Next Generation Partners

Firms To Watch: Public sector

Mills & Reeve LLP‘s Oxford office opened in April 2022, and is led by Sarah Reed, who splits her time between Cambridge and Oxford. The team excels in providing advise on financial matters to high-profile clients such as the University of Oxford.

Public sector in South East

Blake Morgan LLP

Local government work is at the heart of Blake Morgan LLP‘s well-established public sector department, which is also reputed in the health and education sectors. Key contacts for the firm's specialism in local authority leisure projects include Penny Rinta-Suksi, Rajiv Joshi and Edward McMullen. Rinta-Suksi leads the local government team and is recommended by clients as ‘a star in the leisure procurement field’, while Bruce Potter is head of the firm’s nationwide health and care practice. Educational lead Matthew Smith and Vicky Schollar specialise in contentious and non-contentious employment matters. Jennifer Sore, who is ‘outstanding in Highway Law’, is a primary contact for the firm’s local authority clients in the Thames Valley.

Practice head(s):

Penny Rinta-Suksi; Bruce Potter; Matthew Smith

Other key lawyers:

Rajiv Joshi; Edward McMullen; Vicky Schollar; Jennifer Sore


‘Very experienced in the leisure contract procurement field. Great subject knowledge and understanding of the key commercial implications of contractual drafting.’

‘Penny Rinta-Suksi is a star in the leisure procurement field. Her contractual knowledge is unmatched and has a high level of commercial awareness.’

‘The subject knowledge of the team in an educational setting is a huge strength of the firm.’

‘Jenny Sore is an excellent solicitor and is very knowledgeable and friendly. She provides good, clear advice on legal matters and is especially outstanding in Highway Law.”

‘Blake Morgan has always been responsive to our needs and always responded in a timely fashion when the named contact was not available.’

‘Jenny Sore is very knowledgeable, and able to get to the real issue and quickly.’

‘Great attention to detail and client knowledge across the team. Always very responsive and great at forward planning.’

‘Rajiv Joshi is very good at identifying the critical issues in any legal matter, and providing a clear rationale for his advice.’

Key clients

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and The Metropolitan Police Service

Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Royal Borough of Kingston on Thames

Westminster City Council

Reading Borough Council

Surrey County Council

Oxfordshire County Council

Test Valley Borough Council

Mansfield District Council

West Berkshire District Council

Buckinghamshire County Council

North Norfolk District Council

Dover District Council

New College, Oxford

Balliol College, Oxford

Oxford Foundation for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence

Portsmouth Diocesan Trust

University of Reading

Christ Church College, Oxford

Brasenose College, Oxford

University College, Oxford

Magdalen College, Oxford

Oxford University Development Limited

University of Chichester Multi-Academy Trust

The Portsmouth Grammar School

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

NHS Resolution

NHS England

NHS Wales

Work highlights

  • Advising New College on the procurement approach, appointment of its design team, and construction contracts in relation to its proposed redevelopment of a new Quadrangle within the College estate.
  • Continued to provide advice to the NMC’s specialist services team, focusing on complex and high-profile cases, arising from health care settings that have been subject of major investigations and inquiries, for consideration by its Screening Decision Makers.


Praised for its successful representation of NHS trusts and having ‘the highest standards of customer care‘, Brachers‘ multidisciplinary education, employment and healthcare team leverages the firm’s commercial property and planning teams, and is equipped to deal with the whole range of work in the public sector. Co-head Ash Jilani focuses on primary care property matters, while fellow co-head and healthcare expert Catherine Daw is praised by clients as ‘an outstanding employment lawyer’. Co-head Colin Smith and Abigail Brightwell are further key contacts for employment related matters.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Daw; Ash Jilani; Colin Smith

Other key lawyers:

Abigail Brightwell; Lee May


‘High degree of technical knowledge of the law, combined with the highest standards of customer care. I’m really impressed with every single case that comes from Brachers because it is so well prepared. Their lawyers work as a team with counsel to produce the best result for the client.’

“Catherine Daw is an outstanding employment lawyer who is fiercely bright, very committed to her clients and completely on top of the law.’

‘Abigail Brightwell is another astute, very bright and perceptive lawyer who is similarly committed to her clients.’

‘Every set of instructions is excellent. Very few solicitors firms can say that! But it goes to the heart of their mission to help their customers.’

‘They have a deep specialism in the medical sector.’

‘They have sector knowledge, and communicate in clear language.’

Key clients

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

East Kent Hospital NHS Foundation Trust



Benenden Hospital

Medway Practices Alliance

Phoenix Medical Centre

Canterbury Medical Practice

Edenbridge Medical Practice

Five Acre Wood School

EKC Group

The Academy of Woodlands

Rivermead Inclusive Trust

Work highlights

  • Represented Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in a piece of litigation involving five claims against multiple respondents, ten appeals and tens of thousands of emails from the claimant.
  • Advised Greensand Medical Practice on development agreements for a significant development of a primary care medical centre.
  • Successfully represented Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in the widely reported case of Ibrahim v MTW, which has clarified the law in relation to the payment of bank/temporary workers at times when their ability to work via a temporary work bank was suspended.


Cripps is sought out by a broad range of clients from the public sector, including central government bodies, local authorities and universities. The team is especially well versed in asset management, property dispute resolution, development and regeneration work. James Lee heads up the construction practice and specialises in non-contentious transactional work for a range of high-profile clients, while Miles Paffard leads the property dispute resolution team, and stands out for handling complex high-value landlord and tenant matters. Head of the planning team Beth Gascoyne is well equipped to work on an array of complex planning matters, such as Section 106 agreements for regeneration and development projects. In early 2024, the firm merged with Horsham-based firm PDT Solicitors, which added the expertise of James Clewlow, Holly Goacher and Oliver Parsons.

Practice head(s):

James Lee; Miles Paffard

Other key lawyers:

Beth Gascoyne; James Clewlow; Holly Goacher; Oliver Parsons


‘This team is always available when I need them, friendly and approachable.’

‘The solicitors are our ‘go-to’ lawyers.’

Key clients

Home Office

Crawley Borough Council

Canterbury Christ Church University

Ashford Borough Council

Eastbourne Borough Council

Runnymede Borough Council

Sevenoaks District Council

Slough Borough Council

Lewes District Council

South East Water

Town and Country Housing

University of Kent

Work highlights

  • Advised Slough Borough Council on its Urban Renewal Project alongside development partner Morgan Sindall; provided construction and property litigation advice for the creation of a new library and football stadium, four new leisure centres, school refurbishments, housing and infrastructure projects and advised on contentious employment matters.
  • Acting for Sevenoaks District Council on the negotiation of a s106 agreement in connection with an application for 340 dwellings, land for a four-form entry secondary school, land for a community facility and improvements to the town railway station.
  • Advising Runnymede Borough Council in relation to the development of a mixed-use urban regeneration scheme known as Egham Gateway West, with the intention to create a new cultural quarter in Egham Town Centre.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

Praised as ‘incredibly knowledgeable’, DAC Beachcroft LLP is sought out by high-profile healthcare clients, such as NHS England, and also counts the Department for Education on its roster. The firm’s public sector teams are led by Nigel Montgomery, Heather Durston-Hillyer, Gill Weatherill, Belinda Dix, Udara Ranasinghe and Stan Campbell. Dix is an expert for healthcare law, and covers patient care, regulatory and governance matters, while Durston-Hillyer leads the clinical negligence team in Winchester, and has particular experience in birth injury and wrongful birth claims. The firm’s infrastructure and projects team has grown significantly in recent years, and advises local authorities on complex redevelopment, regeneration and infrastructure schemes. Matthew McGrath retired in April 2022.

Practice head(s):

Nigel Montgomery; Heather Durston-Hillyer; Gill Weatherill; Belinda Dix; Udara Ranasinghe; Stan Campbell


All team members are kind, considerate, responsive to queries, and incredibly knowledgeable in the areas they work in.’

Key clients

NHS Resolution

Medical Defence Union

NHS England

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

United Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust (formerly Bournemouth and Poole Trusts)

Isle of Wight NHS Trust

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

South Central Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust

Solent NHS Trust

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Dorset County NHS Foundation Trust

Dorset ICB

National Highways

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

Surrey County Council

Department for Education

Panel Appointments

NHS Resolution



Crown Commercial Solutions

NHS Commercial Solutions

RSA Complex Loss

WR Berkley Themis

MS Amlin Casualty (inc Med-mal)

Work highlights

  • Advising multiple NHS providers on their responses to upcoming strike action from nurses and other health workers and in particular ensuring that hospitals ensure they can deliver emergency and urgent care on strike days.
  • Advised University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust on the negotiation and completion of a development agreement with Prime in respect of a Park & Ride facility.
  • Appointed by National Highways as its sole adviser for major projects and operations.

Birkett Long LLP

With a strong healthcare practice and an experienced education team, Birkett Long LLP broadens its offering with expert knowledge on regulatory law. Tim Field leads the business team, and excels in contractual matters, as well as high-value M&A. Expert for partnerships and corporate transactions Tracey Dickens heads up the firm’s commercial department, and is respected by clients for the ‘high standard’ of her advice. Head of education Thomas Emmett‘s recent workload includes advising on health and safety issues, discrimination law and issues of governance.

Practice head(s):

Tim Field; Thomas Emmett

Other key lawyers:

Tracey Dickens; Kimberley Hircock


‘Each team member I dealt with was efficient, polite and knowledgeable. Dealing with the problem I faced was made much easier with their calm and professional approach to the work they do. I would recommend the team to my own colleagues.’

‘Tracey Dickens was quick to grasp the difficulties I had, and readily responded to various questions that arose, as the matter was dealt with. She was easily contactable and prompt in her replies, and the work done was of a high standard.’

‘Approachable and efficient solicitors.’

Key clients

Healthcare Homes Limited

Healthcare Homes Group Limited

Healthcare Homes (2020) Limited

Healthcare Homes (LSC) Limited

Healthcare Homes (Genesis) Limited

Manorcourt Care (Norfolk) Limited

Runwood Homes Limited

St Helena Hospice

Birketts LLP

With a strong presence in Essex, Birketts LLP‘s public sector team is equipped to provide an all-round service to its local government, healthcare and education clients, by working closely with a number of the firm’s other specialist departments. Abigail Trencher leads the dedicated education team, while employment expert Matthew Newnham heads up the health team, and Ruth Neave leads the overall department, as well as the local government team. Neave’s practice extends to procurement, strategic partnership, and public sector governance mandates.

Practice head(s):

Ruth Neave; Abigail Trencher; Matthew Newnham

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Sloan

Key clients

Basildon Borough Council

Brentwood Borough Council

Rochford District Council

Chelmsford City Council

Epping Forest District Council

Broxbourne Borough Council

London Borough of Lewisham

The College of West Anglia

Teaching Regulation Agency

Diamond Learning Partnership Trust

Sempra Homes Limited

Seven Arches Investments Limited

Harlow Council

The London Borough of Haringey

Jesus College, Oxford

Anglia Ruskin University

Blandy & Blandy LLP

Led by Nick Burrows, Blandy & Blandy LLP‘s charities and education team in Thames Valley is well versed in advising clients such as local governments, schools, colleges and universities on an array of matters, including mergers, joint ventures, and restructurings. One of the team’s standout features is its expertise in complex property and development deals. Several solicitors also have experience of working in public sector organisations, including universities and local authorities, giving the team in-depth knowledge of the market.

Practice head(s):

Nick Burrows

Key clients

University of Oxford

University of Reading

Reading Borough Council

St Joseph’s College

The Abbey School

The Oratory School

Pangbourne College

Career Connect


Prior’s Court Foundation

Martin Searle Solicitors

Reputed for its expert advice in the healthcare sector, Martin Searle Solicitors' community care law team in Brighton specialises in representing individuals and their families against decisions made by health service providers, and has a proven track record of Court of Protection work. Department head and ‘go-to person for complex funding cases’, Cate Searle is regularly instructed by professional clients, such as personal injury litigators, professional deputies and attorneys, while Paula Jones has specialist knowledge of mental capacity law. Chartered legal executive Clare English also contributes to the practice’s community care work.

Practice head(s):

Cate Searle

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Crick; Clare English; Paula Jones


‘The company is professional, prompt and highly efficient.’

‘They have carved out a niche practice helping clients and professionals fight for the rights of individuals. They are influencers in change and a go-to for comment on any new developments. Cate Searle is unashamedly the market leader and go-to person for complex funding cases.’

‘Paula Jones is a pleasure to work with. She is extremely knowledgeable in the care act as well as the complexities of deputyship work.’

Work highlights

  • Advising on safeguarding a vulnerable man’s right to be cared for in his own home and to inform the settlement of his personal injury claim.
  • Challenging Social Services on behalf of a learning disabled young adult with significant care and support needs, ensuring that he was able to move to his preferred residential placement.
  • Representing a client in successfully challenging the NHS CHC team over its underfunding of her care package, which left the client at risk of her care package becoming unsafe and unsustainable, and securing a package worth £185,000 per year.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Described by clients as ‘one of the top firms working in the public sector’, Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP education department is equipped to advise a broad range of higher and further education clients. Led by employment expert Daff Richardson in Oxford, the team’s areas of work also include real estate and regulatory law as well as reputation management issues. The ‘truly outstanding’ Sam Rose is a key contact for consumer law, public law challenges, governance issues and disputes relating to teaching and assessment.

Practice head(s):

Daff Richardson

Other key lawyers:

Hilary Aldred; Sam Rose; Sophie Whitebread; Gemma Woodhouse


‘Highly responsive and client focused. Experts in their field who show wide industry knowledge.’

‘Sam Rose is a truly outstanding lawyer who we instruct on a repeat basis because of her wide knowledge, breadth of experience, responsiveness, excellent client care and sound judgment. Sam has proved a very safe pair of hands for the most complex and sensitive cases.’

‘An incredibly hard-working team, creative with their legal arguments and unflappable under pressure. They are one of the top firms working in the public sector.’

‘Hilary Aldred is the go-to solicitor on the intersection between public sector law, employment law and education law. She knows everything there is to know in this area.’

‘Sophie Whitbread is a star. Hard working with terrific judgment.’

Key clients

Jesus College, Oxford

Green Templeton College, Oxford

Christ Church, Oxford

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Pembroke College, Oxford

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

St Mary’s University, Twickenham

Hampstead Hill School

ICMP Management Limited (Institute of Contemporary Music Performance)

The Institute of Leadership and Management

Independent Schools Association

Beaconsfield Educational Trust (Davenies)

Brampton College

Wellington College

Haberdashers’ Schools Elstree

Caversham Preparatory School


City & Guilds

Work highlights

  • Providing day to day employment advice to Christ Church, Oxford, in respect of academic and non-academic staff, including advice on the settlement of the Employment Tribunal claims brought by long running disputes with its former Dean, which has been widely discussed and reported in the national press.

Boyes Turner

Boyes Turner exclusively advises on SEN and related matters, and specialises in working with Court of Protection deputy clients. The team is led by Laxmi Patel  in Reading, who has more than 15 years of experience in this area of work. Rachael Allison's practice includes clinical negligence cases, while Lydia Dunford has a track record of running appeals, including representation.  James Pantling-Skeet, an expert in SEN and community care matters, joined the team from Lester Aldridge LLP in April 2022.

Practice head(s):

Laxmi Patel

Other key lawyers:

Rachael Allison; Rachel Baxter; Lydia Dunford; James Pantling-Skeet; Janata Ali


‘Laxmi Patel is extremely knowledgeable and proficient. She is excellent at keeping you updated and keeping an eye on the costs.’

‘The team has a lot of collective knowledge around special educational needs, so when you deal with an individual solicitor, you also get the collective wisdom of the team.’

‘They have the unique ability to run complex cases involving community care issues as well as education and disability law. James Pantling-Skeet is absolutely stellar. One to watch for sure.’

‘They are focused but realistic, and provide a professional and honest view about the chances to succeed and what is needed to succeed in obtaining an appropriate EHCP for a child. They are sensitive and caring and support families in many ways to come to terms with what is possible.’

‘Rachael Allison – organised, incisive and highly  professional. Great communicator.’

‘Lydia Dunford is a very thorough and diligent practitioner.’

‘Rachael Allison is a fantastic and thorough solicitor with an amazing knowledge of SEN, who works relentlessly on behalf of her clients.’

‘Janata Ali is a fantastic and extremely competent professional, who gives her all to support parents, who have children with SEN. ‘

Carter Bond Solicitors

Carter Bond Solicitors‘s healthcare department is jointly steered by Harrow-based Reena Popat and Kate Beech; Beech splits her time between Sheffield and Harrow, and is noted for her specialism in the sale and acquisition of dental practices, pharmacies, care homes and GP practices. Popat has expertise in international transactions, and focuses on pharmacy and dental acquisitions, refinancing work and disposals, and Hammad Naveed‘s practice covers regulatory, corporate structuring and commercial contract advice.

Practice head(s):

Reena Popat; Kate Beech

Other key lawyers:

Hammad Naveed


‘They are very professional and efficient.’

‘They are hardworking, very helpful and understanding.’

‘Hammad Naveed is very quick to respond to all of my queries, and was always very helpful.’

Key clients

Canary Trading Company Ltd

Dental Beauty Partners Group

West Ewell Ltd

4 Court Ltd

Mims Health Ltd

Lockpharma Ltd

Nursery Elite Ltd

Saryan Care Ltd

Tooth Club Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised APS Estates Ltd on its £2.3m pharmacy share purchase acquisition of Filterlight Ltd with funding from Wesleyan Bank as one of the last loans ever given by the healthcare division of Wesleyan.
  • Advised West Ewell Ltd on the million-pound share purchase acquisitions of Gaiger Limited and Ricky’s (Ewell) Ltd.
  • Advised Dental Beauty Partners Group on its share acquisition of St John’s Dental Practice Ltd.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP’s varied education, health, and regulatory department has specialists in an array of matters, including corporate, employment, construction, and commercial contract work. One of the team’s standout features is its established experience in advising on different structures available to schools, including converting schools into multi-academy trusts. The team is led by Oliver Pritchard in Norwich and Graham Irons in Northampton, with Irons being especially recommended for contentious and non-contentious employment law matters.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Pritchard; Graham Irons

Other key lawyers:

Simon DeMaid

Key clients

Anchor Carehomes Limited

Anchor Hanover Group

BHR Pharmaceuticals Limited

De Montfort University


Learners Trust

Medigold Health Consultancy Limited

Milton Keynes College

P J Care Limited

Polyco Healthline

St Matthews Healthcare

The Insolvency Service

The Official Receivers for England and Wales

University of Coventry

Work highlights

  • Advising Milton Keynes College in relation to College’s successful application for Government funding for the creation of a new Institute of Technology.
  • Advising on a major procurement for the supply of medical products to NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership.
  • Advising a care sector operator in relation to an investigation involving serious whistleblowing allegations relating to the safety of residents.

Thomson Snell & Passmore

Thomson Snell & Passmore is sought out by a range of clients from the education sector, including public and private schools, single and multi-academy trusts, and further education colleges. Kent-based dispute resolution expert Douglas Skilton is praised by clients for his ‘amazing eye for detail’, while department head Nick Hobden in Thames Gateway works with various state schools on strategic and high-risk issues, such as defending parental complaints, restructuring issues and teachers' pay and conditions interpretation.

Practice head(s):

Nick Hobden

Other key lawyers:

Douglas Skilton


‘Nick Hobden is experienced, thorough, and calm.’

‘Leaders in using their existing expertise in commercial, employment, and Equality Act cases to assist clients primarily in the education sector.’

‘Douglas Skilton has amazing eye for detail, and a great tone when dealing with clients.’

Key clients

North Kent College

MidKent College

Avante Care & Support Ltd

The Incorporated Rochester Diocesan Board of Education

Governing Body of the Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School

Birtley House (Kent) Limited

Parallel Learning Trust

Rivermead Inclusive Trust incorporating Academy of Woodlands

Skills for Life

St Edmund’s School Canterbury

Work highlights

  • Taking enforcement proceedings following a successful judgment to enforce security over the defendant’s property for The Incorporated Rochester Diocesan Board of Education and the Governing Body of the Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School.
  • Advised Cranbrook Academy Trust School in connection with a funding agreement with the UK government.
  • Advising North Kent College on the operational issues pursuant to the funding agreement that it has with the UK Government.

Irwin Mitchell

Jenny Arrowsmith heads up Irwin Mitchell‘s national education sector group from Leeds, working with Esmat Faiz and Poppy Ford in the South East. Notable recent work examples include handling mergers, advising on the significant changes in law regarding holiday pay, and acting in trade disputes regarding pay and hours.

Practice head(s):

Jenny Arrowsmith

Other key lawyers:

Esmat Faiz; Poppy Ford


‘The team are very personable, and they present the information in ways which make sense to all. They’re always available and extremely happy to help, no matter the query.’

‘I immediately knew I would not be happy going anywhere else; the team being so readily available, easy to speak to and their knowledge of the legalities within our sector are second to none.’

‘Poppy Ford and Esmat Faiz have been outstanding with their support.’

Key clients

Bedford College

Weymouth College

Chichester College Group

Eastleigh College

Reigate Learning Alliance

Buckinghamshire College Group

Bridgwater and Taunton College

Work highlights

  • Appointed as the sole legal provider of employment law support to the Association of Colleges (AoC), with over 300 AoC member colleges cross the UK.
  • Supporting Chichester College Group with day-to-day employment law advice.
  • Supporting Reigate Learning Alliance with the full suite of employment law advice.

Tees Law

Special educational needs matters are at the core of Tees Law‘s Royston-based education law team, which is also experienced in advising schools on discrimination disputes and safeguarding issues. The department is led by Polly Kerr, who is well regarded for her experience in working with vulnerable clients, and covers the full spectrum of SEND related matters, including assessments, school placements, and Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP).

Practice head(s):

Polly Kerr


‘They are incredibly experienced in working with families on appeals to the SEND tribunal, and Polly Kerr is quite simply, outstanding.’

‘They stand head and shoulders above the rest because they take the time to get to know their clients. Polly Kerr embodies all the qualities that makes the team unique. She puts the client at ease with her friendly nature and razor-sharp legal knowledge.’

‘Polly Kerr is a rockstar. Quite aside from her incredibly personable approach to the law and her clients, she’s fundamentally decent, kind, intelligent and passionate.’

‘Polly Kerr is a standout individual with a high level of skill and experience in education matters, particularly in cases with an SEN focus.’

‘Polly Kerr is extremely personable, empathetic and has superior knowledge in the SEN education sector.’

‘Tees Law offers a multi-disciplinary approach to issues. Their strength lies in their ability to put their clients at ease. Their expertise with vulnerable clients is notable.’

‘The wealth and depth of subject knowledge across the firm is excellent. Any legal issue at all can be dealt with through Tees Law.’

‘Polly Kerr is excellent. Her work enabled us to reach an agreement outside of the tribunal process which saved leadership time and money.’

Work highlights

  • Successfully defended parents who had been prosecuted by the local authority for failure to ensure attendance of an unwell child at school.
  • Advised a parent on a successful application for transport of their vulnerable child to and from school, and recovery of transport costs for the preceding five years, together with recovery of legal costs.
  • Successfully represented parents whose twins had been refused a place at parental preference special school, despite professionals repeatedly raising concerns regarding their safety in a mainstream setting.