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Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Work 0845 497 97 97
Fax 0845 497 8888

Helen Cairns

Work +44 161 831 8291
Eversheds Sutherland

Work Department

Helen is a principal associate in company commercial and a key member of the education sector group. Helen works with Glynne Stanfield in leading the national company commercial education team and works closely with Diane Gilhooley as head of sector.

Helen has considerable experience in providing commercial advice to the education sector (to universities and higher education institutions, further education colleges and academies), having acted solely for education clients since her qualification. Helen advises on all types of commercial work, from general contracting matters to advising higher and further education institutions on mergers and collaborative working.

Helen, together with Ben Wood, has responsibility for leading the national cross departmental academy team. Helen has lead on over 50 converter academy conversions, including acting for numerous multi academy trusts, sponsored academies and University Technical Colleges, working closely with project managers such as PKF and Mouchel. She has close links with the Department for Education.

Helen is also an governance and constitutional expert and is currently advising colleges and speaking at national conferences in respect of the changes to the further education sector following the Education Act 2011. She has written articles on governance for publication and is an editor of Purposive Governance: An Annotated Office Copy of the Instrument and Articles of Government of Further Education Corporations.

Helen regularly leads seminars and speaks at external events. Recently she has hosted and spoken at a national academy seminar programme and has spoken at the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. She has also hosted a series of national risk management seminars for academies in conjunction with PKF.


Principal Associate

London: Public sector

Education: schools

Within: Education: schools

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's team provides 'good response times and quality advice'. Its clients span schools, academies, technical colleges, academy trusts, local authorities and independent schools. Recent work includes advising Reigate College on its conversion to an academy, which involved assisting the college with pension, corporate and HR matters, as well as education law. The team also continues to assist ACS International Schools with an array of matters ranging from construction to IP, charity law and governance. The well-respected Diane Gilhooley  heads the practice; Ben Wood advises on employment and governance matters; and Helen Cairns has long-standing experience of working with academies and 'impresses with her industry knowledge'.

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North West: Public sector


Within: Education

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP   has the ‘necessary resources to be able to provide a very good service and expert advice’. Diane Gilhooley  ‘leads an excellent team’ that includes principal associate Robert Gray  and associate Corrine Sobers . Gilhooley is ‘quick to respond and has a tremendous amount of professional expertise and a great attention to detail’. The ‘personable and approachable’ Helen Cairns ‘explains complicated matters clearly and exudes a professional calm and certainty which is very reassuring’. Cairns’ academy client base includes private and public sponsor organisations, single academy trusts, multi-academy trusts, free schools, studio schools, sixth form colleges and UTCs. The large education team advises HEs, FEs, schools, academies and private education institutions. Key clients include the University of Bradford, Trafford College, Liverpool John Moores University and the Universities and Colleges Employers Associate (UCEA). The team is advising two further education colleges on their proposed ‘model B’ merger. The advice includes conducting a full due diligence exercise on behalf of the continuing college and advising both the continuing college and the dissolving colleges on a range of merger-related issues.

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