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United Kingdom > South East > Human resources > Employment: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Employment: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx
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B P Collins LLP's employment practice is 'a pleasure to work with; the team is well organised and its lawyers give clear, full instructions and work hard to develop relationships with clients'. It acts for a number of corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals on a range of employment matters, with notable strength in restrictive covenant matters. It also handles business immigration matters and focuses on issues arising from the automotive, IT, retail, manufacturing, construction and pharmaceutical industries. 'Outstanding' practice head Jo Davis advised Number 8 Group, which provides construction workers to construction companies, on a possible £100,000 tax levy by the Construction Industry Training Board arising from a change in the law, which involved an analysis of the law around employment status for the purposes of the levy. In another key mandate, senior associate Chris Brazier (who is 'organised, sharp and inspires confidence in his clients') represented TMD Technologies in an Employment Tribunal claim by one of its former senior managers alleging age discrimination and unfair dismissal. Other key figures include Kathryn Fielder, whose 'guidance and direction are impeccable, and who demonstrates sensitivity and compassion to clients'.

Dentons' employment practice is rated 'very highly for the¬†quality of its advice', with clients singling out practice head¬†Sarah Beeby, who 'understands clients' business constraints and goes¬†above and beyond to provide timely, accurate advice on often complex scenarios and to tight timeframes'. The team handles the full range of employment mandates, from providing day-to-day employment advice to acting on complex international projects, across a variety of sectors, including retail, transport and TMT. In an illustration of the practice's track record in handling large-scale, multi-jurisdictional mandates, Beeby led the team advising KKR on the employment aspects of its ‚ā¨6.8bn acquisition of Unilever's spreads business, which involved dealing with works council issues and negotiating the employment aspects of the auction drafts. Other highlights included advising Virgin Atlantic Airways on its gender pay reporting obligations, including handling all aspects of variable pay for cabin crew and pilots, checking sample calculations and reviewing the full report prepared in respect of the entire workforce. ¬†Verity Buckingham¬†regularly acts for clients in unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims.

EMW Law LLP has an extensive track record in Employment Tribunal claims, and is regularly called on to advise on internal redundancy procedures and restructurings, TUPE transfers, and the enforcement of post-employment restrictions. Jon Taylor heads the practice, which is best known for its banking sector expertise, where it acts for clients including Santander, as well as handling mandates in a wider range of industries, including the retail, food and recruitment sectors. On the retail front, the team advised a retail sector client on the employment status of a group of atypical workers following a challenge to status from HMRC, which involved designing and delivering bespoke training to improve store-level communications and safeguard against potential claims. Other clients include National Accident Helpline and Cognita Schools.

IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) fields 'an extremely efficient' team that 'keeps clients informed at all times'. It acts for a number of household names, as well as the UK subsidiaries of multinational companies, on a wide range of employment issues arising from large-scale projects, such as TUPE issues and redundancy matters, in sectors including charities, construction, automotive, technology and pharmaceutical. The firm's merger with Turbervilles in January 2018 has widened the practice's sector coverage further, and has strengthened the practice through the arrival of several key figures, including Marc Jones, who is 'extremely knowledgeable of all the legal aspects of unfair and wrongful dismissal; he is sympathetic to client concerns, yet realistic in how cases should be presented.' He joins a practice led by Justin Govier, who has particular expertise in redundancy matters, international and pan-European HR mandates, and drafting and implementing business and workforce strategic plans, among other employment areas. Also recommended are Richard Devall, whose expertise includes the enforcement of restrictive covenants, and Robert Dixon.

Shoosmiths LLP  's employment team provides service that is 'second to none' and 'practical, employer-focused advice'. Gwynneth Tan leads the team in Milton Keynes, which acts for public and private sector clients and links up with complementary practices such as tax, pensions and competition to cover the full range of employment law issues. Tan's wide-ranging expertise includes TUPE transfer issues, senior executive service agreements and exits, and post-termination restrictive covenants; her recent work includes acting alongside Sarah Lovell and Alex Newborough for Ultima Displays on breach of termination restrictions, misuse of confidential information and an unlawful team move involving seven former employees of the business. In an illustration of the firm's automotive sector credentials, Simon Fennell is acting for Volkswagen Group on TUPE issues related to a procurement process, which involved discussing the application of TUPE with potential bidders.

Blaser Mills strengthened its employment offering in 2017 with the recruitment of James Simpson from Blake Morgan LLP; he replaces Colin Smith as practice head, who now heads the firm's corporate and commercial department. Simpson ('a City-calibre employment lawyer, without the City rates whose advice is sensitive, down-to-earth, astute and sensitive to the needs of his clients') has more than 20 years' experience acting for employers across a range of issues, with particular emphasis on executive dismissals, restructurings, discrimination, whistleblowing and TUPE matters. The practice's client base covers the full spectrum of employers, from multinational corporations to small businesses, with the transport, technology, healthcare and recruitment sectors some of its key sector strengths. Recent work includes defending Oxford Bus Company in a religious discrimination claim involving allegations that the company's rota system discriminated against Seventh Day Adventists as it requires all driving staff to be available to work on any day of the week. Other clients include Epicor, for which Simpson has acted for more than 15 years, most recently providing employment law advice on the client's recent acquisition by private equity firm KKR. Jasmin Dhillon joined IBB (Iliffes Booth Bennett) in October 2017.

Debenhams Ottaway's 'excellent' employment practice is singled out by clients for 'matching expectations both in terms of expected outcomes and keeping legal costs down'. Headed by Louise Attrup  (who 'outshines employment lawyers in other local firms - her industry knowledge and applied advice are always first-rate'), the practice acts for owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs and SMEs on disciplinary and grievance procedures, redundancy and restructuring exercises, Employment Tribunal claims, restrictive covenants and data theft issues. Key clients include Brook Street, for which Attrup recently advised on issues arising from case law concerning pay for workers, mainly in the care sector. Michael Kerrigan regularly acts for clients in the healthcare and education sectors.

Longmores Solicitors LLP provides 'very good, practical advice' to employers and high-net-worth individuals on disciplinary and grievance procedures, discrimination, and TUPE, among other employment matters. It is particularly well regarded for its expertise in the recruitment and education sectors, where its clients include a national recruitment company and several independent schools. The practice also has considerable expertise in handling restrictive covenant and injunction remedies, with practice head Richard Gvero singled out for competition disputes and injunction proceedings.

Machins Solicitors LLP's employment practice provides 'an excellent level of service; the team is extremely quick to respond to emails, and always available on the phone within a few hours, if not immediately'. Practice head Jackie Cuneen is 'wonderful; as well as providing superb legal advice, she is able to judge the situation very well and take the best route in even the most emotionally straining cases'. The practice's clients span the public and private sectors, with particular strength in transport, aviation and manufacturing, as well as a growing profile in the third sector. Other key figures include Robert Bedford in Luton, who regularly represents businesses and executives in cases involving unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, sex, race, disability and age discrimination, breach of contract and TUPE.

SA Law LLP's employment team is rated highly for its 'wide range of industry knowledge - all queries raised are answered straight away and the team will respond proactively to legislative changes that may have an impact on clients' businesses'. Clients single out practice head Chris Cook for his willingness to 'think outside of the box and provide recommendations on issues ahead of time'. He is ably assisted by newly appointed Partner Keely Rushmore, who is 'very professional but friendly at the same time'.

Clients of Sherrards Solicitors LLP are 'very happy with the level of service' provided by the employment team; 'advice is provided in a timely manner and in a way that is down to earth and easy to understand'. The practice handles a range of contentious and non-contentious matters across a variety of sectors, including retail and leisure (where clients include the Giggling Squid restaurant chain), recruitment (where it acts for Berry Recruitment), franchising and logistics. The practice also handles the employment aspects of M&A transactions, and works closely with the firm's litigation department to handle High Court employment litigation. Recent work includes acting for Berry Recruitment on TUPE issues arising from being awarded a tender for the provision of agency workers employed under Swedish derogation contracts. Mark Fellows heads the practice and is 'an instrumental figure - his technical understanding and detailed, structured advice inspires confidence'. Joanne Perry is 'very commercial and provides practical solutions in a timely manner'.

The employment practice at Tees Law is headed by Robert Whitaker, who splits his time between the firm's Cambridge, Chelmsford and Bishop's Stortford offices and has more than 17 years' experience in TUPE matters and complex performance and conduct disputes involving senior staff and management. The practice's recent work includes advising on settlements for senior executives, particularly in the technology and telecommunications sectors, handling TUPE matters concerning the logistics, service, manufacturing and agriculture sectors,  and advising the fundraising Regulator on issues related to the gig economy and zero hours contracts.

VWV (Veale Wasbrough Vizards) is rated for its 'pragmatic, balanced and reasonable advice and its ability to provide workable alternatives to complex employment problems'.  The practice in Watford, which works closely with the teams in Bristol, London and Birmingham to provide a national employment offering, is highly regarded for its work in the higher education, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and recruitment sectors.  Michael Delaney (whose 'insight, knowledge and commercial aptitude are exceptionally sound') recently acted for Westminster Homecare in an Employment Tribunal claim for constructive  and wrongful dismissal brought by a former employee; Delaney successfully argued for a reduction in the compensation award by 30%. He also represented Squad Security in Employment Tribunal claims alleging unfair dismissal, victimisation, sex discrimination, and breach of contract.

Howes Percival LLP 'is simply fantastic; response times are always excellent, its understanding of the client's business is always spot on, and advice always meets clients' needs'. The practice acts for a number of household-name brands (including Mercedes-Benz), as well as senior executives, for which it handles complex tribunal claims and severance issues. Recent highlights include advising Welcome Break on warranties, indemnities and TUPE issues related to its acquisition of two Starbucks franchises, and acted for the shareholders of Woodway Packaging on the employment aspects of its acquisition by international distribution and outsourcing group, Bunzl, which involved advising the directors on the terms of their new service agreements. Paula Bailey heads the team in Milton Keynes, which includes Simon DeMaid, who 'always understands clients' needs, explains the risks behind each decision and does everything in his power to mitigate those risks'.

Moorcrofts LLP's employment team is 'excellent at all levels - service is very professional, efficient and always with the customer in mind'. It has wide-ranging employment expertise, with an emphasis on post-termination restrictions, TUPE and restructuring matters. The practice also has an extensive track record in Employment Tribunal claims, as well as handling High Court litigation and injunctions. Practice head Matt Jenkin ('an extremely pragmatic, practical and exceptionally knowledgeable lawyer who ensures that his advice is easy to understand) is regularly called on to assist clients with restructurings and reorganisations, in addition to advising on TUPE issues and acting for senior executives on termination issues. Senior associate Nicola Whelan's expertise covers restrictive covenants and business restructuring matters.

Nockolds Solicitors' 'very approachable' employment team is noted for its 'fantastic response times and great advice'. Clients single out Gary Smith, who is 'accessible, professional, listens, and has excellent knowledge and a great sense of humour'. The practice's clients span the gamut of employers, from start-up businesses to PLCs, and has established a strong reputation acting for senior executives  and assisting with UK employment issues on behalf of the Latin American Trade and Investment Association (LATIA), which comprises 19 Latin American companies. Practice head Darren Hayward is also recommended.

Taylor Walton LLP attracts praise for its 'fast response times, strong business acumen, commercial solutions that take into account the client's business culture, and good value for money'. The employment practice handles the full range of contentious and non-contentious issues, from outsourcing and TUPE work, Employment Tribunal claims. Heather Cowley heads the department, which includes Alec Colson, who is noted for his 'pragmatic solutions and innovative approach'. In addition to handling standalone employment mandates, the practice also provides support to the firm's corporate and commercial department on corporate transactions, often with a cross-border component.

Clients of Woodfines LLP enjoy 'a high level of service and sound advice' from the employment team, which is headed by Andrew Buckley, who is appreciated for his 'good response times, understanding of issues, and pro-active approach'. The practice handles the full range of contentious and non-contentious matters, from TUPE transfer issues and settlement agreements to Tribunal and civil court litigation. Buckley recently acted for 31 contract cleaners who worked for a cleaning company which sold the cleaners' services to an end user who refused to accept a TUPE transfer following the closure of its premises and refusal to contribute to the cost of the cleaners' redundancies. Buckley reached an agreement that the end user and the cleaning company would each be responsible for 50% of the monies due to the cleaners. Senior associate Maria Gallucci is noted for 'providing advice in a way that makes it easier for non-lawyers to understand and make an informed decision'.

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