Teacher Stern LLP > London, England > Firm Profile

Teacher Stern LLP

Corporate and commercial > M&A: Smaller Deals, £10m-£100m Tier 3

Praised by one client for possessing ‘a level of technical knowledge unrivalled by any other’, the corporate team at Teacher Stern LLP  handles the full gamut of corporate transactions for a client base spanning from international corporates to entrepreneur-led companies. The practice is jointly headed up by David Ponsford and Kelly Whitfield, whose expertise includes limited liability partnership agreements. Other key figures include David Salisbury, who is particularly experienced in sports-based work, and Claire Rollo, who advises various SMEs across a range of sectors, spanning hospitality, real estate and security services.

Practice head(s):

Kelly Whitfield; David Ponsford

Other key lawyers:

David Salisbury; Claire Rollo; Arran Brooker; Tom Ginot; David Irwin; David Phillips; Phil Berry


‘David Ponsford is thoughtful, technically savvy and commercial.’

‘The team is big enough to cover the necessary areas, and it is small enough to run effectively and efficiently. It is important from the client’s perspective to ensure, as much as possible, the consistency in terms of quality, responsiveness, commercial awareness and reliable delivery.’

‘David Ponsford definitely stands out. He is always very responsive, ensuring clients have his attention. More importantly, his commercial awareness and practical approach is definitely an asset for the client to success in a transaction. Undoubtedly very competent in the area he has been advising.’

‘The team is clearly very knowledgeable and dedicated to their clients. Their level of technical knowledge is unrivalled by any other. They go above and beyond to deliver the results the clients want. I know I can always depend on their profound expertise and professionalism.’

‘I have worked with them for numerous years and they are always extremely efficient. They always exceed my expectations with their service. David Ponsford, David Irwin, David Phillips and Phil Berry are just a few names that I could mention.’

‘The absolute key here is that you are hiring a team. However big or small a job/transaction is, there is always a team that is supporting you directly. They bring out the best-in-class expertise even if in the background, so one doesn’t need to look elsewhere.’

‘They listen before they offer advice. David Ponsford and his team have always taken a very collaborative approach enabling us to play out various alternatives before taking a particular course of action in our transactions.’

‘Great availability, professional, and great service.’

Key clients

Aurora Managed Services Group

Baudoin & Lange

Cardiff Road Estates

Centennial Properties Limited

Continent 8

El Al Airlines

Event Horizon

Fidelity Group

Football Writers Association

Ganfeng Lithium

Gastronomy Limited

Genius Sports Group


PMY Group

Pozitive Energy

Sports Invest UK

Wildstone Estates Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting for Ganfeng Lithium on the Companies Act squeeze out process in relation to Bacanora Lithium Plc (following its successful takeover by Ganfeng Lithium), and subsequently acting for Ganfeng Lithium on two further acquisitions.
  • Acting for Pozitive Energy on its buy and build strategy, including the successful acquisition of First Business Water Limited.
  • Acting for Aurora Managed Services Group on its buy and build strategy.

Dispute resolution > Commercial litigation: mid-market Tier 5

Teacher Stern LLP has extensive expertise in handling high-stakes commercial disputes, including cross-border and multi-jurisdictional cases. The commercial disputes team is co-led by Sarah Emerson, whose practice encompasses commercial claims, insurance, cyber risk, and crisis management; and Clare Toomer, an expert in corporate and shareholder disputes, as well as contentious IP matters. In 2022, commercial litigator and former Isadore Goldman director, Michelle Mollaghan, was recruited as partner, while former partner Rajesh Pabla left to join Hill Dickinson LLP.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Emerson; Claire Toomer

Other key lawyers:

Michelle Mollaghan; Luke Turtle


‘Being a relatively small team ensures that internal communication is very good, and this gives them the ability to move cases forward, and deliver excellent client service, at all times.’

‘They maintain very strong relationships with a number of clients who have been instructing the firm for many years.’

‘Sarah Emerson is an outstanding tactician, a very good lawyer and is an absolute delight to work with. Clients have total trust and she ensures that all those involved in the litigation work together seamlessly through focused and regular communication.’

‘Good expertise and knowledge within their field.’

‘Sarah Emerson has always been approachable and in touch with the nuances of our specific individual circumstances arising from our case. Her entire team are always responsive and treat us with a great deal of respect.’

‘Michelle Mollaghan is massively experienced and hugely knowledgeable when it comes to disputes in the commercial/civil fraud/insolvency fields. She has a great feel for strategy, what the court will accept and what the client’s goals are. She is also great with clients and very easy to work with, always easy company.’

Key clients

Fidelity Group

Pozitive Energy

Various BOS SAM holders

Designer Group (Designer M&E Services)


Aviv Holdings

Carter Backer Winter

Invescap (Lojj)


Vape Supplier

Ape Properties

Yeoman Preston

Gravity Global


Jabac Finance

M J Advisory

Work highlights

  • Defended Sandra Ncube against a multi-party and multi-jurisdiction fraud claim that was valued at £59m.
  • Instigated a large-value class action of 160 claimants against Bank of Scotland for relief under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 against the Bank of Scotland (challenging the terms of a shared appreciation mortgage product).
  • Acted for Alice Goh in respect of a fraud action, arising from an investment that passed through various jurisdictions and entities.

Real estate > Property finance Tier 6

Teacher Stern LLP‘s key lawyers, Phil Berry and Claire Gibson, ‘both offer a wealth of knowledge in their field’ and routinely work with private banks, bridging lenders, institutional investors, corporates, investment trusts, and high net worth individuals across the full range of lending transactions.

Practice head(s):

Phil Berry

Other key lawyers:


‘Teacher Stern’s team, led by Claire Gibson, has advised us on real estate finance for the last couple of years on various deals. The team is of the highest calibre for this sector in the London market. They are very professional and always responsive. All matters were dealt with, with attention and great flexibility. The team has proven to consist of highly skilled professionals, all of whom have very extensive knowledge of legal issues and an actual understanding of our needs, making it possible for them to provide advice and solutions, which are always individually tailored for the issues and goals in hand.’

‘Claire Gibson is our well-trusted advisor. Claire helps us resolve challenges that we, and our business, face. Claire is highly praised for providing the highest quality advice.’

‘The real estate finance team offers in inimitable service to their client. They are always a pleasure to work with, offering pragmatic advice in a professional, personable style.’

‘Phil Berry and Claire Gibson both offer a wealth of knowledge in their field. Clients are central to the team’s work ethos, and they are undoubtedly people you want to have in your corner.

‘The Teacher Stern team are knowledgeable, responsive and commercial in their approach. Those are three traits that most clients will have at the top of their wish list when instructing legal counsel.’

Key clients

Livingway Group Limited

Westcity Property Group

PRMO Real Estate UK Limited

Kaizen Real Estate Limited

Spring Finance Limited

Dookro Ltd

Emirates NBD Bank (P.J.S.C)

Elyseum Finance S.C.A.

Kenfin Holdings Limited

Limecourt Finance & Investments Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised well known spa company group in relation to an £116,000,000 amendment and restatement of an LMA facility and comprehensive multi jurisdiction security package.
  • Advised a lender with a senior funding line from an institutional bank with a revolving credit facility of £25,000,000.
  • Advised Livingway Group Limited on loan agreement of £26,500,000 for the acquisition of 119 buy to let units in Liverpool.

Employment > Immigration

Led by Matthew Cranton, Teacher Stern LLP is a key contact for HR departments on the management of sponsor licences and duties.

Teacher Stern LLP is a full-service commercial law firm with an offering that includes all aspects of real estate work, corporate/commercial transaction, dispute resolution, employment and immigration, private client and tax.

The firm: Teacher Stern was founded in 1967 in London and was created, and now grows and thrives, as a full-service commercial law firm. Currently with over 90 fee-earners, the firm is enjoying organic growth and is confident that this will continue.

Teacher Stern is a firm that punches significantly above its weight. It is fiercely independent and collegiate, and rates and values its hugely talented and business-minded pool of lawyers with proven business acumen and staff. Its client base includes UK and international corporates, entrepreneurial companies of all sizes and high-net-worth individuals both resident and non-resident in the UK.

It is a top-class entrepreneurial firm with a multi-disciplined approach, introducing ideas from a new perspective. Clients value its business acumen and plain-speaking advice. Its vision is to be the pre-eminent legal advisers to entrepreneurial businesses such as corporates, decision-makers and their funders.

Types of work undertaken
Commercial: whether clients are looking for guidance on a major strategic issue or simply a quick answer to a day-to-day matter, Teacher Stern’s commercial team will act speedily to provide advice that’s based on insight, knowledge and understanding. The commercial deals it puts together are highly innovative in their approach, and specifically designed to help capture the next opportunity. Areas covered include contracts, employment, intellectual property and media.

Corporate: whatever the corporate transaction, the team at Teacher Stern can be relied upon to resolve issues with its proactive approach, its commitment to deliver, and its swiftness to respond that ensure it completes deals on time. Areas covered include AIM, banking, corporate restructuring, joint ventures/shareholder agreements, MBOs/MBIs/earn outs, partnerships and LLPs, real estate, sales/purchases/M&A, and venture capital/private equity.

Corporate tax: Teacher Stern applies technical expertise and innovative thinking together with a meticulous understanding of client’s business to provide a practical and bespoke solution in every case that has a real monetary value, whether by reducing risk or by enhancing returns. It advises on all aspects of UK business taxation, with particular strengths in tax planning of corporate and real estate transactions. Its tax advice is always succinct, pragmatic and robust. Its corporate tax experience covers all areas of business activity, mergers and acquisitions, reorganisations, joint ventures, private equity/venture capital structures and work outs.

Dispute resolution: Teacher Stern has an excellent track record of success in dispute resolution. The members of its dispute resolution team are tough and commercially sensitive litigators who all have one thing in common: their determination to win. The specialist team is expert in the following areas: commercial disputes, commodities, insolvency, intellectual property, landlord and tenant, secured lending, and technology and communications.

Employment/employee benefits: employment legislation changes all the time. Teacher Stern guides clients through the legislative maze, giving instant answers to questions and solving any problems relating to employment and employee benefits.

Immigration: the firm provides specialist advice to a wide range of high-net-worth individuals, private clients and corporate clients on personal and business immigration. It advises on all aspects of UK immigration, naturalisation and European rights of free movement, providing clear and practical guidance. It manages the process from start to finish, providing a thorough and reliable service designed to achieve a successful outcome in a timetable that suits its clients.

Private client: although Teacher Stern is primarily a corporate law firm, it also has a strong private client base comprising high-net-worth individuals. Specialist teams throughout the firm provide legal expertise to private clients in the following areas: employment advice, residential, sport, and wills and inheritance tax.

Property: Teacher Stern boasts a well respected and experienced team of over 35 lawyers, with expertise in acquisition/disposal; asset management; development and construction; finance; and residential.

Other expert groups include education, intellectual property, media, sport, and technology and communications.

Department Name Email Telephone
Joint Managing Partner David Salisbury d.salisbury@teacherstern.com
Head of Property and Joint Managing Partner David Irwin d.irwin@teacherstern.com
Employment Matthew Cranton m.cranton@teacherstern.com
Immigration Matthew Cranton m.cranton@teacherstern.com
Commercial Litigation Rohit Ralleigh r.ralleigh@teacherstern.com
Banking & Finance Claire Gibson c.gibson@teacherstern.com
Property Litigation Nazia Hussain n.hussain@teacherstern.com
Private Client Elizabeth Jones e.jones@teacherstern.com
Commercial and technology Frank Jennings f.jennings@teacherstern.com
Corporate David Ponsford d.ponsford@teacherstern.com
Corporate Kelly Whitfield k.whitfield@teacherstern.com
Photo Name Position Profile
Phil Berry photo Phil Berry Phil is an expert in real estate finance with heavyweight experience in…
Jonathan Cantor photo Jonathan Cantor Partner in litigation department dealing with all aspects of real property and…
Vanessa Cassidy photo Vanessa Cassidy Vanessa is a partner in the property department at Teacher Stem LLP…
Matthew Cranton photo Matthew Cranton Matthew co-heads our Employment and Immigration practice, advising on all areas of…
Claire Gibson photo Claire Gibson Claire is head of the Legal 500 ranked Real Estate Finance team…
Suzanne Hamer photo Suzanne Hamer Suzanne is the assistant Head of the Residential Real Estate Department. Suzanne…
Victoria Hodges photo Victoria Hodges Victoria is a commercial property lawyer with property finance expertise who specialises…
David Irwin photo David Irwin Joint managing partner and head of real estate department. Dealing with all…
Frank Jennings photo Frank Jennings Frank is a commercial contracts lawyer specialising in cloud, technology, data &…
Jim McKeever photo Jim McKeever Jim joined Teacher Stern as a partner in May 2013 as part of…
Siobhan Parish photo Siobhan Parish Siobhan is a commercial property solicitor with experience in advising both individuals…
David Ponsford photo David Ponsford David is a corporate partner with has extensive experience advising companies, entrepreneurs…
Jack Rabinowicz photo Jack Rabinowicz Jack is head of the commercial litigation team. He specialises in high-value…
Russell Raphael photo Russell Raphael Partner in real estate; over 20 years of acting for landlord/developers and occupiers.…
Colin Richman photo Colin Richman Head of Property Litigation. Acting for commercial investors and asset managers on…
Claire Rollo photo Claire Rollo Partner in corporate/commercial department. Claire advises mainly family/owner/manager businesses on a wide…
David Salisbury photo David Salisbury Joint managing partner and head of the corporate/commercial department. David’s broad transactional experience…
Jonathan Warren photo Jonathan Warren Jonathan is an experienced property litigation specialist whose practice encompasses all aspects…
Eytan Weisz photo Eytan Weisz Eytan is a partner in the real estate team and his practice…
Kelly Whitfield photo Kelly Whitfield Kelly is an experienced corporate and commercial lawyer with broad transactional expertise…
Number of UK partners : 30
Number of other UK fee-earners : 63
Chinese (Cantonese