Education: institutions in London

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is renowned for its work for higher education institutions, advising its large corporate client base on the full spectrum of employment and regulatory issues, mergers, and overseas establishments. The 'superb' Diane Gilhooley leads the multi-disciplinary national education team, which includes Leeds-based Ben WoodsGlynne Stanfield, who heads the corporate governance team; and Christopher Mordue, who handles contentious employment matters and dismissal claims. The group has also been involved with topical issues surrounding #MeToo in the education landscape and has provided advice on internal processes.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley

Other key lawyers:

Ben Wood; Glynne Stanfield; Chris Mordue


‘Diane Gilhooley is absolutely fantastic and is an obvious leader in this field.’

Key clients

London South Bank University

Middlesex University

University of Reading

Greater London

Medical Research Council

University of Essex

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

University College London

Natural Environment Research Council

Richmond the American University in London

Newham College

Hartpury College

Lambeth College

Work highlights

  • Advising a London university on the employment aspects of a major insourcing.
  • Advised the Medical Research Council on the establishment of Health Data Research UK – a charitable research institute.
  • Advising Newham on its application to establish an Institute of Technology (IoT) with its higher education partner, Queen Mary University of London, and various partners from industry.
  • Advised both New City College Corporation and Epping Forest College on all aspects of their merger.
  • Advised Barnet and Southgate College on a highly complex dispute with a former employee who disseminated confidential college information to a wide range of external parties.

Farrer & Co

The 'totally focused' multi-disciplinary team at Farrer & Co acts for a broad roster of high-profile and market-leading clients. Practice head David Copping is handling big-ticket cross-border matters pertaining to data protection and transfers, and advising higher education bodies on establishing international campuses. The 'exceedingly effectiveSam Macdonald is the key name for charity law, advising schools and universities on this area.

Practice head(s):

Sam Macdonald; David Copping

Other key lawyers:

Jeremy Isaacson; Elizabeth Jones; Peter Wienand


‘David Copping is extremely patient and able to make legal matters very clear to non-legal colleagues. No question is too much and he has the ability to assimilate with project teams very well.’

‘Peter Wienand, David Copping and Elizabeth Jones are all outstanding partners.’

‘The Farrer & Co team are very knowledgeable about issues facing the higher education sector. They also endeavour to take a balanced and practical approach when advising clients.

‘The team are attentive to detail and ask key questions to understand thoroughly the nature of the work at hand. They also have great safeguarding expertise.’

Key clients

Imperial College London

The University of Cambridge

The University of Oxford

King’s College London

Universities UK

London Business School

London South Bank University

The Rhodes Trust

The University of Westminster

Institute of Cancer Research

Work highlights

  • Advised two leading universities on the interplay between data protection and student mobility following the introduction of GDPR.
  • Advising the University of Cambridge on a range of legal issues, including constitutional and governance advice for the university’s council and senior administrators, advice on the donation and trust terms for major philanthropic gifts, and advice relating to a number of the university’s associated entities
  • Advising London Business School on a range of intellectual property and brand protection matters.
  • Advised Imperial College in relation to its agreements with Insendi, a spin-out from Imperial’s educational technology laboratory, which is focused on online learning platforms.
  • Advised King’s College London on a number of major international collaborations.

Mills & Reeve LLP

The multi-disciplinary team at Mills & Reeve LLP has 'unrivalled expertise in higher education' and is led by the 'strikingly goodGary Attle. The team is handling highly complex and often high-value matters related to freedom of speech, counter-terrorism and academic freedom, among other issues, for an impressive roster of clients, which includes Russell Group institutions. Richard Sykes, who splits his time between Birmingham and Manchester, leads the specialist education team and has particular expertise in data protection legislation. Among the other core members of the group are Sarah Seed, who is recommended for her expertise in working with charitable bodies; employment lawyers Nick Abbott and Nicola Brown; and real estate lawyer Christian Bull, who advises higher education bodies on property matters.

Practice head(s):

Gary Attle

Other key lawyers:

Raith Pickup; Andrew Wood; Nicola Brown; Sarah Seed; Neil Burton; Richard Noble; Richard Sykes; Christian Bull


‘Gary Attle is simply the most knowledgeable and skillful lawyer operating within this sector. His expertise is unsurpassed. The quality of his advice is superb.’

‘Clients clearly trust and respect Gary Attle and his views. He is always open to novel ways of approaching a problem and is brilliant at taking a strategic overview.’

‘Nicola Brown is both practical and insightful. She combines a weighty intellect with an unstuffy and approachable style and is a highly valued adviser.’

‘This team are market leaders in helping complex institutions such as universities navigate diverse challenges. They are strong on both the analytical and practical levels, with an excellent feel for the client’s needs.’

‘This is a top-tier team for higher education cases and many Russell Group universities clearly trust and respect this team. The members of the team are known for being at the forefront of legal thinking in this area and have their finger on the pulse.’

Key clients

Birmingham City University

The Royal Veterinary College

The University of Cambridge

The University of Nottingham

The University of Manchester

The British Council

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP is a key name for the higher education sector. The team, led by Leeds-based Victoria Goddard, is known for its high-profile, complex, international and often sensitive work for universities, and has advised a number of market-leading players on regulatory concerns and handled litigation for these clients. The group is adept at advising on the creation and registration of universities, restructuring and financial developments. The wider team includes Julian Sladdin, who heads the university litigation group;  Helen Corden; and Gayle Ditchburn in Birmingham, who is recommended for her expertise on complex merger work and commercial projects.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Goddard

Key clients

University of London

University of Sheffield

University of Sussex

London School of Economics

University of Leeds

University of Brighton

University of Huddersfield

University of York

University of the Arts London

University of Gloucestershire

University of Leicester

Birmingham Metropolitan Colleges

Equitix and Engie Consortium

Imperial College London

University of New South Wales

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of Edinburgh on the £1.1bn Edinburgh and South-east Scotland City Region Deal, a key component of the which is the Data Driven Innovation (DDI) Programme being led by the university.
  • Acting for the University of Sheffield in judicial review proceedings brought by a student on a professional course who was excluded for making homophobic comments on social media which allegedly relate to his Christian beliefs.
  • Acting for Nottingham Trent University in a claim for in excess of £800,000 brought by a disabled student who claims reasonable adjustments were not made in relation to their studies.
  • Advising the University of London on the parliamentary process to seek a new Act of Parliament to streamline its statute-making process and pave the way for member colleges to become universities in their own right.
  • Advising Heythrop College, a specialist higher education institution and member of the University of London federation, on its closure and the winding up of all of its business operations and the teaching out of its students.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

Shakespeare Martineau LLP's practice is led by the 'excellent' Smita Jamdar, who advises higher education bodies on regulatory, constitutional, governance and student-related matters. The team is experienced in handling high-value, complex and often sensitive matters pertaining to students, an area where Geraldine Swanton is a particular specialist. Other key members of the group include Birmingham-based Joanna Forbes; employment lawyer Tom Long, who specialises in advising large public sector clients on whistleblowing and discrimination; David Browne; and Ruth Phillips.

Practice head(s):

Smita Jamdar

Other key lawyers:

Joanna Forbes; Geraldine Swanton; David Browne; Ruth Phillips; Anieka Sheppard; Tom Long


‘Smita Jamdar is very experienced and is an expert in the education field. Geraldine Swanton and Joanna Forbes are both very knowledgeable, responsive and personable.’

‘The team have an exceptional overview of the higher education sector as a whole. They engage fully with the sector and have a really good understanding of the issues which confront institutions on a day-to-day basis.’

Key clients

King’s College London

University College London

Roehampton University

The Royal College of Art

The Open University

Writtle University College

The Courtauld Institute of Art

University of Birmingham

Cardiff University

Dudley College

Wiltshire College

Liverpool John Moore University

London South Bank University

Work highlights

  • Represented a Russell Group university and 14 named respondents in complex discrimination, whistleblowing and constructive dismissal proceedings brought by a former employee.
  • Provided high-level advice to four universities in relation to issues pertaining to their vice chancellors.
  • Acted for a university in responding to an application for an injunction brought by a student on the graduate entry medical programme who failed their first-year exams at their first attempt.
  • Advising Wiltshire College on construction contracts for the major redevelopment of its campuses.
  • Advising a university on the development and implementation of its Brexit mitigation strategy, and in particular the development of a European hub, through a partnership with European universities.


At VWV, Bettina Rigg and Emma-Jane Dalley jointly oversee the practice, which serves a number of leading national clients across the higher education landscape. The team combines its expertise to advise universities on a range of matters involving employment, commercial property, governance, and international projects. Key members of the group include employment lawyers Jane Byford and London-based Michael HalseyClive Read, who is recommended for his expertise on commercial property and development projects for universities; and Doug Locke, who is a key contact for establishing educational institutions and other international projects in the Middle East and Asia.

Practice head(s):

Bettina Rigg; Emma-Jane Dalley

Bates Wells

Bates Wells assists education sector clients with a wide range of matters, from regulatory issues and procurement to post-merger work. Led by Caraline Johnson, the team has brought its cross-departmental expertise to bear in advising on mergers between further education bodies. William Garnett, who leads the employment and discrimination team, is recommended for representing senior executives. Other core team members include regulatory department partner Emma Dowden-Teale and employment head Lucy Mclynn.

Practice head(s):

Caraline Johnson

Other key lawyers:

William Garnett; Lucy McLynn; Emma Dowden-Teale


‘This is a highly responsive, knowledgeable and solution-orientated team, offering a highly personalised service across a broad range of services.’

Key clients


Unified Seevic Palmer’s College

West Herts College

NDC Asia Limited

Fashion Retail Academy

Amateur Swimming Association

Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx)

Trinity College

Barking and Dagenham College

Work highlights

  • Advising on the merger between West Herts College and Barnfield College.
  • Advising NDC Asia Limited on due diligence in relation to a proposed acquisition of a global company.
  • Advising Barking & Dagenham College on an application to the Department for Education for funding to establish an Institute of Technology.
  • Advised USP on the acquisition of ITEC Learning Technologies Limited.


DAC Beachcroft LLP is particularly well known for assisting its higher education clients with contentious commercial property issues pertaining to restructuring, mergers and development. Led by Stephen Hocking, the team is active in high-value advisory work related to acquisitions, where Newcastle-based James Harrison and Nicola Fairbairn have particular expertise. Richard Hartis specialises in handling non-contentious property matters for public sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Hocking

Key clients

Higher Education Funding Council for England

Higher Education Funding Council for Wales

Newcastle College

The Office for Students

Higher Education statistics agency


University of Sunderland

University of Sheffield

Faraday Institution

Work highlights

  • Acting for the University of Sheffield in relation to its strategic occupation of part of the Sheffield Royal Hallamshire Hospital for the development and operation of MRI/PET scanner facilities.
  • Acted on behalf of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne on a strategically important multimillion-pound acquisition of a prime city centre office development.
  • Advising on the disposal of an existing school site and the acquisition of a new 80-acre site together with the construction of a new £60m purpose-built state-of-the-art campus.
  • Advised the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in respect of its multimillion-pound refurbishment of the Claremont Bridge and Tower and Daysh Building, known as the Claremont Complex, forming part of the university’s city centre campus.
  • Advising on a matter concerning a medical student who was found to have committed a disciplinary offence.

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP's education group, led by Martin Vincent, is skilled in advising public sector clients on a range of sensitive and high-value matters, as well as undertaking cross-border work on joint venture programs. The team also has experience in representing institutions at inquests. Susan Matthews provides specialist advice to higher education bodies on governance matters, and Mark Leach is recommended for his experience in contentious employment issues.

Practice head(s):

Martin Vincent

Other key lawyers:

Susan Matthews; Andrew Roberts; Vincent King; Mark Leach

Key clients

Newcastle University

Cumbria University

Lancaster University

Open University

Keele University

Loughborough University

Leicester University

Queen Mary University

Middlesex University

University of Greenwich

Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts

Salford University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Solent University

Anglia Ruskin University

Wolverhampton University

Southport College

Coleg Cambria

Liverpool Hope University

Northern Health Science Alliance

Blake Morgan LLP

The team at Blake Morgan LLP handles a broad range of contentious and non-contentious matters, led by Cardiff-based Matthew Smith. The group has in its remit specialist education work, employment matters and sector specialties in construction. Richard Wade and Rachel Gwilliam are currently undertaking advisory work for universities; Graham Miles handles regulatory work; and Ben Brice is recommended for his expertise in advising charities and public sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Smith

Key clients

New College, Oxford

Balliol College, Oxford

Cardiff University

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Oxford Foundation for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence

University of Portsmouth

Portsmouth Diocesan Trust

University of Reading

Christ Church College, Oxford

Brasenose College, Oxford

University College, Oxford

University of Winchester

University of Chichester

Hereford Sixth Form College

Swansea University

Magdalen College, Oxford

University of South Wales

Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association

Work highlights

  • Advising New College, Oxford, on the procurement approach, appointment of its design team and construction contracts in relation to its proposed redevelopment of a new quadrangle within the college estate.
  • Advising an education sector client on a long-running unfair dismissal and sex discrimination claim.
  • Advising an education sector client on a number of matters, including complex negotiations regarding the secondment of staff from a third party to ensure that trustees are sufficiently able to direct that the strategy set by the board is implemented properly.
  • Acting as legal adviser to professional conduct panels of the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) in relation to disciplinary proceedings against teachers that have been referred to the TRA in furtherance of its statutory functions.
  • Continuing to advise Cardiff University on the property and construction aspects of a new £300m research center, known as the “Innovation Campus”.


The education group at BLM has broad expertise in matters ranging from discrimination claims and admissions to regulatory and contractual issues. Overseen by Elliot Pound, the team has specialisms in judicial review and in the field of discrimination. Key team members include Richard Wilkins, who handles contentious and non-contentious education matters with an emphasis on exclusions and special needs education; Martin Jensen; and associate Geneviève Rich. Public sector head Michael Pether has experience handling employers' liability claims.

Practice head(s):

Elliot Pound

Key clients

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine

The University of Cambridge

University of Surrey

King’s College London

University of East London

University of Newcastle

University of Central Lancashire

Work highlights

  • Defend a high-profile academic institution in London in High Court proceedings.
  • Acting for various universities in relation to claims brought by students relating to lost teaching time caused by the well-publicised strike action in February and March 2018.
  • Defend a university against a claim for damages threatened in the US concerning alleged misconduct by one of its academic staff in a fundraising project.
  • Acting for a university in a claim brought by a former MBA student who alleges that the university acted in breach of contract and negligently in suspending her whilst investigating allegations of misconduct.

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP has 'unrivalled experience' in the full range of education matters and is noted as being one of ten firms appointed to the national legal services framework agreement for the higher education sector. The team has particular expertise in the project arena, where practice head Matthew Ramus is active. The team also includes head of public sector John HouldenMichael Hayles; head of corporate Richard SpinkTim Roberts; and employment lawyer Luke Bowery.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Ramus


‘Burges Salmon has unrivalled experience of advising councils on the spin-out of children’s trusts and alternative delivery arrangements. The approach of their lawyers is always pragmatic, whilst sensitive to the needs of clients. They work well with other advisers and get the job done.’

‘Richard Spink is excellent to work with, measured, and a real support as he understands the sector and the dynamic in complex multiparty transactions well.’

‘Tim Roberts is a highly capable and effective player in complex deals and remains calm throughout.’

Key clients

Department for Education

University of Bristol

University of Exeter

York St John University

University of Oxford

The University of the West of England

Bath Spa University

Cardiff University


Office for Students

Reading Borough Council

Birmingham Children’s Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising on Reading’s major children’s services transformation project.
  • Advising the Department for Education and Sandwell Children’s Trust on a major children’s services transformation project.
  • Advising on Birmingham’s major children’s services transformation project.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has a large offering for its higher education clients, regularly acting in academy transfers and mergers. Head of charities Emma Moody is a key name to note, as well as Craig Moore, who stands out for his commercial property advice to schools. Christina Tolvas-Vincent is experienced in handling employment matters pertaining to dismissals, discrimination and management issues. Kevin Robertson, who regularly advises schools and colleges, is also a key contact.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The multi-disciplinary education team at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is regularly instructed by leading UK universities and other higher education institutions on a number of matters pertaining to commercial property concerns, joint venture agreements, contracts and litigation. The group led by Gemma Woodhouse combines specialist employment and immigration expertise; immigration specialist Pat Saini and head of private wealth immigration Hazar El-Chamaa are both recommended. Corporate partner Simon Bickerdike advises on multi-jurisdictional transactions and projects, and also handles merger-related matters.

Practice head(s):

Gemma Woodhouse; Hilary Aldred; Daff Richardson

Other key lawyers:

Pat Saini; Hazar El-Chamma; Simon Bickerdike

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

The key contacts in Trowers & Hamlins LLP's education practice group are Paul McDermott, Helen Randall and Amardeep Gill. The department advises on PFI contracts, education PPPs and employee relations. The team also includes commercial property specialist Sangita Unadkat, who acts for a range of educational institutions, and Assad Maqbool, who assists education sector clients with construction and project work.

Practice head(s):

Paul McDermott; Amardeep Gill; Helen Randall

Other key lawyers:

Sangita Unadkat; Assad Maqbool 

Withers LLP

At Withers LLP, the education team is included within the charities department and advises on a broad range of areas, such as employment, real estate, tax and data protection, often with an international element. Core members of the team include Alison Paines, who has vast expertise in advising public sector clients on governance procedures; newly made-up partner Alana Petraske, whose specialisms include advising international universities; Richard Cassell, who handles international tax and trusts; and Chris Priestley.

Practice head(s):

Alison Paines; Alana Petraske; Chris Priestley; Richard Cassell; James Shaw

Key clients

Global University Systems

Syracuse University

Fondation Ecole Centrale Paris

University of Pennsylvania

Work highlights

  • Advising a university on an extensive governance restructure in respect of a UK affiliated entity.
  • Advising a US state public university on a variety of procedural and operational matters, governance and regulatory issues since forming a US/UK dual-qualified fundraising entity for the client.
  • Continuing to advise on a UK charitable foundation set up by a newly merged French university replacing Ecole Centrale Paris.

Clyde & Co LLP

Clyde & Co LLP's education practice handles the full spectrum of national issues, as well as providing a broad international offering, with specialist education expertise in the Middle East. Led by David Hansom, who joined the firm from VWV, the team is active in advising UK universities, particularly on their expansion to the Middle East and Asia. Other key members of the team include Ross Barfoot in Abu Dhabi and employment lawyer Graham Mitchell.

Practice head(s):

David Hansom

Key clients

University College London

Jacobs Holding AG



Work highlights

  • Advised Jacobs Holding on the acquisition of global private education group Cognita.
  • Advised UCL on its contractual disciplinary procedure.
  • Advised U & I Group PLC on one of Brighton’s biggest ever regeneration projects.