Firm Profile > DWF > London , London
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DWF > The Legal 500 Rankings
Debt recovery Tier 1
The team at DWF, which is split between Leeds and London, 'applies a common-sense commercial attitude' to debt recovery, handling front-end collections, strategic enforcement and insolvency proceedings, as well as contested and defended litigation. Clients include a variety of major corporates, central government departments and local authorities. Debt litigation and insolvency expert David Scottow leads the national team, while the civil recovery service is led by director Kevin Feehan. The technical team is headed by director James Perry, who handles non-standard, complex cases for departmental clients.
Health and safety Tier 1
DWF represents a substantial roster of big-name name clients, including Marks and Spencer, Arcadia and RSA, advising on both regulatory compliance and high-profile investigations. Manchester-based Steffan Groch leads the team nationally and is an expert in crisis management pertaining to construction, infrastructure and insurance. Dominic Watkins is a key figure and very active in retail-related investigations. Hilary Ross has a focus on the retail sector, as well as food and beverages.
Personal injury: defendant Tier 1
DWF 'is one of the market leading defendant firms' for catastrophic injury and large loss, and also fields other specialist teams advise insurers on occupational health and industrial disease, as well as motor traffic accidents and public liability cases. The practice has particular strength in claims involving spinal injury and paralysis, amputation, fatal accidents and severe brain injury. Claire Bowler heads the international claims team and has a proven track record acting for UK and European insurers in claims of the utmost severity, including those with multi-jurisdictional elements. Graham Dickinson leads on catastrophic injury work, while John Lezemore's expertise includes 'invisible illnesses' cases, such as chronic pain claims. Recently promoted partner Rhys Sanchez is active across the full array of severe injury cases, but stands out for his depth of knowledge in complex brain injury cases.
DWF's growing corporate practice handles transactions primarily across the retail, hospitality, corporate real estate and technology and media sectors. The team of partners are experienced in cross-border M&A and a large proportion of their matters include international aspects. DWF has been on a hiring spree, with additions including Linda Fu , who joined from Addleshaw Goddard, who heads up the firm's China-facing corporate offering. Matthew Doughty is in charge of the London corporate team, while Frank Shephard heads the national practice from the Manchester office.
Commodities disputes Tier 3
DWF handles large disputes with instructions from international traders, charterers and shipowners, as well as marine insurers. Its matters often involve piracy, theft or detention of cargo. Although its focus is primarily on shipping and insurance, the firm also handles significant cases in the commodities sphere, notably for large trading houses such as Trafigura. The firm is also known for its innovative products and cost-effective case handling methodologies, including a case-handling software product that enables traders, ship managers and insurers to contest smaller cases and track the evolution and development of each claim at every stage. The London practice, which works closely with the commodities group in Paris, frequently handles international commercial arbitrations and litigation, in both English and French, in many jurisdictions. The firm has been involved in cases stemming from high-profile incidents in Sierra Leone, Guinea, South Africa, Singapore and Malaysia.
DWF has been involved in a number of standout placing and IPO mandates in 2018–2019, not least of which included assisting with its own main market IPO, making it the only legal business listed on London's Main Market. Headed by Frank Shephard, who splits his time between London and Manchester, the corporate group acts for a host of nomads, brokers and investment banks and also has experience acting for corporate issuers, particularly in the technology sector. Also of note, the firm recently launched two legal technology products, which can be used specifically for managing IPOs, fundraisings and takeover transactions. Matthew Doughty leads the firm's ECM practice group.
With growing capabilities in the marine and energy sectors, DWF handles reinsurance, coverage, liability, personal injury and property damage claims. David Abbott, who was promoted to co-head of the team after joining from Clyde & Co LLP in November 2018, specialises in trade and political risk, credit insurance and reinsurance, while John Groome covers product liability, casualty and property work and Jonathan Moss focuses on marine, trade and energy matters. Antony Woodhouse regularly handles disputes with a cross-border element.
Local government Tier 3
Mark Whittaker and Perry Hill head a practice at DWF that handles a wide range of contentious cases for county and district councils and London boroughs where councils' liability is in issue. The claims range from personal injuries and professional negligence, to human rights and privacy breaches, and may relate to decisions in areas such as construction projects. The team is skilled in dealing with the insurance aspects of such claims together with the establishment of insurance-based funds. Caroline Sanders is also a noted team member for this work.
Pensions: dispute resolution Tier 3
Recent highlights for DWF’s team of pensions litigators include representing scheme sponsors and regulatory bodies before the European courts in matters concerning high-value equalisation matters and PPF compensation limit challenges. Amanda Banister - 'an expert in her field' - leverages her extensive regulatory knowledge to advise on PPF assessment periods and Pensions Ombudsman disputes, while also acting in a broad range of rectification proceedings, professional negligence claims and contentious scheme closures. 'Extremely commercial' practice head Tim Green, who is based in Manchester, is also well-regarded.
Product liability: defendant Tier 3
Acting for insureds and insurers alike, DWF provides its clients with seamless support across Europe, Africa and Asia. The team includes various industry specialists: David Kidman is knowledgeable in the life sciences sector while Bristol-based Peter Barnes focuses on the aviation, automotive, engineering and construction industries. Dominic Watkins is noted for his expertise in technical food law compliance work and food litigation. John Groome acts for insurers and reinsurers in casualty coverage and product liability claims. Hilary Ross is well versed in regulated industries, where she advises on the compliance of products, systems and safety across the EU. Senior associate Tom Mungovan has strong technical expertise in chemical and medical issues.
Professional negligence Tier 3
DWF acts for a raft of the UK’s largest general professional indemnity insurers and syndicates and handles a raft of construction, engineering, legal, financial and insurance sector claims. The firm offers an integrated service to professional indemnity insurers which includes claims handling (DWF Claims), legal defence (DWF) and loss adjusting (DWF Adjusting). It represented a professional indemnity insurer on a £3.4m coverage dispute relating to SRA minimum terms involving the first consideration of dishonesty. Peter Sewell and Eileen Pathiraja recently joined Beale & Co; Peter Campion joined Caytons Law; Tim Barr joined Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP; Andrew Davis has retired; and Simon Gildener also departed the firm.
DWF’s hospitality team has notable expertise in the establishment and structuring of real estate funds and SPVs for the purpose of hotel acquisitions and related hospitality development projects. The practice, which is active on matters across the globe, undertakes all aspects of subsequent investment transactions through to sales and leasebacks. Licensing and regulatory work is integral to the group as it advises hotels, restaurants, public houses and events on the full breadth of relevant issues. Richard Birks heads the overall real estate department which also represents both private and public sector clients on forward funding projects, regeneration works and the management of property across all asset classes. Andrew Edwards, a new arrival from Greenberg Traurig, LLP, has added experience of acting for institutions, fund managers, private equity houses and corporate occupiers.
Professional discipline Tier 4
DWF 'has strength in depth across many sectors'. The practice regularly defends professionals across a number of sectors, including medical, legal, actuarial, accountancy and financial services. Regulatory partner Richard Burger was recently hired from RPC; he represents clients under investigation by the FRC and Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. Tracy Sell-Peters frequently defends doctors and other healthcare practitioners whose registration is called into question by the GMC and other healthcare regulatory bodies.
Fraud: civil Tier 5
DWF's fraud team was established following practice head Richard Twomey's arrival from Pinsent Masons LLP in April 2017. With the assistance of the firm's forensic accounting, intelligence and forensic IT teams, the practice advises on physical and procedural controls, and offers software development that identifies fraudulent activity. Areas of expertise include consequences of fraud, asset recovery and defending allegations of fraud. The team also has complementary skills in employment, data protection, regulatory, criminal and insurance law. The practice has expanded recently, with Naomi Pryde joining from Dentons and senior associate Sarah Smith joining from Irwin Mitchell.
The team at DWF is led by Richard Burger, who joined from RPC in late 2018 and is now head of financial services regulatory investigations at the firm. Burger, who previously worked at the Financial Services Authority and also carried out a secondment as head of compliance for a London market insurer, works with head of financial services regulatory Robbie Constance, who also joined from RPC in 2018 and who has a particular focus on insurance-related matters.
Property finance Tier 5
DWF's 'commercial' team is noted for advising institutional lenders, as well as an increasing number of new, non-bank lenders. The team assists with acquisition and development finance, refinancing and restructuring, and has expertise in healthcare, hotels and data centres. The firm saw a number of departures in early 2019, with Christian Francis and Iain Thomas moving to Fieldfisher and John Fox retiring, but was joined by Brendan Slack from Dentons, who brings expertise in the financing of technology and energy assets. The 'on-the-ball' Simon Elphick and head of banking Iain Shurwood lead the practice alongside Slack.
Shipping Tier 5
DWF's shipping and commodities offering is 'relatively small but is capable of delivering an excellent service'. It acts for marine insurers, ship owners and charterers on a range of disputes, often involving piracy, theft or cargo detention issues. The team is best known for its international arbitration expertise and it handles cross-border disputes involving ports, terminals cargo contamination, fires, explosions and casualties. It is advising the ship owners in a dispute concerning an arrest of a livestock vessel in Chile. The team is increasingly handling non-contentious mandates and is engaged on M&A transactions, charterparty contracts and crew agreements.
Employment: employers Tier 6
DWF advises employers across a range of sectors including banking, insurance, education and professional services on issues ranging from large-scale redundancies, independent investigations and inquiries, multijurisdictional HR projects and executive recruitment and terminations. ‘Top-class’ practice head Helga Breen also has expertise in outsourcing arrangements, compliance audits and issues surrounding self-employed contractors.
Commercial litigation Tier 7
DWF is 'accessible, knowledgeable and meets deadlines'. The London office is particularly focused on disputes involving retail and international trade, commerce, banking and finance, technology, and energy. Jonathan Isaacs has a particular interest in High Court commercial contract, corporate and boardroom disputes, and Richard Twomey has a strong track record in dealing with international disputes. Joshua Fineman is the senior associate to note.
International arbitration Tier 7
Most of DWF's international arbitration work is in the insurance, maritime and commodities, technology and natural resource sectors; the practice, which is 'hands on, efficient and client friendly', is also active in Russia and CIS-related matters. The principal London-based advisers are Richard Twomey, Stefan Paciorek and Jonathan Moss.
DWF is engaged on international travel injury claims for insurer clients and is particularly noted for its expertise in jurisdiction and applicable law issues. The team represented a German insurer on complex applicable law arguments in the UK arising from a fatal road traffic accident in Germany. International insurance claims expert Sara-Jane Eaton and Claire Bowler, who is experienced in high-value claims involving motor accidents abroad, head the team.
DWF > Firm Profile
DWF is the largest listed legal business in the world, with an award-winning reputation for client service excellence, effective operational management and innovation. The Company became the first Main Market Premium Listed legal business on the London Stock Exchange in March 2019. DWF has been named by the Financial Times as one of Europe’s most innovative legal businesses and has been independently recognised for its quality of legal advice, service delivery and responsiveness.
DWF’s stated purpose is to transform legal services through its people for its clients using its three principal strategic objectives: understanding our clients, engaging our people and doing things differently. DWF aims to deliver its strategy by building long-term relationships with its clients, recruiting talented individuals to maintain a high service level culture and continually innovating in its provision of complex legal services, managed and connected services to address client needs and increase its market share.
The business has core strengths in corporate banking, insurance and litigation and in-depth expertise in several chosen sectors, including insurance; public sector; energy and industrials; real estate; financial services; retail, food and hospitality; technology and transport.
In addition to its legal services, DWF provides a range of professional, business or consulting services, a number of which include or are enabled by technology products and solutions to its clients through its Connected Services division. This offering is complementary to the traditional legal services offered by DWF.
DWF employs over 3,200 people across 27 key locations and has steadily grown its international presence in response to client demand. In May 2019 it expanded its international footprint by opening a new office in Warsaw, Poland as part of its strategic growth plans.
DWF was the first UK legal business to achieve the ‘Disability Confident’ accreditation, which highlights the firm as an inclusive recruiter of disabled talent and is a Top 30 Employer for Working Families. The business also has its own charitable enterprise, the DWF Foundation, a registered charity aimed at providing funds and support to local charities and programmes focused on education, employability, health and wellbeing and homelessness.
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At DWF we are proud of our reputation as a supportive and inclusive employer. We aim to be an employer of choice to talent across generations and life stages by providing interventions that advance social inclusion and enable our colleagues to balance their work lives, while providing the development opportunities to enjoy fulfilling and rewarding careers. As a responsible business and force for good in society, we embed our culture and values at the heart of everything we do, recognising that our people not only want a great place to work, but take pride in creating it.
Our Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategy 2020 sets out how we will make diversity & inclusion truly part of the way we do business. The global strategy is driven by a Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Group comprised of 39 senior leaders and supported by a growing network of diversity champions. We have identified six priority strands integral to improving inclusion in our workplace, these are: Gender, LGBT+, Disability, Agile Working, Race & Ethnicity and Age. Our Executive Sponsors for each strand serve as visible advocates to help advance the understanding of diversity & inclusion in DWF and beyond.
DWF has taken a number of tangible steps towards attracting, supporting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce:
- The business has been ranked in the Top 100 of Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2019 as well as a Stonewall Global Champion.
- Our partnership with Everywoman, which provides a global network of development resources, advice and inspiration for women at DWF, has enabled us to support the career progression of women into senior roles.
- We’re a Top 30 Employer for Working Families and recognised as a business that has integrated agile working into our organisational strategy and culture.
- The first legal business to achieve Clear Assured status and we are a Disability Confident Leader. Our inclusive recruitment practices have helped us identify and remove barriers that have the potential to exclude disabled talent.
- We are a member of The Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (ENEI) and in 2018, we were one of only five organisations to achieve Gold Standard in TIDE, the ENEI evaluation and benchmarking tool which measures a business’s approach to diversity and inclusion in its workforce, leadership and strategy.
- Proud to use Rare Recruitments Contextual Recruitment System which allows us to consider academic achievements in the context in which they were gained.
- We are a Living Wage Employer and a signatory of both the UN Global Compact and the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles.
Our affinity networks, open to all, provide colleagues with an opportunity to become meaningfully involved in developing and driving our diversity initiatives and programmes. Our networks include: Out Front (our LGBT+ Network), This is Me (Our Gender Network), Race & Ethnicity, Carers, Working Families, Agile Working, Disability and Age. The Networks host educational and social events internally and with our clients.
Top Tier Firm Rankings
- Commercial litigation
- Debt recovery
- Health and safety
- Insurance and reinsurance litigation
- Pensions: dispute resolution
- Personal injury: defendant
- Product liability: defendant
- Commercial litigation
- Commercial property: hotels and leisure
- Commodities disputes
- Employment: employers
- Equity capital markets – small-mid cap
- Fraud: civil
- Insurance and reinsurance litigation
- Insurance: corporate and regulatory
- International arbitration
- Local government
- M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m
- Pensions: dispute resolution
- Product liability: defendant
- Professional discipline
- Professional negligence
- Property finance