Education in North West

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP offers 'outstanding knowledge and information with regard to all education matters and wider matters affecting multi-academy trusts'.  The team is active in the mainstream education sector and has a client-base of multi-academy trusts, faith schools, FE Colleges, universities and local authority maintained schools. The team is increasingly instructed on matters such as the re-brokering of academies between trusts and GDPR issues. It also handles employment work in the sector. Department head Dai Durbridge is 'utterly reliable in terms of providing up to date information, being responsive to questions, and delivering timely presentations on education-related issues'. Legal director Jamie Otter is also a key figure.

Practice head(s):

Dai Durbridge

Other key lawyers:

Kerren Daly; Jamie Otter; Ian Deakin


‘The firm’s knowledge of the education sector is excellent and the breadth of skills they have individually means every question is answered.’

‘The team very quickly increases your confidence that you have the right information to go in to any situation.’

‘In emergency situations it mobilises its team without delay.’

‘The firm is made up of a group of highly professional, knowledgeable and reliable lawyers.’

‘The pooling of knowledge on key areas of development for schools is invaluable and the range of resources, conferences and materials the firm offer aside from one-to-one legal advice is unsurpassed.’

‘Dai Durbridge and Jamie Otter are knowledgeable, responsive and excellent in their communication and handling of matters.’

‘Dai Durbridge provides excellent support in terms of safeguarding and GDPR advice.’

‘Jamie Otter provides outstanding advice in terms of academy conversions and governance arrangements.’

Key clients

Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust

Vision Multi Academy Trust

Everton Football Club

Samara Trust

The Aspire Education Trust

Arch Diocese of Liverpool

Rainbow Education Trust

Preston Muslim Girls School

Trinity Multi-academy Trust

Achievement Through Collaboration Trust

Outwood Grange Academies Trust

Optimus Education

Ebor Academies Trust

Forward as one C of E multi-academy trust

Vantage Academy Trust

New Bridge Multi-academy Trust

Dixons Academies Trust

Omega Multi-academy Trust

The Blackpool Multi Academy Trust

Abbey Multi Academy Trust

SS Simon and Jude Academy Trust

Cheshire Multi Academy Trust Challenge Academy

The Bolton Impact Trust

Batley Multi-academy Trust

Salford Catholic Diocesan Trust

The Challenge Academy Trust

Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College

South Manchester Learning Trust

Keswick School Multi Academy Trust

Prestolee Multi Academy Trust

North West Academies Trust

Three Saints Academy Trust

Hope Learning Trust

Russett Learning Trust

Wellspring Academy Trust

Bright Futures Education Trust

Accord Multi Academy Trust

Yesoiday Hatorah School

Work highlights

  • Advised various clients on multi-academy trust sponsorship and re-brokerage projects.
  • Advised more than 100 schools, single academies and multi-academy trusts in the North West on MAT projects.
  • The firm provided property support to schools, academies and multi-academy trusts.
  • Advised an academy trust on complex case involving the conduct of a member of staff and a criminal case.
  • Advised a number of education sector clients on GDPR implementation.  

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The 'outstanding' team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP routinely advises a raft of clients across the higher education and further education sectors, and also acts for schools, academies and private education institutions.  Employment, student matters, charity law, dispute management, real estate, corporate, commercial, IP, health and safety, constitutional and regulatory mandates are key areas of expertise. Team head Diane Gilhooley is a 'true leader in the field' and is ably supported by Simon Chamberlain, who is based across the Manchester and Leeds offices and heads the estates education team. Legal director Robert Gray  handles employment matters in the education sector and senior associate Siân Jones-Davies specialises in student issues and regulatory matters.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley

Other key lawyers:

Simon Chamberlain; Robert Gray; Siân Jones-Davies; Helen Cairns; Simon Kenny; Corrine Sobers

Key clients

University of Bradford

Sheffield Hallam University

Harper Adams University

London South Bank University

Loughborough University

Middlesex University

Altius Trust

Congleton MAT

Wellington School

Hamblin Education Trust

The Dunham Trust

University of Manchester

Work highlights

  • Defended Keele University in high-value litigation.
  • Advised Barnet and Southgate College Corporation on the delivery up of confidential information.
  • Defended a university in employment tribunal proceedings.
  • Advised a higher education institution on a review of governance structures.
  • Advised Russell Group University on potential changes to its procedures and practices for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment by students and staff.

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP has a focus on the higher education sector and it regularly advises on a range of property, contractual, procurement, employment, IP, projects, disputes and commercial issues.  The team also handles property mandates and disputes in the sector, as well as outsourcing. It also advises universities on capital projects, funding and collaborative ventures. Team head Martin Vincent handles complex contractual, procurement and academic joint ventures.

Practice head(s):

Martin Vincent

Other key lawyers:

Janice Weatherly; Andrew Roberts; Mark Leach; Vincent King

Key clients

Bangor University

Open University

Keele University

University of Greenwich

Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts

Salford University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Anglia Ruskin University

Wolverhampton University

Southport College

Coleg Cambria

Northern Health Science Alliance

Work highlights

  • The team advises the Open University on major projects which has included a complex IT procurement, a complex dual procurement of media buying and creative services. and a catering project to replace an existing provider.  
  • The team assisted Keele University to procure the development of 450 student accommodation units.
  • Advised the Northern Health Science Alliance on a variety of governance and commercial matters.
  • We advised Liverpool Hope on an agreement with a provider of teacher training and professional practice in the United Arab Emirates whereby Liverpool Hope validate their programmes, including an International Professional Certificate in Education Leadership.
  • Advised Middlesex University on the procurement of the construction and operation of over 1000 student beds.

Forbes Solicitors

Forbes Solicitors provides the 'full package of legal services to the education sector and the team is praised for its detailed guidance and support at each and every stage'. The team acts for schools and further education colleges and advises on a range of employment, dispute resolution, corporate, commercial, governance, procurement, property, public liability, health and safety, IP and HR issues. The team also has a dedicated social services and abuse department. Team head Jonathan Holden is praised for his 'no-nonsense and down-to-earth advice'.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Holden

Other key lawyers:

Ruth Rule-Mullen; Daniel Milnes; Kella Bowers; Catherine Kennedy; John Pickervance


‘This firm has a broad range of expertise for education sector clients.’

‘The team has a growing presence in the North West and its lawyers are exceptionally talented.’

‘Ruth Rule-Mullen has robust knowledge and understanding of the sector.’

Key clients


Preston’s College

Fylde Coast Academy Trust

Rossall School

Bolton School

Penwortham Priory Academy

Lostock Hall Academy

Education Partnership Trust

Nelson & Colne College

Pendle Education Trust

Chaigeley School

The Aspire Foundation

Work highlights

  • The team is retained as a provider for data protection and information governance advice for Kirklees Council, advising all maintained schools in the Kirklees borough.  
  • Advised Nelson & Colne College on pay harmonisation following a TUPE transfer.  
  • The team is retained as sole legal services provider for Preston’s College.  
  • Advised Community First Academy Trust on the application of IR35, third party transactions and governance.
  • Advised a FE College in high-profile tribunal litigation.

Hill Dickinson LLP

Hill Dickinson LLP's 'first-rate' team is regularly instructed by schools in both the maintained and non-maintained (independent and academy) sectors, and it has a growing higher education practice which is led by Iain Campbell . The team handles a range of employment mandates in the education sector and is also instructed on academy conversions and re-brokerages.  Luke Green is the firm's national head of schools.

Practice head(s):

Luke Green; Iain Campbell; Alan Pugh; Kerstie Skeaping

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Hart; Joe Orme


‘They team is always on hand to answer questions, provide advice and negotiate with the utmost professionalism, and it does so in a timely manner.’

‘Luke Green and Charlotte Hart provide an exceptional service.’

Key clients

University of Chester Academies Trust (UCAT)

Star Academies

The Pennine Trust

Endeavour Learning Trust

The Bay Learning Trust

The Heath Family (North West)

Wade Deacon Trust

Feversham Education Trust

University of Liverpool

College of North West London

Work highlights

  • Advised the University of Chester Academies Trust (UCAT) on the re-brokerage of seven academies and the winding up of the trust.
  • Advised Star Academies on the re-brokerage of three academies from WCAT.
  • Advised on the creation of the Pennine Trust and on the conversion of four maintained schools into it.
  • Advised Endeavour Learning Trust on the conversion of Burscough and Churchtown schools into the academy trust.
  • Advised The Bay Learning Trust on the conversion of Carnforth High School into the trust.

Mills & Reeve LLP

The 'breadth and depth of expertise available stands out' at Mills & Reeve LLP . The team handles a range of matters for further and higher education clients across the region and beyond; it is 'often involved in, or has knowledge of cutting edge cases and developments'. The team handles a raft of employment work in the sector where Sara Barrett heads the team. It also handles commercial and IT work, as well as construction work. Richard Skyes heads the specialist education law team in Birmingham and Manchester.

Practice head(s):

Sara Barrett; Richard Sykes

Other key lawyers:

Nick Abbott; Paul Knight; Catherine Kay; Deborah Coyne; Jennifer Lewis;


‘The firm’s UK-wide sector specialism is extremely valuable.’

‘Nick Abbott and Richard Sykes provide excellent, practical and sector- specific expertise in an approachable and user-friendly way.’


Pinsent Masons LLP

The 'brilliant' team at Pinsent Masons LLP is regularly involved in a range of planning, environmental, projects, construction, finance and employment mandates for higher education clients. Development, planning and environmental specialist Michael Pocock advises on large and complex development projects for clients in the university and higher education sector and legal director Pippa Whitmore leads the firm's education finance bank lending practice and focuses on lending to education institutions.

Practice head(s):

Michael Pocock

Other key lawyers:

Pippa Whitmore; Rob Childe

Key clients

University of Sheffield

London Legacy Development Corporation

University of Huddersfield

Bricks Capital

University of Exeter

University of Gloucester

University of Sussex

University of Lincoln

Work highlights

  • Provided strategic planning advice to the University of Sheffield in relation to the continued expansion of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
  • Advised Bricks Capital on the acquisition of three student housing development sites in Swansea and Norwich, together with the refinancing of its student housing development portfolio.
  • Advised London Legacy Development on redevelopment opportunities, including a new education district.
  • Advised Wates Construction on various Priority Schools Building Programme schemes.
  • Advised the University of Hertfordshire on a ten day employment tribunal claim for race, maternity and sex discrimination and unfair dismissal.

SAS Daniels LLP

SAS Daniels LLP regularly provides employment and HR advice to school and further education sector clients in the region, and it also advises on a range of health and safety, regulatory and commercial work. The team handles property mandates for clients in the sector and it has advised on a number of academy conversions.  Karen Barker head of the employment and HR group.

Practice head(s):

Karen Barker

Other key lawyers:

Neil Powell


‘The team provides support swiftly, offers pertinent advice and its no-nonsense approach is refreshing.’

‘The team gives confidence in the advice and guidance that it gives.’

‘Clare Bromley provides practical support’.

‘Simon Bellard is patient, thorough and shows warmth whatever the circumstances.’


Work highlights

  • Advised on the conversion of a special education needs school into an academy.
  • Advised a client on the management of performance and long term sickness absence.
  • Advised a client on a safeguarding dismissal.
  • Handled the resolution of numerous anonymous grievances and alleged whistle-blowing from various staff against a member of the senior leadership team.
  • Advised on the re-organisation of school.

Simpson Millar LLP

Simpson Millar LLP acts for individuals on SEND Tribunals, home-to-school transport, failure to provide education, discrimination, admissions and exclusions matters. The team is particularly known for its ability to advise vulnerable clients. Head of public law Imogen Jolley regularly advocates in the Special Needs Tribunal for families and young people and has particular experience in school admissions and exclusion cases.

Practice head(s):

Imogen Jolly


‘The team is vastly experienced, exceptionally professional and highly effective.’

‘The firm has exceptional knowledge of the education system.’

‘Their team respond with timely and concise feedback.’

‘The team is wiling to go the extra mile.’

‘The firm provides a smooth, straight-forward and genuine service.’