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Browne Jacobson LLP’s ‘response times are either immediate or at the very minimum less than 24 hours. Its knowledge of the education sector is second to none, in particular for academies’. Dai Durbridge provides ‘straightforward explanations of the law that are not full of legal jargon and are very easy to follow’. Durbridge is strong on safeguarding matters and advises schools, academies, FE and sixth form colleges on frontline education matters including school admissions and exclusions, parental complaints and disqualification from childcare settings. Legal director Jamie Otter is also singled out for providing a ‘personal and bespoke service, with great attention to detail’. The ‘very personableKerren Daly is praised for her ‘no-nonsense approach’ and ‘excellent knowledge of the FE sector’. Recently the team has been involved in the creation of sponsored multi-academy trusts, which has included transferring existing single academies into those trusts. In other highlights the group advised Essa Academy on a complex curriculum review and on a staffing restructure of the teaching staff there.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP provides an ‘excellent level of service; the team is highly responsive with a clear understanding of the clients’ needs’. Diane Gilhooley heads the team and ‘is responsive and proactive when there is a change in circumstances’. Other key figures include principal associate Robert Gray, who ‘provides practical solutions rather than just telling you what the law is’; and senior associate Siân Jones-Davies, who is ‘responsive and thoroughly professional in her approach’. The large team provides advice to HE, FE, schools, academies and private educational institutions. It is currently advising London Metropolitan University on the procurement, construction, planning and real estate aspects involved in the substantial refurbishment and new build of facilities to bring all of its current campuses together. The group has also worked extensively with further education and sixth form colleges across England on their participation in the national Strategic Area Review exercise. Other major clients include Wirral Metropolitan College, Laurus Trust and the University of Bradford.

Weightmans LLP’s team provides ‘concise and very useful advice’, with clients singling out Martin Vincent and Janice Weatherly for particular praise. The group has a focus on higher education and has been active in international projects of strategic importance; examples include Birmingham City University’s planned expansion overseas into Vietnam, which has involved advising the university on the taxation and regulatory issues to be considered in addition to any relevant governmental approvals that may be required. Other clients include Westminster University, Southampton Solent University and Queen Mary University of London.

Hill Dickinson LLP acts for schools in both the maintained and non-maintained (independent and academy) sectors as well as higher and further education institutions, local authorities and educational charities. Luke Green heads the schools team and Iain Campbell heads the higher education team. Bright Futures Educational Trust, Essa Foundation Academies Trust, Bellerive FCJ Catholic College and The City of Liverpool College are all clients. David Rawlinson is also recommended, as is Kerstie Skeaping, who is well regarded for her employment advice.

Key figures at Mills & Reeve LLP include the ‘responsive and experiencedSara Barrett, who leads on employment law advice; and principal associate Deborah Coyne. Both provide ‘advice that is tailored to the clients’ needs’. Barrett acts for an impressive roster of clients such as Lancaster University, The Manchester College and Bolton College. Richard Sykes splits his time between Birmingham and Manchester and is also strong on the contentious side – he is praised for ‘his extensive knowledge of education and public law, which he can apply to difficult and complex issues’. Anne Fairhurst continues to advise education clients on property matters as a part-time consultant.

Pinsent Masons LLP has a ‘knowledgeable and very responsive team that is particularly well equipped to deal with complex and high-value development work and projects’. Michael Pocock is experienced in development, planning and environmental matters, with significant skill in large developments in the university and higher education sectors. The team is advising London Borough of Croydon on a proposed redevelopment of Fair Field Halls into a new cultural and educational hub. It is also advising the University of Sheffield on the expansion of its advanced manufacturing research centre on the outskirts of Sheffield.

Simpson Millar LLP has a ‘good reputation for acting for pupils and parents against schools’. Imogen Jolley heads the education and community care team. She has an excellent reputation for her work in negotiating settlements for clients who have Type 1 diabetes and for ensuring that children who have this condition are suitably provided for. In addition she is known for her experience in advising on admissions law and has been successful in appealing a number of infant class size cases. Solicitor James Betts is recommended for assisting children with special educational needs.

Jonathan Holden heads the team at Forbes Solicitors, which advises schools, FE colleges, universities, multi-academy trusts and independent schools on various HR matters, in addition to more general and commercial advice. Clients include Education Partnership Trust, Trent Academies Group, Bolton School and Garstang Academy.

Jonathan Whittaker is the key contact at SAS Daniels LLP, which advises educational institutions on HR and employment issues. Clients include Stockport Grammar School, Wirral Girls Grammar School and the King’s School in Macclesfield.

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Legal Developments in North West for Education

  • TRANSFER OF UNDERTAKINGS (PROTECTION OF EMPLOYMENT) AND AGE DISCRIMINATION

    I have been asked to cover the topic of Employment law within my half an hour speaking slot today. I have narrowed my subject down to Transfer of Undertakings and Discrimination, with the focus on providing an update on the recent spate of cases on service provision change and on the important developments in the law of age discrimination. Needless to say, in my presentation I shall not be able to cover the level of detail which is contained in my written paper, which I will leave you to read.
    - 11KBW

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