Hall Of Fame

Public sector in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP  has a multi-disciplinary team that acts for a diverse range of clients in the health and education sectors. 'The employment team is always available to support and give advice and are very knowledgeable', remarks one client. Head of public sector and local government Ruth Neave works across all five of the firm's offices, calling upon the expertise of head of education Abigail Trencher in Cambridge and head of health Matthew Newnham in Norwich. Charities partner Liz Brownsell  in Ipswich takes the lead on matters concerning academies. Trencher and legal director Tom Sharpe in Norwich are 'very helpful and their advice is always sound'. Corporate partner Ed Savory, also based in Norwich, advised South Norfolk Council on a joint venture arrangement with five other local authorities in Norfolk and Anglian Water.

Practice head(s):

Ruth Neave; Abigail Trencher; Matthew Newnham

Other key lawyers:

Liz Brownsell; Tom Sharpe


‘The employment team are always available to support and give advice and are very knowledgeable about us.’

‘Their knowledge, and the availability of the individuals I work with, are key benefits to managing our casework. In particular Tom Sharpe (Norwich) and Abigail Trencher (Cambridge) are very helpful and their advice is always sound.’

Key clients

South Norfolk Council

Breckland Council

The Broads Authority

King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Council

East Suffolk Council

Babergh District Council

Mid Suffolk District Council

Cambridgeshire County Council

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Trust

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust

East Coast Community Healthcare

East Anglian Air Ambulance

Teaching Regulation Agency

CIFCO Capital Limited

Diamond Learning Trust

Anglia Ruskin University

Sapientia Education Trust

Big Sky Living

Trinity Hall, Cambridge

College of West Anglia

Boudica Schools Trust

Lewisham Council

Newham Council

Seven Arches Investment Limited

West Suffolk College

Mills & Reeve LLP

Notably capable in both education and health sector work, Mills & Reeve LLP provides ‘expert advice in a timely way‘. Gary Attle in Cambridge, who is known for his ‘calm expertise and excellent focus on the relevant issues‘, is joint head of the education and research sector group, working with partners in Leeds, while the health and care sector group is led from Birmingham. Attle advises numerous universities on contentious and governance issues. Partner Richard Noble and principal associate Kimbra Weston, both based in Cambridge, are key advisers to education and charity clients on property matters and are ‘always available and willing to discuss any issue with great expertise‘. Health and care M&A specialist Natalie Wade in Norwich and, in Cambridge, employment partner Nicola Brown and principal associate Poppy Short also play pivotal roles in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Gary Attle

Other key lawyers:

Richard Noble; Nicola Brown; Natalie Wade; Poppy Short; Kimbra Weston; Emma Tuck; Kate Allan


‘The practice is excellent – always respond to requests for advice very quickly, however obscure and hurried these may be. We are always confident that we will get expert advice in a timely way, and that all members of the team that we deal with have a good understanding of the higher education sector.’

‘Gary Attle always responds to our ad hoc and urgent requests promptly, providing his calm expertise and excellent focus on the relevant issues for a higher education institution. Kate Allan and Emma Tuck have provided prompt and expert advice for a number of challenging issues in recent years.’

‘M&R has a full service team which means they can offer advice in all areas required.’

‘We work together as professionals but also as friends which is vitally important. Richard Noble and Kimbra Weston are always available and willing to discuss any issue with great expertise.’

Key clients

Academies Enterprise Trust

Anglia Ruskin University Higher Education Corporation

Arden University Limited

Birmingham City University

Bolton College

Bournemouth University

British Council

Buckingham New University

Cardiff University

Christ Church, Oxford University

Christ’s Hospital

Coventry University

Cranfield University

Dragon School Trust Limited

Exeter College Oxford

Francis Crick Institute Ltd

Harrow School

King’s College London

Linacre College Oxford

London Business School

LTE Group

Manchester Metropolitan University

Merton College Oxford

Nottingham Trent University

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford University Endowment Management

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Queen Mary University of London

Royal Veterinary College

Sheffield Hallam University

Solent University

St Dunstan’s Educational Foundation

St Edmund Hall Oxford

St John’s College, Oxford

St John’s College

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

The United Westminster and Grey Coat Foundation

The University of Birmingham

The University of Northampton

The University of Nottingham

TOF Corporate Trustee Limited as Trustee of The Oxford Funds

Trinity College, Cambridge

University of Cambridge

University of Bath

University of Bedfordshire

University of Derby

University of East Anglia

University of Exeter

University of Hertfordshire

University of Huddersfield

University of Hull

University of Kent

University of Lancaster

University of Liverpool

University of London

University of Manchester

University of Oxford

University of Salford

University of Southampton

University of Surrey

University of Worcester

University of York

Wellcome Sanger Institute

West Thames College

University of York

North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust


Vita Health

NHS England

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust

NHS Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Integrated Care Board

Health Education England

NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care


Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

NHS Property Services

East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Shaw Healthcare (Northants)

Sussex Health Care

Operose Health

Elysium Healthcare

Department of Health and Social Care

UK Health Security Agency

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

Supply Chain Coordination Limited

NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Integrated Care Board

NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board

NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board

NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board

NHS Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board

Supply Chain Coordination Limited

Cygnet Health Care

Work highlights

  • Advising UK universities on a range of significant contentious and governance issues.
  • Supporting the UK Health Security Agency as one of the Core Participants in the UK Covid-19 Inquiry.
  • Advised the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the development of the new Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital, a new world-class hospital, to be built at the current Addenbrooke’s site.

Greenwoods Legal

The education sector group at Greenwoods Legal supports clients with a diverse range of issues, ranging from corporate and governance matter, HR and immigration, property deals and regulatory matters. Clients are 'incredibly impressed with the attentiveness to detail and the availability of the team'. Head of the Cambridge employment team Joanna Scally leads the education practice, working closely with senior associate and employment specialist Siobhan Thomson. Senior associate Claire Banks in Peterborough is 'knowledgeable, helpful and great to work with' on corporate matters.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Scally

Other key lawyers:

Siobhan Thomson; Claire Banks


‘The team understood our area – public sector – they were helpful to us as novices and explained the terminology clearly. They were collaborative and responsive even if we took time to return or review documents.’

‘Claire Banks was great to work with. She was knowledgeable and helpful in all our dealings.’

‘We were incredibly impressed with the attentiveness to detail and the availability of the team. It was also impressive as they were able to work with several queries and help us quickly by utilising their own internal networks.’

‘Responsive times were really helpful and built confidence. This made the work we did with Greenwoods efficient and reduced stress on our side considerably.’

Key clients

Christ’s College

Bedford Borough Council

Churchill College

Jesus College

Clare College


Work highlights

  • Successfully defended a Tribunal claim by a teacher who was dismissed for long-term sickness absence in a local authority-maintained school and brought claims of unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and breach of contract.
  • Supported Churchill College following a student complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for disability discrimination.
  • Advised Cambridge Colleges and other education institutions on the implications of holiday pay for part-year workers following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Harpur Trust v Brazel.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP's education, health, social housing and government group brings together experts in corporate, employment, insolvency, property, construction, commercial contracts and data protection. It is 'knowledgeable, well run and proactive', according to clients. Land development partner Michaela Henson in Cambridge and insolvency expert Morris Peacock in Norwich oversee the practice, which includes Norwich-based corporate partner Oliver Pritchard. Peacock acted for the The Insolvency Service/Secretary of State for Business, Energy And Industrial Strategy in potential director disqualification proceedings arising out of the failure of Bell Pottinger LLP. Emerging partner talent Nicola Curle in Norwich is a key adviser on surplus land disposals, enabling developments and student accommodation projects. Planning specialist Jamie Childs provides 'timely and usually very swift responses'.

Practice head(s):

Michaela Henson; Morris Peacock

Other key lawyers:

Oliver Pritchard; Nicola Curle; Jamie Childs


‘Jamie Childs is knowledgeable, good at describing legal matters in plain English, adaptive to innovative and new arrangements. Timely and usually very swift responses. A great team worker.’

‘The team is knowledgeable, well run and proactive.’

‘Jamie Childs is an impressive lawyer: knowledgeable, pragmatic, on the ball, true to his word. He gave us good advice and we all had confidence in him.’

Key clients

Anchor Care Homes Limited

Anchor Hanover Group

Braintree District Council

Breckland Alliance / Breckland Surgeries Limited

Cambridge University Endowment Fund

Enterprise Retirement Living

E-Surgery / Total Access Health

Girton College, Cambridge

Norfolk & Norwich Association for the Blind

Norse Care Limited

Norwich University of the Arts

South Holland District Council

South Norfolk Healthcare C.I.C

Suffolk County Council

University of Cambridge

East and Central Brighton Primary Care Network (PCN)

BHR Pharmaceuticals

Work highlights

  • Regularly instructed by South Holland District Council to provide a range of specialist planning law support on applications, appeals and enforcement matters which South Holland are dealing with.
  • Advising Braintree District Council for a number of years in respect of its acquisition and commercial development of land at Great Notley known as “Horizon 120”.

JG Poole & Co. LLP

JG Poole & Co. LLP in Ely is a specialist higher education firm that provides 'thoughtful and considered advice, and excels in problem solving'. The firm is 'fundamentally geared toward being able to provide high-quality, commercial legal advice, at a price point that is accessible to public sector clients'. Practice head Jason Poole and finance partner Helen Bolton 'have exceptional understanding of complex commercial matters and brilliant at stress-testing client strategies to ensure optimum way-forward'. Up-and-coming partner Katherine Souter, who is a qualified NEC3 project manager with ECC Project Manager Accreditation, is highly experienced in construction matters and 'takes a solution-focussed approach to all of her advice'.

Practice head(s):

Jason Poole

Other key lawyers:

Helen Bolton; Katherine Souter


‘The team excels in problem solving and identifying ways to accomplish their client’s aims. Thoughtful and considered advice.’

‘Jason Poole and Helen Bolton have exceptional understanding of complex commercial matters and brilliant at stress-testing client strategies to ensure optimum way forward.’

‘I use JG Poole & Co for contract advice on FM services. The team exhibits a high level of knowledge, not only on the legal issues, but also on how the contract will work operationally, adapting their advice accordingly to achieve the best outcomes for their clients. They have a habit of raising important issues that we have not considered but are key in the running of any individual contract.’

Key clients

Harper Adams University

Belmont School

Epsom College

University of York

University of East Anglia

London Metropolitan University

University of Hertfordshire

University of Essex

Canterbury Christ Church University

University of Cambridge

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The Cambridge office of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP has 'an incredibly hardworking team, creative with their legal arguments and unflappable under pressure'. Regarded as one of the leading practices for employment matters in the education sector, it has a 'pragmatic and succinct approach'. Lead partner and employment specialist Hilary Aldred, who is co-head of the firm's national education practice, is 'the go-to solicitor on the intersection between public sector work, employment law, and education law'. Managing associate Sophie Whitbread, who acts for education institutions and charities,  is 'a rising star, hardworking with terrific judgement'.

Practice head(s):

Hilary Aldred

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Whitbread


‘An incredibly hard-working team, creative with their legal arguments and unflappable under pressure. They are one of the top firms working in public sector work.’

‘Hilary Aldred is the go-to solicitor on the intersection between public sector work, employment law, and education law. She knows everything there is to know in this area. Sophie Whitbread – a rising star. Hardworking with terrific judgement.’

‘Excellent quality of legal advice. Pragmatic and succinct approach, which keeps the firm excellent value for money.’

‘Sophie Whitbread – very logical, succinct and pragmatic advice. Very calm and clear with the internal client. Excellent value for money.’

Key clients

Christ Church, Oxford

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

Jesus College, Oxford

Green Templeton College, Oxford

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Pembroke College, Oxford

St Mary’s University, Twickenham

Florida State University

American Institute for Foreign Study

ICMP Management Limited

Unifrog Education Ltd

UCL Business

Work highlights

  • Day to day employment advice to Christ Church, Oxford in respect of academic and non-academic staff. This included advice on the settlement of the employment tribunal claims.
  • Acted for a higher education institution when they found themselves in the middle of a “Twitter storm” as a result of polarised views. This involved balancing freedom of expression and  free speech on campus against the need to protect staff for unlawful harassment.
  • Acting for Fitzwilliam College in defending a claim under the Equality Act brought by the campaign group Christian Concern.  This matter has been subject to press interest, involving the tension between the holding of religious beliefs and the need for an institution to protect its integrity and the health and safety of its students where those beliefs are at odds with the institution’s ethos.

SEN Legal

SEN Legal is a highly specialised boutique practice focused solely on special educational needs and disability work. Acting for a national client base, the firm is a key adviser to appellants in SEND Tribunal appeals, disability discrimination, judicial review, deputyships, social care, personal budgets, exclusions and admissions appeals. Practice head Haley Mason and key partner Melinda Nettleton in Bury St Edmunds are acknowledged experts in the needs of families with SEN children, and clients note that they have 'genuine passion for the best interests of the children and parents whom they represent'. 'Professional and compassionate' senior solicitor Nicole Lee in Cambridge is also recommended for her 'patient, kind and understanding' approach to cases and clients.

Practice head(s):

Haley Mason

Other key lawyers:

Melinda Nettleton; Nicole Lee; James Brown; Richard Nettleton; Idhren Drew


‘Every member of the team is an expert in the field and their expertise is combined with genuine passion for the best interests of the children and parents whom they represent.’

‘Hayley Mason – a star in the field. Melinda Nettleton – remains a force to be contended with. Nicole Lee, Richard Nettleton and James Brown are all highly recommended.’

‘The team is always approachable, friendly and professional. The billing is timely and clear and regular, very important for bills that can become quite large over time. The support through a complicated and stressful process has been appropriate and very welcome.’

‘Special educational needs issues tend to be very emotive – our case was always handled with complete care and understanding of what was a very difficult and stressful time for us as parents of an autistic child.’

‘We have always found that SEN Legal have been so supportive to us and they understand what we need and what our young person needs to have a good life and to get the right provision. Nicole Lee has been absolutely fabulous with us, she keeps in contact with us and lets us know what we need to do, what the rules are, and I know we can call her at any time and she will take the time to talk to us.’

‘Hayley Mason has dealt with my son’s case for many years and she has been excellent every step of the way. She always takes the time to explain every situation clearly and is clearly compassionate whilst remaining professional. Her breadth and depth of knowledge is excellent as is her dedication. I have complete confidence in her abilities and determination to achieve the best outcome for my son.’

‘Haley Mason is wise beyond her years and an extremely capable solicitor. She works tirelessly for her clients, securing extremely good outcomes in the vast majority of her cases. Richard Nettleton has a keen eye for detail and is kind, empathetic and patient with all of his clients. He is a pleasure to work with. James Brown is an extremely hardworking individual who has a significant amount of experience in this field. He will go far in this profession.’

‘Hayley Mason: extremely professional, prompt and clear guidance and explanations. She has been very effective in holding the local authority to account for their responsibilities.’