People: Browne Jacobson; handl Group; CW Studio; MAC Construction Consultants; EY

Phil Singleton and Cat Driscoll

National law firm Browne Jacobson has bolstered its commercial offering in the North West with the appointment of specialist commercial contracts and IP partner, Cat Driscoll (née Harrison) and Phil Singleton who will be taking up a position as commercial contracts associate in the firm’s Manchester office.

Both appointments will support the further growth ambitions of the firm’s wider commercial practice which has also recently welcomed four more associates into its Birmingham, London and Nottingham offices.

The fresh new talent will strengthen its automotive, TMT, retail, fashion and consumer sector offering both regionally and nationally.

Cat, who joins the firm from DWF, brings with her more than 11 years’ experience acting on significant commercial contracts, IP, tech and e-commerce matters across a broad range of sectors including tech, retail, food manufacturing, oil and gas, education and public services.

She joins the firm’s IP practice which is recognised by Chambers as “a worthy alternative to a big City law firm” and considered by Legal 500 as “client focused, client driven”. The team are also ranked in IAM Patent 1000, World Trademark Review and Managing Intellectual Property.

The national 21-strong practice has extensive experience spanning the whole range of IP rights. They regularly advise a premium client portfolio made up of some of the world’s leading global household names and luxury brands including Mace Group, Lotus Cars and PZ Cussons.

Phil joins the firm having trained in the Co-op Group’s in-house legal team. He specialises in drafting and negotiating commercial contracts, as well as advising on data protection and privacy issues. Phil will work in the firm’s specialist commercial contracts team which advises an extensive portfolio of blue chip multi-nationals, central government, local authorities, charities, health trusts, owner managed businesses and small and medium sized enterprises on a wide range of commercial issues.

Declan Cushley, partner and head of IP and the commercial group at Browne Jacobson, said: “I am pleased to welcome Cat and Phil to our growing practice. Cat is a first class strategically minded IP lawyer with extensive sector expertise in tech, food, retail, fashion and consumer which will be a fantastic boost to our current offering and closely aligns with our firm’s strategic objectives for sector growth.

“Phil has a broad range of experience and exposure to the private sector. He will bring a refreshing approach to our commercial contracts client base.

“Both key appointments demonstrate our commitment to investing and developing new talent, expanding our retail, fashion and consumer credentials and further building our commercial profile and our team in the North West in the near future.”

Cat Driscoll said: “Browne Jacobson have a strong reputation for providing excellent and pragmatic commercial advice to a really impressive client portfolio and for having a truly vibrant people culture. I am looking forward to supporting the further growth of the commercial offering in the North West.”

Phil Singleton said: “Browne Jacobson is known for combining a heavyweight client base with a genuine values-led approach, and for delivering commercial advice on highly complex matters. The firm has ambitious plans both locally and nationally, and I am looking forward to becoming part of that offering, growing as a lawyer and supporting the future needs of our business and our clients.”

Dai Durbridge, education partner and head of Browne Jacobson’s Manchester office, said: “We are delighted to welcome Cat and Phil to the growing Manchester team. They will be a great fit for our commercial practice and our clients in the North West and will no doubt add to the vibrant and collaborative culture that our Manchester office boasts.”


Service provider handl Group, which owns a portfolio of businesses across the claims and rehabilitation sectors, has appointed Neil Vose as head of digital transformation.

Neil began his new role on October 11, reporting directly to group CEO Graham Pulford. He will work with handl Group’s growing portfolio of start-up businesses and established brands to accelerate digital transformation across the Chorley-based group, to improve the customer experience and deliver operational efficiencies.

Neil Vose

Graham Pulford, handl Group CEO, said: “We aim to further immerse our brands in the digital age with a transformative programme that sets us apart from our peers. Digital innovation is an essential part of handl’s growth roadmap and it’s great that Neil has joined us to help plot our journey and lead its execution.”

Neil Vose said: “I am excited to join handl Group to unleash the full potential of digital across our portfolio of companies to better service their customers, employees and partners – handl’s domain expertise in the legal, insurance and healthcare spaces, together with its ‘people plus technology’ model, which combines human intervention with the application of leading technology, are essential factors in delivering successful digital transformation, and made it an easy decision to join the business.”

Neil is an experienced digital strategist with a career in a range of industries. He has worked with global enterprises, strategic consultancies and start-ups. Most recently, he was the digital lead at business growth agency Sevendots, as well as an advisor to a portfolio of tech start-ups.


Manchester-based CW Studio is growing its team with a new hire, as well as a senior promotion.

Alice Murphy has joined the landscape practice from Salford City Council, where she led on public realm, heritage, highway and travel projects, including Salford’s Bee Network and Peel Park. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University and has been a chartered member of the Landscape Institute since 2017.

Lucy Marshall has been promoted to associate landscape architect, after joining the CW team in 2017. Lucy has recently led on a large residential scheme in Bolton through planning and tender stages designing new areas of public realm, communal gardens and roof terraces for residents and improvements to the River Croal.

Lucy Marshall, left, and Alice Murphy

Carolyn Willitts, founder and director at CW Studio, said: “Since joining CW Studio, Alice has quickly become an integral part of our close knit team. She brings with her an amazing skill set, which includes having worked on large public realm projects, stakeholder communications, cycling and transportation elements, as well as integrating SuDS and rain gardens in urban settings.

“I am also really happy to congratulate Lucy on her well deserved promotion – she has been such a valuable member of my team since she first started with us and it’s lovely to continue growing our team alongside her.

“Even though it’s been a very difficult 18 months for all businesses in the UK, we are very lucky to be working on some fascinating large public realm schemes, as well as a number of very special residential gardens across the UK.”

Alice said: “I’m really happy to join the team at CW Studio and be a part of their growth journey. I have already started working on some interesting projects and assisting with CW Studio’s ambition to become a more sustainable business. I am excited at what the future holds.”

CW Studio was founded in 2012 by Carolyn Willitts and has an office in Manchester city centre.


MAC Construction Consultants has welcomed eight new graduates and trainees into multiple departments across the business, further bolstering its national team.

A construction consultancy, which operates out of seven strategically placed offices, the appointments follow a strong year of growth for the firm.

Working across a wide range of industries including education, public sector and retail, the recruits will join the company’s established cost management, building consultancy, and safety, health and environment (she) teams; helping to meet growing demand from clients and strategic partners across the industry.

The move follows the launch of MAC’s dedicated external wall systems specialist team and is further to the recent appointment of director Richard Bellis, who now leads the firm’s Manchester team.

Yusoff Ghaznavi

Managing director, Yusoff Ghaznavi, said it was indicative of the firm’s “continued commitment” to investing in the future talent of the industry.

Alex Southworth, who has a First Class Building Surveying degree from the University of Salford, will be joining MAC’s Manchester team as a graduate building surveyor.

He is joined by Matthew Grimes, who will work across the North West as a graduate cost consultant having recently graduated First Class with Honours from a Quantity Surveying degree, during which he was awarded a QSI Prize for Construction Law.

All eight new members of staff have joined MAC’s structured training programme which, over the course of five years, will lead them to a BSc and ultimately MRICS.

Welcoming the new recruits, Yusoff, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Alex, Rosie, Jacob, Joseph, Michael, Lottie and Matthew to the team, following what has been an extremely busy period of growth for the business.”

MAC director, Matt Roberts, who has been heavily involved in the nationwide recruitment of the apprentices, said: “We believe that our people are fundamental to our success and so we are pleased to have this opportunity to invest in the training of future talent that will not only benefit us as a business, but also the wider construction industry.

“Apprenticeships are integral to our recruitment strategy and developing home grown talent is one of the most satisfying parts of what we do.”


EY has appointed two new senior hires in its corporate finance team in the North of England, reinforcing the firm’s continued investment in its regional business.

Richard Pulford joins EY from DC Advisory, where he spent 13 years growing and leading the firm’s North West team. Prior to that, Richard spent 11 years in PwC’s corporate finance team across London and Manchester. Richard has nearly 25 years’ M&A experience, advising on more than 100 completed transactions, worth in excess of £7bn.

Rebecca Rennison joins EY with more than 20 years of M&A experience working across large private equity and international strategic trade transactions. Rebecca previously led the PwC Yorkshire corporate finance team and prior to that was a managing director in investment banking at Raymond James in Canada, where she worked for 15 years.

From left: Richard Pulford, Mark Clephan, Stephen Church, Rebecca Rennison

Richard and Rebecca will work together with Mark Clephan to lead the team as it continues its ambition to become the leading corporate finance practice in the region.

Mark Clephan, corporate finance Partner at EY in the North, said: “I am delighted to welcome Richard and Rebecca into the team. They both bring a wealth of experience in M&A space and together we can build on, and accelerate, the successes of the past few years.

“Our continued significant investment in senior talent reflects not only EY’s ambition in the North but also our confidence in the long term outlook for the regional economy.”

Stephen Church, EY’s North markets leader and office managing partner for Manchester, said: “We’ve always offered fantastic corporate finance services to our clients in the North, but I’m delighted that that we now have an established and growing team here in the Manchester office.

“I would like to welcome both Rebecca and Richard to the team. Their presence here in the region allows us to further expand our offering and build on our strong credentials within this area of the market.

“I’m confident that their expertise and leadership will strengthen our footprint in the North and ensure that we have local people working on local transactions.”