People: Blacks recruits planning specialist; Harrogate solicitors boost employment law team; and more

Leeds-based law firm Blacks Solicitors has invested in its property law offering with the appointment of planning specialist James Cook.

Cook joins Blacks as a partner and brings almost two decades of planning law experience with him. Working with clients in both the private and public sectors, he provides legal and strategic advice in relation to major regeneration planning for mixed-use schemes, housing, retail and business parks.

He also advises on listed buildings, planning enforcement, advertisements, conservation areas, and town and village greens. On the litigious side, Cook also supports clients in relation to High Court actions including Judicial Reviews and Injunctions.

He said: “Leeds has received significant investment over the past decade and is currently undergoing huge redevelopment.

“It’s a pivotal time to be joining Blacks’ Property team and I look forward to supporting the firm’s clients.”

Partner and head of property, Nick Dyson, is excited to welcome James and his extensive planning experience to the firm.

He added: “We’ve enjoyed watching Leeds develop over the years and we are delighted to be able to strengthen the property service we offer our clients with the appointment of James; a highly respected adviser with a national reputation.

“He has a wealth of experience which I am confident will make a real difference to our clients, and we are really pleased to be welcoming him to the team.”


A Harrogate firm of solicitors has bolstered its growing employment law specialism with two senior recruits.

Victoria Notman and Katherine Swinn bring more than 30 years of expertise to Truth Legal, based on Victoria Avenue.

Their appointments double the number of lawyers in the company’s employment law team, which is led by director Navya Shekhar and completed by Mirek Ksiezarek.

Founder of Truth Legal, Andrew Gray, said: “Employment law is one of our key specialisms. The skills of Victoria and Katherine will add further capacity and capability to our team at a time of growing demand.

“This has been triggered in part by the lifting of fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims, which has resulted in a surge of claims.

“We have also witnessed a rising need for employment law advice tailored to small businesses, and this is a trend we expect will gather momentum as more changes to legislation come into force.”

Notman, who formerly worked at Raworths in Harrogate, has focused on employment law for more than two decades, having honed her expertise with Pinsent Masons and Mills & Reeve.

Her career CV has seen her supporting blue-chip corporations, NHS Trusts, SMEs, charitable organisations and a broad range of individuals.

Swinn, who also plays a key role in Truth Legal’s litigation team, joined from Watson Woodhouse having previously worked for Hutchinson & Buchanan in Ripon.


Leeds accountancy practice Murray Harcourt has promoted Lauren Spilsbury to business services manager.

The team also welcomes senior accountant Malvi Sonigra to the business services team.

Spilsbury has been with Murray Harcourt for seven years during which time she has played a key role in building successful client relationships, ensuring accounting processes and requirements are implemented and managed efficiently.

Sonigra joins from Isaacs Accountants (UK) where she held the position of a senior accountant working with clients across various industries. She has worked in practice since graduating from university with increasing responsibility and a wealth of experience in each of her roles.

Partner Mark Hunter said: “Lauren has been with Murray Harcourt since the start and her promotion reflects the important role she has played in the business services team, providing excellent support and advice to clients as well as supporting the team.   Malvi has a wealth of experience of working with owner managed businesses and brings a substantial amount of knowledge, particularly from a cloud accounting perspective.   With the implementation of Making Tax Digital and accounting activities increasingly being carried out online, we are well positioned to provide our clients with the support and guidance they need.”


Knight Frank has promoted Tom Goode to associate.

Goode, who joined Knight Frank last year from Sanderson Weatherall, is a key member of the firm’s Yorkshire industrial property team. He specialises in the disposal and acquisition of industrial, distribution and trade counter space, as well as commercial development opportunities in the Yorkshire region.

He said: “It is an extremely exciting time to be working with Knight Frank’s strong and experienced Yorkshire industrial team, as we are involved with some of the most high-profile buildings and development schemes in the region.”

Iain McPhail, industrial property partner at Knight Frank’s Leeds office, said: “Tom’s promotion is well-deserved. He has proved to be a crucial member of our team during the past 18 months since he has been with us.

“The combination of his enthusiasm and his commitment has proved invaluable to Knight Frank.”

Rebecca Schofield, head of Knight Frank’s industrial property team in Yorkshire, said: “Tom is an integral part of our Yorkshire team and his promotion comes at an important time. The industrial property market in Yorkshire remains strong, despite the post-Brexit concerns. At the moment, we are advising on over one million sq ft of built distribution across Yorkshire as well as a number of key development sites.”