Bath’s top law firms and their high-flying legal eagles named in respected guide

October 2, 2014

Bath law firms Thrings and Withy King have been named as ‘regional heavyweights’ in the latest Legal 500, the annual guide that identifies the UK’s best-performing legal firms and individuals.

Thrings, which also has offices in Bristol, Swindon and London, is ranked in the fourth tier of South West law firms, while Withy King, which has two offices in Bath, is in the fifth. As in previous years, the table is dominated by Bristol firms.

Stone King and recently-merged Mogers Drewett are named among the region’s top firms in a number of legal categories.

The Legal 500 says Thrings stands out in the region for its enthusiasm, breadth of knowledge and experience’ while it describes Withy King’s client base as including leading local businesses and high-net-worth individuals.

Thrings, Withy King, Mogers Drewett and Stone King are named among the top firms for corporate and commercial work on the M4 corridor

Thrings advised the Watson family on the £117m sale of Watson Petroleum to World Fuel Services. ‘The breadth of knowledge across the team is very strong’.  Partner John Davies is described as ‘a highly experienced and engaging lawyer’, and Bath-based Alex Pyatt gives ‘robust and pragmatic advice’.

Withy King’s four-partner team is led by David Cavaliero. Clients include banks such as HSBC and Lloyds, listed companies such as Airsprung Group plc, and prominent local businesses such as Alfresco Drinks and Clever Digit Media.

Tom Webb’s team at Mogers Drewett specialises in representing owner-managed businesses and SMEs, and enjoys a strong reputation in the agriculture, renewable energy and leisure sectors.

Stone King draws on its sector strengths to advise charities and educational institutions on various corporate and commercial matters. Practice head Roy Butler is recommended. The firm is also ranked among the region’s top criminal practices with specialist criminal lawyer Andrew Banks advising on mortgage fraud and other white-collar crime while it also has expertise in regulatory issues affecting schools, care homes and other businesses, and also advises in relation to serious sexual offences.

Withy King, Thrings and Stone King are listed with the top M4 firms for commercial litigation.

Stone King’s team head Paul Sutton is ‘efficient as well as prompt’, and is ‘very responsive to clients’ concerns’. His wide-ranging practice includes representing charities and educational institutions in contractual and other commercial disputes.

Thrings has ‘broad expertise in commercial litigation’, and wins plaudits for its ‘high-quality legal advice, tempered by sound commercial judgment’. The firm has particular strength in the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. Andrew Herridge ‘presents well-constructed and persuasive cases’, and David Patterson is also recommended.

Withy King always gets to grips with the key issues of a matter’, and provides ‘workable solutions’. Philip Banks-Welsh is ‘very experienced and easy to work with’. Practice head Chris Kane recently advised a building society on contractual issues arising out of the insolvency of a developer.

Thrings is ranked in the South West’s third tier for insolvency and corporate recovery with The Legal 500 saying it has ‘strength in depth and offers good value for money’, giving ‘constructive, clear and concise advice’. Practice head Mark Cullingford is ‘thorough, knowledgeable and approachable’.

Withy King and Stone King rank in the top tier for M4 firms dealing with employment issues, with Mogers Drewett in the second tier.

The Legal 500 says at Withy King, Malcolm Gregory has particular expertise in tribunal litigation and company restructuring, and Richard White is an expert in discrimination and employment issues arising from corporate transactions.

Stone King draws on its sector strengths to advise education and charities clients on the full range of employment issues. Nick Watson has particular expertise in capability, harassment and bullying issues within the education sector.

Mogers Drewett acts for SME clients and senior employees across a range of sectors.

Thrings and Withy King are also recommended for their IT and telecoms work.

Thrings’ team ‘works hard to achieve the desired outcome’, and Andy Braithwaite is ‘exemplary at understanding the client’s risks’, and ‘presents practical solutions’.

Jessica Bent heads the team at Withy King, which assists clients on non-contentious and contentious IT matters.

Intellectual property is also a strong area for Thrings and Withy King. Thrings’ IP team advises luxury brand owners and manufacturers, in areas including brand portfolio and trade mark protection. Other sector strengths include defence, media and technology.

Jessica Bent heads the team at Withy King, which advises businesses and individuals on contentious and non-contentious matters.

Both firms’ work in media and entertainment is also highlighted. Thrings counts Bristol Media among its clients and has experience in areas including broadcasting agreements.

Withy King advises on licensing, digital media exploitation agreements, and audio and TV production agreements.

Withy King is named among the top regional firms for both its clinical negligence: claimant and personal injury: claimant work. The Legal 500 says of the former that it has a ‘well-organised’ team of 28 specialists is led by Simon Elliman, whose expertise includes dental negligence cases. Paul Rumley is ‘a meticulous and tenacious lawyer’ with particular experience in cardiology and cancer cases and fatal claims.

On the latter it says Louise Hart is ‘extremely knowledgeable and thorough’, and heads the firm’s complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) practice. The team also handles claims for severely injured victims of cycling accidents. Stuart Brazington specialises in high-value brain and spinal injury claims.

Thrings’ personal injury:defendant and personal injury: claimant work earns it a third regional tier placing in both areas with the team specialising in the former described as ‘excellent, efficient, knowledgeable and thorough’ while, for the latter, Andrew Herridge’s team specialises in the defence of employers’ and public liability claims.

Thrings earns top regional ranking for its agriculture and estates practice with Withy King and Mogers Drewett among the third placements. However, Withy King’s bloodstock team are judged as joint best in the region.

Thrings’ expertise spans non-contentious and contentious matters, with Peter Cusick and litigator Russell Reeves the key contacts in Bath and Bristol respectively. The growing team saw the arrival of, among others, Jane Oakland and Victoria Smyth, both from the Bristol office of national firm Clarke Willmott.

Withy King advises agricultural clients on property and business issues, and tax and estate planning Angus Williams gives ‘good clear advice on complex issues’. The firm's Marlborough-based bloodstock practice advises on a broad spectrum of contentious and non-contentious equestrian matters. Richard Brooks specialises in dispute resolution and sports regulatory work, and Andrew Chalk focuses on sports-related commercial contracts.

In sport law, Thrings is said to ‘always operates with a commitment exceeding clients’ expectations’.

The private client team at Mogers Drewett has expertise in capital tax planning and succession planning for farmers and landowners. The highly-regarded Nicola Owen is

efficient’ and noted for her ‘excellent communication’. Jonathan Cheal and Richard Pinney advise on farm ownership and management matters, and also land issues.Tom Chiffers is a further name to note.

Stone King tops the regional table for its charities and non-profit work. It is ‘undoubtedly one of the leading charity law firms’, says The Legal 500, with national coverage; it advises

clients including Alzheimer’s Society, English Heritage and the Animal Protection Agency. Michael King’s team has particular expertise in advising faith organisations and independent schools, with recent work including advising Plymouth Brethren Christian Church on negotiations with the Charity Commission and assisting a college with its charitable company restructuring process. Associate Alexandra Whittaker is also a key contact.

Withy King is among the region’s top firms for contentious trusts and probate. The team is praised for its ‘timely communication’ and ‘excellent knowledge’, and is ‘good value for money’. Amanda Noyce ‘goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the highest standards of service are delivered’. Mike Muston is also highly recommended.

Withy King also gains a first group placing for its family practice with Thrings and Stone King among the second group, Mogers Drewett and Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors in the fourth tier.

Withy King stands out for its unrivalled level of advice’. Team head Richard Ellis has particular expertise in child protection work, and Rebecca Stevens is ‘highly successful at achieving the very best outcomes, whether through a negotiated settlement or contested proceedings’, while at Thrings Matthew Kellow specialises in high-value ancillary relief and Children Act matters. Fiona Kellow deals with high-net-worth matrimonial finance.

Stone King’s family practice handles the full range of matrimonial work, and has a particular focus on ADR mechanisms. Resolution-accredited specialist John Brownrigg has experience in handling financial issues.

Rebecca Silcock at Mogers Drewett specialises in divorce-related financial matters.

The ‘approachable’ team at Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors covers care proceedings, pre-nuptial agreements, divorce and financial remedy proceedings. Tracey Smith is noted for her ‘pragmatism’.

Withy King, Thrings and Stone King are among the third tier regional firms for their personal tax, trusts and probate work with Mogers Drewett in tier four. Thrings’ Michael Young has expertise in inheritance tax planning and tax restructurings. The team saw the arrival of Victoria Smyth from Clarke Willmott.

At Withy King, James McNeile has expertise in estate planning, trusts and tax planning, and acts for a range of high-worth families and non-UK individuals. Samantha O’Sullivan joined from pre-merger Mogers Solicitors in Bath along with three others from Thrings.

Alison Allen heads the ‘outstanding’ team at Stone King, which advises on inheritance tax, wills, and the administration of trusts and estates. It has a niche practice advising older and vulnerable clients. Charles Hayward is also recommended.

Mogers Drewett has particular expertise in estate administration and inheritance tax planning.

Stone King tops the regional rankings for education. It has a sizeable team advising over 700 state schools including academies, foundation and voluntary aided schools, and is also active in the independent sector, where John Clarke has particular expertise in governance matters and employment disputes. Senior associate Michael Brotherton is ‘a very strong, solid lawyer’.

Thrings and Withy King are among the top firms for commercial property along the M4 with Mogers Drewett and Stone King among the third grouping. ‘Work is dealt with promptly’ at Thrings, says The Legal 500. The team, which includes Alex Pinhey in Swindon and Ben Jones in Bath, is praised for its ‘up-to-date knowledge of the market’, and acts for clients such as MAN Truck & Bus, Capita SIP Services and Newland Homes.

Withy King wins plaudits for its ‘excellent response times, very good knowledge and well-priced advice’. Team head Paul Daniels, who handles large transactions and pensions-related work, advised M J Church on the purchase of a water transfer station. Development and charities expert Edward Cooke is also recommended.

The ‘friendly, knowledgeable and price-competitive’ team at Mogers Drewett comes highly

recommended, with the ‘very pragmatic’ Ian Davies heading the practice.

Stone King LLP is regularly instructed by charities and schools such as Downside School and new win St John’s Ambulance. Hugh Pearce heads the team, which includes property investment and finance expert Stephanie Howarth.

Withy King and Thrings are in the fourth group of regional firms for their construction work. Thrings delivers a very responsive and comprehensive service’. Eric Livingston is ‘knowledgeable and approachable’. Practice head Steve McCombe has been acting in a number of disputes, including some cross-border matters.

Working across both contentious and noncontentious matters, Withy King is ‘responsive and approachable’, and ‘good value for money’. Commercial litigator Chris Kane heads the team following the move of former practice head Louise Garcia to Keystone Law.

Both firms are ranked among the tier four firms for property litigation.

Thrings’ Warren Reid is ‘calm and patient, and follows through even with the most difficult of tenants’. Landlord clients include St John’s Hospital Bath and Capita SIP Services.

At Withy King, Caroline Preist’s ‘level-headedness and measured approach mean that advice is carefully thought through and all risks considered’.

Thrings is named among the region’s strong firms for environmental and planning law. On the former Alex Madden ‘understands and deals well with problems in the environmental field, whether civil or criminal’ while the firm is described as ‘very knowledgeable in the field, with a wide range of experience’ for the latter with the ‘very personable’ Alex Madden again recommended.

Commenting on the South West legal market, The Legal 500 says: “The region saw some improvement in economic sentiment in 2013, as business confidence returned to the UK.

“There was an uptick in activity in key practice areas, with an increase in residential property development projects a particular highlight for real estate departments. The renewable energy market remains strong in the South West, and a number of significant new projects are planned.

“The change in employment tribunal fees resulted in a considerable drop in claims, and pushed law firms towards more complex employment disputes and advisory work. In personal injury, firms saw fewer low-value public liability cases being brought in the post-Jackson era, as the impact of the reforms and the banning of referral fees continued to be felt.”


Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across the Bath area for just £75 a month. Email for more information.