Firm Profile > Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP > Cambridge, England

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Banking and finance Tier 2

The Cambridge office of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP acts for both lenders and borrowers in key sectors including real estate, travel, leisure, education, technology and private wealth. In 2018, the firm was appointed to the HSBC banking and finance panel, and continued to receive instructions from long-term clients Link Asset Services and AIB. Practice head Helen Drayton is a recognised expert in acquisition finance, MBOs, bilateral lending and development finance. Real estate finance specialist Sarah Coates is also recommended.


“A regional Firm with many areas of expertise across the sectors and geography served. It has a technology specialism with the Golden Triangle, including overseas support and representation.”

“Helen Drayton is visible and proactive and is an excellent communicator through a deal or transaction. There are never any surprises when it comes to fees and she is always constructive with any suggestions, feedback or challenge.”

Key clients

HSBC Bank (UK) Plc

AIB Group (UK) Plc

Svenska Handelsbanken AB

Lors Homes Limited

Santander UK Plc

LTC Holdings Plc

Biotechnology Tier 2

Biotechnology is a key industry sector across the national network of offices of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP and the key lawyers in Cambridge advise start-ups and established life sciences companies on corporate, IP, IT, property and finance matters. Among its clients are numerous biotechnology, medical device, diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies, as well as research institutes. The firm, which climbs the ranking this year, has a dedicated IP, IT and commercial lawyer in senior associate Rachel Bradley and an experienced employment partner in Hilary Aldred.

Key clients

Wren Therapeutics


Atopix Therapeutics

King’s Commercialisation Institute

Astex Therapeutics

Orca Pharmaceuticals




King’s Commercialisation Institute


Corporate and commercial: Cambridge Tier 2

'They have simply done it before many times and have the expertise', says a client of the corporate and commercial practice at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP. The practice is led from London, Oxford and Guildford, but key partner Helen Drayton in Cambridge plays a pivotal role in some of the firm's largest transactions. The practice acts for technology, biotech and pharmaceutical clients, as well as academic institutions and non-profit research organisations. Associate Katharine Robinson is a rising star in technology, real estate, food and agriculture M&A deals. Ross McNaughton is predominantly based in San Francisco, but still leads deals through the Cambridge office.

Education Tier 2

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is best known for its work on employment and governance matters in the higher education sector, and it is on the panel of the London Universities Purchasing Consortium. Hilary Aldred is co-head of the firm-wide education practice and an employment specialist. She has specialised in both contentious and non-contentious employment work for more than 20 years and is recognised for her expertise on a wide range of education issues, acting both for and against institutions. Sarah Coates advises education clients on property matters.


“The team has very strong expertise in both education and employment law, which makes them ideally placed to assist on crossover topics.”

“Hilary Aldred and Sophie Whitbread really go the extra mile for clients.”

Key clients

Florida State University

UCL Business Plc

Fitzwilliam College

University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate


ICMP Management Limited

Farriers Registration Council

King’s College London

Employment Tier 2

The Cambridge office of Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP plays a vital role in the firms wider national employment practice and clients remark that 'the legal advice is sophisticated and spot-on'. Hilary Aldred, who frequently advises clients in the education sector, and senior associate Sophie Whitbread are the key contacts. Outside of education, their practices focus on life sciences, technology and charity sector clients, as well as high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs. The firm is sought-after for boardroom disputes and the management of multinational reorganisations and redundancy programmes.


“The Employment team at the Cambridge office has an excellent knowledge of the higher education sector, and particularly Cambridge/Oxford University and collegiate systems, which is invaluable.”

“I work with Sophie Whitbread and Hilary Aldred. Both are extremely responsive and deliver an unrivalled level of customer service.”

“Sophie Whitbread stands out for her customer focus and completely pragmatic advice. She has an excellent insight into how the organisation works. She understands the issues immediately and has a unique way of working in partnership with us to own and deal with the issues to the most effective and timely resolution. Her written advice notes are always really clear and invaluable.”

“Hilary Aldred stands out for her unrivalled knowledge of academic employment issues and her willingness to challenge long-held views in this area. She is able to help on the most technical of employment issues within this complex arena.”

“Sophie Whitbread is excellent.”

Key clients

Ocado Retail Ltd

Abcam Plc

Oxford Hydrotechnics Limited

Florida State University

UCL Business Plc

Fitzwilliam College


University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate

Intellectual property Tier 2

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP joins the ranking thanks to the growing workload of senior associate Rachel Bradley in the IP, IT and commercial practice. She has more than 13 years' experience in the publishing and life sciences sectors, and handles a range of non-contentious IP matters including trade mark, patent, know-how and copyright licences for the publishing industry, as well as software licences. Her clients range from small biotech and technology companies to large pharmaceutical companies, NHS Trusts, charities and academic institutions.


“The team at Penningtons Manches has lawyers who have worked in-house which means they have a great understanding our commercial concerns.”

“They are able to respond to our queries efficiently and highlight any commercial and legal concerns appropriately.”

“Rachel Bradley and the team have great understanding of our sector and the issues that we as an organisation face. With their experience in the sector and detailed knowledge of our business needs, the team are able to provide us with a tailored service for our company.”

“They are able to meet with challenging deadlines, and are able to turn work around quickly should the need arise.”

“Rachel Bradley has a detailed knowledge of the publishing sector. Having Rachel as a central point of contact means that the advice is always tailored to our organisation, given her  knowledge of our business.”

“Queries are responded to promptly, and with a pragmatic approach.”

Key clients

Astex Pharmaceuticals

The Company of Biologists

Cytocell Limited and Oxford Gene Technology Limited

Dementia UK

Cambridge Commodities

Wren Therapeutics

Astrid Media

Grey Wolf Therapeutics

Property litigation Tier 2

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP joins the ranking having recruited the 'really experienced and very goodAndrea Nicholls from Greene & Greene. Nicholls' main focus is real estate litigation and she works closely with commercial property partner Sarah Coates to advise on agricultural and rural property disputes, including both tenancy disputes and cases concerning the property held by a farming partnership as a partnership asset; freehold property disputes; rights of way; restrictive covenants; overage agreements and disputes regarding options; commercial leasehold disputes; forfeiture; rent arrears recovery; lease renewal proceedings; and break notices.

Commercial property: Cambridge Tier 3

The 'proactive, thorough and diligentPenningtons Manches Cooper LLP's real estate team in Cambridge acts for a range of clients across many sectors including global banks, developers, housing associations, science parks, colleges and high-net-worth families. The lawyers are 'extremely thorough and professional in everything they do', and one client remarks that lead partner Sarah Coates is 'highly accessible and knowledgeable; she has a great eye for detail and is excellent in her appraisal of risks'. Coates has particular expertise in the acquisition and set-up of residential development sites, development finance secured lending and refinance work, and landlord and tenant matters.


“The team has good in-depth knowledge within its field and and is always positive and easy to deal with. We find that they are always on hand to assist with any questions we may have and we happily recommend our clients to them.”

“Sarah Coates in particular has a good in-depth understanding of the property industry, site set up and legal issues.”

“Becky Lund is also becoming a key part of the Penningtons team and her knowledge continues to grow with the support of Sarah Coates.”

“I have complete faith in Sarah Coates. She totally understands any concerns and will address them. She seems to have excellent knowledge in the field and definitely fights our corner.”

“The support team are also very thorough and always helpful.”

Key clients

This Land Limited

Murfet Group

Vindis Group

Friar’s Pride Limited

James Dolan Limited

Cytocell Limited


Max Barney Estate

Blues Property Limited

Cambridge Commodities Limited

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 3

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP joins the ranking this year, as the Cambridge office handles insolvency work through respected corporate finance partner Helen Drayton. The firm has a large restructuring and insolvency practice across its UK office network, on which Drayton can draw to advise clients, many of which are in the technology and life sciences sectors. The firm hired experienced real estate litigator Andrea Nicholls from Greene & Greene, who has particular expertise in property-related insolvency disputes.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a leading UK and international law firm which provides high-quality legal advice tailored to the needs of both businesses and individuals. It aims to address the specific objectives of each client through its broad market insight and technical expertise, and offers a personal service founded on a strong team ethic.

The firm: Penningtons Manches Cooper’s head office is in the City of London. There are further UK offices in Basingstoke, Birmingham, Cambridge, Guildford, Oxford and Reading while its growing overseas network stretches from Asia to America through offices in Singapore, Piraeus, Paris, Madrid, São Paulo and San Francisco. Clients range from private individuals and owner-managed businesses to multinational corporations, public companies, universities, professional partnerships, banks and financial institutions.

Types of work undertaken: The firm has established a strong reputation in a variety of sectors, particularly private wealth, shipping, technology and property. It is also recognised for its expertise in life sciences, education,  retail, sports and entertainment and international trade and commodity finance. The main areas of legal services provided are real estate, dispute resolution, corporate and commercial, private client and family. To ensure a seamless service is provided to clients, all Penningtons Manches Cooper’s activities and people are divided into three divisions:

Business services: this division offers expertise in all types of dispute resolution, mediation and arbitration with specialists located in three of the world’s leading arbitration centres of London, Paris and Singapore. It also provides a wealth of expertise in corporate services and corporate finance, MBOs, MBIs, M&A and joint ventures as well as initial public offering and AIM listing. Areas of work include corporate tax, IP, data protection, employment, immigration, banking, financial regulation, insurance and reinsurance, international arbitration, marine, trade and energy, travel law, reputation management and privacy, insolvency work and all types of real estate litigation.

Real estate: the real estate division represents companies, institutions and individuals, both in the UK and overseas, seeking property advice. Solicitors are experienced in dealing with investment sales and purchases, funding agreements, development schemes, portfolio management, landlord and tenant matters, registered social landlords and agricultural investments, as well as smaller commercial property work. Specialist town and country planning, environmental, taxation and construction law advice is also provided. The residential property team advises on high-value residential property sales and purchases, including French property transactions.

Private individuals: private client services include international tax structuring, personal tax planning, wills, trusts, charities, the administration of estates, and capacity and Court of Protection matters. The family team provides a comprehensive service which incorporates all aspects of family financial work and international family law issues. This division also has a substantial clinical negligence and personal injury practice which is regarded as one of the leading teams in the South East.

International: Penningtons Manches Cooper has a broad international focus and provides an integrated service for corporates, individuals and their families, wherever they live or do business. Its network of international offices is supplemented by its membership of Multilaw and the European Law Group, associations with representatives in over 100 countries, while many of its lawyers play leading roles in a range of international bodies. The firm is well placed to advise on all aspects of inward investment and offers specialist international maritime, commodities, trading and finance law advice.

Other offices: Basingstoke, Birmingham, Cambridge, Guildford, Oxford, Reading, Madrid, Paris, Piraeus, San Francisco, São Paulo, Singapore

Department Name Email Telephone
Chief executive David Raine
Head of business services division Franco Bosi
Head of private individuals division Tim Palmer
Head of real estate division Peter McElligott
Banking and finance Grant Eldred
Banking and finance Helen Drayton
Clinical negligence Philippa Luscombe
Clinical negligence Alison Appelboam Meadows
Commercial Anna Frankum
Commercial Chris Shelley
Commercial dispute resolution Rustam Dubash
Construction Richard Cooke
Contentious trusts Michael Cash
Corporate Simon Bickerdike
Corporate Matthew Martin
Court of Protection Julie Burton
Education Hilary Aldred
Employment Paul Mander
Energy and offshore Tim Kelleher
Family Jane Craig
Immigration Pat Saini
Insurance and reinsurance Mark Sachs
Intellectual property Anna Frankum
Intellectual property Chris Shelley
International trade Tim Kelleher
International wealth Laura Dadswell
International wealth James Stewart
Life sciences Chris Shelley
Pensions Maria Riccio
Personal injury Philippa Luscombe
Private client Clare Archer
Real estate Peter McElligott
Real estate litigation Donald Lambert
Residential property Duncan Taylor
Retail Matthew Martin
Shipping Darryl Kennard
Social housing Linda Storey
Tax Stephen Goldstraw
Technology Rob Hayes
Travel Mark Lee
Photo Name Position Profile
 Hilary Aldred  photo Hilary Aldred
 Rachel Bradley  photo Rachel Bradley
 Sarah Coates  photo Sarah Coates
 Helen Drayton  photo Helen Drayton
 Ross McNaughton  photo Ross McNaughton
Number of UK partners : 134
Number of other UK fee-earners : 340

At Penningtons Manches Cooper, we acknowledge that people differ – in ways that are visible such as age, gender, ethnicity and physical appearance, as well as those that are not obvious, for example education, social background, religion, sexual orientation, personal experiences and perspectives. We believe that a diverse and inclusive workforce generates vitality for our firm and helps to shape individuals’ professional development. It is important to us to employ a broad range of individuals to obtain the most extensive knowledge and provide the highest quality service to our clients. We actively endeavour to attract a vibrant and varied workforce from the widest pool of qualified candidates to continually diversify and improve upon that expertise. We are committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in our policies, practices and procedures and in those areas in which we have influence in the wider community. We employ transparent and all-encompassing policies for our recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, promotion, work allocation and any other employment related activities. We run a compulsory diversity training course via an e-learning module to deliver up to the minute information to all members of the firm. We will always take appropriate positive measures (as permitted by the Equality Act) to provide special training and support for groups that are underrepresented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.

External partnerships
External partnerships Penningtons Manches Cooper is a signatory of the Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter and endeavours to meet the requirements of the charter in order to ensure high standards are maintained. By observing our diversity statistics, we can track our development and establish where we are having an impact and growing our talent or where further improvements are still needed.

As members of the Stonewall Diversity Champions programme, we demonstrate our desire for excellence in the industry standards for fair treatment of individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. We are actively working to ensure our workplace encourages all members of the firm to be themselves, whatever background, as we appreciate people perform better and maintain a healthier attitude when being able to do so.

Internal working groups
We have a diversity and inclusion working group leading and implementing initiatives and addressing issues such as the provision of quality work experience to young individuals from less privileged backgrounds in the UK. It is still early days in terms of assessing the impact of such initiatives but we will continue to support them and find ways to track the progress of our firm in achieving greater diversity at all levels.

Our PRIME, Penningtons Manches Cooper LGBT – Straight Allies, community was recently established to focus on ensuring the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is fairly represented and treated equally within our firm. We aim to introduce more straight allies to the group and continue networking opportunities across the industry to better promote and grow our existing LGBT population.

CLIENT: Duncan Logan, CEO, RocketSpace
COMPANY/FIRM: Penningtons Manches Cooper
TESTIMONIAL: “London’s tech community continues to expand rapidly and drive innovation. Creating a physical presence here is critical to our expansion strategy and mission to build an ecosystem for innovation to thrive, across a global network of campuses. We are delighted to have worked closely with their inward investment team who provided us with vital legal support for this major business transaction.”

CLIENT: Jan Schnitzer, General counsel, u-blox
COMPANY/FIRM: Penningtons Manches Cooper
TESTIMONIAL: “I have been impressed by their professionalism and attention to detail. Their work has been prompt and delivered on budget, but without sacrificing quality of service. They were able to provide the full range of services that we needed for this complex transaction which demanded not only an ability to work with lawyers in two other jurisdictions, but also to meet the intellectual property challenges of working in the cutting edge area of LTE wireless technology.”

CLIENT: Dr Scott Brown, CEO, Nexeon
COMPANY/FIRM: Penningtons Manches Cooper
TESTIMONIAL: “The Penningtons Manches Cooper team provided a first class service to help us secure this major funding round. We found them to have a good grasp of the legal issues, offering solutions when required, and they were always available and responsive. Members of their team have worked with the company since its incorporation in 2006 which certainly helped us navigate our way through the process.”

CLIENT: Cecilia Emanuelson, Legal Affairs, Inter IKEA Holding Services SA
COMPANY/FIRM: Penningtons Manches Cooper
TESTIMONIAL: “Their team understands the specificities of our company which makes it so much easier to communicate. They always get back to us in a timely manner with advice and know what to look out for on our behalf. We are very impressed with their work as well as the results of a number of trademark infringement cases.”

CLIENT:  Simon Wyatt, Director, Contamac Ltd
COMPANY/FIRM: Penningtons Manches Cooper
TESTIMONIAL: “Our requirement is that our advisers become, in effect, part of our management team, understanding our business, plans and strategy, which we achieve through regular meetings
and communication. In choosing our legal advisers, we needed to be sure they understood our requirements, and had the capability to deal with them. Penningtons Manches Cooper has acted for us over many years, and we have made full use of many of the services they provide, covering commercial agreements, property transactions, IP requirements and employment law. They have never let us down, providing sound, sensible advice in a timely fashion.”

CLIENT: Ralph Dawson, Director, Dawson Walker Communications
COMPANY/FIRM: Penningtons Manches Cooper
TESTIMONIAL: “I have always found their team to be accessible, responsive and professional in the advice and support they provide to my organisation. They take the time to discuss the issues so we have a clear understanding of our position and to explain matters in enough detail for us to be able to make informed decisions on what to us would otherwise often be very complex issues. They are a pleasure to work with.”

The Lex 100 Verdict

Penningtons Manches Cooper is a 'forward-thinking' firm which gives trainees 'the opportunity to grow'. Recruits have a 'great support system' and benefit from access to 'PAs and other support staff' which enables them to spend more time on chargeable work. Penningtons Manches Cooper 'really places an emphasis on your training and treats everyone like an important valued part of the team', something which respondents had also witnessed during their vacation scheme. The 'collegiate and friendly environment' creates a 'collaborative feeling that everyone is working towards the same goal'. Moreover, recruits are given a 'great deal of responsibility' and have 'exposure to high-net-worth individuals', enough to earn the firm a Lex 100 Winner medal for client contact. Trainees appreciate that 'colleagues are approachable and have a friendly but professional approach to work' and that they are given 'high-quality work from day one'. The 'lack of secondment opportunities' annoyed recruits; others felt that 'the office needed updating, in particular the IT systems'. Best moments include 'running a client meeting by myself', 'attending a High Court hearing', 'the buzz from late night completions' and 'being offered a job upon qualification'. Conversely, trainees least enjoyed 'having a very heavy workload from a variety of partners' which at times was 'too much to handle'. As for CSR, 'while there are a variety of opportunities, there is room to do more'. Recruits receive 'excellent supervision and feedback' and are pleased that they 'have such a well-respected work/life balance'. If, like these trainees, you are attracted to the firm's 'reputation', 'team ethos' and 'inclusive atmosphere', apply to Penningtons Manches Cooper.