Steele Raymond have, once again, been recognised by foremost legal industry guide The Legal 500 as one of Dorset and the South West’s leading law firms; the 17th consecutive year the Bournemouth-based firm has received the accolade.
The latest ‘Top Tier’ ranking comes after a somewhat unpredictable year, in which businesses of all sizes and across all sectors have been required to adapt and evolve amidst the uncertainty of Covid-19 and the ways in which the pandemic continues to impact upon the workplace.
Despite this, Steele Raymond has welcomed a number of strategic appointments to the firm, strengthening its legal teams across the board whilst appointing three newly qualified solicitors from its highly regarded training programme.
Commenting on the latest rankings, Chairman of Steele Raymond, Tim Stone said:
“To have received such an excellent Legal 500 listing after a challenging and unpredictable year is tremendous. Although we as lawyers take note of these results and those of our peers, our clients remain at the heart of everything that we do; the comments and recommendations submitted by them to the Legal 500 are what we all really appreciate and take a great deal of satisfaction from. They are ultimately the judge of how we are performing.
“As legal professionals, it is my firmly-held belief that we are here to serve, to provide insight, guidance and support to our clients through both good and bad times and, irrespective of personal accolades and industry kudos, this is at the heart of what we do and why we do it.”
In total, Steele Raymond is ranked in nine practice areas in this years’ Legal 500 guide, whilst a total of 20 individual lawyers are recognised for their work across the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall regions.
Of those, the six lawyers recognised by the 2021 edition in the elite “Leading Individual” category have all maintained this status. ‘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.
Lindsay Halliwell (Family) and Johanna Hammersley (Pension Property Investment) also maintained their ‘Rising Star’ status, whilst newly appointed commercial law specialist Alexandra Clapp also received the accolade. In other welcome news, employment law head Deborah West, was listed as a ‘Next Generation Partner’.
An in-depth review of the firm’s performance in the 2021 Edition of the Legal 500, alongside some of the standout client feedback, can be found below:
The 2021 Legal 500 guide recognised Steele Raymond’s Corporate and Commercial Group as being both ‘professional’ and ‘dependable’ and highlights the team’s focus on significant corporate mergers and acquisitions work across the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall regions. Chairman and Partner Tim Stone, and partner Paula Eckton are both, once again, recognised as ‘Leading Individuals’, whilst senior associate Shaun Guppy is recognised as an ‘up-and-coming member of the team’.
Collectively, the team is noted as providing a multifaceted commercial offering including areas of expertise in IT contracts, incentive schemes, share buy-backs and managements buy-outs. They are also recognised for their work with both franchisors and franchisees. The newly appointed Alexandra Clapp is also recognised as a ‘Rising Star’ and a ‘Key Lawyer’.
‘Their people are their best asset: individuals you genuinely want to get to know, who are always pragmatic and looking to deliver the best commercial solution within the boundaries of the law and legal precedent.’
‘The team are very knowledgeable on their subject areas, able to clearly explain issues and concepts in layman’s terms, and give great guidance on issues, both in legal and commercial terms. This gives me great confidence in the advice given by the practice.’
Steele Raymond’s Commercial Property Group maintain their top tier ranking and cap-off another successful year with three partners once again being recognised as ‘Leading Individuals’.
The team are praised by Legal 500 respondents as being as both ‘responsive and intelligent’, whilst being ‘focused on commercial needs’ and being ‘approachable, organised and often positively exceed[ing] expectations.’
Partner and head of the property group Chris Twaits is praised for his ‘efficient, knowledgeable, thorough and timely’ approach to commercial property matters and retains his status as a ‘Leading Individual’.
Alongside Chris Twaits, commercial property partner Jennifer Rogerson and partner and head of residential development Emma Stainwright also retain their status as ‘Leading Individuals’. Emma Stainwright is described as a ‘delight to deal with’ and is praised for her depth of knowledge and ‘professionalism’.
After the launch of a specialist SIPP and SSAS pension property investment offering, senior associate and SIPP and SSAS specialist Johanna Hammersley is, once again, name by the guide as a ‘Rising Star’ and is described as being ‘exceptionally conscientious’ whilst displaying ‘absolute attention to detail’.
Commercial property partner Carol Elliott is described by clients as being ‘a safe pair of hands’, as well as being ‘approachable, responsive and very attentive’. Residential Development Partner Chris Dolan is named as a ‘Key Lawyer’.
‘The strength of any business is its ability to perform when faced with difficulty, no more so than our last sale dealt with by Steele Raymond in the midst of the pandemic and the restrictions of lockdown requiring the partners to work from home. The complexities of the sale did not hold up its progress, with the help different partners expertise being available when needed to enable a successful and speedy conclusion in the knowledge that we had received the legal advice and protection we needed as trustees of the property.’
‘Very responsive and intelligent. Practical commercial advice that focused on commercial needs.’
The Dispute Resolution team at Steele Raymond has once again maintained its top tier Legal 500 ranking and is praised for providing ‘professional and proactive advice and strategic thinking with excellent solutions’ across a range of commercial litigation. The team are particularly active in the areas of property and construction litigation, shareholder and director disputes as well as professional negligence claims and alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Head of dispute resolution, Peter Rolph is described as a ‘very experienced litigator’ who is very popular among Dorset-based businesses and corporates. Peter received praise for his ‘approachable’ character and for his ability to provide ‘sound, commercial advice drawing upon many years of litigation experience.’
Alice Toop, who is highlighted as a ‘Key Lawyer’ is detailed as having ‘a thorough understanding’ of dispute matters and is praised for her ‘prompt and effective’ action when necessary.
Senior associate and specialist property litigator Hannah Dare is again highlighted as a ‘Key Lawyer’, as is Amelia Williams, a senior associate also specialising in commercial litigation and property disputes.
‘I always feel reassured to have Steele Raymond on my side of the table when approaching disputes, tricky discussions and negotiations. Their communication and soft skills are really quite deft, and I have full confidence that I will be well advised and represented.’
‘A large South-west outfit who act on the corporate and disputes sides of significant transactions. They are experienced, well-resourced and friendly.’
Steele Raymond’s employment law offering has been further improved with the addition of head of employment at the firm, Deborah West. Deborah is recognised by the Legal 500 as a ‘Next Generation Partner’, with managing partner Peter Rolph identified as a ‘Key Lawyer’ in the team. Feedback for the employment team included praise of their ‘exceptional client service and commercially focused advice’.
‘Deborah West offers commercially pragmatic advice, balanced within the constraints of employment legislation. She has always taken the time to explain both her reasoning for a particular decision path and clearly explains the options available to us particularly when the situations are complex and/or contentious.’
‘Peter Rolph has outstanding experience in the employment and commercial field, enabling him to provide excellent client service. His calm and assuring way with clients provides confidence.’
After another year of growth, the firm’s Family team have maintained their Tier 2 status and recently promoted partner Lindsay Halliwell is once again recognised as a ‘Rising Star’. Comments for Lindsay describe her as a ‘formidable lawyer’ and a ‘robust and effective litigator’.
Partner and head of family Daniel Sanders was recognised a ‘highly experienced family litigator, particularly in financial remedy cases’. He is numerically articulate and has a firm grasp of businesses, their value and how they should be managed in the context of a divorce. He builds an excellent rapport with his clients.’
The team, which has recently welcomed newly qualified solicitor Amy Baugh to its ranks, receives praise for being ‘very cohesive’ and are assessed as an ‘extremely impressive department’.
‘The department benefits from high-net-worth clients, many of whom are regional business owners. The family team provides an appropriately professional service. Instructions are well-prepared, preparation for court hearings is high quality and there is a high level of client care. ’
‘Steele Raymond are a firm with an exceptional reputation on the south coast. Clients receive a high-quality service delivered by a personable and approachable team.
‘The family team at Steele Raymond, led by Daniel Sanders, are an extremely impressive department.’
Specialising in lease extensions, collective enfranchisement matters and supporting the growing footprint of Steele Raymond’s Residential Development team, the firm’s property litigation practice is described by the 2022 Legal 500 guide as having ‘in-depth knowledge of the local market on the South Coast’.
Practice head, Hannah Dare is praised for her ‘commercially sensible approach to litigation’, with one client commenting: ‘Hannah Dare is a standout of the firm and will no doubt make partner in a short space of time’.
‘Key Lawyer’ Amelia Williams is described as ‘hugely supportive’ and is praised for her ‘impeccable case management’. Laura Offer, who is also recognised as a ‘Key Lawyer’, is described as ‘approachable’ and a ‘pleasure to work with’.
‘During a difficult time for us in relation to the dispute we are having and with the complication of the Covid-19 crisis, Steele Raymond have continued to provide a top class service utilising whatever technology was necessary. It is clear that the firm quickly got to grips with the requirements and through excellent teamwork have kept everything running smoothly.’
‘Steele Raymond have in-depth knowledge of the local market on the South Coast and the needs of their particular clients which I think many regional firms do not. The team is very client focussed, even inviting Counsel to attend client events to demonstrate to their clients the full range of services they can obtain through the firm.’
In private client matters, the firm’s personal Tax, Trusts and Probate team is recognised for providing ‘quality comprehensive advice and in-depth knowledge of the subject matter’. Partner and head of tax, trusts, will and probate, Sue Adams, is described as ‘exceptional’ and is noted for her ‘capable leadership’.
Partner John Andrews is recognised as a ‘Key Lawyer’ and the team are praised for their ‘holistic approach to clients’ and for their ‘strong client care ethic, as well as a broad range of technical expertise’. In addition, the team is recognised for their combined tax qualifications which, in the words of one client, enables them to ‘offer a joined-up approach to private client instruction”.
‘Great personal service, a ‘can do’ attitude with a truly caring approach every step of the way’
The education team provide legal assistance to schools, colleges, and students from both the independent and maintained sector and is noted for its expertise in finance, commercial property and employment matters.
John Andrews, Emma Stainwright and Tim Stone are named as ‘Key Lawyers’ within the education sector.
‘Emma Stainwright is an excellent partner at Steele Raymond – friendly approachable but also knowledgeable, wise and with an acute eye for detail.’
Contentious Trusts and Probates
In the area of contentious wills, probate and trusts, Steele Raymond’s specialist team offers a broad range of services with a particular focus on clients who are on either side of an inheritance claim.
Head of disputed wills, probate and trusts John Andrews is noted for his focus on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, helping clients to avoid potentially expensive litigation.
The Legal 500
Now in its 35th year, the Legal 500 is 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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