Employment law has been a fertile area for legal practices in East Anglia for several years. As more and more companies locally expand into overseas markets and hire staff internationally, so the need for sound cross-border employment law advice becomes paramount.But there are other issues in economic downturns – such as making employees redundant in times of lean.
The Legal 500 guide acknowledges the rich vein of talent available to Cambridge and East Anglia firms in this arena. It ranks a magnificent seven firms in first place – Birketts, Eversheds, Greenwoods, Hewitsons, Mills & Reeve, Penningtons and Taylor Vinters.
Ashton KCJ and Howes Percival are in an eight-firm second tier while Buckles and Tees also score well.
The Legal 500 reports: “Birketts’ reputation as a ‘number-one firm in the area’ for employment is thanks in no small part to the expertise of Jolyon Berry, Jeanette Wheeler, Matthew Newnham and Tom Wagstaff. In 2011 it recruited the ‘considered, balanced and supportive’ Matthew Potter from Ashton KCJ. Clients include May Gurney and Betfair.
“Eversheds provides employment law advice to clients including Royal Mail Group and Nestlé UK, and handles TUPE transactions for Produban. Simon Tytherleigh is ‘knowledgeable and supportive’; Constanze Hewson ‘delivers tailored advice and excellent value’; and Owen Warnock is a lynchpin of the practice. New partner Alexandra Worden brings an education-sector focus from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
“Greenwoods provides ‘practical advice and good value’ to clients including a household name in electrical goods, a large media company and financial services firms. John Macaulay’s team, which includes Robert Dillarstone, is ‘responsive, considered and business focused’.
“Hewitsons provides ‘City quality at provincial rates’ and fields some ‘outstanding, pragmatic and conscientious specialists’, including ‘feisty and formidable litigator’ Valerie Lambert; the ‘approachable, consistent and reliable’ Clare Waller; and Elizabeth Swinburn, who is ‘exceptional in complex litigation’. Highlights included defending a claim involving allegations of sex and disability discrimination.
“Mills & Reeve has ‘an excellent team with great experience’ that ‘understands the balance of risks’. It is led by David Mills, and includes Ian Mather, Nicola Brown and associate James Kidd. Clients include Borough Market, Xaar and The Law Society.
“Penningtons Solicitors acquired the Cambridge office of Charles Russell LLP, adding the ‘very experienced’ Tim Tyndall and Hilary Aldred, who carried across their work for clients such as Cambridge Assessment and Abcam. Rising star Sophie Whitbread joined from Charles Russell’s London office.
“Taylor Vinters provides ‘excellent, pragmatic advice’ through Roger James’ experienced team, which includes the ‘practical yet imaginative’ Christine Berry and the ‘efficient and effective’ Rachel Flynn. It advised a newspaper group on union negotiations, and an international company on the dismissal of the CEO of its US operations.
“Hywel Griffiths’ ‘very good-value, responsive’ team at Ashton KCJ handles collective agreements and TUPE issues. Julian Outen is ‘good at anticipating the progress of a claim’, and Ross Strowger is noted for his ‘wise advice and reasonable charges’.
“Howes Percival provides ‘excellent all-round advice’, and associate Nicola Butterworth exemplifies the team’s reputation as ‘reliable, fast and tough in negotiation’. Clients include the Retained Firefighters Union and IP Griffins.
“Buckles Solicitors is ‘professional, timely, knowledgeable and good value’, and draws praise for ‘superior relationship management in a crowded market’. Giles Betts ‘has an engaging, open style and is extremely practical’, and was joined by Katharine Holliday from Hewitsons LLP.
“Tees Solicitors ‘really understands the problems of introducing new policies and procedures’. Anne Coles is ‘very strong in her field, offering good support in complex matters’, and advised a senior HR director in a £200,000 Disability Discrimination Act claim.”
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Roger James, Taylor Vinters