Firm Profile > BLM > London, England


Personal injury: defendant Tier 1

BLM 'remains a top-tier firm' serving the needs of the insurance industry in the context of catastrophic injury claims. Apart from major insurers, corporate clients as well as public sector entities seek the practice's advice on the full-range of personal injury matters, including accidents at work, motor claims as well as disease, public liability and fatal cases. The London casualty team is headed by Matthew Ford, who has a substantial track record defending complex and large loss claims across a range of industries, namely construction, retail, manufacturing and travel. Leading disease specialist Michelle Penn leads the occupational disease group; while the catastrophic injury team, which handles claims of the utmost severity often including cross-border elements, is under the supervision of Antony French. The team is regularly instructed to advise on spinal cord injuries, amputation cases, high-value chronic pain claims, as well as brain injury cases, for which Claire Collins is noted as a subtle brain damage specialist. High-profile group litigation related to sexual/physical abuse and bullying cases are the key areas of expertise for Michael Pether, who has a strong reputation for claims concerning local authority and institutional liability.


One of the biggest players in the insurance market, handling personal injury claims across the whole range of sectors. They are a leading firm in handling non-recent abuse work for defendants, including public authorities, schools, religious organisations and sports bodies.

Great industry experience, professional approach, genuine commitment.

They can be guaranteed to provide sound and pragmatic advice which will ensure that their clients achieve the best outcome in what are sensitive and difficult cases.

The defendant insurance team at BLM provides not just efficient and tenacious defence of litigation, but also delivers this in a commercially astute and pragmatic way. They have wide knowledge and understanding of the insurance market and an awareness of the need to ensure that reserves are properly assessed and monitored.

The team from a claimant perspective is always robust, professional and whilst acting in their insurance client’s best interests throughout, are nevertheless understanding of the impact injuries can have.

Vanessa Latham is outstanding in dealing with work-related stress claims.

James Chambers has a clear view of where a case should go and will always achieve that end for his client.’

Caroline Craigie has great experience and tenacity. Her unflappability stands her in good stead and she is ably assisted in her work by Nicola Warren.

Michael Pether has two decades of experience in claims concerning local authority and institutional liability for sexual and physical abuse. There are few if any solicitors in the defendant insurance arena with more experience.

Claire Collins has mastered the balancing act of supervising her team whilst retaining an in-depth knowledge of her files. She provides excellent balanced advice.

Andrew Williamson is always on top of his brief and the provider of realistic advice.

Antony French is a very commercial operator who weighs up the economic balance of cases very well.

Key clients

Allianz Insurance





Liberty Mutual Insurance

QBE Insurance


MS Amlin

Professional discipline Tier 1

BLM stands out for its representation of healthcare professionals in disciplinary disputes with NHS England area teams and hospital trusts; the team also has considerable experience in appealing adverse outcomes to the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal. In the regulatory space, the national department defends practitioners in investigations by the General Medical Council (GMC), interim and final hearings before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), General Dental Council (GDC), Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and General Optical Council (GOC). It recently successfully defended a senior dispensing optician before the GOC, which followed allegations of sexual harassment and dishonesty. Manchester-based Clare Chapman heads the firm’s professional discipline and regulatory practice group, Cardiff's Jane Lang leads the healthcare advice and inquest practice group, and Adam Weston heads the medical crime team in the London office. Other key partners are Rosie Shapiro in London and Lisa Jones and Katie Costello in Manchester. Max Eckstein and Rebecca Gowling in Manchester and London-based Laura Smith are experienced associates.

Clinical negligence: defendant Tier 3

BLM receives instructions from a range of clients across the healthcare sector, offering advice in high-value and complex matters. Insurers, medical defence organisations, clinics, care homes and individual healthcare professionals not only seek the practice's representation in civil claims arising from negligence in clinical care but also at inquests, as well as before regulators in disciplinary proceedings. The 'highly competent' Vicki Swanton heads the 'responsive and knowledgeable' team that also has a strong track record handling multi-party litigation.


‘The London office is led by some extremely experienced partners who manage a very strong team. Not only do they have the knowledge and experience to get great results, but they seem to be deeply committed to providing an excellent level of client service.’

‘The BLM team is highly proficient and knowledgeable.’

‘Vicki is effortlessly confident, which is immensely reassuring to clients and in the last few years she has worked on some very large cases and yet has remained entirely unflappable.’

‘Greg McEwen is extremely thorough and has a very sharp eye for detail and numbers.’

‘Rosie Shapiro is a delight to work with; she is an excellent communicator, very professional and responds quickly to any concerns or questions.’

Key clients

Royal College of Nursing


Harley Medical Group






Education: institutions Tier 3

The education group at BLM has broad expertise in matters ranging from discrimination claims and admissions to regulatory and contractual issues. Overseen by Elliot Pound, the team has specialisms in judicial review and in the field of discrimination. Key team members include Richard Wilkins, who handles contentious and non-contentious education matters with an emphasis on exclusions and special needs education; Martin Jensen; and associate Geneviève Rich. Public sector head Michael Pether has experience handling employers' liability claims.

Key clients

Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine

The University of Cambridge

University of Surrey

King’s College London

University of East London

University of Newcastle

University of Central Lancashire

Insurance and reinsurance litigation Tier 3

BLM, which has well-established strength in handling property damage claims, also fields a growing range of work for insurers and brokers on professional negligence, reinsurance, commercial risk, personal injury and cyber insurance matters. John O’Shea heads the property damage and recovery team, supported by property damage expert Mark Aitken. Head of reinsurance Gavin Coull and Damian Cleary, who specialises in business interruption, property and onshore energy, both joined from Foran Glennon (UK) LLP in July 2018. Ross Baker works on professional indemnity claims arising from personal injury accidents, data breaches, medical incidents and frauds.


Painstaking, thorough, persistent, well-respected firm

This firm stands out from others in its approach – they understand our company’s values and philosophies and provide advice that incorporates this. They are approachable, knowledgeable and thorough. Their advice is always detailed and balanced and they always get good outcomes

Martin Jensen is an impressive lawyer, very effective in complex cases involving financial and property professionals

Philip Adamis and associate Hanna Platt are incredibly approachable and professional. Their advice is always well balanced, detailed and gets to the heart of the issues perfectly. They also have great people skills

Alexander Traill and solicitor Nick Benson give outstanding attention to detail

Key clients







Direct Line Group




HDI Global Specialty



Munich RE



Apollo Syndicate

Product liability: defendant Tier 3

BLM fields a strong team of dedicated practitioners, who are regularly instructed by insurers, manufacturers and corporate clients. The firm also has a specialist food group, which assists with related claims and consultations. Jim Sherwood heads the practice and is a key contact for fire and flood damage and commercial property claims, as well as regulatory issues. Edinburgh-based Ian Leach has been active in the field for more than 30 years and has a particular focus on pharmaceutical disputes. Michael Harvey and Carys Oatham are also noted.

Key clients



Direct Line Group



Sunseeker International


Professional negligence Tier 3

BLM defends a range of professionals in complex negligence disputes; it handles cases involving lawyers, property professionals, construction professionals, accountants, auditors, IFAs, banks, insurance brokers, fund managers, local authorities, trade unions and educational institutions. The team has a 'versatile, pragmatic and business-led approach' and defended David Rubin & Partners, a prominent firm of insolvency practitioners and its insurers, in a £1.2m, long-running claim brought by a claimant creditor who alleged that the insured had acted in breach of trust. Despite the departure of construction experts Keith Lonsdale and Michael Salau to Beale & Co, construction specialists Gary Wicks and Gary Thwaites have joined from Plexus Law.


It is approachable and knowledgeable and has an appreciation of the client’s business needs.

Alexander Traill, Nick Benson and Gary Wicks are recommended.

Key clients







CNA Hardy

The Bar Council/The Bar Standards Board

HDI Global Specialty (formerly Inter Hannover)


Commercial property: corporate occupiers Tier 4

BLM is active in the corporate occupiers space in London and elsewhere in the UK, representing both landlords and tenants on leasing matters, headquarter relocations, disposals and acquisitions. Stephen Lintott is a specialist in estate management, development and lease work while Stephen Crook routinely acts for public sector and local authorities on acquisitions, disposals and developments. The pair head the practice alongside Peter Klim , who is strong on all fronts within the commercial property arena.

Key clients

Be At One

Frank Truman

Patrick Perry

Trades Union Congress




MTC Novo


Construction: contentious Tier 4

BLM's contentious practice advises contractors, engineers, architects and insurers on a range of domestic and international disputes. Other areas of work include construction insurance issues and advising on fee claims, delay and disruption claims and contractual disputes. The practice is led by Guy Lane and Robert Stevenson. Lane specialises in advising consultants on contract administration issues, fee claims and liability disputes. Stevenson acts for developers and contractors on a range of issues in several jurisdictions.

Key clients


Geo Underwriting


Health and safety Tier 4

BLM recently strengthened its team with the addition of Peter James, who joined from Harrison Clark Rickerbys. James. who is an expert in corporate and gross negligence manslaughter case, now heads the London team, working in tandem with Manchester-based national head Helen Devery. Devery also has a strong track record on manslaughter cases.

Key clients




Mitsui Sumitomo Underwriting at Lloyds

Regis Mutual Management

Reputation management Tier 4

BLM focuses its reputation management practice on defending claims brought against a wide range of clients, in particular insurers, reinsurers, government bodies and police forces, alongside more traditional media such as magazines, newspapers and marketing companies. The team that advises on both contentious and non-contentious issues is led by Tim Smith, who is an expert on defamation and malicious falsehood. Steve Kuncewicz acts mainly for corporates and Julia Varley regularly assists local authorities. Furthermore, the department has been actively involved in government consultations on defamation reform, costs in defamation proceedings and internet defamation.

Key clients





Zurich Insurance


Ecclesiastical Insurance

Medical Protection Society

Manchester Underwriting

Education: schools Tier 5

Elliot Pound is a key name to note in BLM's education team, along with Richard Wilkins. The team has experience handling issues relating to school admissions and exclusions and has sector strengths in insurance and the public sector. Other lawyers in the team include Martin Jensen; Manchester-based Jim Lister, who advises schools on governance issues; Geneviève Rich; and Michael Pether.

Employment: employers Tier 7

BLM has a particularly strong reputation for public sector employment work, where it counts a number of MPs among its clients, and in the employment practices liability insurance sector. Other clients include local authorities, educational institutions, SMEs, insurers and trade unions. The team regularly handles employment tribunal claims, while also advising on a broad range of non-contentious issues. The practice is led by Andrew McDonald, whose recent work includes advising on the TUPE aspects of service provision changes and handling discrimination claims. Vanessa Latham specialises in contentious matters.

Key clients

CNA Hardy Insurance Company Ltd


Jackson Lift Group


Arden Software

Drayton Manor High School



The team at BLM specialises in claims brought under the Package Travel Regulations (PTR) for major tour operators and insurers; it is a 'very commercially-minded defence team with good knowledge of the industry and a strong record of defending claims'. Travel group head Matthew Ford leads the travel and tour operator liability team and is a 'capable and confident negotiator'. Ford defended a tour operator on a group claim for gastric illness. The team is 'astute to the commercial realities and requirements of the leisure and tourism market'; Emily List, who was promoted to partner in 2018, has a 'calm head under pressure'; and associate Deborah Sayers is 'excellent at case management, is engaging, and is adept at marshalling expert evidence'.


The team has a wide spread of talent at several centres and is able to accommodate a major case load without any compromise of quality.

Deborah Sayers is a very well-connected solicitor with a good market understanding and knowledge of her clients.

Deborah Sayers‘ instinct for the sources of additional evidence to add value to what is provided by her client is second-to-none.

One always feels in control of events when Deborah Sayers is holding the reins of a case.

Matthew Ford is accessible, easy to communicate with and always on top of events.

A good, solid defendant travel industry practice.

Matthew Ford is very well respected by his commercial clients and has a very good eye for the critical elements of each claim.

The attention-to-detail and preparation of the team’s work is meticulous.

Emily List is a pleasure to work with and provides great results for her clients.

Matthew Ford has an excellent relationship with tour operator clients.

Key clients

Thomas Cook Tour Operations

Sandals/Unique Vacations

Jet2 Holidays

Red Sea Holidays

Olympic Holidays

British Airways

Stena Line

Direct Line Group – Travel

Intercontinental Hotels Group

AXA Corporate Solutions



Allianz UK

Barry Nilsson

Audley Travel



BLM is an ambitious business and seen as one of the largest and most expert suppliers to the UK legal insurance market. The firm has made considerable progress through key strategic appointments and hires, growth of our international offering and operational improvements through investments in areas such as data analytics and technology.

The firm is focused on driving its business towards its vision to be the leader in its chosen markets of insurance and commerce.

BLM’s purpose is to have a positive impact upon its clients’ businesses.  Fundamentally, it is helping them to reduce the time and money they spend on managing risk and resolving disputes.  Described in client surveys and legal directories as a firm with “its finger on the pulse of the market” and as a “technical powerhouse”, it presently represents 18 of the top 20 UK insurers, and many corporate clients, both in the UK and worldwide

The firm’s ambition to diversify led to the creation of a commercial advisory and private wealth business stream in 2017, which added to the breadth of services and expertise available to BLM clients in the UK and beyond.

BLM has an existing strong remit of international work and contacts, representing UK companies operating abroad, acting for a breadth of international organisations and handling high profile multijurisdictional cases.  In 2017 the firm created, along with several other founder members, Global Insurance Law Connect; a network which comprises like-minded risk and insurance law businesses. Global Insurance Law Connect comprises specialist insurance lawyers across more classes of business in more countries than many other similar networks. Global Insurance Law Connect was inspired by client demand and was established to support clients to confidently receive solutions to insurance and legal challenges around the globe.

The firm offers clients the best of both worlds: the experience of an established law firm, and the smart solutions of innovative technology and consultancy services.   A key aspect of BLM’s strategic ambition is to provide an innovative offering around its advanced analytics capability. The firm’s partnership with the London School of Economics and Political Science empowered it to grow this capability, developing prediction models to guide BLM’s advice to clients, as well as more sophisticated approaches to value litigation risk, improve decision-making and better manage portfolios of litigation risk. BLM Innovations, which the firm launched in 2019, comprises seven tools combining cutting-edge case management, communication and analytics tools to improve client outcomes and help with their business challenges.

The firm also launched consultancy offering, BLM Consult in 2019. The BLM Consult team has been created from a combination of lawyers, change consultants and lean practitioners, from a wide range of industry sectors who can work collaboratively with clients to help their own change journeys.

BLM’s team of over 200 partners and more than 900 legal specialists, focused upon the insurance and risk and commercial markets, is recognised for having the capability, creativity and energy to provide the right support to clients in a rapidly changing environment.

Department Name Email Telephone
Senior partner Matthew Harrington
Managing partner Vivienne Williams
Belfast Cormac Fitzpatrick
Birmingham James Harvey
Bristol Joe Wakeford
Cardiff Kerris Dale
Derry Cormac Fitzpatrick
Dublin Gavin Campbell
Edinburgh Ian Leach
Glasgow Frank Hughes
Leeds Henry Kirkup
Liverpool Joanne Francis
London Paula Jefferson
Manchester Luisa Lamb
Southampton Joe Wakeford
Global insurance law network Jim Sherwood
Photo Name Position Profile
 Philip Adamis  photo Philip Adamis
 Claire Collins  photo Claire Collins
 Matthew Ford  photo Matthew Ford
 Paula Jefferson  photo Paula Jefferson
 Warren King  photo Warren King
 Nigel Lock  photo Nigel Lock
 Sharon MacArthur-Powell  photo Sharon MacArthur-Powell
 Greg McEwen  photo Greg McEwen
 John O’Shea  photo John O’Shea
 Carys Oatham  photo Carys Oatham
 Michelle Penn  photo Michelle Penn
 Michael Pether  photo Michael Pether
 Orla Scanlan  photo Orla Scanlan
 Rosie Shapiro  photo Rosie Shapiro
 Robert Stevenson  photo Robert Stevenson
 Vicki Swanton  photo Vicki Swanton
 Alexander Traill  photo Alexander Traill
 Richard Wilkins  photo Richard Wilkins
Number of UK partners : 203
Number of other UK fee-earners : 907
Total staff : 1494

The Lex 100 Verdict

'Highly-specialised' BLM's 'expertise in the insurance market' impressed many trainees, as did the breadth of practice areas on offer. The national firm has an 'ambitious plan moving forward' and 'aspires to become the leading insurance and risk law specialist by 2020'. BLM 'demands plenty from its trainees but is also considerate that they have other interests outside of work'. As a result, the 'hours are much more liveable' than at some larger firms and the 'atmosphere is more relaxed'. The work/life balance was applauded: 'I rarely stay at work later than 5:45pm' said one respondent; the firm has accordingly earned a Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. Colleagues are friendly and approachable and, as expressed by one recruit, 'I look up to them as the type of solicitor or partner I'd like to be in the future'. There is occasional 'dull admin work' and workloads can range from 'exceptionally busy to very quiet'. Yet, encouragingly, 'trainees are also entrusted with important work from the very beginning' and are definitely 'not just left to do administrative tasks'. Examples of exciting work which stood out for trainees were 'settling a case the week before trial, having materially contributed to putting us into the best negotiating position possible' and 'attending court and doing my own advocacy'. This is proof that trainees really are 'treated like NQ solicitors from the start'. Grumbles were few and far between but some recruits felt that the salary was 'a bit low when compared to other firms doing similar work'. To work for a firm which will give you 'a great deal of responsibility early on' where trainees are deeply valued, apply to BLM.