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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 > South East > Human resources > Pensions > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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The ‘very responsive team’ at Blake Morgan LLP is ‘excellent in all areas, very responsive and always has good advice’, while being ‘punctual in all work and quick to react to short-term issues’. The team advises a mixture of trustees and employers, and has its own independent professional trusteeship service. The ‘personable, responsive and practical’ John Hamilton leads the practice; he is assisting SAS International on an ongoing basis in relation to its closed defined benefit pension scheme and has been acting for Olivetti on various matters, including a project to correct its pension benefits and a feasibility study for a buy-out of scheme benefits with an insurance company. The team’s longstanding relationship with AJ Gallagher, handled primarily by legal director Rupert Graham-Evans, allows the team to service wider benefits considerations including healthcare trusts and life assurance documentation work. Legal director Adrian Lamb and senior associate Sean McNulty are other key team members.

Maria Riccio's ‘small but highly experienced and effective pensions team’ at Penningtons Manches Cooper is ‘excellent and always readily available, providing prompt, succinct and clear advice’. The ‘friendly, reliable and very personable’ Riccio is ‘extremely knowledgeable and discusses legally difficult issues in a clear and understandable manner’. Riccio is particularly recommended for defined benefit plan matters, as well as being the key lawyer in the team dealing with large pensions projects including scheme mergers and closures, major documentation exercises and debt issues. Riccio is primarily assisted by senior associate Clare Coley, whose key focus is on defined contribution pensions and in particular defined contribution governance and auto-enrolment. Highlights included acting for the representative of a beneficiary in a compromise of a Part 8 claim heard in the High Court in Manchester and continuing to support Trethowans LLP with pensions considerations of various corporate transactions.

The ‘efficient pensions team’ at Shoosmiths LLP is headed nationally by ‘outstanding lawyer’ David Thompson, who is ‘technically and intellectually very strong’, with ‘a very good client manner’. Thompson and associate Kunjan Sembhi advised the One Ecolab Pension Plan Trustee on a merger of the sectionalised scheme of a new section comprising deferred benefits from an overseas plan, among other items. The firm’s Milton Keynes pensions team is led by Heather Chandler, who is ‘very approachable, experienced, understands trustees' concerns and addresses queries raised in a very effective manner and timescale’. Chandler provides advice on an ongoing basis to the Trustees of the Inmarsat Pension Plan. The pensions teams in the Reading and Solent offices are led by Suzanne Burrell and Tracey Hemingway respectively.

The Pitmans LLP team possesses considerable experience in benefit restructuring cases, while also having a niche specialism in creating self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs), small self-administered schemes (SSASs) and other executive arrangements, drafting master trusts, and buy-in and buy-out projects. David Hosford heads the team and deals with all areas of non-contentious pensions law, including reorganisations, scheme mergers, and restructuring and general compliance advice. Hosford recently advised the Hitek DB Pension Scheme Trustees on a proposed flexible apportionment arrangement and advised the Trustees of the Eason & Son (NI) Superannuation Fund regarding the employer’s proposal to pay enhanced transfer values. Symon Rowley left the practice to join DWF.

The 'value for money' Stevens & Bolton LLP gives ‘excellent advice and support and clear useful advice provided in a timely manner’. The firm’s expertise covers a broad range of pensions matters, such as governance, benefit changes, winding-up and Pension Protection Fund-related issues, across a wide range of industry sectors including autmobiles and parts, consumer product manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Key figure Gabrielle Holgate ‘gives an outstanding service; she is thorough and knowledgeable and gives easy to understand advice’; she recently assisted Godiva with the review of a life assurance trust deed and relevant rules for the provision of life assurance benefits and continues to advise the trustees of the Wincor Nixdorf defined benefit and Diebold Nixdorf defined contribution pension schemes. Senior associate James Lister joined the team from Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, bringing his substantial experience of advising pension scheme trustees and employers regarding their position in contentious situations.

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