Next Generation Partners

Education in West Midlands

Browne Jacobson LLP

The ‘extremely knowledgeable’ team at Browne Jacobson LLP is capable of advising a variety of clients, ranging from independent schools to local authorities, on legal and HR issues; the practice is led by Nick MacKenzie, who has significant experience of providing governance and strategic board advice, among other areas and key contact Richard Freeth leads the pastoral/advisory practice, addressing issues such as admissions and exclusions, to name a few. Lydia Michaelson-Yeates specialises in governance matters, and routinely handles projects, mergers and restructures, as well as general commercial issues. ‘Standout’ associate Philip Wood further bolsters the practice, with considerable experience of advising schools on discrimination and issues related to the Equality Act, while Hayley O’Sullivan has particular expertise in exclusions, parental complaint investigations and equality issues.

Practice head(s):

Nick MacKenzie

Other key lawyers:

Richard Freeth; Lydia Michaelson-Yeates; Philip Wood; Hayley O’Sullivan


‘All team members are super approachable and extremely knowledgeable.’

‘All individuals I have had contact with have been superb.’

‘A standout individual is Philip Wood – nothing is too much trouble, he is easily contactable, very knowledgeable, he understands schools and the quirks of education so is not phased by anything. He has a great sense of humour and is super reassuring.’

‘The Browne Jacobson education team is exceptional.’

‘Every single colleague with whom we work in both the legal and HR teams provide an outstanding level of service.’

‘We have developed a friendly but professional relationship with the members of this firm. We can rely on them to give us fair advice and know that they are working for us.’

‘I have dealt with Richard Freeth. I find him very approachable and ready to give advice. His advice is always clear and understandable.’

The responses Richard Freeth makes on our behalf are always exactly what is required to assist us in avoiding any escalation.’

Key clients

Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

Bath and North East Somerset Council

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council

Brooke Weston Trust

Chiltern Learning Trust

Elliot Foundation Academies Trust

Falcon Education Academies Trust

GLF Schools

King’s College London

Lion Academy Trust

Meridian Trust

Mercian Trust

Outwood Grange Academies Trust

Shaw Education Trust

University of Hertfordshire

Work highlights

Mills & Reeve LLP

Recommended for providing ‘pragmatic advice’ to UK universities, Mills & Reeve LLP‘s capabilities extend to a broad range of matters, ranging from sexual misconduct allegations to managing students’ mental health to counterterrorism. Nick Abbott co-heads the practice and his strengths include industrial action, mergers and discrimination claims, to name a few, while Richard Sykes, who jointly leads the team, advises clients on issues such as disputes, liability, and freedom of information, as well as offering particular expertise regarding discrimination issues. Christian Bull specialises in real estate education matters, and associates Siân Jackson and Abisola Latunji-Cockbil further strengthen the practice with expertise in employment law.

Practice head(s):

Nick Abbott; Richard Sykes

Other key lawyers:

Christian Bull; Siân Jackson; Abisola Latunji-Cockbil


‘The team work well together, they provide adequate cover for periods of leave and are up to speed on matters where cover is being provided. This gives good continuity for matters.’

‘The individuals we work with have a good understanding of our business and how we work as an in-house legal team and the challenges we face in receiving instructions internally and how this has a knock-on effect. All the individuals we work with seem to take this in their stride.’

‘They offer pragmatic advice that is easy to understand and respond to.’

‘They offer care in understanding the complexities and subtleties of our organisation, and the complex sector within which it operates, which is of real value to us. Not all firms manage to do this well.’

‘Nick Abbott is responsive, pragmatic, and genuinely cares about what we do.’

Christian Bull is great to work with, positive, proactive, and strikes the right balance in negotiations through a deep understanding of our organisation and its objectives.’

Key clients

Academies Enterprise Trust

Anglia Ruskin University Higher Education Corporation

Arden University Limited

Birmingham City University

Bolton College

Bournemouth University

British Council

Buckingham New University

Cardiff University

Christ Church, Oxford University

Christ’s Hospital

Coventry University

Cranfield University

Dragon School Trust Limited

Exeter College Oxford

Francis Crick Institute Ltd

Harrow School

King’s College London

Linacre College Oxford

London Business School

LTE Group

Manchester Metropolitan University

Merton College Oxford

Nottingham Trent University

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford University Endowment Management

Peterhouse College, Cambridge

Royal Veterinary College

Sheffield Hallam University

Solent University

St Dunstan’s Educational Foundation

St Edmund Hall Oxford

St John’s College, Oxford

St John’s College

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

The United Westminster and Grey Coat Foundation

The University of Birmingham

The University of Northampton

The University of Nottingham

TOF Corporate Trustee Limited as Trustee of The Oxford Funds

Trinity College, Cambridge

University of Cambridge

University of Bath

University of Bedfordshire

University of Derby

University of East Anglia

University of Exeter

University of Gloucestershire

University of Hertfordshire

University of Kent

University of Lancaster

University of Liverpool

University of London

University of Manchester

University of Oxford

University of Salford

University of Southampton

University of Surrey

University of Sussex

University of Worcester

University of York

Wellcome Sanger Institute

West Thames College

University of York

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of Salford on the appointment of its private sector development partner to implement its £850m master plan which has the potential to provide 1.1m square feet of educational floor space, 2,500 new homes, almost two million square feet of public realm, green landscaped routes and cycle track and 1.6m square feet of commercial space.
  • Advised University of Derby on a £30m sustainability-linked revolving credit facility with Santander and subsequently advised the university on a £70m private placement of debt securities, again sustainability linked. The proceeds will be used to fund the construction of a major new building on the university campus.
  • Advised Birmingham City University on becoming the anchor tenant for the Alexander Stadium’s redevelopment. The university will occupy parts of the stadium under a lease and will run a number of its specialist sports and health sciences degrees from the Stadium. The university also plans to construct new purpose-built student accommodation at the Stadium.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Providing an ‘exceptional, client-focused service’, Pinsent Masons LLP handles matters such as navigating regulatory frameworks, often for clients in the higher education space, with experience of advising investors on acquisitions and disposals of education assets. The ‘excellent and proactive’ Gayle Ditchburn spearheads the practice, with notable expertise regarding commercial, regulatory and governance issues in the higher education space. Adding value to the team is Helen Corden, who offers employment law experience, with the ability to advise on regulatory changes, employment disputes and discrimination cases, among others. Chris Thomas specialises in charity-related issues, whilst, legal director Rebecca Stephen has experience of tribunal claims involving issues such as disability discrimination and whistleblowing. Senior associate Rami Labib is another key practitioner.

Practice head(s):

Gayle Ditchburn

Other key lawyers:

Helen Corden; Chris Thomas; Rebecca Stephen; Rami Labib


‘Exceptional, client-focused service. The team has provided timely, sound and complex advice which is firmly based in their first-hand educational knowledge and experience.’

‘The individuals we had contact with were highly dedicated and committed to providing us with the best level of service, often going above and beyond what we might have expected in terms of accessibility and availability.’

‘Great sector knowledge and expertise.’

Key clients

University of Birmingham

Northern Gritstone

University of the Arts, London

University of Derby and Others IoT

The College of Health Limited

Aston University

The Arts Educational Schools

The Open College of the Arts

University of Sussex

King’s College London

Work highlights

  • Advising on the establishment of Northern Gritstone Limited, a spin-out investment vehicle founded by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.
  • Acting for University of Birmingham in connection with a High Court IP licensing claim.
  • Advising on the establishment of the East Midlands Institute of Technology.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

Shakespeare Martineau LLP offers clients an ‘outstanding service’ and routinely advises clients on estates, governance and regulatory matters, alongside disputes and statutory compliance work. Its client base includes both Russell Group universities as well as smaller specialist institutions. ‘Absolute superstar’ practice head Smita Jamdar specialises in governance, student-related and constitutional matters, while David Browne‘s capabilities range from restructuring matters to addressing allegations of sexual misconduct and whistleblowing issues. As a ‘fountain of knowledge and experience’, Geraldine Swanton adds further value to the team with expertise in data protection and freedom of information issues.

Practice head(s):

Smita Jamdar

Other key lawyers:

David Browne; Andrew Adams; Tom Long; Geraldine Swanton; Uddalak Datta; Mark Taylor


‘They are very knowledgeable and explain the law and implications clearly, taking onboard the legal knowledge of the individual they’re advising. The advice is given in clear language, and they provide a holistic approach to dealing with cases and options and risks when considering remedies.’

‘The team have continued to provide an outstanding service to the sector, in particular their understanding of some of the key legal and regulatory matters that have been of direct impact on universities over the past year has been enormously helpful, and the advice always delivered in a highly engaging way.’

‘In particular, Smita Jamdar is an absolute superstar! She is a strong, respected and influential voice in the sector, providing interesting and insightful analysis across a wide range of subjects and is very engaged in speaking at events across the sector to share her insights.’

‘Geraldine Swanton is a fountain of knowledge and experience in her field. She is responsive, approachable and pragmatic. She can always be trusted to provide advice that is useful and understandable, especially when supporting non-lawyers.’

‘The education team provide outstanding service and are trusted advisers. In addition to their legal expertise, they have a real-world view and are highly responsive. They understand both the sector and how to work in partnership with the client.’

‘Excellent proactive team who provide regular updates via advice notes and podcasts. Clear and pragmatic advice delivered speedily and with ease of communication.’

‘Geraldine Swanton is swift to respond and understands the sector well, handling tricky questions in a clear and direct way that empowers people to make informed decisions. A very human approach to matters and great empathy makes her stand out.’

‘They not only remain abreast of the regulatory and political landscape, which seems to change on a weekly basis, but they are also prepared to challenge both the regulators and the government on these changes.’

Key clients

University of Hertfordshire

Brunel University

University of Cambridge

University of South Wales

University of Exeter


University of Sheffield

University College London

Cardiff University

University of Greenwich

Oxford Brookes 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

University of the Arts London

University of Derby

Staffordshire University

Aberystwyth University

University of West London

University of Lincoln

Capital City College Group

Halesowen College

Work highlights

  • Advising six universities being investigated by the Office for Students for alleged breaches of various registration conditions, including defending the allegations and challenging the OfS’s untested procedure.
  • Acting for Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust in defending a claim by a current student who alleges discrimination, harassment and victimisation arising out of content on the Trust’s Psychotherapy teaching and clinical training course.
  • Advised a Russell Group University on major IT procurement projects worth approximately £100m to re-shape and modernise its legacy IT systems and strategy in order to create a more agile and resilient IT framework, enhancing teaching, learning and research and improving the student experience.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP‘s ‘personalised and individualised service’ includes a range of expertise, such as student matters, privacy law and governance issues. Gary Delderfield strengthens the practice with his capabilities in public sector pension issues, whilst associate Thomas Pollitt advises clients on a range of issues, from M&A, to regulatory and constitutional matters, with particular strength in higher education. Former practice head Mark Taylor left the firm in September 2023.

Other key lawyers:

Gary Delderfield; Thomas Pollitt


‘The team started by agreeing to my objectives and understanding what was I trying to achieve. Once established, various options were discussed – I found the skills, knowledge and experience of the whole team reassuring, supportive and outcome driven.’

‘As individuals, they provided a personalised and individualised service, being fully aware of my situation at all times.’

‘Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP are one of only a few practices with the breadth of knowledge, skills and experiences to be able to provide a “complete” service in the post-16 education sector.’

‘The Eversheds Sutherland Education team offers a full range of expertise with sector knowledge that is second to none. This breadth of coverage means that whatever a college board or management is facing – there is an individual to help.’

‘Excellent team members, who bring specific skills and knowledge.’

Key clients

University of Wolverhampton

Sandwell College

Solihull College and University Centre

University of Reading

The Greater London Authority

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 universities colleges, and private providers across the education sector on apprenticeships and subcontracting to the value of many hundreds of millions of pounds.
  • Advised on half of the first wave of the Institutes of Technology, and now the team is advising on the majority of the Wave 2 Institutes.
  • Advising a range of colleges on the implications of the ONS reclassification of Colleges into the public sector.

Shoosmiths LLP

With a central focus on special educational needs and disability work, Shoosmiths LLP‘s ‘extremely competent, responsive and hard-working team’ is capable of advising on the entire process, including legal challenges, relating to tribunal appeals in these areas, covering a broad range of special needs, such as autism and cerebral palsy. Its client base includes parents and young people and the solicitors representing them, as well as Court of Protection deputies that manage the funds and affairs of young people. Kashmir Uppal leads the team alongside ‘trusted advisor’ Gurvinder Samra, who is ‘tenacious’ and ‘passionate’ in handling the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan process, with particular expertise around the legal enforceability of the content of EHC plans and in securing council funding.

Practice head(s):

Gurvinder Samra; Kashmir Uppal


‘I found Gurvinder Samra passionate and extremely knowledgeable around special educational needs and disability (SEND). After years of wrangling with my local authority, causing a lot of anxiety and stress, I felt confident enough to hand it all over to her to handle, and I felt as if I was in very capable hands.’

‘Invaluable for parents who are going through an emotional time. Expertise and clear, decisive advice make such a difference, and Shoosmiths definitely excelled in these areas.’

‘Gurvinder Samra’s knowledge, expertise and kindness really helped us develop a strategy that eventually secured an EHC plan that included appropriate provisions for our daughter. She always had time for us, and her understanding of some of the more complex areas of special educational needs (SEN) law was second to none.’

‘The team are very practical, pragmatic and logical in an area that is often fraught with emotions. Their ability to keep things stable and steady as you navigate the process is a key strength, as it allows for clarity and focus when that is often difficult to achieve without them.’

‘Gurvinder Samra is excellent. She demystifies the truly astonishing bureaucracy inherent in this area and provides a sense of realistic reassurance throughout the process. She becomes a trusted advisor in a very short space of time.’

‘Gurvinder Samra is very knowledgeable and makes the families feel that they have someone in whom they can trust to fight their corner. She acts in a timely manner and leaves no stone unturned.’

‘An extremely competent, responsive and hardworking team. Through a combination of knowledge, experience, commitment and skill, they get excellent results for clients.’

‘Gurvinder Samra is one of the leading SEN lawyers in the country. She is rightfully one of the most sought after solicitors for parents in relation to SEN issues. She is knowledgeable, tenacious and clear in her advice.’

Work highlights

  • Challenging a council’s proposal to cease to maintain an EHCP and placement in relation to post-19 transition for a student, who had been diagnosed with an acquired brain injury, autism and epilepsy.
  • Conducted and advised on First-Tier SEND appeal proceedings for a young person with a complex profile of neurodevelopmental disorders, who has diagnoses of ADHD (predominantly inattentive), social anxiety, ASD, learning difficulties, mild cerebral palsy, significant receptive and expressive language difficulties, social interaction and motor planning difficulties.
  • Advised parents as to the process for attempting to secure a home education package, and, the evidence that they will require. Parents applied this advice during a mediation meeting, and as a result, reached agreement with the council for the home education package to be considered without the need for an appeal.


A team with a ‘broad range of experience’, VWV‘s education practice covers a diverse range of fields, from corporate and IP issues in education, to advising schools and universities on governance and regulatory matters. ‘Really knowledgeable’ practice head Jane Byford has vast experience of handling matters for universities and colleges, with a notable specialism in employment litigation. Kathy Halliday routinely advises both independent schools and academy trusts, among others, while Sarah Webb addresses IP issues within the education sector. Jaime Hobday further strengthens the practice with particular expertise in charity governance. Morag Roddick joined the practice from Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP in September 2022.

Practice head(s):

Jane Byford

Other key lawyers:

Kathy Halliday; Sarah Webb; Jamie Hobday; Tom Brett Young; Morag Roddick


‘Broad range of expertise within the team.’

‘Able to source the right individual for the job at hand.’

‘Jane Byford is excellent, really knowledgeable and accessible.’

‘Really strong Education focus.’

‘A rapid response is usually received from the team, and they keep on top of billing.’

Key clients

Alvechurch Church of England Multi Academy Trust

Bangor University

Bath Spa University

Blue Coat School Birmingham

Cheltenham Ladies College

Coventry University

De Montfort University

Dean Close Foundation

Dudley Academies Trust


Edgbaston High School for Girls

Evolve Trust

Francis Crick Institute

King’s College London

Hallfield School

Loughborough Schools Foundation

National Star College

New College Swindon

Norland College

Nottingham Trent University

Ormiston Academies Trust

Prosper Together Multi Academy Trust

Queen Alexandra College

Royal Academy of Music

Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust

Search Education Trust

Solihull School

South & City College Birmingham

The Loriners Multi Academy Trust

University of Bath

University of Brighton

University of Bristol

University of Derby

University of South Wales

University of Worcester

Warwick Independent Schools Foundation

Wednesbury Oak Academy

Windsor Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Appointed by four schools which were joining together to convert to academy status to form Prosper Together Multi Academy Trust, a ‘MAT’ established to serve its local community.
  • Providing procurement, state aid (now subsidy control) and commercial support to the University of Bristol in connection with the MyWorld programme.
  • Advised and represented a university in its defence of a set of six employment tribunal claims comprising complaints of unfair dismissal, whistleblowing, race discrimination, victimisation, equal pay and unlawful deduction from wages brought by an academic. Successful in having most of the claim struck out.

Bevan Brittan LLP

The ‘commercially astute’ Bevan Brittan LLP education department has particular expertise in advising higher education clients on issues of a corporate and employment nature, as well as a range of others. Ashley Norman helms the practice, with specialisms in advising on employment, immigration and discrimination issues for higher and further education clients. Key contact Rachel Soundy, who has ‘excellent legal skills’, has considerable experience in handling higher education M&A work, whilst Rebecca Pendlebury is particularly familiar with mixed use regeneration schemes and other issues.

Practice head(s):

Ashley Norman

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Soundy; Rebecca Pendlebury; Elizabeth Dunford


‘Highly committed and excellent service level.’

‘Commercially astute.’

‘It was a pleasure working with Rachel Soundy who demonstrated excellent legal skills and knowledge; practical legal advice; continuously updating the team with the status of the matter; and overall excellent client care management.’

Key clients

University of Oxford

Ambition Institute

De Montfort University

Birmingham City University

The University of West London

Cardiff and Vale College

University of York

Swansea University


Work highlights

  • Acting for Swansea University on its commercial contracts with Ospreys Rugby.
  • Acting for Birmingham City University on various employee relations’ matters.
  • Acting for Cogrammar in relation to its collaborations with several UK Universities.

Lanyon Bowdler

Lanyon Bowdler‘s ‘professional, reliable and timely’ education team provides advice on various issues to academy trusts and independent schools, with a recent emphasis on academy conversion and transfer projects. ‘Diligent’ practice head William Morse routinely handles academy conversion matters, as well as advising on others, such as collective bargaining and discrimination tribunal matters.

Practice head(s):

William Morse


‘The team are professional, reliable and timely in their responses to questions.’

‘William Morse has been at the end of the phone for many quick questions. He has also anticipated the upcoming issues and has been diligent in making sure we follow the correct policies and procedures. He has been very clear in his advice and supportive in guiding us through the process.’

Key clients

St Paul’s Academy Trust

Lugwardine Academy Trust

The 3-18 Academy Trust

The Diocese Hereford Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised a Multi Academy Trust in relation to the transfer in of another Multi Academy Trust.
  • Advised an Academy Trust in relation to the academy conversion and joining of a community schools.