Oxford’s leading law firm is acknowledged as a ‘Top Tier’ law firm for its experience and expertise

12 October 2017

In the recently published Legal 500 (the Clients’ Guide to the UK Legal Profession) 2017 edition. Freeths, yet again, has received stellar reviews and has been ranked in the top tier of law firms in the south east in seven of its practice areas: family law; contentious trusts & probate; private client (Wills, trusts & probate); commercial property; clinical negligence (claimant); agriculture and rural estates; and charities. 

Seven Partners are listed in the elite "Leading Lawyers" list which is the Legal 500’s guide to outstanding lawyers nationwide. In addition, seven lawyers have been recognised as “Next Generation Lawyers” for their experience, expertise and ability to provide a high quality service to clients. In total, 34 lawyers based at this office are recommended by Legal 500 for their experience and expertise.     

The Legal 500 is an independent leader in the provision of legal market information and each year provides research and law firm rankings to enable businesses and individuals to identify the best law firm to advise them on legal matters.

For 29 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the UK legal market. The Legal 500 assesses the strengths of law firms and ranks law firms based on series of criteria.  But simply put, The Legal 500 highlight the practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate businesses and private individuals.

Sarah Foster, managing partner at Freeths, says, “It is great to be acknowledged again as a top tier law firm for our highly regarded areas of law.  Freeths has not just grown locally over the last year, but nationally as well as we continue to recruit the best lawyers to give our clients the magic circle experience without having to pay City rates.  Our top tier rankings are testament to the high quality of service we provide to our business and private clients.  We remain a client-centric law firm that thrives on building trust, thinking differently and delivering the best results for our clients, quickly and successfully.”

See what the directory says about our top-ranking teams:

Commercial Property – Tier 1

Freeths LLP reported an uptick in healthcare work and acted for a range of companies from this sector on the relocation of headquarters, financing property sales and construction matters. Singled out for his ‘excellent skills’, director Adrian White heads the practice with Patrick Whetter. Work highlights included advising Market Cafe on acquiring a new restaurant on Strand, London for £4.7m. Lease, property disposals and environmental matters were among other mandates. At senior associate level, Desh Patel is recommended alongside Anna Power, whose ‘attention to detail is especially good’.

Family – Tier 1

Freeths LLP ‘provides the quality of service that would be expected of a Magic Circle firm’ in complex and niche areas such as IVF, surrogacy and divorce cases relating to farming and agricultural matters, which is an area of strength for senior associate Gemma Nicholls-Webber. Rachael Oakes heads the ‘top-class practice’ and ‘is a formidable lawyer’, who acts for high-net-worth individuals in matters regarding cross-border assets, businesses, complex trust structures, tax and pension-related issues. Her varied caseload also includes children matters and pre and post-marital agreements. Lawyer and Mediator Claire Colbert is ‘exceptionally good’ and ‘extremely hard working’ in family cases including Child Maintenance Service appeals, Children Act relocation matters. Private financial dispute resolution hearings, divorce and Children Act proceedings were among recent mandates for the practice, where Elizabeth Stocker made senior associate. Helen Taylor departed to Turner Nicholson.

Private Client – Tier 1

The team at Freeths LLP combines ‘local expertise and regional strength’ with ‘appreciation of long-term client relationships’. The recent workload saw the team restructuring estates and trusts, handling capital gains tax structuring, advising on offshore structures and assisting with estate planning. Singled out for her ‘professionalism, sincerity and immense knowledge’, Jane Maitland acts as an executor and trustee and is also a Court of Protection appointed deputy for vulnerable clients. National practice head Nigel Roots also leads the charities team and ‘provides the technical skills and experience’. Managing partner Sarah Foster is highly recommended for contentious trust and probate work.

Agriculture & Rural Estates – Tier 1

Freeths LLP provides ‘a comprehensive legal service to estate and rural property owners’, and has ‘great attention to detail, and an appreciation of long-term client relationships’. The firm’s industry expertise spans the charities, education, professional services and insurance sectors, among others, and the team regularly handles the acquisition and disposal of farms, landed estates, woodlands and other agricultural assets. Practice head Iain Davis is ‘a leading expert who is well qualified in landed property matters’; he recently advised an Oxford college on the grant of a building license with associated tax, construction, overage and property provisions. In another highlight, the ‘practical and professional’ Sarah Duffy advised a farming family on the £10m sale of a 22 acre development site in Oxfordshire to a national housebuilder. Other leading figures include Jane Maitland, who ‘provides wise counsel and a calm approach in difficult circumstances’, Samantha Leigh, who is ‘conscientious, thorough and technically spot-on’, and Balvinder Jaj.

Contentious Trusts and Probate – Tier 1

The ‘excellent’ team at Freeths LLP ‘always answers emails and phone calls promptly’ and is ‘conscious of costs, and of providing value for money’. The practice deals with the full range of litigation claims including removal applications, estoppels claims, Court of Protection work and claims under the Inheritance Act. Practice head Sarah Foster ‘always sees the bigger picture’ and is ‘able to come up with new angles and solutions as the case evolves’. Angela Bowman acts for a number of national charities, advising on probate actions and other disputes involving wills, including claims where the mental capacity of the deceased is in question. Aimee Fleet is ‘empathetic’ and offers ‘sound, practical advice’, and Sally Goodger is also a name to note. 

Clinical Negligence – Tier 1

The clinical negligence department at Freeths LLP in Oxford is ‘very thorough, easy to work with’ and provides ‘great client care’. The team is especially recommended for its ‘good case preparation’. The ‘experienced, dedicated and approachable’ team lead Carolyn Lowe, who advises on cerebral palsy, severe orthopedic and cardiac claims, cauda equina syndrome as well as stillbirths and neonatal deaths, is supported by senior associate and fatal claims specialist Lynne Foster and the ‘very bright and enthusiastic’ associate Catherine Bell. Bell handles neurological injury matters as well as obstetric and gynecological claims. Together with ‘effective negotiator’ Lucy Habgood, Lowe recently led on the case Christine Reaney v University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, which involved a misdiagnosis and consequent paraplegia. Solicitor Laura Bland left for Knights Professional Services Limited in April 2017.

Charities – Tier 1

The ‘excellent’ team at Freeths LLP has ‘a good breadth of knowledge’ and ‘is always prompt to respond to queries’. The practice handles all aspects of contentious and non-contentious legacy work along with formation and registration matters, property advice, M&A activity, employment matters and commercial disputes. Longstanding clients include Cancer Research UK, Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the British Psychological Society, and the firm recently added the Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust to its roster. Practice head Angela Bowman acts for charities in contentious trust and probate matters, and the ‘helpful and knowledgeable’ Robert Nieri advises on governance issues, commercial agreements, fundraising and dispute resolution. Nigel Roots is also a key figure, advising on tax and trust planning.

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