Education in Yorkshire And The Humber

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP's top-tier education practice handles a varied mix of transactional work, as well as employment law, real estate, constitutional and regulatory issues. The practice has been particularly active advising university clients on challenges presented by Covid-19, such as employment matters, online learning and the impact of the pandemic on student accommodation. Chris Mordue has over 22 years of experience advising universities on strategic employment law issues, employment disputes, industrial relations and executive level terminations. He is assisted by Ben Wood (national lead for academy work), Alison Oldfield and Simon Chamberlain. Paul Castle advises on financial transactions, while senior associates Charlotte Tanikal, Cat Ellis and Helena Tattersall advise on estate, project development and employment law.

Practice head(s):

Chris Mordue

Other key lawyers:

Ben Wood; Alison Oldfield; Simon Chamberlain; Paul Castle; Charlotte Tanikal; Cat Ellis; Helena Tattersall


‘The team are skilled specialists in education and up-to-date with the unusually complicated way in which our sector works. It is because of this they are able to share good practice and are well connected in the sector with key stakeholders.’

‘Ben Wood offers expert, skilled advice at short-notice and usually outside of usual working hours. No situation phases him and he is able to pick through the complexities to find a pragmatic solution.’

‘My main contact is Charlotte Tanikal. I always receive quick feedback and work is completed accurately and on time.’

‘Chris Mordue is a stand out employment lawyer. He is technically strong and exceptionally able; he excels when dealing with complex employment disputes and labour law issues. Chris can be trusted to advise on the most sensitive and challenging of matters. He is also an accomplished advocate and provides a very responsive service.’

‘The practice, especially the partners, are excellent at building good working relationships with their clients. They have superb sector knowledge (HE) and provide detailed advice.’

Key clients

Durham University

University of Leeds

The University of Sheffield

University of York

University of Bradford

Work highlights

  • Advising a number of universities on a comprehensive range of issues relating to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health and safety obligations to staff, students and visitors; data protection issues relating to COVID testing; union and staff objections to returning to work on campus; use of the furlough scheme and implementation of cost saving measures; and consumer and contract law implications of remote teaching.
  • Advised extensively in the HE and FE sectors in connection with the regulation and management of sexual misconduct allegations raised by students against other students and against members of staff, including in a number of highly sensitive and complex matters.
  • Represented a university in defending claims by a former employee for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Victoria Goddard leads the education department at Pinsent Masons LLP, which has a top-class reputation acting for universities and higher education providers on commercial transactions and accommodation developments; notable highlights included advising Unipol Student Homes on the Carlton Hill student residence redevelopment in Leeds. The group has also assisted universities with matters connected with Covid-19, such as employment and student-related issues. Goddard has a specialism in complex development structures for student accommodation projects. Julian Sladdin focuses on litigation. Sarah Ashberry and Gwen Sharp are recommended for employment and estates work.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Goddard

Other key lawyers:

Julian Sladdin; Sarah Ashberry; Gwen Sharp


‘Incredibly knowledgeable in the sector. The go to firm for a number of in-house lawyers in the sector. Generous with the free helpline offer. Really help to move matters forward and provide pragmatic advice.’

‘Julian Sladdin – fantastic lawyer. Incredibly knowledgeable in the sector. Friendly and pragmatic. Always goes above and beyond to help.’

‘The firm has tremendous breadth and a range of specialisms, being able to draw on significant staffing capacity. It is able to provide all the core areas of law for universities and has provided advice over the last year on estates, constitutional and governance, employment, financial, litigation, dispute resolution and student matters. There is strength in every area and depth which may be difficult to match.’

‘Julian Sladdin, despite a seemingly daunting caseload, continues to sparkle waspishly in all litigation and dispute resolution matters, showing a sure touch and landing blows worthy of an expert fencer.’

‘Victoria Goddard is an important resource who is involved in many other organisations (BPF ad Student Minds for example) and has a wide range of contacts within HEIs and service providers.’

Key clients

Aston University

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Cardiff University

INTO University Partnerships Limited

Kings College London

Leeds Beckett University

Nottingham Trent University

Nurture Higher Education Group

Work highlights

  • Acting for Bath Spa University in defending high value and complex injunction and breach of contract proceedings brought by a franchised College (UKCBC) involving alleged damages of approximately £5m an expedited trial.
  • Advising Kingston Student Living LLP (a consortium of Equitix Limited and Engie Regeneration) on the Kingston University Residences DBFO project. The project will see the redesign, refurbishment, finance and operation of the University’s Kingston Hill and Seething Wells halls of residence.
  • Advised University of Leeds on the purchase of Cloth Hall Court, Leeds from Leeds Beckett.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper has a strong reputation among local universities and higher education institutions. It has also advised on the redevelopment of a number of the schools in conjunction with the Department for Education capital improvement project. In addition, the firm also acts for other stakeholders in the education sector, such as the United Kingdom Research and Innovation and student housing developers. Andrew Clarke, Richard Taylor, Nigel Howard and Roger Gough advise on real estate, IP, estates and commercial transactions.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Clarke

Other key lawyers:

Richard Taylor; Roger Gough; Nigel Howard

Key clients

United Kingdom Research and Innovation

University of Law

University of Sheffield

West Nottinghamshire College

The Northampton Roman Catholic Diocese Trustee

Elliott Group Limited

Department for Education

University Superannuation Fund

Work highlights

  • Advising the United Kingdom Research and Innovation in respect of the grant of leases relating to the National Oceanography Centre including the grant of a lease to the University of Southampton.
  • Advising on allegations against the University of Law that the members of staff made racist and discriminatory comments against a student. The case has been heard at first instance and in the Court of Appeal and appeal is now being made to the Supreme Court.
  • Acting for the University of Sheffield as it replicates its highly successful (and ministerially-sponsored) Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (“AMRC”) in various sites around the UK, including Wales, Samlesbury and Derby.

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchells' practice is jointly led by Jenny Arrowsmith and Michelle Beaumont, who are noted for their combined expertise in educational employment and property law matters. The practice is active in a wide range of matters, including complex PFI/PPP funding arrangements; charity regulation and governance matters. Other areas of expertise include student issues such as admissions, exclusions and parental complaints, and dispute resolution. Laurence Gavin left for Hemingway Solicitors in August 2020.

Practice head(s):

Jenny Arrowsmith; Michelle Beaumont


‘Jenny Arrowsmith and Michelle Beaumont have grown a solid practice in this area, with good relationships with academy trusts in particular.’

‘Michelle Beaumont – Property. Has brought to IM great expertise in the non-contentious side of education in particularly regarding FE colleges.’

‘Responsiveness, reliability and relationship of trust – plus they have taken the time to get to know us as clients and what our aims and ethos are. Rare with corporate bodies in our experience.’

‘Jenny Arrowsmith is our main contact and all of the items stated above embody what we get from Jenny – but she is also clearly an education specialist, she gets it.’

Key clients

Services 4 Schools Ltd

Association of Colleges

Inspire Trust

White Rose Academies

Leeds City College

Boston College

North Halifax Grammar School

Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of Hartpury University on the delivery of student accommodation by way of a complex off-balance sheet structure involving Cityheart (as developer and operator), Gloucester City Council (as original landowner), an investment fund managed by Aviva Investors (as funder) and the University.
  • Advised Paces Sheffield, a leading Yorkshire specialist centre, charity and school for individuals with cerebral palsy and motor disorders, on the taking of a new 10-year lease to open a new facility with expanded services for adults.
  • Advised Hartpury University on a deal which involved the design, build and operation of 190 beds of student accommodation by Cityheart (comprising Phase II of a larger student accommodation development in Gloucester).

Lupton Fawcett

Lupton Fawcett leverages a strong ecclesiastical and charities offering and is well-known in the region for its work with academies, educational foundations and independent schools, particularly religious designated schools. Mark Honeywell is experienced in governance, regulatory issues and complex trust law concerning diocesan-owned school sites. Sarah Temple and Peter Foskett are of note for real estate and religious designation issues.

Practice head(s):

Mark Honeywell

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Temple; Peter Foskett


‘The team is effective, experienced and knowledgeable. The flow of information between team members, when necessary, is efficient and timely. Equally, communication between the firm and members of our organisation is excellent.’

‘Through their actions, partners and associates evidence a consistent desire to develop and nurture an effective and personalised working relationship; nothing is too much effort.’

‘Peter Foskett – wholly dependable, vast encyclopaedic knowledge, goes above and beyond. Mark Honeywell – personable, very knowledgeable and constantly reviewing the latest updates on education sector.’

‘We really value Lupton Fawcett as a trusted firm which provides quality advice in a timely and constructive way. They make sure they understand their clients and that advice is practical and meets the organisational needs. Where specialist knowledge in other areas is required, their internal co-ordination is seamless. There is consistent quality output from this firm.’

Key clients

Leeds Diocesan Board of Education

York Diocesan Board of Education

Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust


Dales Academies Trust

The Grammar School at Leeds

Scarborough College

University of York

Work highlights

  • Advising the Leeds Diocesan Board of Education and school site trustees on academy conversions concerning schools within the diocese, academy governance issues, closed school issues and property matters relating to school sites.
  • Advising the Bradford Diocesan academies on a broad range of legal issues, form academy conversions and academy governance to issues relating to children and parents, dispute resolution, real estate and intellectual property.
  • Acting for Grammar School at Leeds and its supporting educational charities on a range charity law and governance matters, employment law and real estate.

Rollits LLP

Rollits LLP's Hull-based practice acts for colleges, universities, schools, multi- academy trusts, awarding bodies and charitable and private training providers across England. Corporate lawyer John Flanagan focuses on education M&A, joint ventures and conversion, supported by Chris Crystal on real estate matters and Caroline Hardcastle on contentious issues. James Peel and Gerry Morrison are the main figures for commercial matters and charity law respectively.

Practice head(s):

John Flanagan; Chris Crystal; Caroline Hardcastle

Other key lawyers:

Gerry Morrison; James Peel


‘Excellent responsiveness, professional, comprehensive communications and thorough understanding and awareness of the education sector.’

‘Caroline Hardcastle, Chris Crystal, James Peel. Approachable, responsive, professional, sector awareness and understanding, excellent communications.’

‘We have access to a knowledgeable team who are very familiar with the issues facing the sector and indeed our particular college. A small team with whom we have built a strong relationship and who are very reactive to our ongoing requirements.’

‘The team are reactive and knowledgeable. They have got to know the college its challenges, issues and opportunities allowing them to readily advise on matters as they arise. ’

‘Rollits offer a breadth of legal expertise which allows them to offer a comprehensive service across all disciplines of law. As a client the service is seamless and is done in a friendly supportive manner which is very different from the conventional robotic delivery of most law firms.’

‘All of the team are approachable, knowledgeable and friendly. Gerry Morrison’s charity law expertise is an exceptional resource for managing a multi-academy trust.’

‘The members of this team are exceptional. Caroline Hardcastle is always available and always able to assist directly or make a swift introduction to the relevant part of the practice. Whether our issues are big or small, complex or straightforward, members of Caroline’s team are on hand to assist, guide and steer.’

Key clients

Leeds City College

Leeds College of Music

Hull College Group

Bishop Burton College

East Riding College

DN College Group – Doncaster and North Lindsay

Selby College

Salford City College

Work highlights

  • Advised East Riding College on all elements on its merger with Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, as a result of which the TEC Partnership was formed.
  • Advised on legal and project management issues required to manage the conversion of Mill Field Primary School to join White Rose Academies Trust.
  • Advised DN Colleges Group in relation to an agreement with the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise in connection with the delivery by Doncaster College of courses as part of the Chamber’s Doncaster Business Academy.

Schofield Sweeney

Schofield Sweeney works with a substantial number of education clients, including multi-academy trusts, independent schools, academies and maintained schools. In Bradford, Andrew Hurst is experienced in academy conversions and development schemes. Simon Shepherd in Leeds handles relevant employment law matters.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Hurst; Simon Shepherd


‘The team at Schofield Sweeney are highly efficient, knowledgeable and most importantly they are easily contactable and readily available. It’s the latter in particular that sets them aside from other firms.’

Key clients

Carlton Academy Trust

BMAT Education

Wellspring Academy Trust

Moorlands Learning Trust

Attain Academy Partnership

Enhance Academy Trust

Heckmondwike Grammar School

Beckfoot Trust

Oasis Community Learning

Work highlights

  • Assisted the Carlton Academy Trust during a year of considerable expansion with three primary schools converting to join the Trust. Carlton Academy Trust is continuing to expand and the team are currently assisting with the re-brokerage of a PFI Academy to join the Trust in Autumn 2021.
  • Assisted BMAT Education when a failing academy was directed by the Department of Education to re-broker and join another multi-academy trust.
  • Advised Trinity Multi Academy Trust on the Agreement to Lease and the long term Lease in respect of a new 6th Form Centre to be developed in a land mark building in Halifax town centre.

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP bolstered its team with the arrival of Jamie Otter from Browne Jacobson LLP, who leads the academy projects offering. He and practice head Tom Morrison acted for Humber Education Trust on the transfer of North Carr Collaborative Academies Trust, including the acquisition of three schools. Employment partner Polly O’Malley and senior associate Louise Castle are also of note.

Practice head(s):

Tom Morrison

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Otter; Polly O’Malley; Louise Castle


The quality of advice given by both partners I have dealt with has been exceptional in scope and depth. This advice has always been presented in a form comprehensible to my lay fellow directors.’

Tom Morrison is excellent to work with. His knowledge of the further and higher education sector means that every conversation adds value to my current knowledge.’

In a highly volatile and changing situation, the guidance and knowledge demonstrated has been very valuable. Particular mention to Tom Morrison, partner.’

They stand out because it becomes a an excellent partnership and does not feel like just a legal service. They have your particular needs to hand and are so welcoming and extremely friendly.’

Great team committed to working with you as a partner. Very experienced and knowledgeable about the education sector (this is why we are using them) and their response to our questions and requests are completed in an efficient and timely manner.

Key clients

United Learning Trust

United Learning Church Trust

Red Kite Learning Trust

Exceed Academies Trust

The Gorse Academies Trust

Astrea Academy Trust


The Sheffield College

Northern College

Humber Education Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Sheffield College on the funding and construction of new facilities to support a ground-breaking digital engineering venture involving the College, the Sheffield City Region LEP and substantial employer investment.
  • Advised the Exceed Academies Trust on an exciting EduTech, a project supporting online learning for disadvantaged pupils, and a regional school improvement coordination project.
  • Reviewed the governance arrangements for NCG, the largest college group in the country.

Walker Morris LLP

Leeds-based firm Walker Morris LLP handles a broad range of work, from academy conversions and governance advice to dispute resolution. The practice is steadily growing its profile among colleges and universities, and counts Burnley College, Leeds Arts University and Leeds Beckett University as clients. David Smedley focuses on education employment law issues, including admissions, exclusions and claims for judicial review. Jules Harbage specialises in real estate and construction matters.

Practice head(s):

David Smedley; Jules Harbage

Key clients

Leeds Arts University

Bury College

Leeds College of Building

Burnley College

New Collaborative Learning Trust

Rochdale Sixth Form College

Exceptional Education Trust

St Mary’s Catholic High School, Chesterfield

South Wigston High School, Leicester

Work highlights

  • Acting on behalf of and advising King Edward VI Educational Trust trust on large multi-million pound new build construction sports hall refurbishment scheme at King Edward VI Grammar School.
  • Acting for ENGIE Regeneration and ENGIE Services in relation to a project comprising the refurbishment of 1,216 existing rooms and the addition of 117 new rooms at Kingston University’s Kingston Hill and Seething Wells sites.
  • Advising Burnley college in respect of construction works for a new building project for a new teaching black and re-development of an existing sports hall on the campus.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP's multidisciplinary team is a top choice for faith schools and academies. The group, which is led by Chris Billington, is involved in key mandates for sixth form colleges and independent schools, including academy conversions and PFI projects. Graham Shaw and Tim Wrigley are the other key partners.

Practice head(s):

Chris Billington

Other key lawyers:

Graham Shaw; Tim Wrigley


‘Graham provides an excellent service and ensures true value for money.’

‘The practice is extremely responsive to any queries and proactive in anticipating what might happen. They always respond within a matter of hours to queries and seek to explain complex issues in clear terms, especially for people with only a basic legal knowledge. ’

‘Wrigleys have a diverse and knowledgeable team that covers all areas of law pertinent for education and therefore acts as a ‘one-stop’ shop. The team is also proactive with their advice, often thinking several steps ahead to prevent future issues. Finally, Wrigleys provide value for money and a flexible billing approach.’

‘Chris Billington, Graham Shaw and Tim Wrigley are very knowledgeable, helpful and provide high quality and complete service.’

Key clients

Wingfield Academy

Royal College of Art Student’s Union

James Montgomery Academy Trust

Yorkshire Causeway Schools Trust

Nexus Multi Academy Trust

Cockburn Multi Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Wingfield Academy Trust on the transfer of a PFI academy to a multi-academy trust.
  • Advised Nexus Multi Academy Trust Education,  a leading special school multi-academy trust on its growth by adding special and hospital schools.
  • Advising Yorkshire Causeway Schools Trust on its expansion, including the sponsored conversion of Skipton Parish Church CofE Primary School.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Martin Priestley heads up the education team at Mills & Reeve LLP, where he specialises in advising universities and other clients in the government and technology sector on major sourcing, collaborative and strategic commercial projects.

Practice head(s):

Martin Priestley


Richard Sykes and his team are particularly strong in the higher education field. Their advice is comprehensive, but also pragmatic and commercial.’