People: Rise at Seven; Assetz Capital; DLA Piper; Irwin Mitchell; Time Finance; Brodies

Ben Topliss

Manchester-based creative, Ben Topliss, has joined Rise at Seven as its new head of design, bringing more than 15 years of experience to its new studio.

Ben will oversee the direction of the design and creative studio, executing social, web, graphic and motion assets as well as brand and creative executions. He specialises in concept art, design, art direction and fashion.

More recently, Ben served as design director at global agency IMA-HOME, working between the Manchester and NYC offices. Prior to this, Ben spent several years consulting and working in creative agencies, as well as leading an internal design team at a large high street sports fashion retailer.

This new hire brings a varied and multi-disciplinary background to Rise at Seven, with Ben having worked with established clients such as Johnnie Walker, adidas, Reebok, EA Games, Red Bull, Manchester United, Umbro, Moët & Chandon, BP, Nike, Michelin, The Co-operative, Guinness, Under Armour, JD Sports and more.

Ben said: “I’m really happy to join Rise at Seven, at what is a hugely exciting time for the agency. I am especially excited to help to develop and craft the visual output at Rise and to help with the long term strategic offering of the agency.”

The hire is pivotal in Rise at Seven’s ongoing global expansion. It now delivers search, content marketing, digital PR, and social media strategies, driving organic growth for brands online in five international markets including the US and UK.

Carrie Rose, CEO and co-founder of Rise at Seven, said: “There weren’t many people in the world that we felt could do the job we’ve brought Ben in for, his background in fashion, product design and concept art design makes him the perfect leader for the Rise at Seven brand and our growing studio.

“I’m excited to see how he can use his extensive background to scale our studio offering to be executed by the biggest and brightest team of creatives in the industry. Having worked in the industry for 15 years, Ben has worked with plenty of global superbrands including adidas, Nike and Red Bull, giving him valuable insights into the nuances of retail and e-commerce concerning design, with his role at Rise at Seven now focusing on setting the creative direction in the studio.”

Rise at Seven’s client portfolio features iconic brands like Revolution, Lounge Underwear, Boohoo Group, Magnet Kitchens, Parkdean Resorts, Club Med, IG and more.


Specialist marketplace lender Assetz Capital has re-appointed relationship director Jonathan Kirk to strengthen its loan origination team as the company targets record lending levels in 2022.

Based in Yorkshire, Jonathan joins from Recognise Bank where he was business development manager for the past year. In his role the commercial mortgage specialist supported small and medium-sized enterprises looking to buy their own premises as well as property investors.

Jonathan Kirk

The move comes as the Manchester-based peer-to-peer lending platform, which specialises in commercial mortgages, bridging and development finance, commits to record lending levels in 2022.

Jonathan said: “It’s great to be back. The lending terms we can offer clients is now better than ever – that means we can take our real-world lending approach to market en masse and support as many borrowers as possible.

“I can’t wait to get stuck in and speak to the local market in Yorkshire and beyond.”

National commercial director, Mark Standley, said: “Jonny has completed many deals for us over the years. He is extremely keen to take our better-than-ever propositions to market, and his enthusiasm will help us to achieve our ambitious targets this year.”


DLA Piper said North West-based lawyers Christina Sharma, Emma Mills and Richard Ascroft have been promoted to partner as part of the firm’s annual promotion round, effective May 1, 2022.

Emma Mills

Christina advises on complex commercial litigation and dispute resolution across a range of sectors, and is the lead partner for the North West media, sport & entertainment sector. Emma advises clients on contentious and non-contentious employment issues across a range of sectors including technology, financial services, retail and manufacturing. Emma also leads the North West mentoring programme. Richard is highly experienced in all types of real estate law and is the lead partner for the North West real estate sector.

The firm has also announced a number of non-partner promotions across its North West offices, appointing six lawyers to legal director and five lawyers to senior associate. These promotions are also effective as of May 1, 2022. The newly promoted lawyers are: Legal directors, Alastair Carruthers – finance; Andrew Walker – real estate; Clare Rushton – construction, engineering and infrastructure dispute resolution; Jenna Clarke – employment; Jonathan Paines – corporate; Richard Buxton – safety, health and environment. Senior associates: Eleanor Mountain – finance; Grace Imafidon – restructuring; Lucy Porter-Grocott – finance; Nicola Wilding – real estate; Sam Jones – corporate.

Richard Ascroft

Since the start of the DLA Piper financial year, on May 1, 2021, the North West office has boosted a number of its practice groups by recruiting one new partner, Sophie Stewart to its planning team, two senior associates, 12 associates, 14 trainee solicitors and five solicitor apprentices.

The North West office is particularly proud to have launched the firm’s UK solicitor apprenticeship scheme, which is six years in length and provides the opportunity to become a qualified solicitor with a degree level 7 qualification.

In parallel with working at the firm, apprentices also study towards an LLB (Hons) in Legal Practice and Skills, and also work towards the Solicitors Regulatory Authority’s (SRA) centralised assessment, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE).

Mark Beardwood, DLA Piper’s North West office managing partner, said: “Nurturing our people and helping them to realise their potential is a key part of our global strategy and allows us to deliver the highest quality service to our clients. We are also extremely pleased to welcome 34 new starters to the office, which gives a real boost to our already strong pool of talent in the North West.”

Globally DLA Piper has promoted 74 lawyers to its partnership, across many of the firm’s practice areas, in 38 different offices throughout 21 countries. Of the 74 promotions, 36 were women (49%) demonstrating the firm’s commitment to increasing representation across the partnership.


Irwin Mitchell has announced two new partners, three senior associates and five associates within its Manchester office as part of this year’s promotion round.

Margaret Ryan

The two new partners are Margaret Ryan, a specialist medical negligence lawyer, and Matthew Garson, who is also a personal injury solicitor specialising in the area of serious injury.

The three newly promoted senior associates are Lara Tucker, Sally Murphy and Saoirse de Bont. The new associates are Harriet Trail, Katy Clarke, Mealla Logue, Rachael Barrett and Ruth Thomas.

Across the firm nationally there have been 13 new partners, 28 senior associates and 56 associates. Overall the promotions represent the overall gender split at Irwin Mitchell with 65% of those promoted being female.

Andrew Tucker, group chief executive at Irwin Mitchell, said: “To announce these new partners, senior associates and associates makes me extremely proud and it is another clear sign of the continued emphasis we place on investing and developing in our people.

Matthew Garson

“These latest promotions show our strength and breadth across the group whilst also recognising the significant contribution our colleagues make to our business in terms of supporting our clients and creating the right culture for future success.”

In addition to the 13 new partners, Irwin Mitchell recruited 17 new partners during 2021/22 financial year across teams including commercial, public law and human rights, will disputes, real estate and employment law.

Last year Irwin Mitchell reorganised into a client services team and a commercial growth team.

All promotions take effect from May 1, 2022, and the partner appointments are subject to SRA approval.

Irwin Mitchell also recently announced two new offices in Cardiff and Liverpool.


Time Finance has secured Helen Wheeler as head of operations in its invoice finance team.

Helen, a well-known industry figure, brings more than 25 years’ experience to the role and will assume responsibility for overseeing operations and helping the team to continue to deliver an invoice finance service to UK business owners. Prior to Time Finance, Helen held nanaging director roles at Pulse Outsource and Bibby Financial Services.

Helen Wheeler

Ms Wheeler said: “Time Finance invoice finance team have a strong reputation for being highly commercial, easy to deal with and delivering an all-round excellent service to both their introducers and clients alike. With an established and popular offering in place that inspires confidence and growth among UK SMEs I look forward to working with the team and helping them to make a real difference to our clients’ success.”

Phil Chesham, head of invoice finance, said: “Helen is a fantastic appointment for our business. She is well respected with a proven track record in our industry and will be a great addition to our team. She brings invaluable experience which will help guide the future development of our invoice finance offering as we continue to strengthen our proposition and further establish ourselves as the market-leading provider.”

Time Finance operates from five locations across the UK, in Bath, Cardiff, Abingdon, Manchester, and Warrington.


UK and Scottish law firm Brodies has announced seven new partners in its latest round of internal promotions, including a Cumbrian property disputes and telecommunications specialist.

Lucie Barnes steps up to the role of partner having joined the firm’s property litigation team in 2020, to work with clients in England and Wales.

Based in Tebay, she has eight years’ experience of acting for landlords and tenants on issues including dilapidations, leasing, trespass and rights of access. She is chairman of the Lancashire & Cumbria branch of the Association of Women in Property, and specialises in telecommunications, advising operators and landowners on the UK’s soon-to-be updated Telecommunications Code.

Lucie Barnes

Across the business, Brodies also announces a further six new partners, a legal director and two associates in its latest round of internal promotions, adding further strength to its client services in the areas of family law, land and rural business, projects, tax, charities, and insurance and risk.

Nick Scott, Brodies’ managing partner, said: “These latest investments in our people and our offices are reflective of the objectives that we set ourselves in our 2021-2024 strategic plans, to provide our clients with relevant, quality legal advice, and to deliver it in a way that would best facilitate collaboration, conversation and the sharing of knowledge.

“The breadth of skill and experience of those colleagues who step into new roles aligns with the demand we have seen from clients, from across Scotland as well as the UK, too. Increasingly, clients are seeking our advice on matters that cross borders, and Lucie has played a key role in growing the firm’s property and commercial litigation expertise in England and Wales, particularly in the evolving area of telecommunications. I congratulate Lucie and her fellow colleagues and wish them all the best in their new roles.”