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Steele Raymond Chairman Tim Stone and Managing Partner Peter Rolph discuss the 2021 Legal 500 rankings

Steele Raymond achieves ‘Top Tier’ status in significantly expanded region for the 16th consecutive year


Dorset solicitors, Steele Raymond LLP, have reached a significant milestone, having been recognised as one of Dorset and the South West’s leading law firms by highly respected independent industry bible, The Legal 500 for the 16th consecutive year.

The expanding firm has, once again, been awarded the highest possible ‘Top Tier’ ranking by the independent directory in its key legal areas of Company and Commercial, Commercial Property and Dispute Resolution.

In a change, this year saw the Legal 500 significantly expand the geographical area in which Steele Raymond was ranked by not only covering Dorset but also including all law firms in Devon and Cornwall.

The guide also provided outstanding comments and recommended lawyers in six other legal disciplines including Employment, Family, Private Client, Education, Property Litigation and Contentious Trusts and Probate. Additionally, the firm’s Family team have maintained their annual ranking in the second tier across the South West region.

The latest ‘Top Tier’ ranking comes following another impressive 12 months for the firm, with growth and the arrival of a number of key legal appointments in residential development, employment, family, commercial property and dispute resolution. Despite the turbulence caused by Covid-19 the firm has continued to strengthen in key areas with strategic recruitment.

In total six lawyers at Steele Raymond are listed in the elite “Leading Individual” list, the Legal 500’s guide to outstanding lawyers nationwide, three of which were in the firms Property Group. ‘Leading Individuals’ include Chairman Tim Stone and Partner Paula Eckton for their work in Corporate & Commercial, Managing Partner and Head of Dispute Resolution, Peter Rolph, and three partners in the firm’s leading Property Group, Head of Commercial Property Chris Twaits, Property Partner Jennifer Rogerson and Head of Residential Development, Emma Stainwright.

Other welcome news includes the recognition of two further ‘Rising Star’ lawyers with the news that Senior Associates Lindsay Halliwell (Family) and Johanna Hammersley (Pension Property Investment) have both been recognised for their significant contributions and praised by peers and clients.

A further 12 lawyers are recommended within their individual legal disciplines across the firm.

Commenting on the latest rankings, Chairman of Steele Raymond, Tim Stone said:

“I’m absolutely delighted that once again Steele Raymond has received the highest possible Top Tier rankings in the Legal 500 across its core commercial practice areas and to do this for 16 consecutive years is something very special.  It is testament to the hard work, resilience and complete dedication of all our team to ensure the best possible outcomes for our valued clients.

“It is particularly pleasing this year as the scope of the rankings were expanded significantly to cover not only Dorset, but also the counties of Devon and Cornwall bringing us up against some major national law firms.

“The Legal 500 is one of the leading independent guides to the UK legal profession. It’s a very good test for us, particularly as we are ranked alongside a number of large national firms.  This latest set of rankings is a significant highlight because the rankings for the firm are based on the quality of our work, a rigorous interview process and of course, most importantly, feedback from our valued clients.  Ultimately the results are for our clients – without them we don’t even get past first base! 

“As a firm we continue to evolve and grow in a very turbulent economic environment. But we pride ourselves on our ability to serve – providing outstanding client support day in and day out.”

An in-depth view of the firm’s performance in the 2021 Edition of the Legal 500 can be found below:

Company and Commercial

The Guide recognised that Steele Raymond’s company and commercial team has ‘built a strong practice servicing Bournemouth’s fast-growing digital and financial services sectors’ with the team having notable expertise in share schemes and management buy-outs, as well as M&A and restructurings involving owner-managed businesses and corporates with operations in the region.

Partners, Tim Stone and Paula Eckton are both recognised by the Guide as ‘Leading Individuals’. Client’s note that head of the company and commercial team, Tim Stone, ‘sets a fine example to the rest of his team with his professionalism and attention to detail’, whilst Paula is described as ‘a seasoned company and commercial lawyer.’

Also recommended were Partners, Craig Hardman and Paul Longland, alongside Senior Associate solicitor, Shaun Guppy.

Commercial Property

The commercial property team at Steele Raymond boasts another stellar year with no less than three partners being recognised across Dorset, Devon and Cornwall as ‘Leading Individuals’.

Clients of the firm’s commercial property team praised it as being an “extremely commercially aware sector leader’ with ‘unrivalled knowledge’ and ‘respected by landowners, agents, housebuilders and promoters alike.’ Partner and head of the firm’s commercial property team, Chris Twaits, is praised for being ‘highly professional and thorough’ and is listed again a ‘Leading Individual’.

The ‘always efficient and diligent’ partner, Jennifer Rogerson is also recognised as a ‘Leading Individual’ alongside partner and head of the residential development team, Emma Stainwright, who is ‘simply unrivalled on the South Coast in her field and has incredible depth of knowledge’ for her development work.

Commercial property partner Carol Elliott is commented by clients as ‘both highly professional and efficient’, whilst senior associate and specialist SIPP and SSAS pension property investment solicitor Johanna Hammersley has received special recognition as a “Rising Star” for the firm.

Partner Chris Dolan is also recommended for his development work as ‘loyal, dedicated and thorough’ with a ‘great knowledge and expertise in commercial property deals.’

Dispute Resolution

The dispute resolution team at Steele Raymond once again maintained its ranking in the top tier, with the firm’s service being praised for its ability to ‘come up with practical, pragmatic and cost-effective solutions to clients’ disputes’ and being particularly active in property and construction litigation, shareholder and director disputes, and professional negligence claims a ‘niche in professional negligence work.’

Head of dispute resolution, and Managing Partner, Peter Rolph is again recognised as a ‘Leading Individual’ and is singled out as being ‘an excellent litigator with excellent experience’ and a ‘highly experienced litigator who takes a practical approach’, and ‘very easy to get on with and he makes you relax even though you are putting across a problem that is troubling you.’

Senior associate, Hannah Dare, is again highlighted as a ‘key lawyer’ and is also recommended for her property litigation expertise which includes landlord and tenant disputes. In addition, there was a recommendation for senior associate and property dispute solicitor Amelia Williams.


Within the employment law field, the team are praised for their ‘pragmatic advice and support’ with Peter Rolph again being recognised for his ‘commercially focused advice that takes into the specific needs and concerns of his client’. One client commented: ‘I’ve never before worked with such astute, proactive and helpful lawyers and legal advisers; inside or outside of London.’


Having received a Second Tier rankings across the whole of the South West last year, the family team have maintained their position amongst the elite family law firms across the region.

This achievement is of particular note for the growing team, not least as the category covers a wider geographical area, including competing firms from across the whole of the South West.

Partner and Head of Family, Daniel Sanders, was recognised for regularly acting for high-net-worth clients on cases involving complex corporate structures, trusts and pension schemes handling of child-related matters. Daniel was recognised by clients as ‘able to reassure clients with his calm and measured approach.’

In addition, senior associate solicitor and mediator, Lindsay Halliwell, was again recognised as a ‘Rising Star’ for the second year in a row by the Guide and was noted for her experience covering both financial and children law work in addition to being ‘excellent’, ‘diligent, professional and gets results.’

Property Litigation

The property litigation expertise at Steele Raymond is regarded as being knowledgeable about the full spectrum of contentious issues by this year’s Guide.

Gaining further recognition, both Hannah Dare and Amelia Williams also received recommendations for the experience and expertise in property dispute matters across the whole of the South West region.

Private Client

In private client matters, Steele Raymond’s personal tax, trust and probate team is recognised for having ‘particular expertise in tax issues arising in relation to trusts and estates, while also regularly handling Court of Protection matters’. Partner and head of the tax, trusts, wills and probate, Sue Adams, is recommended for ‘dealing with offshore trusts and non-domiciled but UK-resident clients.’

Partner John Andrews also receives particular recognition for his work on private client matters. One client commented that the private client team possesses ‘deep technical trusts and tax knowledge, proactive and ready to go the extra mile to deal with clients quickly, on and off-site.’


In Education matters, Steele Raymond is described as being ‘deeply embedded in the sector’, and is recognised for having ‘a very solid and highly professional team’.

Partner, John Andrews, who heads up the team, is noted for being ‘experienced, intelligent and incisive’ who ‘has significant experience in the maintained and independent sectors.’

The education team receives particular praise for its expertise in the governance of schools and colleges in the maintained and independent sectors.

Contentious Trusts and Probates

Within the field of contentious trusts and probate, Steele Raymond’s team were noted for their handling of ‘complex disputes covering a broad range of trusts, probate and Court of Protection matters.’

Partner, John Andrews, received special recognition for being ‘adept at dealing with Inheritance Act claims, advising claimants, defendants, executors and trustees’ whilst in trusts work, he is frequently instructed to advise trustees on their responsibilities and duties.

The Guide

The Legal 500, now in its 34th year, it widely acknowledged as the world’s largest legal referral guide. Used by commercial and private clients, corporate counsel, CEOs, Financial Directors and professional advisers – both nationally and internationally – the series is generally accepted as offering the definitive independent opinion on UK and International law firms.

The Legal 500 is an independent guide, and firms and individuals are recommended purely on merit. Rankings are determined by the Legal 500 through a combination of submissions made by solicitors demonstrating the quality and depth of their work and client base, as well as independent interviews carried out with clients.

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