Firm Profile > Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP > Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Agriculture and estates Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP specialises in advising private estate owners and other landowning organisations. The ‘breadth of practice areas covered marks it out’ as well as its advice to a number of public authorities and quasi-public bodies. Simon Kirkup leads the practice and his clients include private landowners as well as major landowning charities and PLCs. Also notable in the team is managing associate Charlotte Patterson-Ryan, who ‘combines strong technical knowledge in the areas of landlords and tenants, with excellent professional skills,’ which makes her ‘stand out as a go-to adviser’.


‘Sound, swift advice and service.’

‘The firm has such a wide variety of expertise all under one roof , including legal advice on farming, property management and family trust law.’

‘Very solid breadth of practice and strong professionalism.’

‘Extremely client focused.’ 

‘Simon Kirkup provides well-reasoned thoughtful advice.’

‘Despite having a heavy work load, Simon Kirkup is always accessible for advic.e’

‘Charlotte Patterson-Ryan is always efficient and speedy.’

‘Charlotte Patterson-Ryan’s capacity to turn around work is phenomenal, and she is extremely straightforward to work with.’

Key clients

National Trust

Grainger PLC

Church Commissioners

English Heritage

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is known for its work for education, healthcare and religious charities, as well as particular expertise in transactional matters. The ‘solicitor par excellenceEmma Moody leads the practice and is ‘energised and positive’ as well as ‘well networked’ in the area. Her team includes managing associate Samantha Pritchard, who specialises in advising on the complex area where charity law and public law coincide, offering ‘clear and reassuring advice.'


‘Positive, confident engagement and the team takes the time to understand the business.’

‘Very quick to respond and support, providing a full service.’

‘Highly recommended, if clients want a job done well, go to Womble Bond Dickinson.’

‘This is a niche area of law and the firm has a depth of knowledge and experience that seems to outweigh its competitors.’

‘Emma Moody is extraordinarily committed to the client. She is also very accessible and very straightforward to deal with.’

‘Sally Cooper is very professional and client focused.’

‘Samantha Pritchard deals with challenging and difficult situations with ease. She has developed a novel governance model that is practical and reflects instructions exactly.’

Key clients

Crisis UK

Newcastle City Council

British Mountaineering Council

Ampleforth Abbey and St Laurence Education Trust

Gateshead College

Charity Commission – Cardiff Sixth Form College (now Cardiff Educational Endowment Fund)

East Durham College

Bauer Radio Cash for Kids Charities

Zedra Trust Company

Durham University Students’ Union

Northumberland County Council

Leeman Road Millenium Green Trust

Wakefield Grammar School Foundation

Percy Hedley Foundation


Mental Health Matters

Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School

St John of God Hospitaller Services

William Leech Foundation

Church Marketplace for Roman Catholic Dioceses

Commercial litigation: Newcastle Tier 1

Drawing on the firm's national and international presence, the team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is able to advise large regional corporates on the spectrum of commercial litigation and dispute resolution. Areas of expertise include disputes relating to the transport and chemicals sectors, as well as pensions, contentious procurement, financial services, retail and energy. Paul Stewart leads the team and focuses on transport and manufacturing sector disputes.


The firm has strength of expertise across a number of partners and associates

Richard Collins is bright and commercial in outlook

Paul Stewart and his team get to grips with all aspects of the challenge and become welcome additions to the organisation remarkably quickly, which supports immediate progress and assurance

Paul Stewart, Jonathan Gribben and Michael Wharton provide relentless effort, resilience, agility and diligence

Key clients



Network Rail

Post Office


Go-Ahead Group

Commercial property: Newcastle Tier 1

Drawing on its status as an international firm, the team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is able to handle flagship real estate deals across the North East, advising national housebuilders, residential landlords, property funds and other corporate clients. The group is led by John Ralph, who is instructed by owners and occupiers of investment, development and operational real estate assets. Managing associate John Booth is noted for expertise in the education and energy sectors.


A very joined up and well organised team

The team builds up good relationships with advisers acting on the other side

Easy people to work with, who can explain complex issues in an accessible manner

Key clients

Grainger plc

Bellway Homes plc


The Vista PRS Fund

Hansteen Holdings plc

Construction Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP handles the spectrum of contentious and non-contentious construction work, drawing on the firm's office network to advise local and international clients. In addition to its more traditional practice, the group also has a niche in offshore, decommissioning and subsea work. On the non-contentious side, Simon Rowland is recommended for developments and Ian Atkinson is well-regarded for his 'straight-forward and pragmatic' approach to transactional matters. Simon Lewis focuses on dispute resolution for public and private sector clients alike, while managing associate Andrew Clough is noted for complex construction litigation.


‘The team is proactive, efficient and pragmatic regarding their approach to achieving contract award on individual schemes.’

‘As a local authority client, you always feel confident instructing the firm in relation to property matters, because everyone in the team is very technically competent.’

‘Simon Rowland provides excellent service and professional advice.’

‘The team are responsive and helpful and give advice that i’s pragmatic and unstuffy. We’ve seen a willingness to roll up sleeves and engage positively with our sometimes unusual approval processes.’

‘A tight-knit team with a great depth and breadth of experience, particularly in relation to PFI disputes.’

‘Simon Lewis is a very experienced construction specialist who gives sound and sensible advice.’

‘Andrew Clough is charming and easy to work with – he will go the extra mile.’

‘Ian Atkinson is straight-forward, pragmatic and responsive, as well as understanding of our particular requirements.’

‘Ian Atkinson provides prompt, helpful responses and is very proactive. He is able to explain things in layman’s terms, which is great for all parties involved. He is also a nice person to work with, which counts for a lot.’

‘We really enjoyed working with Ian Atkinson – he dealt with the construction elements of a large and complex development agreement really efficiently and promptly. All the work was turned around really quickly – he knew what needed to be done, and ensured that happened within a tight time frame.’

Key clients

Education and Skills Funding Agency


Newcastle City Council

Bellway Plc

IKEA Properties Investments

University of Durham

Contentious trusts and probate Tier 1

The ‘very brightWomble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP practice acts for individuals, trustees, insurance companies and charities across the UK and overseas. The experienced national team is led by Neil Long from London and has three full members of the Association of Contentious Trust And Probate Specialists, as well as being a member of the Association of Corporate Trustees. Notable is managing associate Richard Pike, who is ‘a very canny litigator’ specialising in advising corporate trustees, private individuals and insurers on the full range of contentious trust, estate and tax issues.


‘The team has experience of high value disputes which further lends credibility to its reputation.’

‘Exceptionally knowledgeable but also a pleasure to work with.’

‘Helpful, kind, pragmatic and sensible.’

‘Richard Pike provides measured advice. He remains composed and focused when time is short.’

‘Richard Pike knows the law inside out and will analyse the legal position very carefully. He is clever and able to think up imaginative solutions to complicated issues.’

‘Neil Long is absolutely charming!’

‘Solicitor Rosie Taylor is polite, very pleasant and easy to deal with.’

Key clients

Zedra (UK) Trusts Limited

Doreen Thompson

Corporate and commercial: Newcastle Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's Newcastle office is a major hub for the transatlantic firm, ensuring it is well-placed to advise US investors into the North East. Unusually for the region, the office contains dedicated competition, tax and projects lawyers, all of whom support the corporate and commercial teams. The team is led by Ben Butler and includes corporate finance expert Jamie Pass and Stacey Hall, who specialises in corporate transactions. Ian Pritty is noted for corporate aspects of property transactions.


The breadth of capability across disciplines is demonstrable

Jamie Pass and Oliver Rickett deserve special praise for their focus and dedication to ensuring the project is delivered

A longstanding and deep understanding of business

Key clients

Atom Bank plc

Augean plc

CN Group

EQT Infrastructure

Newcastle City Council

Richmond Group

Corporate tax Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's tax team regularly advises the firm's  corporate and real estate practice groups, providing advice on tax-related issues arising from banking, restructuring and employment matters. Drawing on the firm's national and international presence, the group is regularly called upon by clients across the UK. Practice head Jeremy Smith is noted for his experience in the tax aspects of corporate and property transactions.

Key clients

Deutsche Bahn

Hertshten Group

Old Mutual Wealth


REG Power Management

The Royal Institute of British Architects

Debt recovery Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's multi-disciplinary team includes lawyers, project managers, technologists, data analysts, knowledge managers and operation professionals, providing creditor clients with a wide range of tools to collect their debts. The team handles asset investigations and reporting, tracing of debtors, drafting and issuing claims and enforcement matters. Team leader and senior debt manager Sue Pattie is instructed by a wide variety of public and private sector clients, including charities.


Very proactive and commercially aware

Sue Pattie is able to offer a number of solutions, clearly defining the benefits and pitfalls of each

Our work was handled swiftly and smoothly, and the team’s specialist knowledge is evident

Education Tier 1

With a national coverage, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP provides a comprehensive range of services. The firm handles advice and support to school clients across various legal disciplines, including academy conversions, FE College mergers, governance and SEN tribunals. The ‘professional and principledKevin Robertson leads the practice and ‘his reputation in the field goes before him.’ Also notable in his team is associate Peter Cantwell, who specialises in property work for education sector clients.


‘Womble Bond Dickinson is a superb and professional legal firm that supports schools and academies with education matters in a highly proficient manner.’

‘Swift and pertinent advice enables all actions to be met within agreed time scales and with highly satisfactory conclusions.’

‘The team supported academy conversions to an exceptional level.’

‘Provide outstanding service and attention to ensure all matters are dealt with in a timely fashion that supports superb outcomes.’

‘Kevin Robertson is the consummate professional. His engagement with clients, married with his exception legal knowledge have made all matters of business seamless.’

Key clients

Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

Department for Education (DfE)


St Oswald’s Catholic Academy Trust

Trent Academies Group

Zaytouna Education Trust

North View Academy

Whitworth Park School

Woodham Academy

Tees Valley Education Multi Academy Trust

St Lawrence Education Trust (which operates Ampleforth College))

Carmel Education Trust, Darlington

Waterton Academy Trust, Wakefield

Newcastle City Council

Castle Trust

Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School

Pocklington School

Illuminare Multi Academy Trust

Vision Academy Learning Trust

Liverpool City Council

The Constellation Trust

Northumberland County Council

Nicholas Postgate Academy Trust

St Hilda’s Catholic Academy Trust

Our Lady of Light Catholic Academy Trust

Skills for Life Trust, Kent

FocusEducation (Lincolnshire) Limited

Sewell Education York Limited

Sewell Education Hull Limited

Romero Catholic Academy Trust

Trinity Multi Academy Trust

Horizons Specialist Academy Trust

Extol Academy Trust

Durham University

Northumbria University

Gateshead College

East Durham College

Durham Students Union

City Of Sunderland College

Employment Tier 1

Employer firm Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP specialises in a range of sectors including technology, retail, healthcare, education and chemicals. The team is led by unfair dismissal and discrimination claims expert James Wilders, who can call on equal pay and gender pay gap specialist Lorraine Heard. Also notable is associate Alan Kennedy, who is experienced in tribunal representation.


‘Strength in depth’

‘Experienced, pragmatic lawyers’

‘James Wilders is very practical and provides commercial solutions’

Key clients


AIT Global

Cumberland Building Society



IBM United Kingdom

LSL Property Services

Network Rail

NHS Digital

Northern Powergrid

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets


TOTAL Petrochemicals

Vertu Motors

Energy Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's team has a varied practice, advising developers of new electricity generation and storage projects, real estate and infrastructure, alongside expertise in a wide range of renewable technologies. The team is co-led by Barbara Painter, who has experience in capacity market auctions, and real estate specialist Michael Brown.

Key clients

EDF Energy Renewables

Sembcorp Utilities (UK)

Rydberg Development Company

Quarry Battery Company

Northern Powergrid

Health and safety Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has experience acting in high profile investigations and potential prosecutions, notably involving fire safety and building safety issues. In addition, the firm provides a range of contentious and non-contentious services, including strategic board level, enforcement and operational advice. Stuart Wardlaw leads the regulatory and environment team and has expertise in advising industrial, commercial and public sector clients on various aspects of environmental, health and safety and related regulatory law.

Key clients

Vauxhall Motors (Groupe PSA)



Lotte Chemicals

Chemoxy International

Fine Organics


Banks Group

The Education and Skills Funding Agency

Augean plc

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's team leverages the firm's strong national presence, with expertise in restructuring matters, including directors duties, debt and securities restructuring, the sale and purchase of distressed or insolvent businesses, asset recovery for creditors and insolvency practitioners and the disqualification of directors. Julian Gill leads the non-contentious restructuring and insolvency practice and the asset recovery team alongside Peter Maxwell .

Key clients

Lloyds Banking Group




Deloitte LLP

The Insolvency Service


Grant Thornton (UK) LLP

KSA Group

KRE Corporate Recovery

IT and telecoms Tier 1

The Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP team is experienced in complex and high-value technology-related matters. Practice head Caroline Churchill specialises in complex technology transactions with a focus on the internet of things, data and cloud solutions. She regularly advises customers and suppliers and has a particular focus on cyber security.


‘Experience with the relevant service providers’

‘Caroline Churchill is practical, available, and responsive’

Key clients

Phoenix Software Limited

Data Ventures Europe BV

Noble Energy, Inc.

Pensions Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has contentious and non-contentious expertise, with notable experience in the public and voluntary sector pensions field. The team advises trustees and sponsoring employers of UK pension schemes and is led by Martin Poore, who has a particular focus on corporate and scheme restructuring. His team includes the 'excellent' Tracy Walsh, 'who delivers complex advice in a clear and straightforward way', and Suzanne Duff, who works for a wide range of companies and pension scheme trustees, specialising in regulatory matters. Her non-contentious work is primarily based on advising employers on restructuring their organisations, liability management and winding up pension schemes.


‘The team is easy to deal with, has the necessary range of experience and skills and is accessible’

‘Very professional and very reactive. Always available’

‘Suzanne Duff has created an excellent team who work together seamlessly to provide a superb service’

‘The firm has depth of knowledge, pensions, housing sector and market trends awareness’

‘The team is excellent and effectively advises on complex issues in a straightforward way’

‘Suzanne Duff stands out in the quality of her advice, her commitment to find an innovative solution and her loyalty to and mentoring of her team’

‘Tracy Walsh is an excellent pensions lawyer who delivers complex advice in a clear and straightforward way. She understands our commercial needs and does not sit on the fence. I would not hesitate in recommending Tracey to other clients.’

Naomi Jacques is a very knowledgeable associate who consistently delivers high quality legal advice, often against challenging deadlines.’

‘Tracy Walsh and Naomi Jacques provide a first-class advisory service, cutting through complexity and working well both with my in-house team, board and other advisers, particularly actuaries’

Key clients

Procter & Gamble


Go-Ahead Group plc

Taylor Wimpey plc

Bellway plc

Newcastle Building Society

Northern Powergrid plc

Sabic UK Petrochemicals Limited

Research Machines plc Pension Scheme

2020 Trustees

Personal tax, trusts and probate Tier 1

David Dale and Helen Tavroges lead the Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP team. The range of expertise and strength in depth includes private wealth and capital tax planning specialist George Lyall; court of protection and inheritance tax expert Deborah Jude; and managing associate Emily Pike, who has particular experience in advising on succession planning for business owners and shareholders. Also notable are the ‘client focused and dynamic’ associates Fiona McLaughlin and Katie Gosling.


‘The level of expertise and availability of specialist individuals within the team is second to none.’

‘A go-to private client team with a great mixture of expertise, they are efficient and work collaboratively.’

‘George Lyall has proven to strike the perfect balance between professional advice and personal support.’

‘What makes this team stand-out is the calm competent way in which they manage family wealth and landed assets in complex situations, and instil trust in clients.’

‘The team is committed, invested in getting the right outcome, and comes across as mature in its approach.’

‘Emily Pike is highly efficient and fast becoming a trusted practitioner in this area.’

Property litigation Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's property litigation team benefits from an international office network, allowing it to represent both domestic and US clients. Areas of expertise include rent recovery, landlord-tenant disputes and contentious matters arising out of developments, landed estates and property portfolios. Jen Smurthwaite heads the national team and is based across Newcastle and Leeds.


They are knowledgeable and are able to act as a one stop shop for all legal matters

Good knowledgeable practice, right price point with strength in depth and they really understand their clients’ business

Paul Joyce has a good eye for the detail, calm and unflappable

Key clients

Airwave Solutions

Bernicia Group


Standard Life Trustee Company

Social housing Tier 1

Social housing is a real area of expertise for Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP, which advises a wide variety of stakeholders, including large-scale voluntary transfer housing associations, councils and arms-length management organisations on the spectrum of contentious and non-contentious matters. The team is also on the panel for Homes England. Residential property specialist Nigel Emmerson leads the team.

Key clients

Places for People Homes

Karbon Homes

Accent Housing Group

Bernicia Group

Derwent Housing Association

Transport and shipping Tier 1

The ‘highly professionalWomble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is best known for its rail practice, which covers rail franchising, rolling stock and projects and infrastructure. The firm has ‘extensive knowledge of rail industry, rail franchising and procurement’ as well as ‘a sensible, practicable approach to complex commercial discussions’. The ‘veritable fountain of knowledgeDavid Rewcastle leads the practice and offers ‘towering expertise with real industry knowledge’. His team includes the ‘outstandingPaul Coleman, who specialises in rolling stock and infrastructure deals; Kevin Bell, who has expertise in rail franchise bids and rail franchising; and experienced associate Joseph Causer.


‘The team is dynamic and well supported’

‘Partners are easily accessible and are known not just for far reaching legal knowledge but commercial acumen as well’

‘Experience and knowledge of a wide range of subjects make this practice a one stop shop’

‘The team is very responsive and provides intelligent, precise and relevant advice’

‘The rail team has considerable experience of working with clients on rail franchising deals and easily matches the strength and depth of London based law firms’

‘David Rewcastle is not just known for his towering stature but his towering intellect and wisdom when it comes to the railway industry’ 

‘Paul Coleman is a powerhouse of a partner and is the individual one turns to for the intricacies of rolling stock and depot contracts’

‘Joseph Causer provides counsel on a wide range of subjects and is fast becoming the first stop for advice’

‘Kevin Bell is a brilliant, incredible lawyer. His knowledge of the railway system there is without limits’ 

Key clients

Go-Ahead Group plc/Govia

Network Rail


Govia Thameslink Railway







Banking and finance Tier 2

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP handles work for a variety of regional private equity and banking clients (as borrowers, lenders, investors and investees), with expertise spanning the manufacturing, consumer debt, real estate and education sectors. John Ralph specialises in property finance and co-heads the team alongside secured lending expert John Connor.

Key clients

Santander UK plc

HSBC Bank plc

Cairngorm Capital

NorthEdge Capital

Department for Education

Environment & planning Tier 2

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's planning department handles major infrastructure projects, redevelopment schemes, judicial review and planning litigation, energy and waste development. The group advise a range of clients including landowners, developers and public sector organisations. The regulatory and environment team is led by Stuart Wardlaw, while managing associate Stephen Dagg leads on planning matters.

Key clients



Vauxhall Motors (Groupe PSA)


Lotte Chemicals

Womble Bond Dickinson is a full-service transatlantic law firm, created on 1 November 2017, from the combination of UK law firm Bond Dickinson and US firm Womble Carlyle. The new combined firm is now amongst the Top 100 law firms globally and a Top 20 UK law firm.

In the UK, WBD has more than 120 partners and 500 lawyers based in eight major cities across the country including in London, Bristol, Plymouth, Southampton, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The firm’s reach also extends to Europe where it has strategic partnerships with law firms in Germany and France.

Through the Lex Mundi network, Womble Bond Dickinson can offer clients access to counsel in more than 120 countries.

WBD advises in excess of 40 FTSE 350 companies, including many of the largest businesses in the country, government organisations and wealthy individuals. The firm advises clients across eleven key sectors including: energy and natural resources; financial institutions; healthcare; insurance; manufacturing; real estate; retail and consumer; transport, logistics and infrastructure; pharmaceuticals and life sciences; technology; and private wealth.

WBD also works closely with UK Local and Central Government authorities, as well as other organisations in the wider public and third sector. The firm advises the UK Government’s Crown Commercial Service, providing a full-service of legal expertise across a range of disciplines, including general commercial, litigation and employment advice. WBD was appointed as a Tier 1 firm advising Central Government Departments, Agencies and Arms’ Length Bodies.

In addition, WBD is a member of The Whitehall & Industry Group (WIG), an independent charity that brings business, government and the not-for-profit sector closer together, to learn from each other and co-create solutions. As a law firm advising public, private and not for profit organisations, WBD understands the importance for further cross-sector collaborations and WIG provides the perfect platform to build dialogue and enhance learning and understanding.

The firm has a wealth of expertise and a strong track record in all these sectors, enabling it to build strong relationships and deliver an excellent service to clients. This thorough understanding of its clients and of the sectors they operate in, means that WBD can anticipate and deliver the right expertise through innovative solutions.

WBD has a strong focus on innovation, the firm was ranked 14th in the FT’s Europe Top 50 Innovative Law Firms report. It also has a dedicated Innovation Group that works with lawyers and clients to help identify new opportunities of delivering the best value and coordinate initiatives and projects across the firm that will help drive the business – and its clients – forward.

With this ambition in mind, the firm recently launched the WBD Advance platform, a flexible solution that pulls together all of the firm’s key technology and business services that are becoming increasingly essential to clients alongside traditional legal advice. These services include support for high-volume projects such as due diligence; document review; project and risk management of legal work; automation and process design; managing knowledge and information; and flexible resourcing including flexible lawyering options for in-house counsel.

WBD is heavily involved in a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility programme and recognises the importance of supporting projects in its local communities. The firm also has an effective environmental policy as a founding member of the UK’s Legal Sector Alliance and provides its employees with an excellent place to work. The firm featured as a top graduate employer in the UK in the Guardian UK 300.

UK offices: Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Newcastle, Plymouth, Southampton.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing partner Jonathan Blair
UK Chairman Simon Richardson
Agriculture, farms and estates Simon Kirkup
Banking and financial services Julian Kinsey
Charities Emma Moody
Chemicals and manufacturing Peter Snaith
Commercial Paula Bartlett
Commercial disputes Paul Stewart
Construction and engineering Simon Rowland
Corporate and commercial Stephen Pierce
Corporate (inc company secretarial) Stephen Pierce
Developers and investors Mark Owen
Dispute resolution Tom Beezer
Employment Jon Hales
Energy and natural resources Simon Hughes
Finance and investment John Ralph
Financial institutions Simon Richardson
Insurance claims Sushma MacGeoch
Investment and pensions David Dale
Oil and gas Richard Cockburn
Onshore Andy Layton
Operational property (and retail) Katherine Douglas
Pensions Martin Poore
Planning and infrastructure Jonathan Bower
Private capital Helen Tavroges
Private wealth David Dale
Projects and procurement Kevin Robertson
Property litigation Jen Smurthwaite
Real estate Claire Brook
Regulatory and environment Stuart Wardlaw
Residential Nigel Emmerson
Restructuring and insolvency Andy Stirk
Retail Gavin Matthews
Scotland Richard Cockburn
Tax/trust and accounting Jeremy Smith
Technology, media and communications (TMC) Alastair Mitton
Transport and infrastructure David Rewcastle
Photo Name Position Profile
 Ian Atkinson  photo Ian Atkinson
 Kevin Bell  photo Kevin Bell
 John Booth  photo John Booth
 Michael Brown  photo Michael Brown
 Ben Butler  photo Ben Butler
 Caroline Churchill  photo Caroline Churchill
 Paul Coleman  photo Paul Coleman
 Richard Collins  photo Richard Collins
 Sally Dallow  photo Sally Dallow
 Suzanne Duff  photo Suzanne Duff
 Nigel Emmerson  photo Nigel Emmerson
 Julian Gill  photo Julian Gill
 Iain Greenshields  photo Iain Greenshields
 Chris Ledgerwood  photo Chris Ledgerwood
 Simon Lewis  photo Simon Lewis
 Peter Maxwell  photo Peter Maxwell
 Emma Moody  photo Emma Moody
 Barbara Painter  photo Barbara Painter
 Jamie Pass  photo Jamie Pass
 Robert Phillips  photo Robert Phillips
 Martin Poore  photo Martin Poore
 John Ralph  photo John Ralph
 David Rewcastle  photo David Rewcastle
 Simon Rowland  photo Simon Rowland
 Jeremy Smith  photo Jeremy Smith
 Jen Smurthwaite  photo Jen Smurthwaite
 Peter Snaith  photo Peter Snaith
 Paul Stewart  photo Paul Stewart
 Tracy Walsh  photo Tracy Walsh
 Ian Ward  photo Ian Ward
 Stuart Wardlaw  photo Stuart Wardlaw
 Simon Watts  photo Simon Watts
 James Wilders  photo James Wilders
 Tom Willows  photo Tom Willows
Number of UK partners : 131
Number of other UK fee-earners : 583

Diversity and Inclusion: stepping up a gear

Increasingly, clients are asking their law firms what they are doing promote diversity and to create a more inclusive place to work. Quite rightly, our clients want to know that we are able to offer up teams that have excellent cognitive diversity, and that reflect the client’s own people profile and values. This client dimension overlaps with our own people and business imperative; the right thing to do is to challenge ourselves to try new initiatives, to continue to put ourselves in the shoes of others, to discuss the issues and change our behaviours and mind-sets, and constructively challenge non-inclusive behaviour, in order to ensure that no one feels like an outsider. In theory, with more diversity, (whether gender, physical, cognitive, social, generational, cultural, ethnic or sexual), we create the chance to learn something from someone different, or with a different perspective to our own, and it creates a fertile breeding ground for new ways of working and operating. That makes us more resilient and sustainable as a business. Diversity, however, is ornamental without inclusivity; we have to make sure different people are in the rooms where decisions are made and not only make sure that they feel safe sharing what is on their minds, but actively encourage them to contribute.

The process of crafting a more diverse and inclusive environment gives us the opportunity to engage with clients on this subject, and find out what they are doing, what works, what hasn’t worked, and how their challenges are different or similar to ours. We can use it to deepen our relationships with them, and at the same time learn from each other.

In addition to continuing with our #BeYourself initiative, this year, we are focussing on making more progress on our gender balance at senior levels, and on LGBTQ+ and BAME inclusion. We were one of only nine firms in the UK to be awarded the new Women in Law Empowerment Forum Gold Standard in June 2019, but we recognise that the criteria currently are not necessarily stretching enough; it is a line in the sand for us, a minimum threshold, if you will. Creating our first LGBTQ+ network (WBD Pride) and our first BAME network (BAME@WBD) has been a huge step forward and one we hope will help us take an intersectional approach to diversity and inclusion for the first time.

A Board member is directly responsible and accountable for working with our D&I Group (comprised of a cross-section of engaged people from all around the business) and a newly created D&I Steering Group (comprised of partners who are ambassadors and “change agents”). Their remit is to evolve our strategy and to “mainstream” the infrastructural changes necessary or potentially useful to achieve the clear and measurable goals we set ourselves. A significant amount of work will be done this year in connection with our infrastructural audit, designed to remove unconscious bias in various systems, from our recruitment processes to our written communications with clients.

CSR and pro bono

We take our Responsible Business commitments as seriously as the quality of our legal advice. Our focus is about building sustainable relationships with our stakeholders. We aim to be a trusted employer and business supporting our clients, people and communities.

We have a Responsible Business programme which covers a number of areas:

  • Community support – partnering with charity partners and supporting community projects. We make financial donations via our Charitable Trust.
  • Volunteering – each member of staff is entitled to 2 days volunteering.
  • Workplace – we are committed to creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive workplace where our people can achieve their work potential, and supporting access into the legal profession. We strive to create a diverse and inclusive culture to attract and retain the very best people.
  • Environmental – we are ever mindful of the environmental impacts of our business. Our Responsible Business activity forms a central part of our commitment to being a sustainable business that has a positive impact on the UK and wider world.
  • Responsible business practices – we apply the highest standards of professionalism business ethics and risk management, building sustainable practices for the benefit of our clients.
  • Pro bono – we support organisations whose objectives are about promoting access to justice and economies by supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.

In terms of community support and pro bono one area of focus is on social inclusion and mobility via our 3E’s strategy. We focus on empowering young people and adults to unlock potential in the areas of Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship – the 3Es. As lawyers and business professionals these are one of the areas where we can maximise our core business skill set and make the most significant impact.

We support charities through fund raising, volunteering to support mentoring and reading schemes. Our offices support a range of charities and projects local to their communities.

We support a wide range of charities and projects whose mission fits squarely with our 3E’s strategy. We have also pioneered a number of routes into the legal profession; our Early Careers programme was set up for students who don’t have any work experience or access to a network of connections. We also have an award winning apprenticeship scheme that aims to bring diversity in the workplace.

We recognise that there are other barriers to individuals accessing the 3Es, from homelessness and food poverty, to mental health and caring commitments. For these reasons we also support a range of charities helping these causes. The following examples are collaborations of us working in partnership to maximise social impact, and working in the spirt of SDG 17 “Partnership for the Goals”:

  • Since 2017 we have supported a number of foodbanks and “Food Poverty” projects in communities close to our office, thus far we have donated circa 6 Tonnes of Food. Our Foodbank Campaign and our apprenticeship scheme was referenced in the UK’s first Voluntary Local Review of city level progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Report was presented at the United Nations in July 2019
  • We are a Founder Funder of Southwark a place-based giving scheme working with local charities, and partners.

We have concentrated our pro bono offering on supporting Access to Justice partners, local economies within our communities through legal support to young entrepreneurs and small businesses, student law clinics and small charities with no legal budget. We have partnered with Greenwich University Small Business Clinic to support small businesses to access high quality commercial advice. The partnership has also widened access to the legal profession. Students at Greenwich come from a diverse demographic, they are often the first in their families to undertake ‘A’ levels, and often have no connections in the law particularly in commercial law firms. Building on existing pro bono activity, in 2019 our Bristol office has partnered with Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Service providing support and raising awareness.