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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Northern Ireland > Human resources > Employment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

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

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Who Represents Who

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The employment practice at A&L Goodbody represents employers in contentious and non-contentious employment matters. Clients are drawn from a range of sectors, including manufacturing, retail and technology. Recent highlights include acting for Bewley’s Tea & Coffee in a restrictive covenant matter after a former employee left to work for a competitor, and advising JBS on employment issues arising from its $1.3bn sale of Moy Park. The ‘responsive, pragmatic and proactive’ Gareth Walls  leads the team.

Arthur Cox Belfast’s ‘highly professional, competent and reliable’ employment practice handles contentious and non-contentious employment matters for employers. Recent mandates for the team include advising Coca-Cola HBC NI in a number of disciplinary investigations into alleged breaches of conduct in the Republic of Ireland; acting for key client Bunzl, a distribution company, in a contentious matter pertaining to a redundancy exercise within its senior management team; and advising manufacturer Thompson Aero Seating on acquiring sponsorship licences to permit individuals from outside the jurisdiction to travel and work for the company. Litigation expert Rosemary Lundy  leads the team and is ‘always responsive and commercial in her advice; she understands the key issues very quickly’. In 2017, Lundy defended Firmus Energy before the Industrial Tribunal against allegations of sex discrimination. Emma-Jane Flannery is noted for her expertise in contentious matters and garners praise for her ‘excellent judgement coupled with strong analytical skills’. Other clients include Aer Lingus, which the firm advises on a range of employment issues, from industrial action to restructuring matters.

Carson McDowell’s employment practice provides an ‘excellent service’ across a wide spectrum of matters, including discrimination and equality claims, TUPE issues, unfair dismissal claims and advisory and regulatory work. The client base includes well-known Northern Ireland-based companies as well as international entities from a range of sectors, including logistics, finance, food production, technology and transportation. The firm has successfully defended key client Royal Mail Group in a number of claims concerning unfair dismissal, discrimination, breach of contract and harassment. Other clients include the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, Ulster University and Xilinx. Litigation expert Orlagh O'Neill leads the ‘highly responsive and knowledgeable’ team. Rachel Penny is ‘extremely knowledgeable, clever, practical and approachable’ and is noted for her expertise in TUPE matters, redundancies and reorganisations. Associate Sarah Cochrane has notable experience in corporate employment matters.

Employment boutique Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors  has an excellent reputation for representing public sector employers in large-scale disputes and restructurings as well as high-profile individuals in contentious matters. Adam Brett is noted for his expertise in TUPE claims; Beverley Jones has notable strength in equal pay matters and an established public sector client base. Fiona Cassidy has extensive experience advising clients on discrimination cases and in matters involving human rights issues. Ciara Fulton’s expertise includes restructuring and harassment cases. Alison Collins recently left the firm.

Tughans’ employment group acts for employers in a range of industries, including manufacturing, agri-food, finance and energy. Recent work for the group includes advising on employment aspects arising from multimillion-pound mergers and acquisitions, restrictive covenants, unfair dismissals, TUPE issues and discrimination claims. The ‘practical and extremely thorough’ Anna Beggan  leads the team; she has ‘excellent interpersonal skills’ and a solid track record handling discrimination claims before the Industrial Tribunal. Director Patricia Rooney  is ‘very approachable and considerate of clients' needs’ and has been handling unfair dismissal claims and restrictive covenant matters. Director Rachel Richardson  is ‘very professional’ and is experienced in TUPE issues.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s ‘excellent’ practice attracts praise for its ‘expert knowledge of the area’. The client base includes private and public sector entities such as leading supermarket chains, educational bodies, county councils and third-sector entities. Recent work for the team includes advising on structuring issues, discrimination claims and disciplinary proceedings. Clients include the Co-Op Group, National Museums of Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast, and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment. The ‘very thorough’ Michael Black leads the team, which includes the ‘excellent’ Aisling Byrne, who was promoted to associate director in 2017; both attract praise for their ‘practicality, sound knowledge, confidence and levelheadedness’.

The highly regarded Adrienne Brock leads the employment practice at Elliott Duffy Garrett, which represents employers from a range of sectors, including housing, retail and financial services, and has a track record in assisting third-sector clients with large-scale disputes. Recent work includes TUPE issues as well as unfair dismissal and discrimination related disputes. Julie Anne Clarke  is ‘very clear and direct in her advice’ and garners praise for her ‘good market knowledge’. Associate Chiara Hutton is well versed in acting for clients in tribunal cases.

Millar McCall Wylie LLP’s employment group is adept in contentious and non-contentious employment matters. On the non-contentious side, the team is noted for advising companies on their entry into the Northern Ireland market and providing advice on day-to-day employment issues; highlights included advising commercial printing company Nicholson Base on its purchase by the Bradley Group and TUPE matters pertaining to staff transfers. On the contentious side, Jan Cunningham and solicitor Louise McNally acted for the Ulster branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union on the employment rights of two professional rugby players facing allegations of rape; the players were cleared of the charges. In another key matter, solicitor Kevin Gallagher successfully represented a client before the Industrial Tribunal in a high-profile claim brought against the Northern Ireland Prison Service of discrimination on the grounds of sex.

Pinsent Masons Belfast LLP’s employment team provides ‘an excellent service’ to private-sector employers in unfair dismissal claims, discrimination cases, TUPE issues and non-contentious restructuring matters. In a key mandate, the group advised Queen’s University Belfast on partial performance strike action, which included advising on how employers can validly deduct pay from employees in such a strike. In another highlight, the firm successfully defended Primark in a claim brought by a former employee of unfair dismissal and discrimination on the basis of disability, sex and political opinion. Paul Gillen, a ‘leader in his field,’ heads the practice, which also includes associate Leeanne Armstrong.

Employment boutique Rosemary Connolly Solicitors Limited houses highly regarded employment law practitioner Rosemary Connolly, who is well known for representing individual claimants, corporates and public bodies in a range of claims. Recent work includes disability discrimination claims, equal pay cases for high-net-worth female clients, and TUPE matters.

Eversheds Sutherland’s employment practice provides ‘pragmatic and reliable advice’ on a range of matters, including discrimination claims, TUPE issues, and acting for employers in tribunal cases. Principal associate Lisa Bryson leads the practice and is ‘very responsive’; she is defending a construction sector client against two claims of religious discrimination following a recruitment exercise for a senior level position within the company. Key clients include Marks & Spencer, Northern Ireland-based home care service Glen Caring, and Independent News and Media.

Mills Selig’s employment practice has core strength in acting for employers in tribunal cases as well as TUPE issues; highlights included assisting healthcare equipment company Hospital Services Limited with TUPE transfer matters pertaining to the acquisition of two companies. The ‘pragmatic, commercial and responsive’ Kiera Lee leads the practice.

The employment team at Thompsons NI Solicitors garners praise for its ‘comprehensive knowledge of employment relations and equality law in Northern Ireland’. The practice is known for its client base of trade unions and also represents individual employees in a range of claims, with notable strength in discrimination and equal pay disputes. Highlights included successfully representing six clients before the Employment Tribunal in claims of unfair dismissal due to being members of Unite the Union. Solicitors Paul Upson and George Kilpatrick are the key names.

Worthingtons’ employment practice is well known for defending employers in industrial tribunal claims, and has seen an uptick in instructions from local councils; recent mandates include advising Mid & East Antrim Borough Council on a trade union dispute and strike action in relation to water quality inspectors within the council. Maxine Orr (‘a skilful, tough but fair negotiator’) leads the team; Louise McAloon provides ‘practical and expert advice’ and has expertise in TUPE issues.

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Legal Developments in Northern Ireland for Employment

  • Companies should plan now to minimise their pension protection levy

    The amount that pension schemes have to pay to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) for the year 2006/07 may have increased by as much as five times the previous year's levy. Employers who ultimately bear the cost of many pension schemes will need to make plans now to ensure the levy payable for the year 2008/09 is kept to a minimum.
    - Stephenson Harwood

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