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Education in North West

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP works with a client base of multi-academy trusts, faith schools, FE colleges, special schools, universities and local authority-maintained school. Key areas of work include GDPR and data protection advice, joint use arrangements, and providing advice on governance structure, funding and commercial arrangements. Employment law - including executive terminations, restructuring, trade union consultation and disputes, and regulatory issues - is another specialism. Dai Durbridge, who has extensive experience in safeguarding, frontline education matters such as school admissions and exclusions, and in data protection advice, heads the team.

Practice head(s):

Dai Durbridge

Other key lawyers:

Kerren Daly


‘Great expertise on GDPR’

‘They are reliable, knowledgeable, proactive and committed to providing a great service to the education sector. ‘

‘Dai Durbridge  is recognised, both within our group and nationally, as being an expert in his field.’

Key clients

Education Learning Trust

Abbey Multi-Academy Trust

Challenge Academy Trust

Cheshire Multi-Academy Trust

Crompton Houe Church of England MAT

Everton Football Club

Lady Barn School

New Bridge Multi-Academy Trust

North West Academies Trust

Optimus Education

Salford Catholic Diocesan Trust

Southport Learning Trust

St Michael’s Church of England Academy Trust

Warrington Primary Multi-Academy Trust

Yesoiday Hatorah School

Work highlights

  • Supported over 75 schools, academies and trusts with serious safeguarding and data protection issues.
  • Acted on numerous complex academy projects, including rebrokerages and transfers.
  • Secured the first ever FGM Prevention Order sought by a school.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The education team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP provides advice to schools, academy trusts, FE colleges, HE institutions and private education institutions. Areas of expertise include employment, charity law, litigation and dispute management, real estate, corporate and commercial, health and safety and regulatory advice. Diane Gilhooley heads the firm’s education group from the Manchester office, and is particularly known for her work in employment, governance and litigation. Siân Jones-Davies  is recommended for contentious and non-contentious student-related issues. Robert Gray was promoted to partner in May 2020 and has experience in higher and further education employment law.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley


‘Excellent, pragmatic and succinct advice.’


Key clients

University of Manchester

University of Bradford

Manchester Metropolitan University

Sheffield Hallam University

Harper Adams University

London South Bank University

University of Central Lancashire

Cardinal Newman College

Loughborough University

Middlesex University

Altius Trust

Congleton MAT

Wellington School

The Harmony Trust

Hamblin Education Trust

The Dunham Trust

Sola Fide C of E Trust

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP focuses on advising higher education institutions, and is known for handling high-profile construction projects, often with an international component. The practice is also called in by universities dealing with highly sensitive situations such as student suicides and on-campus deaths. In addition, it provides advice on funding, commercial issues, capital projects and outsourcing. Martin Vincent heads the department, and has significant experience in complex contractual, procurement-related and academic joint ventures.

Practice head(s):

Martin Vincent


‘The team provide a one-stop solution and have consistently provided an excellent service. They are very responsive to a broad range of different requests and always deliver to agreed timescales, which are often very tight.’

Key clients

University of Greenwich

Sunderland University

Queen Mary University

Solent University

Cumbria University

Lancaster University

Open University

Newcastle University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Leicester University

Work highlights

  • Advised the University of Greenwich on procurement and outsourcing.
  • Advised Manchester Metropolitan University on funding from the National Collaborative Outreach Programme.

Forbes Solicitors

Forbes Solicitors provides a broad range of services for clients in the education sector, including local authorities, academy trusts, secondary schools, independent schools and further education colleges. Key areas of advice and support include employment, disputes, corporate and commercial matters, governance, procurement, public liability, health and safety, data protection, risk management, contracts and property. Jonathan Holden, who heads the team, has significant expertise in employment law and local government pensions. Ruth Rule-Mullen is noted for her work advising education clients in managing their trade union relations.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Holden


‘Ruth Rule-Mullen has been exceptional in the support and advice she has provided. ‘

Key clients

Blackburn College


Preston’s College

The Spencer Academy Trust

The Gorse Academies Trust

Rossall School

Bolton School

Penwortham Priory Academy

Lostock Hall Academy

Education Partnership

Cidari Multi-Academy Trust

Nelson & Colne College

Pendle Education Trust

Chaigeley School

The Aspire Foundation

QEGS Blackburn Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Successfully represented the Education Partnership Trust in an unfair dismissal, discrimination and complex whistleblowing claim.
  • Retained ongoing provision of governance, GDPR and asset management to the Cidari Multi-Academy Trust.
  • Defended a local authority over claims related to bullying in a school.

Hill Dickinson LLP

Hill Dickinson LLP acts for schools in both the maintained and non-maintained sectors. The practice provides a full range of services, handling academy conversions, employment and trade union matters, guidance on parental issues, advice on admissions and exclusions, governance and data protection issues. Luke Green heads the schools group and has particular experience in safeguarding, governance, equality issues and all aspects of legal compliance.

Practice head(s):

Luke Green

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Hart; Joe Orme


‘The team offers a range of expertise and is very in tune with the education sector and its challenges’


Key clients

Star Academies

Endeavour Learning Trust

The Bay Learning Trust

Wade Deacon Trust

Feversham Education Trust

Frank Field Education Trust

University of Salford

University of Liverpool

Work highlights

  • Advised Endeavour Learning Trust on negotiating a recognition and collective agreement with the national teaching and support staff unions.
  • Advised Sat Academies on the conversion of Al-Hijrah school into the trust.
  • Advised the Shire Multi-Academy trust on the rebrokerage of their two academies.

Mills & Reeve LLP

The education team at Mills & Reeve LLP focuses on higher and further education institutions across the region. Key areas of work include advising on the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, debt capital markets work and private placements for HE institutions, support to HE institutions over strike action by lecturers, guidance on sexual harassment on campus, and large-scale student accommodation projects. Sara Barrett, who has significant experience in employment law in the sector, jointly leads the team with Richard Sykes.

Practice head(s):

Sara Barrett; Richard Sykes

Other key lawyers:

Christian Bull; Paul Knight


‘Richard Sykes has deep knowledge of the HE sector with a particular expertise in advising on issues related to students as consumers.’

‘The breadth and depth of expertise available stands out. This team is instructed by Russell Group universities in disciplinary matters, High Court litigation including judicial review, employment disputes and regulatory matters. It really does cover the whole spectrum of issues which a HEI may need high calibre advice on. The team is often involved in or has first knowledge of cutting edge cases and developments.’

‘Thorough, pragmatic and approachable.’

Key clients

LTE Group

Edge Hill University

Manchester Metropolitan University

NCG Corporation

Royal Northern College of Music

University of Bolton

University of Bradford

University of Liverpool

University of Manchester

University of Salford

Work highlights

  • Advised Salford University on its transformative campus plan.
  • Represented the University of Liverpool in an inquest into the suicide of a student.
  • Advised the LTE Group on Complex TUPE issues arising from transfer of prison training.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP provides a broad range of services within the higher education space, including guidance on employment law, data protection, contentious and non-contentious regulatory work, information sharing in the context of mental health, and acquisitions and disposals of education assets. The team has a strong offering for student accommodation projects, with particular experience on the sponsor side of private sector and university partnering arrangements. Michael Pocock, who has significant expertise in development and planning, heads the practice. Legal director Pippa Whitmore leads the firm's education finance bank lending practice.

Practice head(s):

Michael Pocock


‘An approachable and responsive service with deep technical knowledge.’

Key clients

Bricks Capital UK Limited

University of Chester

University of Sheffield

Stockport Council

The University of London

University of Hertfordshire

London Legacy Development Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised Bricks Capital on the property and planning of numerous student accommodation schemes throughout the UK.
  • Retained by the University of Sheffield to provide planning advice in relation to the continued expansion of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield.
  • Advised the University of Chester in their search for a development partner to deliver a £100m redevelopment of Thornton Science Park.

SAS Daniels LLP

SAS Daniels LLP fields a team of specialists in employment law and human resources, with a particular focus on SMEs in the education sector. The team provides 'swift and effective resolutions to problems which could otherwise continue for months'. The team also handles matters relating to discrimination work and performance and sickness management. Former practice head Karen Barker left the firm in mid-2020.


‘The expertise of the team means my school is in safe hands.’

‘The advice provided puts the interests and operational needs of the school first and seeks swift and effective resolutions to problems which could otherwise continue for months.’

Simpson Millar LLP

The practice at Simpson Millar LLP is focused on schools, handles a range of work touching on SEND tribunals, failure to provide education, discrimination and admissions and exclusions. The team is experienced in meeting the needs of vulnerable clients and the parents of vulnerable children. Imogen Jolley heads the practice, and has particular expertise in school admissions and exclusions, advocating in Special Needs Tribunals and in diabetes SEND cases.

Practice head(s):

Imogen Jolley

Work highlights

  • Represented a girl with ASD who had been subject to repeated isolation.
  • Represented a four-year-old child in a SEND tribunal appeal against sections B, F and I.
  • Represented a child with SEN who was not receiving adequate support and was in an unsuitable school placement.