham offices. The practice is adept at advising clients across further and higher education in addition to acting for the Department for Education and the London Grid for Learning. The team advised Aston University on reviewing and drafting standard terms for the licensing of its IP. The 'very experienced' Roger Gough has particular expertise advising higher education clients on corporate and commercial transactions.

The education group at Irwin Mitchell Sheffield offers 'excellent service' with individuals based across Leeds and Sheffield who 'understand their clients’ needs' and respond with 'professionalism, and the willingness to find alternative solutions'. The practice represents a diverse range of clients in the further education, higher education and school sectors. Praised for his 'calm, responsive and considered approach', the 'excellent' Laurence Gavin heads the team and is leading advice to Telford College of Arts and Technology on its merger with New College Telford. This matter requires consideration of issues of governance and trustee duties, corporate arrangements, property and complex funding. In addition, the practice has significant experience acting for multi-academy trusts and was recently instructed by Maltby Learning Trust on the incorporation of St Thomas Wharton Academy into the trust. The team also works in partnership with the Association of Colleges in operating an employment helpline advising members on a range employment law matters.

The universities and higher education group at Pinsent Masons LLP handles a range of matters including regulatory issues, establishing campuses abroad, IT procurement and lending. Victoria Goddard heads up the practice which includes Julian Sladdin who specialises in litigation for university clients. The team was instructed by the University of Sussex on the £200m procurement of student accommodation. The team advised the same client on the procurement of IT integration services. In a high-profile representation, Sladdin led a team which successfully defended the University of Sheffield in a sensitive dispute relating to the removal from a course of a MA student following discriminatory comments posted on social media. Martin Priestley joined Mills & Reeve LLP.

Schofield Sweeney is highlighted for its 'excellent service' and 'value for money' acting for school and academies. Bradford-based +Helen Hirst heads the four-partner education and charities group spread across the firm's Bradford and Leeds offices. The practice is largely known for assisting clients on academy conversions. Andrew Hurst led a team instructed by Beckfoot Trust on the academy conversion of Priestthorpe Primary School and The Phoenix Special School into the trust. This required in-depth negotiations with Bradford Council of contractual and land issues, as well as procurement and TUPE advice in relation to a catering contract at one of the schools. The team also handles disputes, in addition to data protection, freedom of information, exclusion, commercial matters and procurement. Simon Shepherd, in the Leeds office, is recommended, particularly for employment law advice.

Highlighted for its 'depth of expertise in education', Stone King LLP is attracts praise for its 'extremely good response times' and 'outstanding level of service'. The 'totally exceptional' Graham Shaw heads the Leeds-based education practice which able to leverage the firm's national education sector group led by Roger Inman in Cambridge. The team is known for its representation of schools and multi-academy trusts and is additionally experienced acting for further education clients. Shaw led advice to Newcastle Bridges School on forming a new multi-academy trust and the academy conversions of Newcastle Bridges School and Linhope. This required extensive negotiations with the Department for Education on supplemental funding in relation to the Newcastle Bridges School alternative provision, special educational needs and hospital-based education aspects.

The education group at Walker Morris LLP is largely recognised for its experience representing clients in the further education sector as well as several universities. The practice is headed up by David Smedley and is instructed by Burnley College on its potential merger with Rossendale and Accrington College. In another work highlight, it is representing Leeds College of Building on construction, property and finance matters relating to its £13m development. Additionally, the practice has a growing cross-departmental schools team and advised several academies including multi-academy trusts on structures, education sector restrictions and legal requirements. The team also acted for a multi academy trust on employment matters including TUPE advice, contracts for teaching staff; a partnership agreement with the University of Hull; and an issue relating to the provider of transport services for students.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP's broad education practice acts for local authority schools, academies, independent schools, colleges and universities across a range of practice areas. Chris Billington heads up the group and led advice to James Montgomery Academy Trust on the complicated conversion of a voluntary aided church school joining the trust. This matter was complicated by complex property considerations. The team has also acted for schools establishing new multi academy trusts, including Five Rivers Multi Academy Trust which the firm assisting on conversion to academy status and relocation into a refurbished community centre. Other key names to note are Elizabeth Wilson and Tim Wrigley.

The education practice at Addleshaw Goddard in Yorkshire is led by Nancy McGuire and Michael O'Connor both based in Manchester. The practice has a strength advising on real estate construction projects and employment issues. Clients of the firm include several higher education institutions including University of Leeds Becketts, University of Lancaster and Glyndwr University. In addition, the team is able to leverage the firm's strong charity law department's expertise in acting for and forming school trusts.

The 'strong' education team at Lupton Fawcett spans across its Leeds, Sheffield and York offices. Michele Phillips, based in Sheffield, has particular expertise acting for academies and school and jointly heads the practice alongside York-based Jonathan Moore, who specialises in representation of further and higher education clients. The practice stands out for its 'good background knowledge and understanding of the uniqueness of church school needs', and is instructed by several diocesan boards of educations on academy conversions of Church of England schools. Clients also include the University of York and Bishop Burton College in addition to several grammar schools.

'Recognised as experts in the field of education law' Rollits LLP education team has been considered to be 'outstanding'. Tom Morrison  is highlighted for his 'education expertise and client relationship management' and heads up the team which includes individuals in Hull and York. The team has advised Exceed Academies Trust on the formation of several multi academy trusts, such as the Consortium Academy Trust on their formation and the conversion of schools joining the trusts. In another work highlight, acting for Leeds City College, the team negotiated with the Local Enterprise Partnership and a bank in arranging financing for a new campus. Demonstrating the practices national reach, it is also instructed by Southampton City College on the potential merger with Southampton Solent University. In higher education sector, clients include the University of Hull, York St John University and York University Students’ Union.

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