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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Yorkshire and the Humber > Public sector > Education > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Education
  2. Leading individuals

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's dedicated team works with the full range of education clients, including higher education and further education institutions, schools, academies and private education providers. Chris Mordue leads the group in Leeds and specialises in providing employment and industrial relations advice to universities. Other key names include employment expert Ben Wood, litigator Alison Oldfield and Paul Castle, who handles finance work for further and higher education borrowers.

Practice head(s):Chris Mordue

Other key lawyers:Ben Wood; Alison Oldfield; Paul Castle

Key Clients

Durham University

University of Leeds

Leeds Beckett University

The University of Sheffield

University of York

University of Bradford

University of Hull

University of Huddersfield

Sheffield Hallam University

Leeds Trinity University

University of Essex

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

University College London

Craven College

Kirklees College

Leeds City College

Leeds College of Building

New College Durham

Northern College

Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College

The Grimsby Institute Group

Wakefield College

Batley Multi Academy Trust

Beacon Multi Academy Trust

Congleton Multi Academy Trust

L.E.A.D. Multi Academy Trust

Nova Academy Trust

The Altius Trust

The Education Alliance

The Prospect Trust

The Wensum Trust

Twyford CofE Academies Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising a number of universities on senior exits.
  • Assisting a London university with the employment aspects of a major insourcing.
  • Representing a Yorkshire university in a complex indirect sex discrimination case in which a member of the teaching staff challenged pay, promotion and career progression arrangements at the institution.
  • Advising a Russell Group university on proposed changes to procedures and practices for dealing with sexual harassment complaints.
  • Advising a university on the legal and reputational implications following a student death.

Pinsent Masons LLP stands out for its advice to higher education providers, counting more than 70 universities as clients. The team handles the full spectrum of issues including the creation and registration of new providers, development and restructuring, staff issues, student accommodation, data protection and regulatory matters, and also leverages the firm's global network to assist with matters extending to other jurisdictions around the world. Victoria Goddard leads the practice and specialises in student accommodation projects, Julian Sladdin heads up the university litigation team and senior associate Rebecca McCall handles corporate governance and compliance matters.

Practice head(s):Victoria Goddard

Other key lawyers:Julian Sladdin; Rebecca McCall

Key Clients

University of Leeds

University of York

University of Essex

University of Leicester

University of London

Imperial

University of Brighton

University of Coventry

University of Lincoln

Birmingham Metropolitan College

University of Manchester

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of York on the procurement of a partner to design, build, finance and maintain new student accommodation at the university's Heslington East campus.
  • Assisting Equitix and Engie as preferred bidder on the Kingston University student accommodation project.
  • Acting for the University of Brighton on a major residential development.
  • Representing the University of Sheffield in a precedent-setting case in the Court of Appeal relating to an MA social work student who posted comments on social media that homosexuality was a sin. The case focused on issues of free speech and religious beliefs, and the student was removed from the university.

With notable experience advising further education clients, DLA Piper UK LLP also assists education policymakers, schools and private sector companies. Andrew Clarke and Richard Taylor lead the groups in Leeds and Sheffield respectively; Clarke focuses on real estate matters and Taylor has expertise in IP, technology and commercial law. Sheffield-based Roger Gough handles commercial contract work.

Practice head(s):Andrew Clarke; Richard Taylor

Other key lawyers:Roger Gough

Key Clients

Calderdale College

Department for Business , Energy and Industrial Strategy

Department for Education

Hallam Union of Students

London Grid for Learning Limited

United Kingdom Research and Innovation

Newham College of Further Education

Park Lane College

Sheffield Grammar School

Sheffield Hallam University

South West Grid for Learning Trust Limited

Skills Funding Agency

York College

Yorkshire Coast College

University of Sheffield

University of Sheffield Union of Students

University of Central Lancashire

Work highlights

  • Advising the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, part of the University of Sheffield, on its research collaboration agreement with McLaren Automotive Limited.
  • Assisting the University of Sheffield with its negotiations with Rhodes Interform for the £1.3m purchase of a press for the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
  • Acting for the University of Sheffield on state aid issues relating to its involvement in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and its new programme, F4N+.
  • Advising the Diocese of Leeds on a land swap required to facilitate the construction of a new primary school.
  • Assisting the University of Sheffield with its EU-regulated procurement of a framework of professional to support its construction projects.

At Irwin Mitchell, the Sheffield-based Laurence Gavin leads the further and higher education group, while Leeds-based employment specialist Jenny Arrowsmith heads up the schools group. Clients include single and multi-academy trusts, higher education institutions and further education colleges which the department advises on transactions, employment law, charity regulation issues, property work, student issues, reputational risk work, freedom of information and data protection requests, and litigation. Michelle Beaumont joined in 2019 from Pinsent Masons LLP and handles real estate matters.

Practice head(s):Jenny Arrowsmith; Laurence Gavin

Other key lawyers:Michelle Beaumont

Testimonials

'Clients receive an excellent service from Jenny Arrowsmith and her team, which builds strong relationships with the establishments it advises. Jenny understands her clients and doesn't just respond to points of law (although she also does this very effectively). The group really does become an invaluable part of the team'.

'The team is responsive and reliable and puts its relationships with clients at the heart of the organisation'.

Key Clients

Learners First School Partnership

Services 4 Schools Ltd

Association of Colleges

Inspire Trust

White Rose Academies

Leeds City College

Boston College

North Halifax Grammar School

Sandbach High School

Cadbury College

Telford College

Work highlights

  • Advising Services 4 Schools Ltd on its human resources, payroll and other school improvement services.
  • Acting as sole legal adviser to the Association of Colleges, assisting with employment law issues.
  • Providing employment law advice to Learner First Schools Partnership.
  • Assisting Cadbury College with its merger with Sandwell College.

Schofield Sweeney acts for schools and academies nationally and utilises its cross-departmental approach to handle employment, property, finance, governance and academy conversion issues. The team also counts headteachers, business managers and governors as clients. Practice leader Andrew Hurst has experience handling conversions and specialised funding and development schemes, and assisting multi-academy trusts and umbrella trusts. Simon Shepherd is the key contact for employment work.

Practice head(s):Andrew Hurst

Other key lawyers:Simon Shepherd

Testimonials

'Schofield Sweeney provides good advice in a timely manner'.

'Simon Shepherd and associate Annie Gray provide commercial advice'.

Key Clients

Heckmondwike Grammar School

Woodhouse Grove School, Leeds

SHARE Multi Academy Trust

Attain Academy Partnership

Ethos Academy Trust

Carlton Bolling College

United Endeavour Multi- Academy trust

Silcoates School

Work highlights

  • Defending Heckmondwike Grammar School in unfair dismissal and race discrimination claims following the dismissal of a member of the support staff.
  • Assisting the employer with allegations of gross misconduct made against a headteacher.
  • Representing Woodhouse Grove School in unfair dismissal and disability discrimination claims brought by a teacher, who was dismissed for gross misconduct on the grounds of dishonesty.
  • Acting for Share Multi Academy Trust on the academy conversion of Royds Hall Community School and the transfer of Thornhill Community Academy into the trust.
  • Assisting Attain Academy Partnership with its conversion from a single academy trust to a multi academy trust.

Walker Morris LLP assists schools and further education institutions at a national level with the full spectrum of issues including commercial contracts, governance issues, employment work, real estate developments and litigation. David Smedley and Jules Harbage jointly lead the practice; Smedley focuses on employment and industrial relations work and Harbage handles contentious and non-contentious construction matters.

Practice head(s):David Smedley; Jules Harbage

Key Clients

Leeds Arts University

Selby College

Bury College

Leeds College of Building

Loreto College

Burnley College

Bradford College

Blackpool Sixth Form College

New College Pontefract

New College Doncaster

Kendal College

Rochdale Sixth Form College

The Every Child Matters Academy Trust

London Borough of Bexley Council

South Woodham Pre-school

Franklin College

New College Educational Trust

Harrow College

South Woodham Pre-school

Innovate Multi Academy Trust

Exceptional Education Trust

Westgate Academy Limited

South Manchester Learning Trust

King Edward VI Education Trust

The Red Kite Academy Trust

Leeds Grammar School

Rodillian Multi Academy Trust

Dudley Academies Trust

St Mary’s Catholic High School, Chesterfield

South Wigston High School, Leicester

Humphrey Perkins School, Loughborough

Kirkbie Kendal School, Kirkbie

Rossett School, Harrogate

Giles Academy, Boston

Work highlights

  • Assisted Leeds Arts University with the contracts associated with the new extension of its art, design and performance facilities.
  • Advising Leeds College of Building on the construction of a new building to accommodate classrooms and workshops.
  • Negotiating multiple data sharing agreements between Unite Group and education providers.
  • Advising Dudley Academies Trust on multiple refurbishment projects at several of the trust's school sites.
  • Assisting the University of Sheffield with the procurement of a new CHP energy centre to provide heat and power to its Western Bank campus.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP is singled out for its expertise acting for state-funded schools, faith schools and academies; the team has also seen an increased number of instructions from sixth form colleges. Group leader Chris Billington handles governance, commercial and employment matters, Graham Shaw focuses on academy work, and Tim Wrigley counts local authority schools, academies and independent schools as clients.

Practice head(s):Chris Billington

Other key lawyers:Graham Shaw; Tim Wrigley

Testimonials

'Wrigleys has a depth of experience in dealing with the closure of Church of England schools. Being an experienced charity law practice, it is able to draw on the experience of other departments to get the job done'.

'The team has real strength in depth in all aspects of education law'.

'Tim Wrigley is very approachable. He has wide specialist knowledge and experience, but has the patience to explain complex issues in a clear way'.

Key Clients

James Montgomery Academy Trust

Wakefield City Academy Trust

Talentum Learning Trust

Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust

Nexus

Learn Sheffield

Hull Collaborative Academy Trust

Willow Tree Academy

Fylde Coast Academies Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising Wakefield City Academy Trust on its rebrokering and the transfer of all 21 schools out of the trust and its closure.
  • Assisting Talentum Learning Trust on its transformation from a non-faith multi-academy trust to a mixed multi-academy trust.
  • Handling all issues for Hull Collaborative Academy Trust including a potential school rebuild project, four academy conversions and school to school support and consultancy agreements.
  • Providing advice to Willow Tree Academy on academy conversions, property issues and funding work.
  • Assisting James Montgomery Academy Trust with the academy conversion of a voluntary aided school with historic site issues.

Lupton Fawcett counts maintained schools, independent schools and further and higher education institutions as clients and has notable expertise assisting academies and religious designated schools, leveraging the firm's strong ecclesiastical and charities teams. Group co-head Michelle Phillips heads up the firm's academies and schools offering, while newly promoted partner and fellow co-head Mark Honeywell specialises in handling governance and regulatory issues for academies and independent schools. Ecclesiastical lawyer Peter Foskett focuses on religious schools.

Practice head(s):Michelle Phillips; Mark Honeywell

Other key lawyers:Peter Foskett

Testimonials

'Lupton Fawcett provides a contemporary understanding of the current educational landscape with regards to church schools and multi-academy trusts and the unique context they face. It is always timely and aids in ensuring that client's needs are met on a face-to-face basis as well as electronically'.

'Mark Honeywell integrates himself well into the client's team and his expertise and personable nature ensures he provides a personal serviceHaving a local person who understands the contact of situations makes all the difference'.

Key Clients

Leeds Diocesan Board of Education

York Diocesan Board of Education

Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust

Dales Academies Trust

STAR MAT

Grammar School at Leeds

Bishop Burton College

Scarborough College

Bingley Grammar School Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advised the Leeds Diocesan Board of Education on its academies projects and trust issues associated with Church of England school sites.
  • Assists the York Diocesan Board of Education on academies and school land issues.
  • Advised on the establishment of Star MAT.
  • Assisting the Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust on its academies programme including four academy conversions.
  • Advised on the establishment of a new multi-academy trust in Leeds.

The team at Mills & Reeve LLP has continued to grow on the back of the firm's hire of former Pinsent Masons LLP international universities head Martin Priestley in early 2018. Priestley focuses on education sector commercial projects and international joint ventures, while Mark Pearce is the key name for IP-related issues at universities, and principal associate Poppy Short has experience in governance and structuring issues.

Practice head(s):Martin Priestley

Other key lawyers:Mark Pearce; Poppy Short

Key Clients

University of York

University of Durham

Northumbria University

Nottingham Trent University

Work highlights

  • Advising the University of York on its acquisition of its joint venture partner's 50% share in an LLP which holds the freehold interest of its new Constantine College.
  • Assisted the University of Durham with a private placement of notes issued to six investors.
  • Acting for the University of Northumbria on a proposed project to replace several of its student accommodation buildings with a new development.

With a strong Yorkshire client base, Rollits LLP acts for some of the county's largest colleges, multi-academy trusts, specialist providers, higher education bodies and private training providers. Caroline Hardcastle and John Flanagan jointly lead the department; Hardcastle handles contentious issues and Flanagan focuses on non-contentious transactions. Long-serving partner Tom Morrison left to join Stone King LLP at the beginning of 2019.

Practice head(s):Caroline Hardcastle; John Flanagan

Testimonials

'Rollits always impresses with its quality of service and has a leading reputation in the field of education. The team takes the time to understand its clients and what their needs are so they can reach the best solution. It establishes close working relationships and keeps a close track on the holistic relationship'.

'The team has an excellent understanding of the education system and in particular the process of academisation, which ensures that all conversion, no matter how complex, proceed smoothly within the agreed timescale'.

'Communication is a key strength of this firm. It regularly keeps clients up to date on how matters are progressing. The team communicates with each other really well and whenever you speak to someone they always know what's happening. They really do make clients feel like they are the only one!'.

'The whole team provides an outstanding level of service across the full spectrum of activities including premises, GDPR and the conversion process itself'.

'Caroline Hardcastle is very professional and approachable, and deals with matters efficiently and helps the client to understand and complexities that are not within their skillset'.

Key Clients

Leeds City College

Hull College Group

Bishop Burton College

East Riding College

DN College Group - Doncaster

DN College Group - North Lindsey

Shipley College

Exceed Academies Trust

White Rose Academies Trust

Swanland Education Trust

Hymers College

Sentamu Academy Learning Trust

The Education Alliance

The Skills Network

Work highlights

  • Advised multiple further education providers on their contractual arrangements for the provision of apprenticeships.
  • Assisting several further education providers on the contractual arrangements for the subcontracted provision of education and training.
  • Acting on the conversion of South Holderness Secondary School to an academy.
  • Assisting Exceed Academies Trust with the rebrokerage of Harden Primary School.
  • Acting for a further education provider on the financing of a new campus.

The Leeds-based group at Stone King LLP is led by head of further education Tom Morrison, who joined from Rollits LLP, following Graham Shaw's departure to Wrigleys Solicitors LLP. The practice is particularly noted for its further education expertise at a regional and national level. Morrison focuses on commercial and contractual issues as well as compliance work, and Polly O’Malley handles employment matters.

Practice head(s):Tom Morrison

Other key lawyers:Polly O'Malley

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