Top North West law firms recognised in latest Legal 500 edition

Law firms throughout the North West have been recognised in the latest edition of the Legal 500.

Known in the industry as the definitive guide to lawyers, the 2022 edition provides the latest ratings of the profession, covering small scale practices to the biggest in the region.

North West law firm Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors, which has eight offices across Lancashire and Greater Manchester, has seen two of its teams secure a sought-after place in the Legal 500. The firm was ranked in the North West region for both commercial litigation, and corporate and commercial law.

WHN’s commercial litigation specialists Michael Shroot, Daniel Long, and Sara Beaumont were cited in the rankings, praised for their work on a number of cases including the representation of Atos in a claim against Fylde Borough Council, and representing a group of residents in a property dispute heard in the Upper Tribunal.

Meanwhile Paul Matthews, from WHN’s corporate and commercial team, was highlighted for his work advising regional family, owner-managed businesses and SMEs. He was singled out for his work in advising Sugden Limited on the purchase of VanderPol Waffles.

Michael Shroot, left, and MD Simon Brown

CEO, Michael Shroot, said: “A huge thank you to our clients and other professional contacts who took the time and trouble to provide their feedback to the Legal 500 researchers and share their stories of how our legal specialists have made a difference.”

WHN Solicitors employs 110 staff across Lancashire and Greater Manchester and has offices in Accrington, Bacup, Bury, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Haslingden, Great Harwood and Rawtenstall. It advises businesses, individuals and families on a full range of legal matters.

Mr Shroot added: “While the Legal 500 has singled out some specific individuals, this accolade is for the entire WHN family.”

Chester-based Aaron and Partners has further enhanced its reputation after 38 of its lawyers were named in the annual guide.

Seventeen practice areas also ranked highly, with the top Tier 1 status retained by the corporate and commercial, commercial dispute resolution and agriculture and estates teams.

The 38 lawyers, who are based across offices in Chester, Manchester and Shrewsbury, received a combined total of 55 individual rankings in different categories, marking a 25% increase on the previous year’s listings.

Three of the firm’s partners – Stuart Scott-Goldstone, corporate and commercial partner, David Harries, head of planning, energy, environmental and regulatory, and John Devoy, dispute resolution partner – all retained a place on the Legal 500’s prestigious Leading Individuals list.

The Next Generation Partner list included four lawyers from Aaron & Partners, with Ben Mason, employment law partner, making the list as a new entrant this year. Corporate and commercial partner, Jamie Hawley, planning, environmental, energy and regulatory partner, Keith McKinney, and David Mann, dispute resolution partner, all kept their places from 2020.

Family law partner Simon Mawdsley and employment law solicitor, Debbie Coyne, also kept their positions on the Rising Stars list. They were joined by Vlad Macdonald-Munteanu, a senior associate handling contested wills, trusts and estates, who made the list for the very first time.

Nick Clarke

Senior partner, Nick Clarke, said: “Every year we look forward to the release of the Legal 500 rankings as they offer clients a valuable insight into who the best lawyers in the region are and we’re always confident that our people and teams will be well ranked. They also provide a useful benchmark for us to see how we rank against the bigger firms in the region.

“Yet again, our teams have fared incredibly well, and we’re delighted to have seen a significant increase in individual rankings. To secure an additional nine rankings on top of our 2020 results underlines how much exceptional talent we have across the firm. The fact that we also have 17 practice areas included in the guide reinforces the breadth of our expertise at Aaron & Partners.”

The commercial property team was listed as a Tier 2 specialist with strong, well-established client relationships, particularly in the food, retail and utilities sectors.

The family team was also ranked at the same level with partner Lorraine Saunders attracting high praise for showing “empathy and support at all times in her professional capacity”. Neil Hobden, family law partner in Aaron & Partners’ Shrewsbury office, was noted as being “extremely knowledgeable and helpful”.

Clive Pointon, head of wills, trusts and tax, was praised for his “ability to communicate effectively with clients of different knowledge and experience” while partner, Lynda Richards, from the Shrewsbury office, was noted as “exceeding client expectations”. Vlad Macdonald Munteanu from the same department was recognised for his work on contentious trusts and probate and for having an “unflappable ability to handle, effectively at top partner level, the most complex, heavy and pressured litigation.”

Claire Brook was highlighted for her work in the employment team and was described as “absolutely outstanding” and “efficient, clear and extremely personable”. Ben Mason, who operates across Shropshire and the West Midlands, was also commended for his professionalism and giving clients “a feeling of always being in safe hands”.

David Harries and Keith McKinney were praised for their work in energy, project, finance and PFI. Harries was described as a “terrific strategist with insight into problems and how to solve them which is so rarely found”, meanwhile McKinney was said to “leave no stone unturned in any case and commands complete confidence”.

Tim Culpin, transport partner, was highlighted as being a “true road transport specialists in the legal field” with a “very deep understanding of the issues from a legal and operator point of view”.

Nick Clarke, Mark Davies, Chris Mitchell and Jan Chillery were also highlighted in the insolvency and corporate recovery category, with Chillery being recognised for her personable attitude and “acting as a superb guide through a myriad of complicated laws”.

Aaron & Partners’ corporate finance partner, Hugh Strickland, who is also based in Shrewsbury, heads up the firm’s banking and finance department and was described as being “Excellent”.

The 2022 edition of The Legal 500 has awarded Stephensons top tier status for a seventh consecutive year and recognised the quality of work across the firm.

In total, the guide awarded rankings to seven practice areas. Commendations were given to Stephensons’ crime, fraud, clinical negligence, personal injury, family, and social housing teams with further recognition for the firm’s work in local government law and professional discipline.

The Legal 500 reserved particular praise for Stephensons’ crime and fraud work, both of which received the coveted ‘Tier 1’ ranking for the seventh consecutive year.

Elsewhere in the firm, the family law department retained its ‘Tier 2’ status, as did Stephensons’ clinical negligence team. The personal injury department secured ‘Tier 3’ status, joined by the respective teams covering social housing, professional discipline and local government work.

A total of seven partners and solicitors were also recognised as being leading individuals, next generation partners or rising stars in their respective specialisms.

Andrew Welch

Andrew Welch, managing partner at Stephensons, said: “The Legal 500 provides a helpful barometer of excellence in legal services and this latest set of rankings underline Stephensons’ credentials as one of the stand out law firms, not only in the North of England and but also on the national stage.

“To be recognised as a Tier one firm for seven consecutive years and for so many departments to be listed is a huge achievement and demonstrates the quality of work being performed across the business.”

Meanwhile, Napthens has received accolades across the board, being praised for working with clients “comprehensively and competently … with energy and professionalism”.

The corporate and commercial, real estate, agriculture and litigation teams have all been ranked in the top tier in the latest edition.

Across the teams, commercial litigation partner John Whittingslow has been praised as being a Leading Individual and litigation partner Andrew Holden highlighted as Rising Star.

Clients offered their praise to the team for being “accessible and responsive”, particularly noting the “personal touch” as standing out. Litigation solicitor James Freeman is cited as being “particularly helpful” and “pragmatic”.

Head of rural, Andrew Holden, also received acknowledgement as a Leading Individual in the agriculture and estates category, with rural solicitor James Stocker noted as Rising Star. Clients praised the team for offering a “friendly, efficient and knowledgeable service”.

Keith Melling, Napthens

Keith Melling, head of corporate at Napthens, said: “It’s fantastic to once again see our services and people highlighted in the Legal 500 rankings.

“There have been countless star performances across the past year and these accolades are a representation of that. It demonstrates the breadth of knowledge across our core practices.

“In everything we do, Napthens endeavours to deliver the highest value service and build close knit relationships with our clients – their glowing feedback means a lot to us.

“Today’s rankings add to a good week for the firm. We’ve got a talented team and we’re grateful to be recognised for the quality work we do.”

Specialist property solicitors, JB Leitch,retained Tier 3 status in the new Legal 500 rankings for property litigation for the second consecutive year.

Legal director, Phil Parkinson, has also been awarded Rising Star status for the third time and associate Katie Edwards has been notably recognised as a Key Lawyer.

Katie Edwards

This position reaffirms Liverpool-based JB Leitch’s standing as a leading provider of specialist expertise in the area of property management and leasehold law, alongside some of the largest regional and national firms.

The listing has been further bolstered by a host of testimonials from the firm’s commercial clients, recognising it as “a Northern powerhouse …. providing value for money and incredible expertise”.

Director, Jonathan Leitch, said: “This is fantastic news for the firm and for the entire team. What also make this particularly significant is that the ranking and client comments reflect the dedication, clear guidance and continuity of service we have all worked hard to provide during a particularly difficult period of uncertainty and disruption in the wake of the pandemic.”