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  1. Education
  2. Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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    • James Betts - Simpson Millar LLP

Who Represents Who

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Browne Jacobson LLP  is ‘outstanding; its knowledge and understanding of education and the wider issues that affect our schools is second to none’. Dai Durbridge, who leads the wider education team on safeguarding issues and heads the Manchester team, is a ‘consummate professional who goes to the upmost lengths to provide professional support, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances’. Durbridge advises schools, academies, FE and sixth form colleges. Kerren Daly  who works in the employment and education teams has a ‘fantastic knack of getting to the nub of an issue and then follows it up with clear advice’. Legal director Jamie Otter  is ‘extremely responsive, listens well and then ensures that the barriers are removed to secure a successful outcome whenever possible’. The team has been extensively involved in the creation and growth of multi-academy trusts and has recently worked on more than 20 such projects. Such work has included advising on the formation of the Challenge Academy Trust. It has also advised on the setting up of the Bishop Fraser Trust (a Church of England multi-academy trust).

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

At Weightmans LLP  Martin Vincent  and Janice Weatherly  are singled out for particular praise. The team is primarily focused on higher education and is known for its advice to universities in highly sensitive situations such as student suicides and on campus deaths. Highlights included advising the University of Cumbria on its collaboration with 12 other universities, FE colleges and employers in the North West to deliver the Cumbria Collaborative Outreach Programme, one of several regional programmes funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to support the most disadvantaged young people in England to progress into higher education. Other key clients include Open University, Bangor University and Greenwich University. It recently advised a major university on its plans to build a new sports centre at a substantial cost. The primary use of the building will be sports activities for students.

Hill Dickinson LLP  acts for schools in both the maintained and non-maintained (independent and academy) sectors in addition to higher and further education institutions, local authorities and educational charities. Luke Green  heads the schools team and Iain Campbell  heads the higher education team. Kerstie Skeaping  is recommended for her employment advice and David Rawlinson is another key contact. Cuckoo Hall Academies Trust, United Colleges Group (the parent company of City of Westminster College and College of North West London), London University Purchasing Consortium and the University of Chester Academies Trust are all clients.

The team at Mills & Reeve LLP  provides ‘excellent advice, is knowledgeable and offers pragmatic solutions to minimise costs’. On the employment side Sara Barrett  delivers ‘timely advice in an expert yet approachable manner and is entirely cognisant of the intricacies of the environment in which we work’. Principal associate Deborah Coyne  is ‘knowledgeable and offers innovative solutions to complex issues’- she is in the employment team and is a key lawyer in the education sector. Richard Skyes, who splits his time between Birmingham and Manchester has a ‘depth and breadth of expertise which is highly valued by us’. The group has particular experience in the further and higher education sectors and regularly assists its university clients on significant policy and legal developments. Clients include Manchester Metropolitan University, Bury College, Royal Northern College of Music and the Academies Enterprise Trust.

Michael Pocock  is a leading name at Pinsent Masons LLP  . Pocock has significant expertise in advising on large and complex development projects for the university and higher education sectors. Highlights included continuing to advise the University of Sheffield on the expansion of a major Advance Manufacturing Research Centre which promotes collaborative working between the industry and the education sector. The team is also advising the London Legacy Development Corporation on the Stratford Waterfront Development. This initiative is aiming to deliver a brand new cultural and higher education district known as the Cultural and Education District which will be made up of two sites on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The practice has also noticed significant growth in its education finance practice.

SAS Daniels LLP  ‘consistently provides an excellent level of service. There is always a member of the team available to answer questions or provide advice’. Stephen Foster  has an ‘excellent knowledge and understanding of the sector. He has a strong ability to offer advice and solutions to a wide variety of problems’. Jonathan Whittaker provides ‘succinct and honest advice that he delivers in a way that is easily understandable and accessible to head teachers and school business managers alike’. Nick Brown  and Clare Bromley  ‘work very effectively on a day-to-day basis with schools’ and Simon Bellard  ‘provides fabulous support’. The group provides the full range of legal services in the education sector and is praised for its ‘detailed guidance and support at each and every stage’.

Simpson Millar LLP   has a ‘highly experienced team that is supportive of parents and of young people. It is its unique combination of very knowledgeable and pragmatic solicitors coupled with a specialism in community care and public law that sets it apart’. Head of team Imogen Jolley  has a ‘very approachable manner. She understands the need to give time to clients to talk and ensures that people are able to understand the core legal issues and how best for their child to get the help they need in the education setting’. Angela Jackman  acts in special educational needs cases and education judicial review cases and manages a mixed caseload of community and mental capacity cases. Solicitor James Betts  attracts a lot of praise as he ‘consistently demonstrates the highest level of professionalism. All advice at every stage of the process is explained clearly and concisely with an immediate response to queries’.

Forbes Solicitors  has an ‘excellent’ team with the ‘practical’ Jonathan Holden at the helm who has a ‘very good understanding of the education sector’. The ‘approachable, responsive and knowledgeable’ Ruth Rule-Mullen  ‘provides support and sound guidance’. The team acts for in excess of 500 schools and colleges nationally. It is retained by Bolton School to advise on a broad range of employment and HR matters. It is also exclusively engaged by Edapt (a professional services organisation for the teaching profession) to provide advice and assistance to subscribers.

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