People: Pearson Solicitors; Studio RBA; SoMo | Bridging; Unity Trust Bank; Jefferies Solicitors; Cityheart

Christopher Burke and Leigh Sunter

A commercial litigation lawyer with more than 18 years’ experience has joined the expanding litigation department at Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers.

Leigh Sunter, a Chartered Legal Executive, has a wealth of experience in city centre and regional law firms.

She is an expert in all aspects of commercial debt recovery from sending pre-action protocol letters, issuing proceedings, obtaining judgment and enforcement proceedings. Leigh will also be working with clients in respect of bankruptcy proceedings and winding-up proceedings.

She also specialises in advising landlords and tenants on commercial property matters and residential landlords pursing possession claims.

Leigh will be working closely with the wider commercial team at Pearson but specialising in litigation, especially commercial debt recovery where she is well known for her calmness, her ability to guide clients through difficult issues and her pragmatism.

The appointment is part of a wider recruitment drive as the firm continues to expand its teams and its offices across North Manchester. With 75 staff across all legal disciplines the firm has flexible working and is looking to attract more staff into its wider commercial roles and other positions within the firm.

Director, Christopher Burke, said: “Leigh is very welcome addition to our growing litigation department of nine staff members. She is very highly regarded and brings with her great client care, experience and pragmatism.

“Her appointment enables us to specialise more in specific areas of the law and I look forward to introducing her to our clients and helping her develop her career at Pearson.”

Leigh said: “I’m really looking forward to being part of the firm’s ongoing success. I enjoy the challenge that the role brings and I’m looking forward to working with the clients as part of the Pearson team.”


Liverpool-based architecture practice, Studio RBA, has bolstered its team in response to a growing order book.

Stephen Ball (29), ex-Falconer Chester Hall, joins the Royal Albert Dock-based firm as a senior architect and the firm’s BIM lead.

Rob Jones (36), previously of BDP and K2 Architects, is appointed as an associate architect, with responsibility for managing the design team’s day-to-day workload. The move frees up the firm’s directors to drive the practice’s ongoing growth, says managing director Kenny McNaughton.

Stephen Ball and Rob Jones

“As our order book expands it’s important that we balance architectural resource with enhanced focus on overall business management and growth. Stephen and Rob’s arrival brings added depth to our architecture capabilities at a time when the nature and scale of our projects is increasing in size.”

New projects in the Isle of Man, Stoke-on-Trent and Cornwall have driven the need for extra capacity, says Mr McNaughton. “We are working across the country and maintaining our service standards is critical.”


Increased business has brought with it a need for multiple new recruits at SoMo | Bridging. The specialist lending firm has added to its growing team with four new appointments including an underwriter, a relationship director, a relationship executive and a valuations manager.

Laurel Livesey joins SoMo as its newest underwriter, bringing the underwriting team to 12 members strong. With more than five years’ experience in the finance industry, Laurel will use her skills to work on SoMo’s increasing pipeline by assessing and reviewing cases and their credit worthiness.

In the newly created role of valuations manager, Rachel Killeen will work alongside both the sales and underwriting teams to oversee the valuation process. Her appointment is the start of SoMo’s long term vision to build its own specialist valuation panel. Rachel joins from Together where she focused on commercial operations and brings with her 14 years of managerial experience in the retail sector.

From left: Rachel Killeen, Laurel Livesey, Greg Applewhaite, Damiano Lo Presti

Greg Applewhaite is the sales team’s newest relationship director for the home counties. He joins SoMo with six years’ sales experience in the finance industry across secured and unsecured lending and will be responsible for building and nurturing relationships with brokers.

Damiano Lo Presti has joined SoMo as relationship executive, supporting the lender’s relationship directors, as well as maintaining SoMo’s customer database. With its newest members, SoMo’s sales team now stands at 10, to support the business growth.

SoMo’s senior talent acquisition partner, Lindsey O’Neill, said: “It was important to strengthen our team to not only help support our growth but also maintain the quality customer service we are known for. Thanks to our popular Valuation Only product and Second Charge rates we’re lending more year on year.


Unity Trust Bank has appointed Joshua Meek as head of impact and sustainability, in a new role that will ensure the continued development of the bank’s impact framework and support its mission to create a better society.

He will work across Unity’s offices in Manchester, London and Birmingham. He will work across all areas of the bank, alongside the executive team, to ensure that the bank continues to deliver measurable positive social impact for customers and their communities.

Joshua Meek

Joshua joins from Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue Group, where he was head of impact. Prior to his work at The Big Issue, Joshua has worked with a number of award-winning UK social enterprises, including Harry Specters Chocolates, Redemption Roasters and Invisible Cities.

He said: “I have worked with organisations at different stages of growth, from start up through to well established social enterprises. Joining an organisation like Unity Trust Bank provides a great opportunity to create impact that will benefit a whole range of communities across the UK.”

Unity Trust Bank CEO, Deborah Hazell, said: “Joshua’s experience of supporting social enterprises and charities across the UK, to measure and manage their impact, will be a huge asset to us as we continue to focus on how we can drive forward positive change.

“We’re excited to be able to strengthen our senior team with this new role, which will add additional insight into the impact we make as an organisation, and will support how we can amplify this over the coming years.”


Altrincham-based personal injury firm Jefferies Solicitors has strengthened its team by appointing four new recruits to the firm over the past few weeks.

The new starters bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the firm to strengthen its commitment to delivering excellent service to clients.

Afshand Ahmed

The firm has appointed two new solicitors, Husniya Amatullah and Afshand Ahmed and a new paralegal, Noleen Sikirwayi, plus a new claim assessor, Charlotte Hough.

Solicitor Afshand Ahmed said: “As a newly qualified solicitor I am excited to bring my skills and experiences to Jefferies Solicitors and achieve outstanding results for clients and the firm.”

Managing director, Michael Jefferies, said: “I’m delighted to welcome our new starters to the firm as we continue to develop our team and the business.”


Cityheart, the North West-based property investment and development company, has recruited James Alderson as its new development director.

James joins from Investar and has more than 30 years’ experience managing major mixed-use, commercial, residential, hotel/leisure and infrastructure projects as a developer, a consultant and as a contractor. With a career starting in civil engineering before moving into development management, James has been involved in a number of high profile schemes across the country including Liverpool One, Spinningfields, Woburn Center Parcs and The Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair, London.

James will be working with Warren Taylor, Cityheart’s director of six years, on the company’s existing projects including The Galleries in Wigan and Stockport Interchange as well as new projects in the pipeline.

James Alderson

Warren said: “James has a wealth of experience in managing and delivering complex mixed use schemes, particularly in the North West and will be a valuable addition to the team. We have some fantastic, secured projects on at the moment and a number of significant new development opportunities in the pipeline; strategic place making sites where we can also add significant social value are a key target for us going forwards.”

James said: “I am joining Cityheart at an incredibly exciting time in the company’s history and with so much potential to build on in the future, I am pleased to be part of this journey.”

Cityheart currently operates from its offices in Chester and Wilmslow, with teams also located on sites across Gloucester, Hereford and Hertfordshire and a development pipeline in excess of £500m.