Firm Profile > Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP > Leeds, England

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Intellectual property Tier 1

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP recently strengthened its practice with the acquisition of intellectual property boutique James Love Legal. The group combines the practices' impressive client rosters and breadth of capabilities across the full range of contentious and non-contentious matters with Womble Bond Dickinson's transatlantic presence. Patrick Cantrill heads up the practice which includes Rachel Hearson, who also leads the firm's national trade mark and design rights group, and benefits from the addition of the 'well-regarded' James Love, who has broad experience in complex IP litigation.


Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP‘s IP practice includes a mixed team of solicitors and trade mark attorneys, which allows it to advise more broadly and strategically on complex trade mark disputes.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has a very responsive and balanced intellectual property team.

Patrick Cantrill is a very good litigator.

Managing associate Rachel Hearson is technically strong and very responsive, being available at short notice.

Managing associate Rachel Hearson offers very accurate advice and manages matters flawlessly.

Solicitor Tim Barber boasts very good case management and drafting skills, and is open to observations.

Key clients

Jemella Group t/a ghd

R.H. Smith & Sons (Wigmakers) t/a Smiffy’s



Immediate Media

Bounce Foods

Transdev Blazefield

Cowes Week

Banking and finance Tier 2

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's Leeds banking practice excels in the manufacturing, real estate, consumer debt and education sectors, acting for both borrower and lender clients. The practice also benefits from the firm's transatlantic capabilities following its international merger in 2017, particularly in real estate finance, fintech and energy finance work. It is led by the 'hands-on' John Connor .


Womble Bond Dickinson provides an efficient service at an excellent cost point across the finance work it handles’.

John Connor is a hands-on partner who is commercial and responsive‘.

Key clients

Santander UK


Clydesdale Bank

Yorkshire Bank

Lloyds Bank

Cairngorm Capital

Wykeland Group

NorthEdge Capital

PRAC Financial


Customade Group


Department for Education

The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty


Europa Capital

British Engines


National Westminster Bank

Allied Irish Bank (UK)

Commercial property: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire Tier 2

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has a large real estate practice undertaking national work, underpinned by international connections bolstered by the firm's 2017 transatlantic merger. The Leeds team is led by Mark Owen, who is a 'force to be reckoned with', alongside the hugely experienced and high-profile Paula Dillon. The firm covers the retail, development, investment and residential sectors, and has secured a number of new client wins over the past year. Julia Dacre Field, a highly regarded specialist who leads the residential team, is also recommended.


‘The comprehensive service is one of the biggest attractions. I may be proceeding with a property development transaction, but I know that behind the scenes there is construction advice, planning advice, tax and corporate advice, so I truly receive a one-stop shop, but all with a single point of contact.’

‘Good knowledge at all levels of the business.’

‘The team is well resourced with the required spread of experience to support our business both in terms of fee earner levels and specialisms. It has the ability to support us on large consortium projects and co-ordinate a multi-disciplinary approach from their team to provide us with streamlined and focused advice. Responsive and commercially aware.’

‘I have worked with Julia Dacre-Field on a number of complex land assembly transactions over the recent years, and what stands out is not only her ability to decipher the complexities of the deals, but also to see the pragmatic and commercial way forward, to actually see the deals over the line. Her work ethic and persistence are a credit, yet all delivered with a down to earth and flexible manner.’

‘Mark Owen has razor sharp knowledge and is a force to be reckoned with. He always focuses on the solution and finding a way through complex legal matters.’

‘David Cole always gets the job done. An efficient and pleasant individual to work with.’

‘They go the extra mile and put the client first. They do not come across as solely fee orientated like some other firms. Julia Field provides top quality practical advice and solutions and is finely tuned into her client’s needs and requirements’

Key clients

Commercial Estates Group

Leeds City Council

Bellway Homes

Town Centre Securities

Doncaster Borough Council

Linden Limited

Wykeland Group

Taylor Wimpey

University of Law

Caddick Developments Limited

Beal Homes

Barratt & David Wilson Homes

Strata Homes


Amer Sports


Yorkshire Land

Persimmon Homes

Corporate and commercial: Leeds, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire Tier 2

The corporate finance practice at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is led by Simon Pilling and is particularly strong in private equity transactions. The team in Leeds includes recently promoted legal director James Cook. Beyond its private equity expertise, the group also has experience assisting clients in the manufacturing, real estate and retail sectors.


The corporate team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP utilises its broad experience to provide clear, commercial advice and always makes itself available.

Simon Pilling has an excellent hands-on approach, understands the industry and utilises his experience to provide pragmatic advice.

James Cook has excellent technical capabilities and great communication skills.

Key clients

Cairngorm Capital Partners

Chemoxy International

Clearly Drinks

Customade Holdco Group

Cutwel Limited

Endless / Enact


Lloyds Development Capital


NVM Private Equity

Stephenson Group

Insolvency and corporate recovery Tier 2

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is strong in the healthcare, leisure and manufacturing sectors, advising banks, insolvency practitioners, distressed debt purchasers, funds and corporates on complex restructurings, administrations, turnarounds and insolvencies. Team leader Andy Stirk acts for clients in the healthcare, real estate, hotels, leisure and education sectors, and managing associate Sam Dixon focuses on bank-led restructuring work and directors' duties issues.


The practice exhibits strong credentials and is readily available to contact when support is needed‘.

The very approachable team is commercial in its outlook and is always searching for solutions and offers proactive help at all times‘.

Andy Stirk and Sam Dixon are proactive, engaging and keen to make a difference in sharing practical ideas. They are responsive to tight deadlines and go the extra mile‘.

Sam Dixon has a pragmatic, practical approach to complex situations rather than just considering the legal aspects‘.

Key clients

Lloyds Bank

Santander UK


RSM Restructuring Advisory

Planning Tier 2

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's team focuses on the energy, transport, housing and public sectors, and has notable expertise in infrastructure projects, regeneration schemes, compulsory purchase orders, planning litigation and transport issues, among other areas. Claire Brook heads up the team and has expertise in waste, energy and chemical matters; she works with legal director Jocelyn Denton, who regularly acts for local authorities, and managing associate James Garbett, who specialises in town and country planning.


The team at Womble Bond Dickinson understands its clients’ needs implicitly and is able to tailor its advice such that it reflects the particular needs and aspirations of the client‘.

As a team, Womble Bond Dickinson works seamlessly with colleagues from other parts of the business, notably real estate and construction, which is of paramount importance during the sometimes lengthy negotiations‘.

Claire Brook has a forensic approach to legal questions with sound practical advice founded in strong sector knowledge and experience‘.

James Garbett provides exceptional advice on a variety of complex legal issues. His approach is calm, forensic and strategic and his advice allows clients to navigate difficult commercial situations with ease‘.

James Garbett has a fantastic breadth of knowledge of the planning process which allows him to provide quality advice‘.

Key clients

Wheelabrator Technologies Inc.

Leeds City Council

Augean PLC

Sembcorp Utilities UK Limited

London Borough of Lewisham

Commercial Estates Group (CEG)

Strata Homes Limited

Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Taylor Wimpey UK Limited

NHS Property Services Limited

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited

The University of Law

London Borough of Bexley

Persimmon Homes Limited

Grainger PLC

BDW Trading Limited

Linden Homes Limited (part of the Galliford Try group)

FCC Environment (UK) Limited

Professional negligence: defendant Tier 2

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP’s Leeds practice is part of a national insurance disputes team covering professional risks for a wide range of clients, including solicitors, barristers, surveyors, architects, engineers, construction contractors, IFAs, accountants, brokers, IT professionals, pensions professionals and estate agents. The team is led by the 'exceedingly practical and commercially minded' Karen Eckstein, who combines her expertise in accountancy professional indemnity litigation with a background as a chartered tax adviser, as well contentious trust and probate experience.


‘Always very approachable – knowledgeable, with a can-do attitude.’

‘Each and every member of the team are kind and considerate and make our engagement a pleasure.’

‘Karen Eckstein is well known as being highly regarded in this type of work.’

‘Karen Eckstein’s  knowledge of tax law is exemplary. She is exceedingly practical and commercially minded.’

‘The unique blend of both tax and legal experience means that a more rounded view can be taken rather than just a legalistic view.’

‘Each and every member of the team are kind and considerate and make our engagement a pleasure. I honestly cannot think of a time when i have been left confused or unhappy after a discussion with them.’

‘Karen Eckstein has built a formidable and well-deserved reputation defending accountants and tax advisers. She is never daunted, no matter how complex the underlying dispute appears to be. She makes very complicated tax disputes very simple to understand.’

Key clients

AIG (Current Leeds/national client)

Commercial litigation: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire Tier 4

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP regularly handles contentious matters in the public sector, financial sector and chemical and manufacturing industries. It has a client roster including a mix of regional and national businesses and organisations and leverages its network to handle instructions with cross-border elements. Practice head Nick Mason has broad expertise, with particular experience in the public sector.


Womble Bond Dickinson fields a team of excellent commercial litigators, who are capable of dealing with a wide range of commercial disputes equally well.

Nick Mason’s well-researched approach to getting to know his clients provides a great foundation for a working relationship. His advice and approach to problems are informative and practical. Associate Tom Graham is also worthy of a special mention for his able and responsive approach.

Tom Graham is hardworking, dedicated and excellent with clients. Nick Mason has his finger on the pulse and gives good, strategic advice.

Key clients

NHS Digital

David Brown Gear Systems Limited

Anpario plc

Roballo Engineering Company Limited

City of York Council

Post Office

Sanderson Weatherall LLP

Employment: Leeds and West Yorkshire; North Yorkshire Tier 4

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's Leeds practice advises major local and national employers, leveraging the firm's eight-office network across the UK, and is particularly well-known in the chemicals and manufacturing sectors. Recent months have seen the firm advise on a number of complex Employment Tribunal claims, including in relation to the application of TUPE and allegations of disability discrimination. Managing associate Ed Duffield leads the team with 'excellent knowledge and a good sense of humour.'


‘Excellent in providing a responsive service, offering options and identifying risks. Excellent knowledge and understanding of the sector – strong HR knowledge.’.

‘Very responsive and knowledgeable. Able to portray complex information in a meaningful manner that can be interpreted and adopted by the business.’

‘Ed Duffield has excellent knowledge, is a great trainer and has a good sense of humour. He has consistently delivered an excellent service over the last four years.’

Key clients

Dnata Limited

Polyframe Group

Working Links (Employment) Limited

Cello Health Group plc

Stevenswood Group

OnX Enterprise Solutions

Sanderson Weatherall



Vertellus Specialties UK

LSL Property Services plc

Saint Catherine’s Hospice

The Bristol, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire & Somerset Community Rehabilitation Company

The Dorset, Devon & Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company

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
 Claire Brook  photo Claire Brook
 John Connor  photo John Connor
 Julia Dacre Field  photo Julia Dacre Field
 Nick Mason  photo Nick Mason
 Mark Owen  photo Mark Owen
 Simon Pilling  photo Simon Pilling
 Alex Rodger  photo Alex Rodger
 Andy Stirk  photo Andy Stirk
 Claire Wilkinson  photo Claire Wilkinson
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.