Education in West Midlands

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP's 'very knowledgeable team' has a comprehensive practice throughout the education sector, which encompasses employment law, admissions policies, commercial agreements and safeguarding matters. 'Trusted counsel' Nick MacKenzie stands our for his wealth of experience advising executives, chairs and trustees in relation to governance and strategic projects; recently, he advised numerous clients on academy transfers, including Thrive Education Partnership and Core Education Trust. Richard Freeth assists schools with various matters, including admissions, behaviour and exclusion issues, Equality Act matters and parental and pupil issues. Helen Badger has expertise in employment law matters affecting the education sector, including whistleblowing, TUPE and equal pay mandates and exit strategies. Associate Lydia Michaelson-Yeates is noted for her strong track record in governance and general commercial agreements in the academies space, while associate Hayley O’Sullivan stands out for her expertise in exclusions and equality issues affecting schools and multi-academy trusts.

Practice head(s):

Nick MacKenzie

Other key lawyers:

Richard Freeth; Helen Badger; Lydia Michaelson-Yeates; Hayley O’Sullivan

Testimonials

‘Its uniqueness is built around their helpful and valued mix of support and challenge. They provide more than a service. They challenge our thinking, offer different (often unique) perspectives and contribute effectively to our company’s mission to be the best we can be.’ 

‘I have found the team extremely approachable and friendly. They are always willing to help and we find their advice refreshing. We feel supported and know when we contact them we will get professional trusted legal advice which takes into consideration what we want to do and what we are able to do.’

‘Browne Jacobson has great strength in the secondary education sector. The team’s enthusiasm for our sector is infectious and we really enjoy working with them.’

‘Nick McKenzie – his knowledge of the sector and other sectors is second to none. He is able to add value in any conversation and is a trusted, wise counsel.’

‘Lydia Michaelson-Yeates – excellent response times and quick to grasp the issues and identify the best person to deal with our queries.’ 

‘Richard Freeth – outstanding knowledge of the education sector, coupled with timely and astute advice.’

Key clients

Academy Transformation Trust

Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

Bath and NE Somerset Council

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council

Brooke Weston Trust

Elliot Foundation Academies Trust

Falcon Education Academies Trust

GLF Schools

King’s College London

Learning Community Trust

Hockerill Anglo European College

Northampton Primary Academy Trust

Outwood Grange Academies Trust

University of Hertfordshire

Warwick Independent Schools Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advised Hockerill Anglo European College on the reconsideration of a permanent exclusion following an IRP decision which quashed the original governors’ decision.
  • Advised Falcon Education Academies Trust on its academy conversion and transfer as part of its innovative approach to taking on and turning around schools and academies with a history of under performing.
  • Advising a multi-academy trust on a complex and sensitive employee disciplinary investigation.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a varied client base, which includes major universities, further education colleges, multi-academy trusts, schools and public sector bodies. Its range of work encompasses advising clients on student accommodation projects, Brexit-related issues and regulatory matters including those relating to the Higher Education & Research Act. Nick Abbott has over two decades of experience in the education sector and focuses primarily on complex employment matters including industrial disputes, TUPE transfers and major reorganisations. Richard Sykes, who leads the practice alongside Abbott, specialises in liability and compliance matters; he also has a wealth of experience in equality and data protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Nick Abbott; Richard Sykes

Key clients

Academies Enterprise Trust

Birmingham City University

Buckinghamshire New University

Cardiff University

Lancaster University

LTE Group

Manchester Metropolitan University

Nottingham Trent University

South & City College Birmingham

The University of Birmingham

University of Exeter

University of London

University of Liverpool

The University of Manchester

The University of Nottingham

University of Salford

University of Worcester

Work highlights

  • Advised the University of Birmingham on the proposed £210m Birmingham Health Innovation Campus, a world-class life science campus for the West Midlands which will create new jobs and accelerate the development and deployment of new drugs, diagnostics and healthcare technologies to patients.
  • Advised on the University of Salford’s £800m campus masterplan involving new schools of Computing Science, Engineering and Built Environment and a new Biomedical Health Village.
  • Advised Imperial College on the negotiation and completion of a revolving credit facility with Lloyds Bank plc, including advising on specialist HE matters.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP's 'very capable, thorough and pragmatic' group focuses primarily on the higher education sector, where it leverages its nationwide team to provide comprehensive advice to clients on sales and acquisitions, joint ventures, IP agreements and TUPE transfers. The team has also handled a lot of work arising from the pandemic including health and safety issues and employment matters. Gayle Ditchburn stands out for her wealth of experience in regulatory, constitutional and governance issues within the higher education sector; her recent highlights include advising BIMM Institute on its sale to ICG Capital. Senior associate Rami Labib is also a key member of the team, known for his expertise in outsourcings, commercial contracts and collaborative arrangements.

Practice head(s):

Gayle Ditchburn

Other key lawyers:

Rami Labib

Testimonials

‘Pinsent Masons are responsive, accessible, supportive and demonstrate expert knowledge of the education sector. I can attest that their excellent advice, including briefing counsel, has made a material difference to my organisation, helping to resolve complex and sensitive matters.’

‘The firm is able to provide a comprehensive service, addressing many areas of law thoroughly.’

‘Gayle Ditchburn is fantastic to work with, I cannot praise her highly enough. She really understands our business, its main risks and concerns and what it requires from its external legal advisers. She is highly responsive, always has time to help and is exceptionally knowledgeable about the education sector.’

Key clients

Aston University

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Cardiff University

City, University of London

College of Legal Practice Limited

Coventry University

Dyson Technology Limited

INTO University Partnerships Limited

King’s College London

London School of Economics & Political Science

Manchester Metropolitan University

Mitie Group Plc

Nurture Higher Education Group

Roehampton University

Royal College of Art

Sheffield Hallam University

The University of Sheffield

University College London

University of Birmingham

University of Gloucestershire

University of Lincoln

University of New South Wales (Australia)

University of Nottingham

University of Surrey

University of the Arts London

Warwick University

Work highlights

  • Advised China Education Group on its strategic collaboration and rescue of Richmond, the American International University in London, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Advised the shareholders of BIMM Limited on its successful sale to Intermediate Capital Group PLC.
  • Advised Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority in connection with Phase 1 of its ground-breaking project to establish a new University in Peterborough with Phase 2 and the establishment of a join venture to construct a Research and Development centre currently underway.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

Shakespeare Martineau LLP's 'excellent' team handles a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters involving universities and other education clients; its expertise in governance issues, employment mandates and large-scale projects is particularly strong. Smita Jamdar has over two decades of experience in governance and constitutional law matters affecting higher education clients. David Browne stands out for his comprehensive employment law practice, which includes handling highly sensitive matters on behalf of education clients including allegations of sexual misconduct and staff terminations. Geraldine Swanton is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Smita Jamdar

Other key lawyers:

David Browne; Geraldine Swanton

Testimonials

‘The team have an excellent knowledge of the further education sector, which,  when combined with individuals’ legal knowledge and skills, delivered in a friendly no-nonsense commercial and pragmatic style, sets the team apart from competitors.’

‘The solicitors are very knowledgeable about the education sector and the various rules/regulations/complaints processes. Their breadth of knowledge ensures that they can assist with any queries.’

‘I am delighted with the prompt service received. The firm is both approachable and friendly and happy to deal with all matters, both large and small.’

‘The team has an excellent and in-depth knowledge of the HE sector and a clear passion for the work of its clients. Its experience means it is able to engage in constructive sounding-board discussions to navigate difficult issues, as well as provide more formal technical legal advice.’

‘Smita Jamdar is exceptional in her knowledge and understanding of the issues affecting the sector. Highly trusted.’

‘Geraldine Swanton – highly responsive and empathic; can navigate complex issues pragmatically and calmly.’

Key clients

University of Hertfordshire

Brunel University

University of Cambridge

University of Worcester

University of Exeter

UCLAN

University of Sheffield

University College London

Cardiff University

University of Roehampton

Bournemouth University

Liverpool John Moore University

Leicester College

Barnsley College

Wiltshire College

Dudley College

Abingdon and Witney College

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College

Quality Assurance Agency

West Dean College

Work highlights

  • Advising a Russell Group university in connection with a senior member of staff who was dismissed for falsifying a hate crime on campus and is now suing for discrimination on multiple grounds.
  • Advising Staffordshire University on its £55m campus redevelopment.
  • Advising various universities in relation to  handling complex, sensitive and highly contentious cases of sexual misconduct.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP‘s nationwide team specialises in the regulatory aspects of education law, including employment, health and safety, IP and constitutional matters. Diane Gilhooley has a broad contentious and non-contentious employment practice in the education sector, encompassing tribunal proceedings, trade union issues, equality and diversity work, governance mandates and charity matters. The ‘extremely knowledgeable and helpful’ Mark Taylor is noted for his involvement in a high volume of mergers in the education sector, in which he provides full-service advice including due diligence and governance support. Principal associate Morag Roddick is noted for her roles in M&A and joint ventures involving a wide range of education clients.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley; Mark Taylor

Other key lawyers:

Morag Roddick

Testimonials

‘The team are quick to respond and provide excellent support services when we approach for advice and to take forward specific services, coordinating with legal firms overseas where in-country regulatory and legal advice is required, offering assurance we as a university understand the regulatory environment we intend to operate in.’

‘The team are always one step ahead of competitors. They have real strength and depth across the education sector. As well as the clear technical expertise, their approach is practical, and they really do feel like a part of the wider team committed to getting the job done.’

‘All individuals we have liaised with have provided excellent services, with professional, balanced and informed advice, giving us the confidence we are making informed decisions with regard to legal and regulatory matters.’

‘Eversheds have a breath and depth of experience in the education space, with specialists available who can help in numerous specific areas of law.’

‘Mark Taylor’s sector knowledge is outstanding. He is always on the front foot and really stands out when compared to competitors. He is very accessible and has a flexible style that works well across a variety of areas.’

Key clients

University of Wolverhampton

Sandwell College

Solihull College and University Centre

University of Reading

The Greater London Authority

National College for Advance Transport and Infrastructure

Medical Research Council

Vanta Education (owner of BPP)

Sheffield University

Trafford College Group

LEAD Multi Academy Trust

Nova Academy Trust

University of York

Work highlights

  • Advised the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure on its intervention by the Department for Education and Ofsted, followed by its planned merger with the University of Birmingham.
  • Advised Vanta Education on the £600m refinancing of BPP University.
  • Advised universities colleges, and private providers across the education sector on apprenticeships and subcontracting to the value of many hundreds of millions of pounds.

VWV

Recognised in the market for its 'excellent technical skills', VWV excels in the higher education sector, where it often advises universities on employment issues and commercial agreements, in addition to handling contentious matters; the firm also regularly advises colleges and trusts on academy transfers. Jane Byford is best known for assisting clients with sensitive and complex HR issues including whistleblowing and discrimination claims, while Kathy Halliday has a wealth of experience managing complex mandates including tribunal litigation and mass redundancies. Associate Tom Brett-Young regularly advises universities on immigration issues affecting students and workers.

Practice head(s):

Jane Byford

Other key lawyers:

Kathy Halliday; Tom Brett-Young

Testimonials

‘VWV are highly responsive and flexible. Their deep understanding of the HE sector sets them apart from their competitors. Advice is always delivered in an accessible manner and a timely fashion. I would not hesitate to recommend this practice to other educational institutions.’

‘Jane Byford – her real strength is her knowledge of the education sector and her experience in dealing with a range of related employment law matters in this field.’

Key clients

Alderbrook School

Bath Spa University

Bromsgrove School

Buckinghamshire New University

Cathedral Schools Trust

Challenger Multi-Academy Trust

Cheltenham Ladies College

Cirrus Primary Academy Trust

Coventry University

De Montfort University

Doncaster Deaf Trust

Dudley Academies Trust

Dudley College of Technology

Eynsham Partnership Academy Trust

Evolve Trust

Hallfield School

Learn @ Multi Academy Trust

London School of Economics

Loughborough Endowed Schools

Loughborough University

Malvern College

Middlesex University

National Star College

Norland College

Perryfields High School

Prospere Learning Trust

Queen Alexandra College

River Learning Trust

Royal Academy of Music

Royal Wootton Bassett Academy

Seashell Trust

Solihull School

South & City College Birmingham

Streetsbrook Infant & Early Years Academy

The Blue Coat School Birmingham

The Marches Academy Trust

The Schools of King Edward VI Foundation

Tudor Grange Academy Solihull

Work highlights

  • Advising Royal Wootton Bassett Academies Trust and Wellington College Academy Trust on their merger, and separately advising Wellington College in connection with a licence for RWBAT to continue to use the college’s name in connection with the operation of the WCAT schools.
  • Advising the University of Bristol on a collaboration agreement with other higher education bodies, the Digital Catapult and an industry supported research body with a view to establishing a digital engineering technology innovation centre in the South West.
  • Assisting a West Midlands charity with obtaining a new licence in the Skilled Worker category.

Lanyon Bowdler

Lanyon Bowdler is best known for assisting academy trusts and independent schools with employment law and governance matters; it is also well equipped to provide advice to clients on real estate projects, and corporate and commercial arrangements. William Morse, who leads the team, has a broad practice, which includes handling academy conversions, representing clients in employment tribunal proceedings and providing advice on governance matters.

Practice head(s):

William Morse

Testimonials

‘The team is approachable, knowledgeable and I genuinely feel supported by them at every stage of a project. William Morse, in particular, has demonstrated these attributes.’

Key clients

Derwen College

Severn Bridges Academy Trust

Central Shropshire Academy Trust

Severnvale Academy

New Model In Technology and Engineering

Shoosmiths LLP

Shoosmiths LLP's 'knowledgeable and efficient' team stands out for its specialist expertise in educational needs and disability work, in which it exclusively advises individuals. 'Exceptional' practice head Victoria Federico frequently advises parents and young people with a range of special needs and disabilities, ensuring they have access to bespoke packages of support and learning opportunities. 'Very professional and knowledgeable' associate Gurvinder Samra is also recommended for her expertise in the area of special education needs.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Federico

Other key lawyers:

Gurvinder Samra

Testimonials

‘Shoosmiths education team is helpful, professional, courteous and efficient.’

‘In my initial contact with the firm I was impressed with the extent of Victoria Ferderico’s knowledge of the SEN system. She was able to give a thorough appraisal of our situation, and outline possible courses of action for us which was extremely helpful in enabling us to make a decision as to whether to engage legal counsel.’ 

‘As a charity, we have had lots of pro bono support from the Shoosmiths team – they have done webinars and presentations as well as give time to our families to help them with EHCP issues in particular. Very knowledgeable and helpful team – always go the extra mile.’ 

‘Very well managed team – my enquiries, concerns and issues are dealt with appropriately and within a reasonable time frame.’ 

‘Gurvinder Samra has such strength and kindness, she always does as she says she will and chases until she gets a response.’ 

‘Gurvinder Samra was fantastic. Passionate and caring approach, coupled with an extensive knowledge of the subject matter.’ 

‘Gurvinder Samra and Victoria Frederico are both super helpful, friendly and easy to talk to.’

Work highlights

  • Acted in appeal proceedings for a child with autism, securing an independent specialist ABA placement funded by the local authority.
  • Advised a family on First Tier appeal proceedings regarding their child’s access to education.
  • Obtained an improved EHC plan with more detailed provision and a placement at an independent specialist college funded by the LA, outside of appeal proceedings.