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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 > East Anglia > Human resources > Employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Employment
  2. Hall of Fame
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Birketts LLP’s ‘prompt, professional’ practice provides advice that is ‘always sound and commercially appropriate’. The firm has a large team that advises on all aspects of employment law across a diverse range of sectors such as agriculture, energy, education, charities, health and technology. It predominantly acts for employers, but also handles significant matters for senior managers and directors. Jeanette Wheeler in Norwich leads the national employment team and is ‘particularly helpful, always available and provides guidance that is always valuable and measured to help achieve the best outcomes’. Abigail Trencher leads the Cambridge team and Catherine Johnson (who ‘provides robust and balanced advice without losing sight of the commercial drivers’) leads the Ipswich team. Clients also praise partners Matthew Newnham (who is ‘a supportive adviserprofessional, pragmatic and sensible on HR issues’) and Tim Tyndall. Senior associate Tom Sharpe is ‘helpful and timely when giving advice’ and associate Sam Greenhalgh is ‘pragmatic and responsive’. Matthew Potter joined Howes Percival LLP. In a key mandate, the team acted for longstanding client Just East on the exit of senior board members, including the company’s CFO. The firm also advised Royal Hospital School on a review of its teaching contracts and a complex tribunal claim.

Cambridge Employment Law LLP’s clients single out the leading employment law boutique for its ‘niche focus on employment law and the experience of its partners’. The practice, which has grown significantly since it was formed in 2010 by the ‘personable and deeply knowledgeable’ Oliver Pryke, advises a wide range of technology, biotech and pharmaceutical clients; high-growth start-ups; Cambridge colleges; charities; and senior employees. Among its leading lights are Mandy Lyne, Eleanor Freeman and Julie Pryke. Highlights included Freeman’s advice to an individual taking part in a team move that was aggressively challenged by the ex-employer, who took out High Court injunction proceedings against the client. The case involved disputing the enforceability of covenants and challenging the evidence of alleged breach of contract, and was ultimately settled without litigation in a consent order that allowed the defendants to set up their own business. The firm also handled tribunal claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination and unpaid bonuses; represented a senior executive of a multinational company in breach of contract and disability discrimination claims; and advised a professional services company on the dismissal of a senior board member.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP attracts praise for its global footprint, which gives it the capacity to handle national and international work, a unique quality among firms in the region. Simon Tytherleigh in Cambridge leads the team and specialises in restructuring, executive severances and employment tribunal litigation. As an employment tribunal advocate he has appeared in numerous complex cases including multiple claimant discrimination, holiday pay and whistleblowing claims. Other standout figures include experienced partners Elizabeth Graves, who focuses on cross-border employment matters; Matthew Kelly, who specialises in advising clients in the further and higher education sectors; Geoffrey Mead, who acts for college and university clients; and German-qualified Constanze Moorhouse, who leads the firm’s international employment counsel team and regularly manages multi-jurisdictional HR projects. Moorhouse advised Zipcar International on the outsourcing of its member services team to a third party provider, which involved employment law advice on the commercial agreement and the handling of TUPE matters relating to the proposed move of services out of the UK. She also acted alongside senior associate Sasha Willmott for Intercontinental Exchange on employment aspects of the potential acquisition of a multinational business from McGraw-Hill Financial. Graves’s highlights included acting for cloud services provider Carbonite Inc. in employment matters arising from its $14m acquisition of the European assets of EVault. Kelly advised Barnet and Southgate College on its proposed merger with two other colleges. The employment law team’s other clients include Intercontinental Exchange, ARM Holdings and Nuffield Health.

Greenwoods Solicitors LLP is ‘a valued business partner and has an experienced team that understands all the intricacies of employment law’. The team spans the firm’s three offices including London and Cambridge, but its epicentre is in Peterborough where it has two experienced partners in John Macaulay and Robert Dillarstone. Macaulay leads the employment and employee benefits team and has extensive experience in complex corporate restructurings and trade union negotiations. Dillarstone is the firm’s managing director but still works on the front line as a fee earner in the employment team. He is well versed in all aspects of the law and has a strong track record in cases before the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. The team has real strength in depth thanks to associates such as Keith Williams, who assists employers with tribunal litigation, and associate Joanna Scally in Cambridge, whose tribunal claims experience covers a range of issues from unfair dismissal to discrimination. In 2016, Scally and senior solicitor Siobhan Thomson acted for Bedford Borough Council in relation to a proposed redundancy scheme affecting more than 20 peripatetic music employees. The firm’s growing list of clients includes Churchill College, Barnardo’s, Taylor Wimpey UK, Bauer Consumer Media and Total Produce Group.

Mills & Reeve LLP is ‘extremely fast to respond and has a broad depth of knowledge and specialisms that ensures value for money is good’. Five of the firm’s ten employment partners are based at its Cambridge and Norwich offices. As a result, department head David Mills oversees one of the region’s largest teams, which handles complex employment matters for clients in the commercial, education and healthcare sectors, including many that have cross-border issues. Veteran employment lawyer Ian Mather is head of the Cambridge office where ‘professional and responsive’ education specialist Nicola Brown and health-sector expert Stuart Craig are also recommended. In Norwich, clients recommend the ‘clear and measuredJames Kidd as ‘straight-talking and very clear on the advice he gives’; associate Rebecca Cockerill (who ‘has great customer focus – you really feel she is part of your team’); and principal associate Alex Russell (who is ‘very responsive, competent and has a sensible and pragmatic approach’). The firm’s highlights included advising Redgate Software on a major business reorganisation, which resulted in collective redundancy proposals; providing employment guidance to insureds through a collaboration with insurer AIG Europe; and helping Lotus Cars Limited to update its contracts and benefits scheme for 900 employees.

One of the most prominent firms in labour and employment matters in the UK’, Taylor Vintersalways impresses with the way it can handle highly complex projects, particularly in the context of cross-border transactions’. Clients also single out ‘the client-oriented approach and the flexibility of its advice. The firm has a strong client base of high-growth companies and established multinationals. Team leader Roger James, who works between the firm’s offices in London and Cambridge, is ‘an outstanding practitioner who can handle cross-border matters involving many jurisdictions in a very efficient way’. Christine Berry’s practice covers both charities and employment law; she works closely with executive boards, bursars, trustees and governing bodies in handling strategic, operational and HR issues. Senior associate Rachel Ashwood has extensive experience in cross-border matters. The firm’s highlights in 2016 included advising Independent Print Media on the closure of the print version of the Independent newspaper, which involved collective consultation with the National Union of Journalists; and acting for International Flavours and Fragrances on the relocation of production lines from the UK to the Netherlands.

Ashtons Legalhas a strong reputation for employment disputes but has grown its ability to handle advisory work’. Ross Strowger leads the team from the firm’s Norwich office. His recent work includes several successful enforcements and defences of post-termination restrictive covenants as well as complex discrimination and whistleblowing cases in regulated professions and the education sector. Partner Claire Sleep in Cambridge has a broad practice that includes broad range of HR advisory work and assisting with the employment aspects of company sales and reorganisations. Solicitors Colin Makin and Abigail Adams in Ipswich are also recommended. The team recently advised a client in the education sector on matters of performance management, sickness absence, disciplinary issues, post-termination grievances and holiday pay queries regarding its teaching staff.

Buckles Solicitors LLP has a lean team that punches above its weight and advises key clients in the Cambridge and Peterborough area including Stobbs (IP) Limited, Peterborough City Council and Ideal Shopping Direct. Giles Betts has built an enviable reputation in the region over 20 years. He is supported by senior solicitors Katharine Holliday and new arrival from Hunt & Coombs LLPNicola Cockerill. The firm acts for a growing number of overseas clients and UK companies with European interests through its alliance with CastaldiPartners, which has offices in Paris and Milan. The firm’s highlights include advising a data management company on redundancies and terminations; assisting a financial services business with the restructuring of its executive team; and working with its Italian lawyers to advise on employment issues arising from an Italian company’s purchase of shares in a UK enterprise.

Clients of Ellisons Solicitors praise the ‘incredibly good responses’ and single out lead partner Julian Outen for ‘the quality of his advice and the ability to ensure that any potential issues are pre-empted’; ‘he has great communication skills and credibility among senior HR professional in East Anglia’. Outen heads the team in Suffolk and can draw on resource from the firm’s offices in Essex. He continues to grow the client base of the Ipswich office and advises companies such as P&O Ferrymasters, The Advance Trade Union and Essex Wildlife Trust. He is supported by solicitor Samantha Cass. Recent highlights include advising a new client on TUPE issues arising from a major new contract with an international manufacturing giant; and negotiating a favourable settlement for an employee who was manoeuvred out of his position by new management.

Gotelee Solicitors is praised for the ‘quick and detailed response to questions and very knowledgeable team’, which handles a steady flow of heavyweight and high-quality advisory work and litigation. Part-time tribunal judge Brian Morron and Andrew West jointly lead one of the most experienced teams in Suffolk. Clients describe them and fellow partner Marie Allen as being ‘very approachable and providing sound business advice’. Morron and West stand out for their tribunal work, while Allen is sought after for her advice to corporate employers. The firm’s many highlights in 2016 included advising a nationally known Suffolk employer on business reorganisation and redundancies; acting for a construction industry client in a complex whistleblowing and disability discrimination grievance; and assisting a logistics client with a disability discrimination, breach of contract and unlawful deduction of wages grievance.

Hegarty LLP in Peterborough may only have a small team but it has a vast amount of experience at senior level. Tribunal judge Martin Bloom leads a team that includes 30-year veteran employment specialist and respected advocate Tim Thompson. Bloom’s client list includes United Learning, which is a large national employer running 55 schools. He also advises Caterpillar (UK) Ltd and Ikea Distribution Services. Thomson counts among his clients Warners (Midlands) plc and support services company Emprise Services plc, which has more than 6,500 employees. The firm brought a successful claim for an employee of a company in the construction industry that alleged constructive unfair dismissal. A significant sum was awarded in compensation after a three-day hearing.

Hewitsons has two key employment partners in the Cambridge office: Valerie Lambert specialises in High Court litigation, in particular restrictive covenant and confidential information disputes, though she also acts in employment tribunal claims and non-contentious matters; and Elizabeth Swinburn has a particular interest in business reorganisations and discrimination claims. Lambert’s highlights included acting for Avionicare Limited on TUPE transfer matters in light of the termination of a services contract. Lambert enabled her client to work with the transferee and factor in the TUPE obligations as part of the demobilisation process. Swinburn’s cases included defending a company against multiple claims including sexual harassment and bullying brought by a disgruntled employee. The firm also counts Hill International (UK) Limited, VKR Group and Wellingborough School among its clients.

The growing team at Howes Percival LLP is ‘excellent – very efficient, detailed and able to work collaboratively with clients’. Matthew Potter, who joined the Cambridge office from Birketts LLP, is ‘incredibly user-friendly, informative and able to provide clear, concise and good-quality advice no matter what the situation’. He regularly advises UK and overseas employers on both contentious and non-contentious issues and handles TUPE matters in the public and private sectors. In Norwich, associates Nicola Butterworth (who is ‘knowledgeable and shows great attention to detail; her responses are prompt and efficient’) and Nick Benton are recommended. Butterworth has a wealth of experience advising clients in diverse sectors such as leisure, tourism, business recovery and education. In one recent highlight the team advised a school on the employment aspects of a merger, which necessitated a TUPE process and redeployment of staff.

Leathes Priortreats every client and every problem individually and takes the time to listen and learn about each client in order to give relevant, practical and correct advice’. The firm has a diverse client base in Norfolk that includes SMEs and national employers, as well as employees. Dan Chapman has a stellar reputation in the county and leads a team of four in which associate and ‘extremely able advocate’ Gareth Stevens is ‘particularly good at making clients feel at ease and coming up with solutions they can understand and move forward with’. Associate Sarah Appleton and solicitor Harriet Howes are also recommended. The firm is a key adviser to nationwide employer the British Horseracing Authority and recently assisted it with senior exits and employment tribunal matters. Other highlights included acting for TaxAssist Accountants, which uses the firm’s Employmentor service to provide employment advice across its network of 220 franchisees.

Penningtons Manches LLP is ‘a class above most other firms and its team works well together across the country to share knowledge’. The team in Cambridge focuses largely on the life sciences, clean-tech, charities and education sectors. It advises many listed companies, entrepreneurs, universities, colleges, not-for-profit entities and high-net-worth individuals. Clients note that it ‘helps manage risk in a way that does not curtail commercial operations’. Team head Hilary Aldredcuts through the noise very quickly and focuses on what is relevant; she has earned the trust and respect of clients with her pragmatic approach’. Aldred and ‘clear and decisive’ senior associate Sophie Whitbread ‘always respond on time and make employers feel as if they are part of an in-house team’. Clients also praise Whitbread’s ‘extremely clear, articulate and balanced advice’. The firm is a key adviser to global life sciences company Abcam on employment matters. Other highlights included assisting Florida State University with a review of its staffing for the delivery of courses in the UK.

Clients are ‘extremely pleased with the service levels’ at Prettys, which has ‘a very strong employment offering’. They remark that ‘response times are excellent and the lawyers fully understand employers’ needs, giving invaluable commercial advice that is always appropriate; the team can break down the jargon and talk in real terms.’ Ipswich acts as the epicentre of the employment team, which acts for FTSE companies including a global insurance company, brewery company Greene King, public sector healthcare institutions such as Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, and well-known entities such as Konica Minolta and the Kennel Club. The ‘extremely approachable, helpful and knowledgeableKelly Sayersexplains the issues in layman’s terms and always responds quickly’; clients describe her as ‘dynamic and not afraid to think outside the box’. Matthew Coleprovides excellent support, guiding clients through to a successful conclusion’. Clients of Cole, solicitor Zoë Parker and legal executive Sheilah Cummins single them out as ‘top-shelf lawyers who provide advice that is practical yet thorough, cutting through the complexities of any given fact pattern to identify the underlying issues’.

The ‘utterly professional, always prompt and good-value’ team at Steeles Law has a strong employer client base not only in the food sector, where it acts for companies such as Premier Foods and Hovis Limited, but also in diverse industries such as media and automotive. Optimise Media Group Limited and Robinsons Motor Groups are longstanding clients. Former barrister and HR manager Oliver Brabbins is ‘extremely capable on all employment law issues and is very willing to assist clients by offering an effective plan of action’. Brabbins and newly promoted associate Robert Hickford ‘have knowledge and expertise that is first class’. The team recently assisted Crown Chicken Limited with due diligence issues arising from its £45m sale to a national plc, which included the exit of senior executives. It also advised Premier Foods on a nationwide review of its employment contracts and policies.

Blocks is ‘very strong in employment law and has a very highly rated practitioner’ in partner Frances Barker, who leads on employment matters and handles contentious and non-contentious work for SME employers as well as employees. She garners praise for her ‘care, skill and wisdom in guiding clients through difficulties’. In 2016, she advised on a complex TUPE matter for a public sector service provider; acted for two employees in a TUPE and unfair dismissal case against seven employers, in which she obtained a high-value settlement at tribunal; and assisted an employer with the management of a dismissal for gross misconduct that raised the risk of sexual harassment claims from a third party.

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors provides ‘invaluable help both professionally and emotionally’. The team consists of ‘very helpful’ consulting barrister Neil Ashley (who ‘has extensive knowledge of employment briefs and makes sure clients are informed at every stage’), litigator Mark Kermez (whose ‘industry knowledge is strong and communication is excellent’), ‘organised and professional’ paralegal Natalie Smith, and legal executive Nicola Strefford, who joined from Norfolk City Council. The firm’s recent highlights include defending a leisure sector chain against a claim for unfair dismissal, whistleblowing and disability discrimination; and representing a claimant in an unfair dismissal and age discrimination claim against an employer in the education sector.

Greene & Greene is ‘second to none for client service’, and attracts praise for combining ‘exemplary knowledge with the ability to explain technical issues in layman’s terms’. The firm acts for a broad range of employer clients, including those in the pharmaceutical, software, manufacturing, haulage and insurance industries. It also advises individuals on workplace disputes, settlement agreements and severance packages. Selene Holden stands out for her ‘empathy, understanding and professionalism’ and clients praise her ‘ability to explain everything clearly in a professional yet personable way, leaving us confident in her judgement’. Solicitor Greg Jones, who joined from Birketts LLP in Ipswich, is ‘accessible, responsive and gives clear advice; he takes the time to understand the full situation’. Employment barrister Angharad Ellis Owen brings strong advocacy skills to the team. The firm advised Nexus Underwriting Management Limited on employment due diligence for the acquisition of Hong Kong-based Beacon Underwriters.

Established in 2001, Quantrills Solicitors is a specialist employment boutique in Ipswich that has built a strong reputation for the skill of its lawyers and its innovative services. It also provides a subscription-based service giving employer clients access to legal advice on the full range of employment and HR issues, including contentious matters. The firm’s two partners Simon Quantrill and Julie Temple have extensive experience in all aspects of employment law, most notably in tribunals and other litigation. The firm’s recent cases include acting for a company on a sex discrimination claim that was ultimately withdrawn without any compensation being paid; acting for a City-based financial firm in the enforcement of restrictive covenants against three former employees; and assisting a coach and taxi firm with clarification of the self-employed status of its drivers.

Woodfines LLP is ‘always efficient and has a keen eye on balancing costs’. The team, led by employment specialist and senior associate Nick Sayer, acts for employers and executives on the full spectrum of employment issues and counts local SMEs, national and international businesses among its clients. The firm’s main industry focus is in road transport, where it advises many operators, but it also advises clients in sectors such as recruitment, manufacturing and software solutions. Geodis UK Limited, Saffron Building Society and Silverbug are clients. In 2016, Sayer advised an employer on the defence of holiday pay test cases brought by union members, and defended a different employer against an unfair dismissal claim related to health and safety issues. Corporate partner Stephen Oliver is also recommended.

Fraser Dawbarns attracts praise for its ‘extremely comprehensive employment law expertise’. Clients say of Neil John in the Wisbech office that ‘his breadth of knowledge and the style in which advice is given are reassuring features in some of the most difficult times employees face, as is his flexibility in ensuring that priority is given to casework’. The team, which also has a full time employment solicitor in Kim Hurley, acts for a diverse range of local and national employers.

Rogers and Norton is a respected provider of employment law advice to the local business community around Norwich. Last year, the firm handled a wide variety of claims for unfair dismissal, almost exclusively on behalf of employers, with an increasing emphasis on age discrimination issues. It is currently working on a significant holiday pay claim involving one of Norfolk’s largest employers. Consultant Phil Kerridge leads the team. Legal executive Sally Andrews, who joined from Hayes + Storr Solicitors and Notaries, brings 19 years’ experience in employment law.

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Legal Developments in East Anglia for Employment

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