Firms To Watch: Employment: Dorset, Devon and Cornwall

Devons firm Wollens handles both contentious and non-contentious matters, from contracts to defending claims in the Employment Tribunal. Jon Dunkley leads the practice.

Employment: Dorset, Devon and Cornwall in South West

Ashfords LLP

The practice at Ashfords LLP is well-regarded for its defence of whistleblowing and discrimination cases, as well as claims pertaining to the National Minimum Wage and restrictive covenants. The sizeable team often represents clients before the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Employment Tribunal. Its commercial expertise assists the handling of TUPE matters and LGPS issues. The employment practice is led from Bristol by Stephen Moore; Charles Pallot leads the Exeter team.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Moore; Charles Pallot

Other key lawyers:

Kirsty Cooke; Su Apps


‘They felt like an extension of our company and were always available to answer any queries and more importantly, meet our very tight deadlines. I won’t hesitate to recommend this company to anyone looking for superior legal advice.’

‘This firm was recommended to me and fully lived up to my expectations.’

‘Su Apps is great to have on your side. She is pragmatic and measured. She’s also a good listener.’

‘The dealings I have had with Ashfords have been first class.’

‘Ashfords quickly understood the objectives of our legal support requirements and comfortably and quickly understood the commercial challenges associated with the case they were working on.’

‘Charles Pallott demonstrated a pragmatic balance between the legal requirements and the commercial aspects and risk associated.

Key clients

Post Office Limited

Multiverse Limited


Nagel Langdons Limited

Havana West Limited

The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

The Oasis Care Home Limited

Wandsworth Borough Council Shared Service

Work highlights

  • Advised Multiverse Limited on IR35 assessments, contractual reviews and general HR support.
  • Represented Post Office Limited in employment tribunal claims.
  • Advised The Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust on contentious and non-contentious employment law matters.

Foot Anstey

Foot Anstey provides a one-stop-shop to clients, advising across an array of sectors. The team advises clients on the implications arising from Covid-19, overseeing furlough and hybrid working matters. They also handle restructurings, redundancies and contractual changes. The practice is led from Exeter by Karen Bates whose expertise covers TUPE, workforce integration and employment litigation.

Practice head(s):

Karen Bates

Other key lawyers:

Patrick Howarth; Claire Holland


‘The great thing about Foot Anstey is the consistency of the people you work with across the organisation – whether it is employment or commercial advice, the level of service is always excellent.’ 

‘A friendly firm, well-embedded with SMEs in the south west, which is increasingly growing and spreading its footprint and client base.’

‘The firm’s employment law guidance has proved invaluable in navigating the challenges of the pandemic.’

‘The firm offers strong support on transactions, including specialist employment matters.’

Key clients

Ensono Limited

Welcome Break

WC Rowe (Falmouth) Limited

City Electrical Factors

Happy Days Nursery Group


Princess Yachts

Holyroyd Howe

Growth Catalyst Partners LLC

August Equity

Work highlights

  • Advised Ensono on its acquisition of Amido, a cloud-native consultancy based in the UK employing more than 130 people.
  • Advised Screwfix Direct Limited on disciplinary and grievance cases, poor performance and long-term ill health management issues, senior exists, TUPE, policy abandonment and tribunal litigation, in addition to HR training sessions.

Lester Aldridge LLP

Lester Aldridge LLP is well equipped to handle matters concerning employment liabilities, transfer agreements, restructurings and TUPE. In addition, the practice is familiar with the handling of complex jurisdictional issues and employment disputes. The practice is led by Kevin Barnett – he has vast experience advising both corporations and individuals in either contentious or non-contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Barnett

Other key lawyers:

Edward O’Brien


‘Kevin Barnett has always been efficient, knowledgeable and always helpful. Whenever I have an employment issue, it’s Kevin I turn to as I know he will guide me in the right direction. Always very friendly and professional.’


Key clients

Curtiss Wright Corporation

Ceuta Holdings Limited

Osprey Europe Limited

FRP Advisory LLP

Lush Limited

Dorset Wildlife Trust

Durable (UK) Limited

Care South

Poole Lighting Limited

Global Maritime Consultancy Limited

Work highlights

    Michelmores LLP

    The 'practical and commercially aware team' at Michelmores LLP advises ona wide range of both contentious and non-contentious matters. Sector specialisms include education, health, corporate, retail and charity. The team, which is led by James Baker, was bolstered in early 2021 with the arrival of Kate Gardner from Clarke Willmott LLP and immigration specialist Philip Barth from Irwin Mitchell.

    Practice head(s):

    James Baker

    Other key lawyers:

    Andrew Tobey; Kate Gardner; Philip Barth; Bethan Jones; Rachael Lloyd; Lynsey Blyth


    ‘Practical and commercially aware team.’

    ‘The advice is invariably accurate and serves to protect us from risk. Communication is very prompt and responsive.’

    ‘Bethan Jones is a stand out lawyer – she is sensible, easy to communicate with and highly efficient.’

    ‘James Baker has the ability to make you feel like you are his only client, despite what must be a busy schedule.’

    Key clients

    Forestry Commission

    On-Running AG

    Marylebone Cricket Club (Lords)


    Burrington Estates

    St Austell Brewery

    J Chandler & Company

    Hawksmoor Investments

    Bandvulc Tyres

    Wilton Bradley Retail Group

    LiveScore Group

    First Databank

    Photo-Me International plc

    Macdoch Group

    British Beer & Pub Association

    Otter Brewery Limited

    Wild Planet Trust (Group of Zoological Parks)

    Jurassic Fibre Limited

    Haynes Publishing Group plc

    Relyon Beds Limited

    Mint Velvet Fashions

    Seasalt fashion

    Mole Valley Farmers

    Devon Doctors Group

    Landmark Information Group

    Metropolitan Police

    Torbay & South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

    Northern Devon Healthcare Trust

    NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group

    The Met Office

    Dorset Council

    Thatcher’s Cider Company Limited

    Forthglade Foods Limited

    British Limousin Cattle Society Limited

    South West Ambulance NHS Trust

    Succession Group

    CDS (Superstores International) Limited

    Tokyo Electron Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised animal welfare charity on whistleblowing complaints and grievances.
    • Advised over employment aspects of Mobeus Equity’s disposal of multi-million pound VCT fund management business to Gresham House.
    • Acted for chief solicitor and legal department of City London Corporation concerning Employment Tribunal claims of bullying, harassment, victimisation and disciplinary discrimination.

    Stephens Scown LLP

    Stephens Scown LLP divides is specialisms into three pillars: litigation, corporate support and employer support. The practice is led by Ellie Hibberd who oversees the team’s HRExpress scheme. Hibberd and Verity Slater both focus on employer support, advising on case management and strategy implementation. Joe Nicholls joined the practice from Wards Solicitors LLP in January 2022; he oversees the litigation sub-department following the retirement of Terry Falcão in May 2022. The corporate support team is managed by Laura McFadyen.

    Practice head(s):

    Ellie Hibberd

    Other key lawyers:

    Terry Falcão; Verity Slater; Laura McFadyen; Joe Nicholls; Chris Morse


    ‘The level of professionalism at Stephens Scown is extremely high and extends across all of the roles I have encountered.’

    ‘Laura McFadyen is an outstanding employment solicitor.’

    ‘We are grateful for the personal touch and knowledge that Stephens Scown have of our diverse organization, which would be hard to build up anywhere else.’

    ‘Pragmatic and sensible advice with a good balance and knowledge of our appetite for risk.’

    ‘The team are quick to respond to queries, and start with your aims in mind – a true ‘business partner’ relationship, rather than offering cookie cutter advice.’

    ‘The Stephens Scown team always give very prompt clear advice with the reasoning behind it explained in plain English.’

    ‘Friendly, approachable, always happy to help and have the patience to listen to us when we don’t understand a particular reasoning. Chris Morse always gives excellent advice backed up by sound technical knowledge.’

    ‘Ellie Hibberd is a dream to work with – practical, focused and helpful in exploring the outcomes we are looking for as well as options and risks.’

    Key clients

    Age UK

    Plymouth CAST (multi-academy trust of 38 catholic schools)

    Exeter City Football Club


    Trago Mills

    BPA Quality

    Falmouth University

    Cornwall College

    Seasalt Ltd

    St Austell Brewery Co Ltd

    Work highlights

    • Advised a retired police superintendent in a case against the Metropolitan Police pertaining to victimisation.
    • Advised a husband and wife who brought claims for disability discrimination, race discrimination, whistleblowing and harassment before the Employment Tribunal and the High Court.
    • Advised on the employment aspects of the sale of UK Healthcare Group Limited.

    Browne Jacobson LLP

    Browne Jacobson LLP advises a range of clients with a strong focus on the sectors of health, education and insurance. In particular, the team has a growing focus within healthcare, handling flexible working models, vaccine programmes and issues arising from long-term Covid-19. The team is headed by Peter Jones and Bridget Prosser, with Bettina Rigg acting as the head of higher education and Jacqueline Atkinson acting as the head of healthcare employment.

    Practice head(s):

    Peter Jones; Bridget Prosser; Bettina Rigg; Jacqueline Atkinson

    Other key lawyers:

    Rachel Billen; Daniella Glynn; Marie Ashton


    ‘Clearly led by a very experienced team of senior employment lawyers. A leading employment law department and well resourced firm.’

    ‘Bridget Prosser is a market leading employment specialist who is very knowledgeable, experienced and a safe pair of hands in technical and sensitive cases.’

    ‘The team are very responsive in supporting any question or query.’

    ‘They are directly accessible and very responsive, providing strong and clear guidance across a range of employment issues.’

    ‘Daniella Glynn is exceptional in the work she does. She always approaches any challenges with great professionalism, pragmatism and good humour.’

    ‘They take the time to understand the clients needs and objectives and assign the right expertise.’

    ‘They are always prompt in responding to queries and their knowledge of the sector is excellent.’

    ‘They are extremely approachable, understand our organisation and will tailor training to meet our needs.’

    Work highlights

    • Acted for pharmaceutical-related client before the Employment Tribunal.
    • Acted for client in employment-related claims pertaining to matters of religious beliefs, sexual orientation and transgender working rights.

    Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP

    Ellis Jones Solicitors LLP assists both employees and employers on a range of matters; the team oversees day-to-day support and matters including the implementation of TUPE across a range of sectors including hospitality, healthcare and engineering. The practice is led by the 'articulate and extremely knowledgeable' Kate Brooks, who also hosts HR forums which are attended by large numbers of national businesses.

    Practice head(s):

    Kate Brooks


    ‘Kate Brooks: I was very impressed by her client handling and attention to detail.’

    ‘Employment law advice is first class. The monthly webinars are an excellent source of information.’

    ‘The team at Ellis Jones are friendly, approachable and are able to offer advice on everything from simple everyday questions to complex dismissal claims. As a team they cover it all.’

    ‘In particular Kate Brooks is outstanding in her ability to empathise and enable the employer to deal with difficult situations correctly. She is articulate and extremely knowledgeable.’

    ‘Forward thinking practice with a real focus on outreach to other local businesses.’

    ‘All staff highly professional and motivated.’

    Key clients

    Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

    Skechers USA Limited

    Creativity Works

    Christchurch Housing Society

    Old Dairy Farm Nursery

    Eco Sustainable Solutions Ltd

    Work highlights

    • Advised Christchurch Housing Association in respect to staff policies.
    • Advised Skechers USA Ltd in relation to a range of employment law and HR matters.
    • Advised The Old Dairy Farm Nursey in relation to employment law and HR matters specific to the education sector.

    Kitsons LLP

    The team at Kitsons LLP focuses primarily on commercial advice to employers. Its specialisms encompass HR matters, litigation, TUPE, post-termination restrictions and data subject access requests. The team is led by Jayme Nicholson. Her expertise lies within corporate-related employment issues. Rhodri Davey is another noteworthy individual; his focus lies within whistleblowing and discrimination cases.

    Practice head(s):

    Jayme Nicholson

    Other key lawyers:

    Rhodri Davey; Rory Wakeling; Rosie Evans


    ‘Everyone is always extremely helpful, polite and courteous with a desire to find the best solution for their clients. I have always found that each person has provided excellent advice and will go the ‘extra mile’ if need be.’

    ‘I have always found Jayme Nicholson to be very knowledgeable and understanding.’

    ‘I have always been extremely impressed by the team.’

    ‘Jayme Nicholson is both a very good technical lawyer but also is very personable and easy to deal with. In my view she has always been very efficient and effective.’

    ‘Excellent and trusted regional firm with highly skilled specialist employment team.’

    ‘The team at Kitsons actively seek to understand how we work and align their resources to support us.’

    ‘We find the team at Kitsons align their team members to the challenge we are presenting them, they are able to draw upon an impressive network of resources when required.’

    ‘A very forward thinking and dynamic team providing excellent advice in an easy to understand way.’

    Key clients

    Paramount 21 Limited

    Trucksmith Limited

    Kilnbridge Construction Services Limited

    Braddicks Leisure Limited

    Riverford Organic Farmers Limited

    Danny Sullivan Group

    Churston Golf Club Limited

    Armada Investments Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised Riverford Organic Farmers Limited on a range of HR matters throughout the pandemic.
    • Provided strategic advice and support to Braddicks Leisure Limited.
    • Represented the Danny Sullivan Group in defending an employment tribunal claim.

    Steele Raymond LLP

    Steele Raymond LLP advises an array of employers ranging from SMEs to multinational businesses. The team’s expertise covers both contentious and non-contentious matters. Deborah West heads the practice; she has over 20 years of specialist employment law experience. Another notable individual is Peter Rolph for his representation of companies and  directors in senior exists.

    Practice head(s):

    Deborah West

    Other key lawyers:

    Peter Rolph


    ‘Peter Rolph was so calming and helped me fight the legal case.’

    ‘Steele Raymond are unique in that they provide the full services of a large LLP, but with a personal touch.’

    ‘Deborah West is always very swift to response, she ensures she has discussed every detail you and has all of the relevant information.’

    ‘They have always been friendly, approachable and professional.’

    ‘They provide a fully comprehensive team to cover every aspect for us.’

    ‘Deborah West is very personable as well as being very professional in her advice.’

    ‘Deborah West was very easy to talk to and explain our case. She listened, asked relevant questions and was able to summarise our case and advice very quickly.’

    Work highlights

    • Advised major risk management group on employment matters from board level down, including advising on updated terms for its directors and negotiating the employment and TUPE aspects of several significant outsourcing agreements with household name insurers.
    • Advised leading manufacturer on a highly sensitive bullying and harassment issue and resolved it without claims or financial outlay beyond contractual obligations and with minimal impact upon productivity.
    • Advised a number of senior executives on their exits from corporates across a range of sectors, negotiating significant packages and fielding multi-disciplinary teams where necessary to advise on related share, IP and GDPR issues.

    Tozers Solicitors LLP

    Tozers Solicitors LLP acts for a range of commercial, public and charitable clients. Its expertise also extends into the housing, hotel and leisure sectors. The team advises caravan park owners, with the use of its specialist parks team, on redundancies, day-to-day support and TUPE issues. Stephen Jennings, who heads the practice, handles claims relating to discrimination and unfair dismissals before the Employment Tribunal.

    Practice head(s):

    Stephen Jennings

    Other key lawyers:

    Jill Headford; Joanna Parry


    ‘They listen, they understand and then they respond with alacrity and wisdom.’

    ‘Stephen Jennings has brilliant insight and the ability to draw out key points and address them with speed and efficiency.’

    ‘I have always found the team professional and diligent. They are able to dissect often complex issues and provide robust advice.’

    ‘The team ensures that they explain clearly, concisely and also empathetically. Stephen Jennings is perhaps a stand out across all his dealings, he is consistently patient and professional.’

    ‘Tozers cover the full range of legal services and can direct you internally to a knowledgeable colleague on any topic that you might need help with.’

    ‘Stephen Jennings is personable, knowledgeable and someone upon whom we can trust.’

    ‘Tozers have an amazing team who provide excellent support whenever we need it. They also provide free training on employment law topics and changes in legislation.’

    ‘Stephen Jennings is outstanding, helpful, supportive and particularly adept at translating complex legal issues to ensue we understand them.’

    Work highlights

    • Successful outcome on a particularly factually complex unfair dismissal and disability claim.
    • Acted for client before Employment Tribunal concerning claim for a major hotel chain.

    Trowers & Hamlins LLP

    Trowers & Hamlins LLP's recent work has had a strong focus on the move to hybrid work, advising clients on the transition from office to flexi-working. The sizeable team also represents clients before the Employment Tribunal, overseeing matters concerning vaccinations, furlough schemes and safe working policies during the pandemic. Both Emma Burrows and John Turnbull head the practice. Burrows focus is on senior exits and board disputes, whilst Turnbull focuses on commercial matters.

    Practice head(s):

    Emma Burrows; John Turnbull

    Other key lawyers:

    Tom Stephenson; Stephanie Taylor


    ‘We have always found Trowers & Hamlins to be professional and accurate with their advice. They provide us with all the facts in a timely manner, allowing us to confidently make employment and HR decisions. They are very approachable and accessible. We have never felt we are just a client. They know who we are, what we do and what we want to achieve. I always feel I can just pick up the phone and talk to them.’

    ‘Excellent knowledge of subject matter to answer queries. Clear advice both verbally and in writing.Is prepapred to give ‘proper’ advice as to ways to address issues, rather than ‘on the one hand this and on the other hand that’.’

    ‘Pragmatic commercially focused guidance – they let us know a range of options and the implications of each of them, rather than leading us down a set path. They understand our business in huge detail, and factor in our culture into all their discussions.’

    ‘The team in the Exeter office care about their clients and respond quickly and efficiently to questions we have asked.’

    ‘John Turnbull has given us prompt, good advice, which is invaluable to making store we stay on top of all HR functions within the company’

    ‘The team get to know your business and what it is that you need. The team run a weekly event which looks at different relevant topics and also co-create training sessions to develop managers.’

    ‘John Turnbull and Tom Stephenson are brilliant at adapting their communication and I really appreciate the honest conversations we can have which help us get to the best solution faster.’

    ‘John Turnbull is flexible in his approach, with a consideration for commerciality.’

    Key clients

    Smiths (Gloucester) Limited

    Otter Nurseries Limited

    Dimensions UK Limited

    Devonshire Homes Limited

    LiveWest Homes Limited

    Richmond Housing Partnership

    Ampacet (UK) Limited

    Inter‐line Building Supplies Limited

    CCS Media Ltd

    1848 Ltd

    Currie & Brown International Limited

    Inflexion Private Equity Partners LLP

    Swanton Care & Community

    Work highlights

    • Advised client on employment and pensions issues, including complex ET claims; equality issues; TUPE; and changes to terms and conditions.
    • Advised client on Covid vaccination compliance workplace policies.

    Blanchards Bailey LLP

    The practice at Blanchards Bailey LLP is led by Paul Dunlop; he has over 15 year's of litigation experience. The team consists of both employment specialists and HR practitioners. Areas of expertise includes employee status issues and discrimination and whistleblowing cases.

    Practice head(s):

    Paul Dunlop

    Other key lawyers:

    Stephen Woodman; Jane Cordner


    ‘I have always found the advice to be practical, focused on the business needs, coming up with creative solutions, good value for money relative to other firms.’

    ‘Jane Cordner understands our ethos and provides advice which is compatible with that ethos.’

    Work highlights

      Frettens LLP

      Frettens LLP advises across an array of matters, including cases concerning  unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and employment status. Paul Burton leads the practice; he was promoted to partner in July 2021. Chris Dobbs is noted for his involvement in employment & HR webinars.

      Practice head(s):

      Paul Burton

      Other key lawyers:

      Chris Dobbs


      ‘They show a clear commitment to delivering regular updates to clients.’

      ‘Paul Burton makes all clients feel valued, whether they are an individual claimant or a large company with multiple offices.’

      ‘Frettens has always been a professional legal practice, very experienced within their specialist areas. Their use of modern technology coupled with this experience seems to be a winning formula in my opinion.’

      ‘Paul Burton is not only knowledgeable but is able to give honest straight forward advice in a manner which makes sense to the non-legalease!’

      ‘Frettens provide for us a unique balance of high quality advice, delivered in plain English! Their team possess expertise that is easy to deliver and anchored in the real world.’

      ‘Paul Burton is our ‘go to’ expert and can always be relied upon to respond quickly.’

      Key clients

      United Taxis


      Mtech Communications

      Jewish Care

      Work highlights

      • Advised United Taxis on a tribunal matter concerning the employment status of a driver.
      • Advised Jewish Care on a large restructure involving redundancies and also implementing mandatory Covid vaccinations.
      • Advised Color Brands, a large American company, in setting up employees and consultants in the UK with the requisite contractual documentation.

      GA Solicitors

      GA Solicitors 's focus lies primarily within employer clients. The team regularly oversees redundancies, restructurings, employment contracts, terminations, TUPE and litigation before the Employment Tribunal. Robert Zacal leads the team. He is well-regarded for his handling of Covid-19 related employment matters.

      Practice head(s):

      Rob Zacal

      Other key lawyers:

      Kayleigh Arthurs


      ‘I liked being able to speak to the same person at point of contact, without having to explain the situation to different people each time I called.’

      ‘Friendly and approachable and a fast turnaround from query to response.’

      ‘The specialists have in depth knowledge in their fields.’

      ‘First-class response, excellent knowledge and advice.’

      ‘Robert Zacal – extremely clear, comprehensive and thorough legal advice. He cuts straight to the issues and has a good appreciation of the commerciality of the decisions required.’

      ‘Robert Zacal was knowledgeable, commercial and personable. He was also efficient and dealt with matters promptly and effectively.’

      ‘Robert Zacal is in my view a very effective employment lawyer. He knows the law and the workings of the employment tribunal. Most importantly his advice was realistic about what could be achieved and he always bore in mind the economic realities of litigation.’

      Key clients

      Newton Abbot Races Limited

      Brittany Ferries (BAI (UK) Limited)

      The Angel Foundation (God TV)

      Morris Engineering Limited

      Wolseley Community and Economic Development Trust

      Peninsula Finance PLC

      Cornish Concrete Products Limited

      Lapmaster Wolters Limited

      Goodmans Financial Planners Limited

      Foot Anstey Trust Corporation Limited

      Work highlights

        Paddle & Cocks LLP

        The practice at Paddle & Cocks LLP is led by the experienced Verona Cocks. The team provides day-to-day employment advice, as well as expertise in redundancies. Recent personnel changes have included the arrival of senior consultant Rachel Bateman from Coodes Solicitors, supporting the team with her HR specialisms, and experienced employment partner Marc Jones, formerly of IBB Law.

        Practice head(s):

        Verona Cocks

        Other key lawyers:

        Rachel Bateman; Marc Jones

        Work highlights