Firm Profile > Mills & Reeve LLP > Manchester , England

Mills & Reeve LLP
M1 4HD

Contentious trusts and probate Tier 1

The team at Mills & Reeve LLP advises a roster of high-profile clients on disputes over the validity of wills, actions involving trustees and executors, breach of trust and Inheritance Act claims, handling high-profile Court of Appeal cases and significant trust disputes involving offshore individuals and institutions. Simon Pedley, who heads up the team across the national firm's northern offices, has a long-established reputation of acting for very high net worth individuals, charities, Oxbridge colleges and trust companies.

Leading individuals

Family Tier 1

Mills & Reeve LLP, which is regarded as being 'one of the leading teams in this area of law', regularly advises on high-profile matters, including representing Resolution, the largest family justice organisation, on a pro bono basis at the Supreme Court hearing of high-profile divorce dispute Owens v Owens. Alison Bull is recognised for her 'innovative, excellent knowledge' and Nigel Shepherd has 'relentless commitment' to delivering family law reform. Another name to note is Rose-Marie Drury, who is a 'rising star in every respect'.


‘The family team is generally regarded amongst its peers as being one of the leading teams in this area of law. They attract high-quality work and have a number of experienced and talented lawyers. Their commitment to alternative dispute resolution is one of their more unique strengths.’

‘Committed, innovative and hardworking.’

‘They are forward and innovative thinkers with a can do attitude. They are thinkers as well as efficient do-ers. Alison Bull is a standout partner who is innovative, has excellent knowledge and skill and is completely committed to guiding clients to a good outcome.’

‘Nigel Shepherd’s commitment to family law reform, and improving the family justice system for both practitioners and clients, is relentless.’

‘Alison Bull has a top class legal mind with a detailed grasp on the complexities of family law. Alison is also an innovator, leader and first class mediator, her constant and consistent client-focused attitude ensures a favourable outcome for all who engage her to act on their behalf.’

‘Rose-Marie Drury is a rising star in every respect, has the soft skills required for the role but the tenacity to drive the best results for the client – not to be underestimated.’

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 1

The 'outstanding and thoroughly professional' Tony Hall leads the 'technically excellent' team at Mills & Reeve LLP, which advises a number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their families on a wide range of trust and estate planning matters. The firm also advises family business owners on succession issues, and is currently involved in several complex estate issues, some with a cross-border element. The team includes senior associate Charlotte Shaughnessy, who has experience acting for high value estates, including claims for business property relief and agricultural property relief from inheritance tax.


‘The team in general is of the very highest quality, sticklers for detail and always one step ahead.  They are a notch above other firms I have dealt with, in terms of technical ability.’

‘Tony Hall is the best trust lawyer I have ever met, by a country mile. He is personable, knowledgeable and approachable. Altogether an extremely competent lawyer and a true expert in his specialist field.’

‘The firm has a reputation for technical excellence in the marketplace.’ 

‘Tony Hall is an outstanding individual with a thoroughly professional approach.’

Sport Tier 1

Mills & Reeve LLP specialises in sports arbitration and litigation. Areas of expertise include image rights, sponsorship and endorsement deals, doping cases, defamation, disputes and tax. The firm's clients include football clubs, national governing bodies, players’ associations, and various athletes. Arbitration specialist Mark Hovell co-heads the team alongside Carol Couse.

Leading individuals

Key clients

Rangers Football Club

The Court of Arbitration for Sport

The Professional Footballers’ Association

Laffer Abogados

James Milner

League Football Education

Great Manchester Sports Partnership

OmniSports Limited

Super League

Preston North End FC

Pro Legal Agency

White Rose Sports Ventures

Entertainment Today

British Cycling

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 2

Mills & Reeve LLP's cross-discipline charities team, which acts for more than 250 charities and continues to attract new clients, is committed to helping them achieve their commercial goals while maintaining high ethical standards and managing their reputation. Paul Knight, who jointly leads the team with Simon Pedley, was promoted to partner in June 2018. Senior associate Rona McPherson is also recommended.

Next Generation Partners



‘Very knowledgeable and experts in their field.’

‘This team’s strength is their commitment to meet our deadlines with expert advice provided on a full range of commercial contracts and data protection matters.’

Key clients

British Council

BBC Children in Need


Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Big Lottery Fund

Greater Manchester Sports Partnership

Advance HE

Snowdonia National Park Authority

The Mountain Training Trust

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

Education Tier 2

The 'breadth and depth of expertise available stands out' at Mills & Reeve LLP . The team handles a range of matters for further and higher education clients across the region and beyond; it is 'often involved in, or has knowledge of cutting edge cases and developments'. The team handles a raft of employment work in the sector where Sara Barrett heads the team. It also handles commercial and IT work, as well as construction work. Richard Skyes heads the specialist education law team in Birmingham and Manchester.


‘The firm’s UK-wide sector specialism is extremely valuable.’

‘Nick Abbott and Richard Sykes provide excellent, practical and sector- specific expertise in an approachable and user-friendly way.’


Health Tier 2

Mills & Reeve LLP offers a 'responsive, expert and professional service on healthcare and strategic commercial healthcare transactional matters' and it is 'increasingly present in the North West'. In Manchester, commercial, technology and information specialist Paul Knight is developing a health tech practice and is ably supported by senior associate Charlotte Lewis . The team also offers specialist healthcare estates experience.


‘The team delivers prompt response times and has a friendly approach coupled with a degree of professionalism.’

‘Nothing phases the team and it understands the intricacies of the subject matter without ever becoming less than commercial in its outlook.’

‘Charlotte Lewis and Rhian Vandrill (who is based in Birmingham) make an exceptional team with complementary skills, styles and knowledge; they can be trusted to deliver to the highest standards and they do not just sit on the fence but offer insight and counsel that adds value.’

Key clients

NHS Oldham CCG

South West London and St George’s NHS Trust

The British Medical Association

Various GP clients

Rowlands Pharmacy

Egton Medical Information Systems Limited (EMIS)

NHS Shared Business Services

Media and entertainment Tier 2

Mills & Reeve LLP represents sports clients, celebrities, private individuals, public bodies and corporates, with areas of expertise including reputation management and also defamation work. Richard Dawson-Gerrard, who focuses on crisis management, heads the team alongside ‘excellent’ principal associate Rachael Somerset, who specialises in reputation management and libel issues.


Strong team in reputation management and media litigation’.

They provide a fast and efficient service’.

Rachael Somerset is exceptional in her handling of complex litigation: clever, quick and communicative, an excellent litigator’.

The team are very easy to work with and able to articulate complicated legal positions in a very user-friendly, straight forward manner’.

Excellent communicators with the required level of information and discretion applied to ensure a first-class service’.

Rachael Somerset has an outstanding knowledge of her area of expertise – she is ab industry leading and excellent communicator who is able to provide clarity to the most complex of issues’.

Key clients

The Professional Footballers’ Association

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)

The British Council

Triumph Motorcycles

West Midlands Ambulance Service

England Golf

Luton Town Football Club

ITV / Coronation Street

Professional negligence Tier 2

Niall Innes and Ben Hardiman lead Mills & Reeve LLP's professional negligence department, which is entirely devoted to insurance disputes involving professional indemnity, construction and D&O policies. The bulk of the team's workload involves the handling of claims against legal professionals including solicitors, barristers and licensed conveyances. Other areas of activity include defending construction professionals such as main contractors, architects and engineers in multi-party disputes, especially in relation to fire safety and cladding issues, as well as acting for insurance brokers.


‘The team are very capable of handling big-ticket complex professional liablity claims, from a legal and strategic perspective.’

‘Extremely professional, highly knowledgeable and also very personable.’

‘Niall Innes is an exceptionally good partner. Hands on when needed. Very intelligent, tactically astute.’

‘Liam Burnett is thorough, exceptionally bright, on the ball and has great judgement.’

Key clients


AXIS Specialty

Bar Mutual

CNA Hardy

Countrywide plc


W/R/B Underwriting

Starr Companies

International Insurance Company of Hannover

Commercial property: Manchester Tier 3

Mills & Reeve LLP handles a range of national, and increasingly international, development, regeneration and investment work and has expertise across the industrial, hotels, education, health, retail and public sectors. The 'growing' team is led by the 'exceptionalMike Edge who has an 'excellent reputation in the Manchester market'. Principal associate Jennifer Lewis is noted for her experience in the education and healthcare sectors. The team also houses real estate finance expertise.

Leading individuals


‘The team is always willing to advise at short notice.’

Jennifer Lewis has a down to earth and ‘can do’ attitude which gives confidence that the matter will be dealt with and that any advice will be solution-focused.’

Key clients

Robertson Strategic Land


C. C. Projects (Church Commissioners)

Crosslane Group

db Symmetry

WPA Investments

Fortis Developments

Stockport Borough Council

Corporate and commercial: Manchester Tier 3

Mills & Reeve LLP 's 'responsive' and 'pragmatic' team advises clients in the media, healthcare, retail, food and beverage, property development, technology and private equity spaces. The corporate and commercial team is headed by Chris Ross, who leads on high-value corporate deals, Chris Wilkinson, who is experienced in the pharmaceutical sector, and Paul Knight who leads the commercial, IP and IT side. Vicky Protano joined as principal associate from JMW Solicitors LLP and Charlotte Lewis joined from Hill Dickinson LLP as senior associate.

Next Generation Partners


Very responsive team who make you feel valued as a client – something that sometimes gets lost in larger London firms’.

Very pragmatic, solutions focused and want to get things done; excellent at collaborating and talking through issues’.

Chris Ross in particular is stand out for advice and approach to service quality. He also has that all important sense of humour, even when the pressure is on.’

Key clients

WHP Telecoms

Phoenix Medical Supplies Limited

Global Festivals



How Planning

Leesa Sleep

British Council

Turley Associates Limited

2CRSI Limited

Employment Tier 3

Sara Barrett, who leads the Manchester employment team at Mills & Reeve LLP, routinely acts for senior individuals, and is also recognised for her experience in the education sector. The wider practice advises clients across a wide range of sectors such as food and logistics, manufacturing, pharma, professional services and technology, and has recently seen an increase in work in the insurance sector, representing clients at the Employment Tribunal. Principal associate Deborah Coyne, whose 'personal skills are second to none', is recommended.


Well known for work in the education sector.

Sara Barrett is a very experienced employed lawyer and offers pragmatic and sensible advice.’

The team have a real grasp of the issues modern employers have to deal with. Their combined knowledge and approach is a real breath of fresh air within the legal market.’

Sara Barrett is straight talking, explains legal procedures easily to lay people whilst pointing out options that are not unrealistic.’

‘Debbie Coyne has excellent legal knowledge; her personal skills are second to none and always has time to listen, and is willing to point out where we can improve in the future.

‘I cannot praise Sara Barratt enough – her professionalism, rigour and empathy are exemplary.’

Key clients

Lancaster University

Befesa Salt Slags Limited

LTE Group

Victrex Manufacturing Limited

Royal Northern College of Music

Manchester Metropolitan university

Sefton Council for Voluntary Service

Turley Associates


Phoenix Group

Planning and environment Tier 3

Mills & Reeve LLP's environment team is engaged on regeneration projects, contaminated land and asbestos work, and also handles transactions involving petrol filling stations and waste management sites. The manufacturing, education and health sectors are key areas of activity for the team. Consultant Keith Davidson, who heads the team, is an 'expert' and handles brownfield regeneration projects, environmental insurance, Part 2A proceedings and is often engaged on corporate transactions with environmental aspects.

Leading individuals


Excellent team, which has a strong technical offering coupled with a highly personalised approach

The team is motivated to ensure all parties succeed in terms of project delivery and also in maintaining relationships

Keith Davidson stands out as a go-to practitioner for excellent environmental due diligence support and contaminated land work


Key clients

University of Cambridge

Oxford University

University of Birmingham


DB Symmetry

Poppies Europe

Robertson Strategic Land

NPL Estates



Commercial litigation: Manchester Tier 4

Mills & Reeve LLP advises its clients on a wide range of litigation matters including boardroom disputes, shareholder disputes, warranty claims and fraud. Key client sectors include food and agribusiness, waste, private wealth, sport, manufacturing and education. Richard Dawson-Gerrard heads the team, while Simon Pedley focuses on corporate and commercial disputes and contentious trusts.

Leading individuals


‘I have worked most closely with Richard Dawson-Gerrard and Niall Innes. Both are very strong commercial litigators, with huge experience and great common sense – a pleasure to work with.’

Highly professional and knowledgeable team members.’

‘This is a strong commercial team with good knowledge of both the regional legal market and the ability to manage large litigation.’

‘Rachael Somerset provides superb communications and client care.’

‘Rachael Somerset is particularly impressive as an associate.’

‘Richard Dawson-Gerrard is hands-on and gives straightforward, robust advice to his clients.’

Key clients

The Rangers Football Club Limited

Phoenix Medical Supplies Limited

West Midlands Ambulance Service

Remondis U.K. Limited

Laila’s Fine Foods Limited

Bidfresh Limited (formerly Seafood Holdings Ltd)

Zedra Trusts

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 4

Mills & Reeve LLP stands out for its ability to handle complex investigations and insolvency litigation, and the team is instructed by regional and London-based insolvency practitioners. The team also handles transactional and advisory mandates and the technology, food, health and education sectors are areas of focus. Advising government bodies on special administration regimes is also a key area of expertise for the team headed by Helen Fyles .

Leading individuals


Helen Fyles has an excellent reputation

Key clients

Larking Gowen

IT and telecoms Tier 4

Mills & Reeve LLP has particular expertise in the healthtech and edtech sectors. It also advises on data security, data protection and GDPR. Key client sectors include charities and not-for-profit, education, government, sports, technology and leisure. Newly promoted partner Paul Knight heads the team.


A consistency of service across their team that is impressive’.

The team communicate clearly, conveying the key points in terms a layperson can easily consume’.

Proactive in terms of their engagement and their charges are explained before work is commenced’.

The team are extremely knowledgable and able to provide excellent professional advice that is commercially aware and well-balanced’.

Key clients

British Council

Cantarus Limited

Aures Technologies Limited

Exact Abacus Limited (trading as fulfilmentcrowd)

Dovetail Digital Ltd (trading as Dovetail Lab)

Egton Medical Information Systems Limited (EMIS)

PharmAssist Solutions Limited

NutraTech Ltd

Premia Solutions Limited

NHS Shared Business Services

Construction Tier 5

Mills & Reeve LLP handles a raft of non-contentious construction work in the region and across the UK, acting for contractors and developers. The team stands out for its arts sector expertise, as well as its education and healthcare sector nous. It is also often engaged on the demolition and build of mixed-use retail, office and residential developments. Team head Catherine Kay is noted for her experience in large construction projects and has a 'wealth of knowledge'. Senior associate James Badger is also a key member of the Manchester-based team.

Leading individuals


‘Catherine Kay has a good level of availability.’

‘Catherine Kay always gives very clear, sensible and practical advice.’

‘The team has industry leading knowledge of construction law and contracts.’

‘Catherine Kay provides clear options and explains benefits and risks clearly and comprehensively.’

Key clients

Cheval Property Holding

Royal Northern College of Music

The Halle Orchestra

L Rowlands (Retail)

Manchester Communication Primary Academy

University Hospital South Manchester / Manchester Central Hospital

The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC / NatWest



Contact theatre (Manchester Young Person’s theatre)

Mills & Reeve is a top UK law firm with offices in six key UK cities; London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and Norwich. The firm’s experience speaks volumes but it’s an ambitious, collaborative culture that drives the business.

The firm: Mills & Reeve’s staff thrive on developing great relationships and love helping clients find solutions to their legal challenges with a combination of smart advice, outstanding service and a passion for hard work. A talented workforce and proactive approach is complemented by a commitment to always offering value for money.

The firm’s lawyers work with household names in the UK and internationally. They count companies like Barclays, the University of Cambridge and AIG among their clients – as well as a unique mix of high-net-worth individuals, multinational corporations, start-ups and public sector organisations.

Clients have access to a worldwide network of trusted partners for international advice. Lawyers are used to working on and managing projects spanning international boundaries.

Types of work undertaken: The firm is proud to have created an innovative legal environment, with expertise spanning ten key sectors: health, private wealth, education, insurance, charities, agriculture, real estate investment, food and beverage, sport and technology.

Health and care: Mills & Reeve acts for more than 100 NHS providers and commissioners, as well as some of the biggest independent health providers in the UK. Its lawyers are recognised experts in health law and work with major organisations such as the Department of Health.

Private wealth: Mills & Reeve works closely with clients to offer smart advice for complex trusts and tax issues. Its family lawyers offer mediation, collaborative law and arbitration, or if court is unavoidable, complex litigation.

Education: Mills & Reeve is a nationwide leader in education law. Its team of 140 education specialists helps over 120 organisations with a broad range of legal challenges, covering issues like international collaborations, campus developments and regulatory issues.

Insurance: Mills & Reeve works with some of the UK’s leading insurance companies, offering a broad experience base to tackle a wide range of legal challenges – including market disputes and reinsurance claims, and issues relating to counter-fraud and employment.

Charities: Mills & Reeve’s 140-strong team of specialists include some of the UK’s most renowned authorities on charity law. Clients include Macmillan Cancer Support, the Wellcome Trust and the British Council.

Food and agribusiness: from farm to fork, those involved in the food and agribusiness sector face a range of challenges. Mills & Reeve understands the issues involved with experience of advising businesses from farmers and landed estates to major food processors and retailers.

Real estate investment: Mills & Reeve has extensive experience in handling issues ranging from significant transactions to day-to-day asset management. Its team of more than 100 lawyers has helped clients like Trinity College Cambridge and Lend Lease.

Sport: Mills & Reeve’s lawyers have more than 50 years of experience in advising clients across a wide variety of sports. The team is headed up by Mark Hovell, who is a well-respected industry spokesman and is one of a select few arbitrators appointed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Technology: Mills & Reeve’s technology and life sciences team has a strong reputation for providing clear and proactive advice. They regularly offer guidance on issues like information technology and intellectual property.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing partner Claire Clarke
Senior partner Justin Ripman
Food and agribusiness Michael Aubrey
Charities Neil Burton
Corporate Kevin Lowe
Commercial Greg Gibson
Disputes Jamie Wheatley
Education Gary Attle
Employment David Mills
Family Nick Stone
Food and agribusiness Craig Hodgson
Health and care Jill Mason
Insurance disputes Stephen King
Insurance Neil Davis
Private tax Chris Belcher
Private wealth Andrew Playle
Projects and construction Raith Pickup
Real estate investment Charles Staveley
Real estate Beverley Firth
Sport Mark Hovell
Technology Kevin Calder
Photo Name Position Profile
 Liam Burnett  photo Liam Burnett
 Deborah Clark  photo Deborah Clark
 Richard Dawson-Gerrard  photo Richard Dawson-Gerrard
 Caroline Hanratty  photo Caroline Hanratty
 Ben Hardiman  photo Ben Hardiman
 Mark Hovell  photo Mark Hovell
Mr Niall Innes  photo Mr Niall Innes
 Wanda Karow  photo Wanda Karow
 Andrew Moore  photo Andrew Moore
 Sandra Morrison  photo Sandra Morrison
 Simon Pedley  photo Simon Pedley
 Chris Ross  photo Chris Ross
 Nigel Shepherd  photo Nigel Shepherd
Number of UK partners : 131
Number of other UK fee-earners : 500

The Lex 100 Verdict

Mills & Reeve 'promises a good work/life balance without having to compromise on high-quality work'. With the ability to do 'six seats as opposed to the traditional four', trainees benefit from 'great exposure to multiple practice areas', which ensures an informed decision upon qualification. 'The collaborative, friendly culture' was unanimously voted the best thing about the firm. Respondents also enjoyed the open-plan office, working very reasonable hours, and the opportunities to liaise directly with clients from early on. Newbies say there is an 'expected dip in salary compared to similar firms because of the benefit of a having a decent work/life balance' but many felt that it 'didn't match the cost of living, particularly in Cambridge'. Furthermore, the 'lack of secondment opportunities', as well as the 'variance in supervision between departments' also upset some respondents. Others relished the opportunity to 'manage several transactions with minimal supervision' which made them feel trusted to deal with their own workload. Indeed, having 'high involvement in high-profile cases' such as 'attending and winning an appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice', gave applicants 'a real sense of responsibility and value' which is why many chose to apply to Mills & Reeve in the first place. As expected, 'bundling', 'admin tasks' and 'not being given much supervision' were less favourable experiences. However, many appreciated the proactive CSR committee and look forward to being part of the annual 'charity challenge'. Impressively, Mills & Reeve has earned six Lex 100 Winner medals this year. If you want to be part of an 'ambitious, collaborative and inclusive' firm whilst 'benefitting from high-calibre clients', apply to Mills & Reeve.