Legal 500: Bristol sector analysis

September 27, 2013

The Legal 500 analyses firms by sector to identify the top players in each practice area.

Here are its findings in the key Bristol sectors of technology, media and telecoms; commercial property and finance.

TMT (technology, media and telecoms), IT and telecoms

Burges Salmon advises blue-chip clients on large-scale IT development and outsourcing projects. Practice head Andrew Dunlop gives ‘solutions-oriented advice at all times’, and acts for Coca-Cola, Thomson Reuters and Standard Chartered Bank, among others. Jeremy Dickerson has expertise in contentious IT matters.

Osborne Clarke’s ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ IT team delivers a wide-ranging service, and has attracted repeat instructions from clients such as Indian outsourcing firm iGate and 4G operator EE. James Mullock and senior associate Emily Jones are key contacts.

TLT's IT team, headed by James Touzel, ‘provides an excellent service with quick responses’. It has a particular specialism in large-scale IT and support services contracts for police authorities such as the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and West Yorkshire Police. Other key clients include EDF Energy and the Co-operative Group.

Gareth Jones led Bond Dickinson's specialist technology procurement advice to the Post Office in its successful bid for a government-wide framework services agreement aimed at promoting electronic transactions. The firm’s technology team has a strong reputation in the retail sector, and has growing expertise in financial services.

Ashfords’ IT team, led by Garry Mackay, has acted on complex local and national IT projects covering smart meters, mobile payments and cloud services.

Michelmores assists national and international clients in a broad range of areas, including back-office operations, outsourced software engineering services, and next-generation broadband supply. The well-regarded and ‘client-focused’ Rehman Noormohamed heads the team.

Andy Braithwaite leads Thrings'  IT team, and has experience in large-scale transactions and licensing agreements.

Steer & Co advised social media start-up Secondsync Ltd on contracts with a supplier of Twitter feeds

Commercial property

Showing real enthusiasm and dedication’, Burges Salmon is ‘at the very top of the Bristol market’. Richard Read and practice head Richard Clark are recommended along with Ross Polkinghorne, who is ‘efficient and always available’. In 2012, the team advised The Crown Estate on the sale of a Grade II listed residential and commercial period property on St James' Street, London to The Carlyle Group. Other clients include Aviva Investors and Lloyds Banking Group.

Clients have ‘absolutely no hesitation’ recommending Osborne Clarke’s real estate department, which is ‘strong across all levels of staff’. Dolf Darnton recently advised Halfords Group on the relocation of a large part of its UK store portfolio, and Mulberry Group on the development of its second UK factory. Practice head Ian Wilkinson ‘works with the client’s best interests in mind’.

Bond Dickinson advised the BBC on the real estate aspects of its departure from Bush House, the client’s home since 1940. Practice head Fiona O’Kane ‘works well to tight deadlines’, and the junior members of the team are also praised as ‘very approachable and quick to learn’.

Clarke Willmott recently gained Turtle Bay and WCR Property as new clients, and also won a number of panel appointments in 2012. The lawyers ‘always step up to the mark’; Louise Brown leads the team, and Stephen Rosser deals with instructions ‘in an exemplary fashion’.

The ‘bright and enthusiastic’ team at DAC Beachcroft is particularly strong in shopping centre and other retail matters, acting for clients such as Westfield Shopping Towns and Brighthouse. Graham Brothwood leads the practice.

TLT was recently selected as WHSmith’s sole provider of real estate services across England and Wales, and was also appointed to act on all real estate work across Punch Taverns’ Scottish pub portfolio. Practice head Andrew Glynn is recommended, along with ‘very accommodating’ leisure sector specialist Julia Lucas, and Julian Mant, a ‘strong commercial lawyer’.

Mark Calverley’s ‘very client-focused team’ at Bevan Brittan is recommended for instructions involving healthcare, social housing and local authorities. New clients include NHS Property Services and Aspire Housing.

Thrings’ Warren Reid is recommended, and Colin Stratton is ‘a good communicator with a confident approach’. Clients include Newland Homes and St John’s Hospital.

With an ‘enthusiastic’ property group, Veale Wasbrough Vizards was one of two firms appointed to the Education Funding Agency’s panel for property and construction matters relating to new waves of schools and colleges. Gary Philpott is recommended.

Ashfords’ Andrew Worley specialises in the commercial property aspects of SIPP and SSAS pension transactions and leases of retail premises.

At Foot Anstey, Daniel Halstead specialises in property investment and development, and Imam Qazi is recommended for transactions involving Islamic finance.

Banking and finance

The level of service is ‘excellent’ at Burges Salmon, which ‘delivers a City service at reasonable rates’. Sandra Forbes recently assisted Lloyds TSB in arranging a number of new facilities for Noble Foods, including a £100m multi-currency revolving credit facility. Richard Leeming leads the practice, which also has specialist expertise in areas such as project finance and Islamic finance.

Among its recent work highlights, Osborne Clarke advised the UNITE Group on its debut retail bond, and assisted Barclays Bank in relation to the refinancing of Yeo Valley, the UK’s largest organic brand. Omar Al-Nuaimi leads the department, which also acts for clients such as Clydesdale Bank, Funding Circle and Lloyds Banking Group. Jon Stewart recently moved to TLT.

Led by the ‘knowledgeable and unflappable’ Julian Kinsey, Bond Dickinson handles the full spectrum of banking and finance matters. Philip Withey recently advised Piper Private Equity on its £16m investment in concept bar and restaurant group Loungers, which featured significant debt elements and an intercreditor and security package. The firm is also noted for its financial services expertise, with Tony Woodward the primary contact.

TLT is ‘a strong performer’ in the banking and finance arena, further strengthening its practice with the hire of Jon Stewart from Osborne Clarke in 2013. Practice head Gary Roscoe recently advised Matthew Clark Wholesale on the refinancing of its £50m debt facility with Barclays Bank. The team also advises Triodos Bank on the financing of renewable energy projects.

Clarke Willmott recently advised HSBC Bank on the MBO of Aero-Stanrew, and acted for Lloyds Banking Group on loans to a major regional developer. Roger Seaton is ‘extremely thorough, and works outside of the normal working day to meet deadlines’.

In 2012, DAC Beachcroft advised Santander on approximately £50m of lending, comprising a mix of investment and development finance across residential and commercial property portfolios. Jocelyn Ormond heads the team, which also acts for Bank of Ireland and St James’ Place.

The ‘proactive and responsive’ team at Ashfords recently advised Lloyds TSB on its £30m refinancing of Somerset Care. Clare Brewer leads the department, and Rebecca Dury is also recommended.

Foot Anstey’s banking and finance practice is led by the ‘highly knowledgeable’. Robin Brown, whose ‘methodical and calm approach gives clients confidence in everything he does’. Iman Qazi is a key figure on the Islamic finance side.

David Emanuel’s team at Veale Wasbrough Vizards has specialist expertise in the education, charities, healthcare and family business sectors. On the real estate finance side, Steven McGuigan ‘consistently demonstrates an excellent understanding of clients’ needs’.


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