Public sector in East Anglia

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The Cambridge office of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP plays a central role in the firm's national education sector group. It is a leading adviser to schools, academies, FE and HE colleges, and  private education institutions on employment, student matters, charity law, litigation, real estate, corporate and commercial, intellectual property, health and safety, constitutional issues and regulatory matters. Glynne Stanfield is head of international education and corporate governance. Clare Whitaker leads on property matters in the education sector, Matthew Kelly on employment law and Jon Baskerville on corporate transactions. Legal director Stephen O’Reilly and senior associate Martyn Robinson stand out for governance and compliance matters.

Practice head(s):

Glynne Stanfield; Clare Whitaker


The clear market leader in the education sector.

Glynne Stanfield is an outstanding sector lead and account manager. He brings creativity to knotty issues and follows this up with sound legal advice.

Key clients

National Oceanography Centre

Richmond, the American University in London

Portsmouth University

Reading University

Vanta Education

BPP University

University of Wales Trinity St David

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

ACS Schools

Bangor University


Brunel University London

Capital City Colleges Group

New City Colleges Group

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Hult Educatio

Global University Systems

Northeastern University

Work highlights

  • Advised University for the Creative Arts on a number of policies as well as a complex donations agreement.
  • Represented National Oceanography Centre in its spin out from UK Research & Innovation as an independent charity.
  • Represented UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in its spin out from UK Research & Innovation as an independent charity.

Mills & Reeve LLP

The East Anglian offices of Mills & Reeve LLP play central roles in the firm's national health and education practices. Multi-disciplinary teams combine to deliver a full-service offering to leading health sector clients including Bupa and NHS England, as well as education institutions such as the University of Cambridge and King's College London. Head of the national education sector group Gary Attle, head of projects and construction Raith Pickup, regulatory specialist Duncan Astill and Norwich-based healthcare and M&A specialist Natalie Wade are just a few of the prominent practitioners. Associate Poppy Short is a rising star in the education practice.

Practice head(s):

Gary Attle


‘The team is the market leader for all education financing. Their expertise covers both traditional bank financing and wider debt capital markets (private placement and public). The knowledge of the unique nature of these borrowers is second to none and their ability to be commercial is fantastic. They are a pleasure to work with and always contactable.’

‘Sarah Seed, is the by far the stand out professional in the space. Her practicality and commercialism makes it delightful to work with her.’

‘Outstanding knowledge of and insight into healthcare sector. The standout firm in the region (and elsewhere). Considerable experience of advising NHS clients on the handling of conduct and capability concerns affecting doctors and other professional staff. Substantial experience in litigation.’

Key clients

NHS England

Department of Health and Social Care

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust



Alliance Medical

Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust

University of East Anglia

University of Cambridge

Trinity College

University of Suffolk

St Edmund’s College, Cambridge

University of Exeter

King’s College London

Kingston University

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of Cambridge on the negotiation of land and funding arrangements for development of the new Cambridge Heart and Lung Research Institute (HLRI).
  • Represented the Ambulance Service at the Court of Appeal in a leading case which considered whether overtime pay needs to be included in the calculation of holiday pay.
  • Advising three Cambridge Colleges on a private placement of debt with an institutional investor.

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP is a prominent player in both the education and health sectors, providing a comprehensive range of services in the areas of regulation, litigation, employment, property, corporate transactions and commercial law. In Cambridge, Abigail Trencher leads the HE and FE practice, and senior associate Sara Sayer handles litigation including judicial reviews and state aid matters in the education sector. In Ipswich, legal director Sonya O’Reilly focuses on independent schools and senior associate Liz Brownsell in Ipswich leads the firm's academies and academy conversion group. Employment partner Matthew Newnham in Norwich also works extensively for public sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Abigail Trencher


I have worked with Sara Sayer and Justin Moore. They work very efficiently together as a team. Sara in particular goes the extra mile for clients and is always available. Her broad public law practice gives her a very good perspective and facilitates practical problem solving.

Birketts is a full-service practice able to assist with the wider legal issues which impact upon my organisation. My key relationship is via the employment team and despite the fact that different services take place from different offices, the signposting works well and the different teams are very responsive.

My main contacts are Sonya O’Reilly and Catherine Johnson. Apart from the quality of the advice provided, which is excellent, I find that they go the extra mile to respond to the needs of my organisation and that is valued.

They are very quick to respond and they have strong experience of schools and employment.

Schools advice from Sara Sayer is always spot on. Her availability, her wealth of experience and her careful cross-referencing with other colleagues’ expertise makes her hugely trustworthy.

I have found when using Birketts that they have been efficient. Any communication, by email or by phone call, is answered very quickly. They are great at answering questions by explaining the process in a way I and my team – people that are not solicitors – can understand. They set up a group communication online so it is easy to find information.

I have found Liz Brownsell to be fantastic to work with on the conversions of schools to academies. She is thorough, quick to respond, extremely helpful and very organised.

They have good subject matter knowledge and a professional approach but they add the personal touch.

They have a flexible approach and the ability to explain the legal issue in order to develop a solution.

The Birketts team understands the College and our circumstances. Their advice is far from off the shelf: they provide a bespoke service. The range of coverage they have is astonishing and their client handling is superlative.

Key clients

Diamond Learning Trust

Anglia Ruskin University

Ipswich School

Royal Hospital School

The Leys and St Faith’s Schools Foundation

College of West Anglia

Sapientia Education Trust

Hartpury College

Kelvedon Academy Trust

Believe Engage Succeed Trust

Apollo Academies Trust

Easton & Otley College

Rightforsuccess Trust

West Suffolk College

Basildon Borough Council

Broxbourne Borough Council

Work highlights

  • Represented Anglia Ruskin University in its acquisition of new gym premises to provide an important addition to facilities on its Chelmsford campus.
  • Advised Rightforsuccess Trust on fast-tracked academy conversions of two schools to join the Trust, the transfer of one academy to another Trust, and updating the articles of association of the Trust.
  • Represented West Suffolk College in its grant of a short-term lease to Suffolk Academies Trust at a passing all-inclusive rent of £500,000 per annum.

Greenwoods GRM

Greenwoods GRM, through its offices in Peterborough and Cambridge, has a four-partner, multi-disciplinary team that acts for 19 Cambridge colleges, numerous large independent schools and many Multi-Academy Trusts. It assists its education clients with safeguarding, corporate transactions, governance issues, HR, immigration law, property development, contracts and GDPR. Corporate partner David Woods leads the practice, with support from managing partner and employment specialist Robert Dillarstone. Partners Kelly Peck and Joanna Scally handled property and employment matters respectively for universities, independent schools and HE providers.

Practice head(s):

David Woods

Key clients

Peterhouse College

Wolfson College

Witham Hall School Trust

St Catharine’s College

Churchill College

JG Poole & Co. LLP

Based in Ely, JG Poole & Co. LLP is a specialist higher education boutique with a client base that reaches across the UK. Though it began with a focus on major projects and pure education law, the firm has expanded its offering to include litigation, construction, property and general commercial advice. Practice heads Jason Poole and Jan Harris each have more than 20 years' experience in this area of law. Helen Bolton focuses on banking and finance, particularly structured finance, while Katherine Souter leads on construction, procurement and state aid matters for the HE sector. Associate Jo Farrington is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jason Poole; Jan Harris


The team has an ability to directly relate to us as their clients and advise pragmatically and appropriately.

They have excellent interpersonal skills and are skilled professionals providing well thought through, appropriate and considered advice.

The firm has excellent knowledge and experience in the sector.

Jason Poole is very good. Katherine Souter is exceptional, proactive and personable.

The have a good understanding of the processes within the construction industry, which enables their advice to be reasoned and relevant. Good timely responses even when your direct contact is unavailable.

We find the team at JG Poole to be personable and extremely reactive with nothing being too much trouble or too menial for them.

Key clients

London Metropolitan University

University of Greenwich

University of Hertfordshire

Canterbury Christ Church University

Harper Adams University

Buckinghamshire New University

Glyndwr University

Colchester Institute

University of Brighton

Work highlights

  • Advising the private sector on a £55m student accommodation partnering project.
  • Advising a university client on the Student Loans Company GDPR terms and conditions for the processing of students’ personal data including administration of student finance and student bursary arrangement. Negotiating with the Student Loans Company on the nature of the parties’ relationship under GDPR.
  • Advising a university client on the raft of legal and regulatory issues relating to the hosting of a public database of genetic mutations signalling different types of cancer including intellectual property rights, licensing, trade mark use, assignment of copyright and privacy.

SEN Legal

SEN Legal in Bury St Edmunds is laser-focused on special educational needs and disability work, acting on behalf of parents to solve complex problems and to secure special provision for children and young persons up to the age of 25. 'The team is always helpful, responsive and well informed, and they have expert knowledge of the SEND sector,' remarks one client. Principal solicitor Melinda Nettleton and senior solicitor Haley Mason, who shows 'deep commitment to her clients and their families', are 'incredibly impressive, efficient and reassuring through quite a stressful process'. Associate Nicole Lee is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Melinda Nettleton; Hayley Mason

Other key lawyers:

Nicole Lee


The service we received from SEN Legal was always excellent. Nicole Lee handled our case. We found her availability by phone, explanations and reassurance all very helpful.

The team at SEN Legal is always helpful, responsive and well informed. They are clear in their communications and timeframes. They have expert knowledge of the SEND sector and I have always valued their advice and support.

I have worked a lot with Hayley Mason, and what makes her stand out is her deep commitment to her clients and their families. She genuinely cares about their cases. She is also very knowledgeable and supportive.

SEN Legal has been incredibly impressive, efficient and reassuring through quite a stressful process. I cannot fault them from the advice they have given so far, from their responsiveness in any given situation to the seamless communication – nothing seems to get lost or not done. I’m not sure how they do it. They have instilled utter confidence in us and even if the case doesn’t go our way, I am relaxed that I know we have done the best we could.

We appreciate their knowledge, expertise, confidence, efficiency, understanding and determination – generally their absolute advocacy on our behalf.

SEN Legal stands out from my experience with them in that they genuinely care about doing the best for their client and the child involved. The firm are supporting me in applying for an EHCP for my son and this has been a difficult and emotional experience and without the guidance of this legal firm I would not have achieved the goals I had for getting my son the support he needs. At all times their guidance has been clear and concise, their knowledge of the needs of children with special needs is superb. In addition, as they do not have a fixed-price structure, this has made it possible for me to save money on the total cost and also adjust the process as we go along according to the costs and my budget.

The solicitor who has been working in my case is Hayley Mason and she has been excellent in every part of my case. The advice she has given has led to the situation progressing more quickly and easily than at first anticipated. She is always more than happy to answer all my queries and no question I have asked has ever been ignored or treated as unimportant. Hayley has been sensitive to the emotional nature of this type of case and is absolutely 100% focused on getting the best for my son, which after battling for years to get what he needs is so refreshing.

Hayley Mason is also extremely efficient in processing things in a timely way, adhering to deadlines and chasing up reports and other professionals when needed. Hayley has been supported by Wendy Kitchin and Allys Kelsey, both of whom have also been very efficient and always communicated with me in a very sensitive, clear and timely manner.

SEN Legal has a very strong reputation in the field of SEN law, being a genuinely specialist firm. I understand that they are also developing a practice advising schools on how to ensure that local authorities comply with their SEN funding obligations, which is an important and growing area of work.

Hayley Mason is an outstanding SEN solicitor who goes to great lengths to help parents of children with SEN understand their rights.

Nicole Lee provides a very good level of service to her clients in cases which often involve young people with complex needs.

This is a small, flexible, highly specialist outfit with immense experience in dealing with cases involving special educational needs, including CFA 2014 appeals, disability discrimination, judicial review and COP work. Their clientele is made up of parents, young persons and schools. They are highly responsive, very efficient, extremely client-focused and absolutely dedicated to the best interests of the children and young people they represent.

Hayley Mason is an outstanding talent; highly intelligent, she knows this area of law back to front and no one fights their client’s corner harder.

Nicole Lee is highly knowledgeable, very hardworking, pragmatic and user-friendly.

Melinda Nettleton is a legend in the field.

James Brown is a relatively new recruit already showing great promise and potential in his case handling and tactical instincts.

Hayley Mason has revitalised the SEN Legal team by introducing new working practices such as a four-day week, which benefits all staff and has improved their productivity. Hayley, along with founder Melinda Nettleton and their team, are truly expert in SEN law and help parents in an empathetic and proactive manner.

Hayley Mason has a remarkable depth of knowledge and, given her young age, is certain to continue to a stellar career in the sector. She also offers workshops and training to assist families in fighting their corner.

An integrated approach with external counsel means that, over the years, I have had counsel advise me direct and jointly represent my disabled daughter’s interests in a number of forums which are not always contentious. The law firm has always been tenacious in pursuing local authorities on my daughter’s behalf using all legal means to enforce these bodies to comply with the law.

They have a passion for this very emotional and complex area of law, quite often from personal circumstances.

The team is formidable and clearly managed and led well from the top. Staff are always efficiently updated, as whenever contacted they are aware and responsive when approached with queries. Employees also appear highly experienced within specific roles, which is demonstrated when your case is being directed to different staff for the appropriate assistance. Nothing falls down between the cracks! It is also noted that flexible working is practised and managed well, which shows care and consideration for employees.

Hayley Mason has been outstanding in assisting us with our needs. We have two autistic children that have required support in appeals and tribunals in completely different ways and we have worked with Hayley for the last two years. Hayley is tenacious, especially where we have been ignored, misinformed or misguided by others/the Local Authority.

Hayley Mason has a wealth of knowledge and experience and has assisted us not only appropriately, but efficiently and cost-effectively through our cases. Hayley demonstrates genuine care for our wellbeing as a client, always considering the impact of each stage of the process and advising us sensitively and with kindness and a touch of good humour when we have needed it during our darkest days. We have felt supported in every aspect of a very streamlined process. No stone is ever left unturned.

SEN is not just a business to Hayley Mason, she also demonstrates a passion for what she does. Hayley is also assisted by Rebecca De Winter, paralegal, who has demonstrated the same approach as Hayley to our needs and been exceptional too.

Marsha Serioux-Smith, the executive assistant, should also be given credit for her professionalism, Marsha is yet another safe pair of hands and great asset to the firm. Our previous experience at another firm was incredibly disappointing. Whilst well intentioned, they were ill-prepared and had assumed best outcome, so they had been disorganised and lacking in thoroughness. We were in a desperate situation when we approached SEN Legal for help – and we could not be more grateful that they stepped up to the plate.

SEN Legal is a specialist practice for children’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. They came highly recommended and so far have not disappointed. They offer a free 15-minute consultation, which provides you with the opportunity to get a feel for the company and they provide very clear advice.

Once you engage their services, they keep you updated of progress, sending through very clear time lines and expectations and have so far proved they understand the EHCP process, experts and the Local Authority very well.

I would definitely recommend them to others!

Hayley Mason has been a delight to work with on a very emotive subject. She knows the law and processes very well which helps to provide comfort and trust during periods of quiet. I have appreciated her differentiation in communication, knowing when a quick phone call is better than an email, or when an email is sufficient. Thank you Hayley!

We appreciate the specialist knowledge in the field of SEN, the skills in liaising with parents dealing with very stressful life circumstances, the ability to help us as parents navigate the very complicated and stressful EHCP process, the pro bono information sharing sessions with SEN parent groups, the fact that every person who answers the phone has an approachable, warm and helpful manner, and the distribution of tasks amongst members of the team to keep costs down for parents/clients as much as possible.

We had a very clear, useful conversation initially with Melinda Nettleton. We have been supported by Nicole Lee and trainee Richard Nettleton. Both are excellent communicators on the telephone – having never met them in person, I feel at ease talking to them and they combine empathy with clear, astute, legal advice. I feel completely confident in their hands. I have also appreciated the ethical stand that they take in terms of being understanding of the financial pressures we are under as parents whilst being clear about the different options available to us, outlining the pros and cons of these with clarity, which has helped us spend money wisely. We have always had a good idea of the likelihood of success of any legal courses of action we have decided to pursue.

I have worked alongside SEN Legal for more than ten years. The staff are extremely approachable and a joy to work with, and the support they offer to families and experts is second to none.

Melinda Nettleton, Hayley Mason, Nicole Lee, Wendy Kitchin, Richard Nettleton and James Brown are the team members I have regular contact with. Wendy is fantastic at answering questions related to appeals. Hayley and Nicole always respond to emails, even in the dead of night.

The knowledge all of the staff have of Special Educational Needs is outstanding. They always make you feel that they know what to do, and this takes so much of the stress away from the user.

The lady I deal with is exceptional in her commitment to the job she does. She has emailed me at night at the weekend when she has supposedly been on holiday, when we were going through so much stress with our son and his future. She is amazing in her knowledge and the effort she puts in to everything she is doing.

I have never engaged in any legal proceedings against any party previously and was totally overwhelmed and daunted by the prospect of appealing against the Local Authority. I was totally reassured by the down-to-earth approach by this legal team. I saw James Brown from SEN Legal present at the BDA parents’ roadshow and he really made the legal jargon and terminology accessible to everyone. This firm absolutely believe in doing the best for their clients and their children, getting the best SEN provision possible and they provide clear step-by-step guidance on how to do this. I haven’t looked back and trust their advice explicitly after one year of working together.

James Brown from SEN Legal has been very open, honest and provided very clear guidance on the next steps and how to carry out Tribunal experts with expert witnesses to prepare the best case possible for our son for his EHCP Tribunal appeals. James gave me the confidence to continue so we have moved from an initial refusal by the local authority to assess to attending tribunal in a few weeks to seek residential provision for our son at a specialist educational setting. After years of no support, finding James to guide me through this maze was fantastic and indispensable.

SEN Legal are highly committed to their clients. Their work involves parents who are experiencing some of the most stressful times of their lives and besides being professional, they show empathy and consideration for parents as well.

They are highly organised, always communicate well with clients and experts.

Each member of the team is highly knowledgeable, committed and considerate.

They are very professional and excellent communicators. The whole team gave the feeling that they were in the fight with you and is empathetic where needed.

It has a well versed and capable team to deal with issues related to adult disability.

They are eager to help promptly.

The firm has very skilled and experienced staff.

SEN Legal is clear from the outset about what it can do, what we would need to do, costs and time frames. A fantastic written process delivers documents that we have referred to many times and which provided time scales and what needed to be done next. Hayley Mason and her team have the perfect balance between caring, being efficient, guiding us while managing our expectations and getting the job done. The letters written to our LEA are polite and to the point, always offering to help the LEA.

Well, what can I say about Hayley Mason? I spotted her on a blog and researched SEN Legal. She was the only person I wanted to work with to help us get our precious daughter what she needed – an EHCP. In my initial appointment Hayley shared her experience while I shared mine, I was very upset and she gave me time to talk and listened. Hayley reassured me with past cases and her experience – she knew what she was talking about and gained my trust on that call. Great communication, really clear price list, easy to get hold of and speak to in terms I understand explaining things.

I can only say I have no hesitation to recommend Hayley Mason and SEN Legal. They are FANTASTIC!

Hayley Mason spends time liaising with my daughter’s school and all our experts. That is just priceless.

An expert team that blends solid experience with comprehensively mentored new talent. Our main points of contact made themselves available for us throughout the case and ensured good continuity in our dealings with the firm. Solicitors with a vast amount of experience across the full range of public law and Special Educational Needs.

Melinda Nettleton takes a no-nonsense approach to expertly dissect the issues at stake. Richard Nettleton provided an excellent point of contact throughout our experience with the firm to work through the specific details of the case and ensure that every aspect of complex paperwork was dealt with efficiently and accurately.

The fact that the practice specialises only in special educational needs puts it in a unique position. I think it helps that the senior partner has a child with SEN as she has first-hand knowledge and experience of what parents with children with SEN go through.

SEN Legal is at the top of its field, specialising in all matters related to education law but with a particularly strong emphasis on Special Educational Needs and Disability law. Initially set up by Melinda Nettleton, the firm is now operating under the very capable hands of Hayley Mason. Whilst young, Hayley truly is an expert in the field and regularly contributes to SEN publications including “Special Needs Jungle” and has also been published in the Law Journal. They exclusively represent parents and independent schools and academies. As a firm, they work alongside brilliant experts and it is this combined with their extensive knowledge that enables SEN Legal to achieve some remarkable outcomes for clients.

In terms of how the firm compares to others in the industry doing similar work, SEN Legal would always be my first choice for clients that have disabled children.

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP has more than 30 years' experience in advising state funded schools, and a much longer history of assisting independent schools. More recently, it has moved into work for FE colleges and CofE schools. Education is a core practice area for the firm, along with charity and business law, and the Cambridge office is a key hub for its national practice, which supports more than 2,000 state schools and 100 independent schools. Head of the firm's education sector group Roger Inman also advises on school governance and reorganisation.

Practice head(s):

Roger Inman


The team can be contacted very easily and will respond to issues in a timely fashion. Of late, work has been undertaken by paralegals and this has reduced costs. We have found the paralegals to be very enthusiastic and tenacious in their approach.

Roger Inman is the fount of all knowledge.

In addition to delivering in full what is requested by clients, Stone King will look to add value and other beneficial dimensions to the service they provide.

Their knowledge of the sector is in-depth and they are proactive in assisting clients to influence policy changes in regulatory settings.

Key clients

United Learning

United Church Schools Trust

Unity Schools Partnership


West Suffolk College

Anglian Learning

CAM Trust

Active Learning Trust

Raedwald Trust

Peterborough Diocesan Education Trust

Diocese of St Albans Multi Academy Trust

South Suffolk Learning Trust

Inspiration Trust

Felsted School

Wycombe Abbey School

The Chelmsford Learning Partnership

Easton and Otley College

Work highlights

  • Dividing Easton & Otley College into two and transferring parts to City College Norwich and Suffolk New College.
  • Advised Unity Schools Partnership on a successful challenge to Suffolk County Council’s decision to withdraw free home-to-school transport from pupils attending its Samuel Ward Academy.
  • Ongoing immigration support and advice for Felsted School.

HCR Hewitsons

The Cambridge office of HCR Hewitsons is home to a multi-disciplinary team that supports the firm's education practice, which is led from Northampton. The firm advises schools and FE and HE colleges, which call on the construction, IP, IT, data protection, commercial contract and litigation expertise in Cambridge. Managing partner Colin Jones and technology partner Andrew Priest are among the main practitioners.

Other key lawyers:

Colin Jones; Andrew Priest

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP provides corporate, employment, property, construction, commercial contracts and data protection advice to clients in the education and healthcare sectors. The firm assists numerous universities and colleges across East Anglia. Steven Beach in Cambridge handles commercial investment property transactions and property development. Strategic land specialist Michaela Henson also plays a key role. Nicola Curle in Norwich advises FE clients on land disposals, development and student accommodation projects. Also in Norwich, new hire Oliver Pritchard from Browne Jacobson LLP has experience in corporate transactions in the healthcare sector.

Practice head(s):

Steven Beach;  Oliver Pritchard

Other key lawyers:

Michaela Henson; Nicola Curle

Key clients

Cambridge University Endowment Fund

Girton College

Norwich University of the Arts

BPP Holdings Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Norse Care, the largest care home provider in Norfolk, on the purchase of the All Hallows nursing home business in Norfolk.
  • Acted for BPP Holdings Limited, the property holding company of BPP University Limited, in relation to taking a new lease of part of a property in Southampton known as Charlotte Place.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP has deep experience and an increasingly national profile for advising Higher Education clients. It counts many colleges of Cambridge and Oxford Universities among its clients, as well as many other universities. The practice is spread across the firm's offices, but Cambridge is home to practice co-head and employment law specialist Hilary Aldred who handles both contentious matters and advisory work, which includes advice on regulatory matters. She frequently advises universities seeking to establish themselves in the UK.

Practice head(s):

Hilary Aldred


Its key strength is its versatility; a true “one-stop shop”. Unparalleled experience in the field of University disputes. A tireless working ethic.

Hilary Aldred is a tireless worker and versatile expert on employment law and its related aspects, with a particular strength in the Universities sector.

The firm has a very strong client focus. It is extremely hard working and efficient, providing comprehensive, effective and pragmatic advice covering difficult and complex situations. It is very approachable and there is extremely good communication with counsel. Hilary Aldred stands out for all of these qualities.

Key clients

Florida State University

UCL Business Plc

Fitzwilliam College


ICMP Management Limited

Christ Church

King’s College London

Work highlights

  • Assisting the student complaints team of a Russell Group university with student complaints that have been escalated through its complaints process and where there was a risk that the students concerned would take the complaints to either or both of the Office of the Independent Adjudicator or the County Court: all of the cases related to issues arising under the Equality Act.
  • Advised an Oxbridge college on a number of information issues; in the last 12 months this has included advising on a data subject access request made and how to manage this when there were over 100,000 pieces of personal data which might have needed to be searched as well as on numerous Freedom of Information requests.
  • Assisted a Russell group University after there was a collective complaint by a number of students following a visit from a very eminent third party. The students complained about the security arrangements, and the interference with their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Staff also complained about feeling threatened by students who were on occasion aggressive in their interactions especially with security staff.

Steeles Law

'The team is knowledgeable and keen to explain matters clearly to the client,' says a client of Steeles Law in Norwich. The firm focuses on the education sector and has a track record of academy conversions. It is now acting for multi-academy trusts in mergers, takeovers policy and governance matters. Company commercial partner Richard Bailey leads the practice. Alistair Ponder who joined from Spire Solicitors LLP is experienced in academy conversion work.

Practice head(s):

Richard Bailey


The team is knowledgeable in the area in which we engage and is keen to explain matters clearly to the client.

The individuals dealing with our business are keen to ensure we fully understand the legal position.

Key clients

Consortium Multi-Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised the multi-academy trust in taking over another multi-academy trust which itself contained a number of academies, one of which was a special academy spread over approximately ten sites.

Taylor Vinters

Taylor Vinters has a higher education and research ethics practice that focuses on the needs of academic bodies, research institutes, research-based charities and learned societies. Led from London by Chris Willis Pickup, the practice calls on a broad set of skills in the Cambridge office including intellectual property, employment and litigation. Patrick Farrant assists research institutes and individual research teams on their spin-outs from and with universities. Head of real estate Helen Mutucumarana also plays a central role in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Chris Willis Pickup

Other key lawyers:

Patrick Farrant

Key clients

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

St Edmund’s College, Cambridge

King’s College, Cambridge

Jesus College, Cambridge

Workers’ Educational Association (the UK’s largest adult education provider)

Animal Health Trust (charity which provides clinical/veterinary training)

Villiers Park (education trust providing adult education/vocational training)

Royal Society of Chemistry (and other learned societies)

Rambert School of Ballet and Dance

Association for Cultural Exchange

Work highlights

  • Acted for St Edmund’s College in the University of Cambridge in a dispute with Dr Noah Carl, one of the College’s Research Fellows. The case concerned academic freedom of speech, issues relating to research ethics and integrity and to concerns about the abuse of the College’s charitable status to promote extremist views.
  • Acted for Jesus College, in the University of Cambridge in a case concerning a bronze cockerel which had been acquired during the British army’s punitive expedition to Benin City in 1897.
  • Acting for Peterhouse College in the University of Cambridge in a case brought by a former student claiming substantial damages for alleged breaches of data protection and privacy.