Who’s doing what on the national employment law scene? We give the low-down on this year’s
high-fliers, as chronicled in the latest Legal 500
Once again employment law has seen a year of dynamic change, both in terms
of substantive law and the market, with many firms enlarging their teams to
cope with the continuing developments in this increasingly important practice
Heading the table again this year, two firms stand out in terms of both size
and long-term commitment to employment law. Baker & McKenzie, ably led by
partner Christine O’Brien, has not been as adversely affected as was expected
by the departure in April 1999 of Fraser Younson. Among the work of the five
partners and 21 assistants last year was the successful defence of a £9m
wrongful dismissal case in Wheatley v Control Techniques and Emerson Electric
Co, and winning for bankers JP Morgan in an indirect sex discrimination case
brought by former female vice-president Aisling Sykes.
Simmons &Simmons has an outstanding team, with four partners and 20
assistants led by the high-profile Janet Gaymer and the other partners, William
Dawson, Simon Watson and Mark Hewland, all highly respected practitioners. In
the last year, the group has significantly expanded its financial services
capability with new clients including Deutsche Bank, alongside existing clients
First National Bank of Chicago.
Eversheds, with a national reputation for employment law, is a strong force
in London. The dynamic Elaine Aarons heads up a team of 14 assistants along
with partners Roger Steel, Helga Breen and Rob McCreath. In the past 12 months
the firm has advised the FSA on the creation of the Financial Ombudsman scheme
and advised CGU on its reorganisation following the merger between Commercial
Union and General Accident.
Fox Williams is home to heavy hitters Ronnie Fox and Jane Mann. Fox is known
as a tough negotiator with a distinctive style, while Mann is the incumbent
chairperson of the Employment Lawyers Association. The firm successfully
defended a sex discrimination claim for Charman Underwriting Agencies and also
acted for the former managing director of Saga Petroleum in a discrimination
suit, illustrating both employer and employee expertise.
Lewis Silkin’s employment team of five partners and ten assistants is jointly
led by Michael Burd and James Davies, strong players with complementary skills.
The past year saw it act for Kamlesh Bahl in her dispute with the Law Society
and advise the Interpublic Group on the employment implications arising from
the merger of The Lowe Group and Lintas, two of the UK’s leading advertising
Lovells’ London team of ten assistants is headed by Andrew Williamson and
also boasts partners David Harper, Naomi Feinstein and Elizabeth Slattery, who
has recently returned from an in-house secondment at Barclays Group. In the
past year the firm has been heavily involved in a number of significant
tribunal cases for clients including Ford, Texaco and Esso, while on the
corporate side, it was involved in the Trinity/Mirror and Aegon/Guardian Royal
At Rowe & Maw, partners Julian Roskill and Nicholas Robertson are both
highly regarded and in the past year, the firm has advised Reuters and Virgin
Rail on corporate employment matters, as well as acting for Derek Wanless on
his departure from NatWest.
Allen & Overy enjoyed a successful year, reporting 30 per cent growth in
the employment department, and recruiting high-profile Karen Seward from
Pinsent Curtis. Mark Mansell leads a growing team of 14 assistants who work
purely on employment matters. New clients include CSFB, Cable & Wireless
and Coca Cola.
At CMS Cameron McKenna, well-liked Simon Jeffreys heads a team of nine
assistants with fellow partner Anthony Fincham. While corporate support work
makes up roughly one third of the practice, the firm advises and litigates for
clients in a range of industries, including financial services,
pharmaceuticals, retail, defence and engineering. Its client base includes
Amazon.com and the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.
Well-regarded David Green heads up the team at Charles Russell, which
consists of 11 assistants along with fellow partner Lisa Mayhew. The firm acted
successfully on behalf of Suresh Anisetti in his high-profile racial
discrimination case against Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank and also has a good corporate
Clifford Chance LLP has three partners and 17 assistants. Department head
Chris Osman is ably assisted by partners Bruce Hedley and Chris Goodwill and
while roughly one third of its practice is corporate support, Clifford Chance
LLP dealt with approximately 200 employment tribunal cases against the Open
Following the merger of Denton Hall and Wilde Sapte, Denton Wilde Sapte now
boasts an employment team of five partners and eight assistants, led by the
respected Stephanie Dale and Guy Fifield. Strong in entertainment, energy,
banking, projects and insolvency, the new firm’s clients include Old Mutual plc
and the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association.
Herbert Smith’s employment group has ten assistants and three partners, led
by the capable John Farr. Particularly strong on contentious matters, the firm
acted for David Montgomery on his departure from the Mirror Group, litigated
against CSFB on the Flaming Ferraris affair and advised the government on the
employment implications of creating the Greater London Authority, involving the
transfer of 55,000 employees.
The past year saw Linklater’s employment group, consisting of 16 assistants
led by the astute Raymond Jeffers, boost its contentious practice. Litigation
partner Mark Humphries has aligned his practice with the employment group and
appeared for the AEB in the Court of Appeal in Humphreys v University of
Oxford, an important Tupe decision. The firm also has an enviable corporate
client base which includes ABN Amro, Vodafone Airtouch and SmithKline Beecham.
A firm with a strong national reputation for employment law, Osborne Clarke
OWA has three partners and 11 assistants based in London, with further plans
for expansion. Led by Christopher Southam, the firm counts Prudential and the
Professional Golfers Association among its client base.
At Ashurst Morris Crisp, Caroline Carter heads a young and dynamic team. The
firm acts for the new management at Arrows Formula One and was involved in the
One2One transaction on behalf of Deutche Telekoms.
Beachcroft Wansbroughs is the acknowledged market leader for employment law
in the health field and in Elizabeth Adams, head of the national employment
department, and Rachel Dineley, has two highly respected practitioners as well
as a team of ten solicitors.
DLA has an excellent national reputation for employment and fields a team of
five partners and 15 assistants in London, headed by Tim Marshall. Particularly
recommended for discrimination cases, the firm has set up an HR consultancy in
the past year.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is particularly strong on corporate work. The
firm acted on the Hewlett-Packard demerger which involved the transfer of
50,000 employees across 40 jurisdictions. Partners Peter Jeffcote and Nicholas
Squire are well regarded.
Fraser Younson and David Dalgarno have got off to a strong start at
McDermott, Will & Emery, since beginning the practice in April 1999. With
seven assistants and plans for further expansion, clients include Dresdner
Kleinwort Benson, Levi Strauss & Co and Marks & Spencer. The first US
firm to invest heavily in employment, this is definitely one to watch.
At Olswang, partners Catherine Taylor, Julia Palca and Sarah Keeble lead a
team of nine assistants with plans for expansion. Particularly known for its
media work, clients include Granada and the Guardian.
Paisner and Co lost long-standing partner Stephen Levinson to KLegal in
spring 2000 – a high-profile departure which will affect the department. But it
retains a strong client base and a team of eight assistants led by partner
With a nationally respected employment practice led by Leeds partner Dr John
McMullen, Pinsent Curtis has expanded in London. However, the loss of respected
partner Karen Seward to Allen & Overy is a blow. Clients include Thistle
Hotels and British Gas, while financial services is becoming an increasingly
important area for the firm.
At Slaughter and May, the respected Howard Jacobs leads a large team which
is particularly recommended for corporate matters, while Speechly Bircham,
headed by Alan Julyan, is also recommended.
Kate Brearley and Tom Flanagan of Stephenson Harwood have excellent
reputations. Brearley is known for her expertise in restrictive covenants,
while Flanagan is an authority on Tupe and employee consultation.
Taylor Joynson Garrett, where partners Andrew Granger and Carolyn Saunders
head up a team of eight assistants, is recommended. The firm won Legal Business
Employment Team of the Year award 1999 for its work on the National Bus
litigation. Theodore Goddard is also respected in the marketplace.
In addition to the expertise available at the firms recommended here, other
firms with good employment practices include Biddle; Lawrence Graham, where
Georgina Keane of Richards Butler has joined Yvonne Gallagher as head of
department; Clyde & Co; Field Fisher Waterhouse; Garretts; Glovers;
Harbottle & Lewis; and Jones & Warner, where David Warner is building a
strong niche reputation.