Our legal experts have managed to secure their positions in the 2022 The Legal 500 listing once again as a Leading Firm with 11 practice areas recommended in the Legal 500 tables, 3 Leading Individuals, 1 Next Generation Partner, 1 Rising Star, and 23 Key Lawyers in their respective practice areas. Read through the links below to find out more details about the listings from each practice area.
The team provides guidance for a range of clients, from large listed companies and private equity funds to start-ups and SMEs. Diane Yarrow is ‘excellent’, with expertise on a broad range of corporate and commercial work, including M&A transactions and international re-financing projects.
“The team is diverse with a strong mix of experience and youthful energy. They are very responsive and communicate and work together well. They have key individuals with expertise in different fields eg commercial property and franchise agreements.”
“Put simply, every partner and fee earner I have met at Gardner Leader is highly professional, very empathetic, and they don’t take themselves too seriously – they are fun to work with, something which cannot be said about a lot of lawyers!”
“Diane Yarrow is excellent. She infuses confidence in her approach. She is suggestive, strong at communicating and a pleasure to work with. I cannot recommend her enough.”
The Swindon-based team, which merged with Clark Holt in June 2021, advises a broad mix of UK and international clients on their transactions across the South West and nationally. In the ‘client-focused‘ team, the corporate lawyers have expertise in M&A, management buyouts and reorganisations, while the commercial practice is adept at handling commercial contracts, particularly in relation to outsourcing, IP, employment and data protection. Transactional specialist Philip Humphreys leads on corporate issues, while the commercial piece is led by Peter James, who is valued for his ‘sound advice‘, following the retirement of Jeremy Holt in April 2020. Jeff Jenkins is a core member of the corporate group, with substantial experience in incorporations, raising investment, joint ventures and M&A.
“The team has a wide range of skills and competences which can be deployed on any client problems. They demonstrate adaptability and flexibility, and focus on successful delivery.”
“The individual lawyers within Clarke Holt are very client focused: they know my business better than I know it myself, they demonstrate great insight and competence, and they help me make better decisions for the business.”
“I have relied on Jeff Jenkins for many strategic corporate insights. He has an unmatched depth of knowledge, skills and competence.”
“Clark Holt’s specialist knowledge and specific support in our particular operational sphere is very apparent and much valued.”
“The services and advice are delivered very professionally, with just the right level of the personal touch. I work closely with Peter James and his sound advice is of particular value.”
The team’s litigation department ‘punches above its weight’, with regular instructions on complex multijurisdictional matters in corporate and commercial disputes, civil fraud and international arbitration. Practice head Chris Felton is an ‘elite commercial litigator’, with a track record of work on both domestic and international arbitration cases. Michelle Di Gioia and Andrew Shipp are also recommended, with the latter acting for insolvency practitioners. Associate Katie Dyson is one to watch, working closely with Felton on a number of high-value disputes as well as being involved in Chancery and Queen’s Bench disputes.
“Client-oriented and responsive, Gardner Leader is a firm which delivers high quality advice and execution equal to most City firms with an affordable fee structure. And they’re exceptionally nice people.”
“The team is cohesive, coherent and readily available when you need them. Nothing is ever too much trouble and they have the ability to help you feel like you are their only client, which is a rare thing.”
“Their litigation department punches above its weight in terms of their expertise and client base, so you are getting London skills at Newbury prices. Their innovative approach to employees has allowed them to retain and develop excellent lawyers.”
“Andrew Shipp is a very safe pair of hands, Andrew has learned well from Chris Felton and has developed many of his attributes and tactical thinking. Our go-to person on day-to-day litigation.”
“Chris Felton is, without doubt, one of the elite commercial litigators in the entire country. He has enviable experience of big ticket commercial litigation at the highest level, including Supreme Court cases and huge international commercial arbitrations. Calm under pressure, with a great eye for strategy, and expertise in the ligitation arena that instils confidence in clients. It goes without saying that he is therefore more than a match for any City litigator.”
“Michelle Di Gioia is very pragmatic and commercial but will fight tooth and nail for the client. Chris Felton is very knowledgeable and a lateral thinker. Katy Dyson is a young talent coming through – she has a bright future”
“The firm remains a Thames Valley miracle with the quality of its international commercial dispute resolution work. Growing but still small, the firm is harmonious and well run and agile and forward-looking. It is a striking example of how a small firm can – with the help of technology and the Bar – punch so much above its weight.”
“Katie Dyson is a rising star. A protege of Chris Felton, she brings a similar combination of humour and industry to her work.”
The team represents employers from a variety of industries and sectors ranging from the healthcare and telecoms industries to agricultural estates and private schools. The team is led by Julie Taylor who handles complex and high-value litigation, particularly discrimination claims and technical TUPE disputes.
“From my perspective, it is the people within Gardner Leader who make it different. There is a sense that the client’s interests are paramount which creates a safe space when the situation is volatile or uncertain.”
“This team of lawyers is very approachable and down to earth. They try to make the legal complexity easy to understand.”
“Julie Taylor has been my legal advisor on employment matters for some years. Very approachable, professional and responsive. Julie’s advice is clear, straightforward and invariably helpful.”
The team has recently advised numerous clients on Covid-19 compliance measures, including workplace safety procedures and risk assessments. Michelle Di Gioia provides general health and safety advice to numerous clients, in addition to handling contentious matters including professional negligence claims.
Personal injury and clinical negligence cases are a cornerstone of the work undertaken by the dispute resolution department. Led by Alastair Goggins, the team covers a full spectrum of claims for clients, with particular specialisms in matters involving birth complications and injuries, fatalities and inquests, as well as cancer delays Also notable is that the firm is prominent in cases arising from high-profile transport accidents. Andrew Shipp, who made partner in 2020, is another key individual.
The charities and not-for-profit team provides expert advice to faith-based charities, independent schools, and trustees on matters such as charity formation and registration, Charities Act compliance, and mergers and restructuring. Head of the dispute resolution team Alastair Goggins regularly handles complex contentious matters for charities, while Diane Yarrow is an expert in governance issues and GDPR compliance matters for charities. Penny Wright‘s expertise includes establishing new charities and dealing with permanent endowments, and Richard Buckeridge provides charities advice on trusts, wills, and property matters.
“We have a longstanding relationship with Gardner Leader, who understand what really matters to us. They continue to deliver the highest standards of client care and give us peace of mind that our case will be handled expertly, and that our interests will come first. Gardner Leader have assisted us in litigious, commercial and real estate matters.”
“Penny Wright is very capable and has a good understanding of the charity sector.”
“The team are extremely knowledgeable in all areas of wills and probate. They’re also very helpful and approachable with queries from non-experts.”
“In addition to the excellent knowledge and advice the team offer, there is a genuine sense of commitment to the charity sector amongst them all. As a charity client, they are a pleasure to work with.”
“Whenever I need legal assistance, I know that within Gardner Leader, there will be someone who can give the very best help available.”
The team provides full contentious trusts coverage to clients, delivering ‘honest and expert‘ advice on matters such as negligent professionals and executors. The team is lead by the ‘brilliant‘ partner Alastair Goggins, who has been involved with a wide range of contentious matters, including high-value estates, Court of Protection matters, capacity issues, and negligent executors.
“The team were knowledgeable in my litigation case involving a claim against an estranged family member’s will. They took the case on when other firms had declined to, and they were able to get me to a positive conclusion. Their knowledge of the legal precedents in this field were really helpful.”
“Alastair Goggins was brilliant – he was the partner in my case and was so well informed and able to reassure me.”
“They are very approachable and offer practical solutions. Alastair Goggins leads a very supportive team.”
“The team at Gardner Leader are extremely professional, dedicated and approachable; dispensing what seems to me, expert, truthful advice on matters which are not easily resolved. The team are completely honest on your chances of success and the costs involved.”
“It is very apparent when visiting the offices of Gardner Leader (pre-pandemic) that the litigation team are very much that, i.e. a band of trustworthy professionals that believe in their abilities and have confidence in their colleagues.”
“Alastair Goggins radiates experience, confidence and ability. He is closely involved in the running of all his cases and he brings to them a very effective combination of commercial acumen, sensible practical advice and first-rate legal knowledge. He has an excellent feel for litigation and negotiation tactics. He works hard for his clients.”
The team, which is spread across Newbury and Maidenhead, advises on complex financial matters and public law children proceedings, often with an international element as well as vulnerable clients. The team’s workload has had a particular focus on Special Guardianship Orders, with practice head Seona Myerscough undertaking many of these instructions. Simon Fisher is ‘pragmatic in his approach’ with considerable expertise in mid to high net value financial matters involving complex assets. Newly promoted partner Suzy Hamshaw is a qualified collaborative lawyer whose work focuses on financial disputes in the breakdown of relationships and the preparation of pre and postnuptial agreements.
The team has a full-service private client offering, frequently handling multi-jurisdictional work and providing advice on domicile and other international estate planning issues. Practice head Jolyon Barton works on high-value estates often involving high-profile public figures, preparing wills, LPAs and discretionary trusts. The practice ‘shines above all with their approachable and friendly way of doing things’ and in dealing with sensitive mental capacity issues, an area in which newly appointed partner Niamh Minihane and Penny Wright are stand-out individuals. Robert Jobson is also recommended, regularly helping clients establish new trusts as well as to administer existing trusts.
Based in Newbury and Maidenhead, the commercial property team advises on complex acquisitions and financing arrangements, investments, joint ventures, commercial leasing issues and extensive development projects. Greg Humphreys leads the practice from the Newbury office and has particular experience in handling property transactions for restaurant businesses, while Suki Hardy advises clients from the telecoms and data centre industries. In Maidenhead, Richard Buckeridge‘s practice handles all property matters, including leasehold enfranchisement matters and regulatory and advisory work. Joanna Bullard is experienced in the acquisition and disposal of commercial properties.
“The team’s USP is that it undertakes City level high value, complex transactions, punching far above its regional competitors.”
“Partner Suki Hardy is a highly accomplished transactions lawyer, having the perfect combination of technical, deal management and commercial skills. Her clients (mainly big-hitting US developers) adore her and won’t do anything in the UK without her input. She deserves their loyalty, given her indefatigability in working round the clock on their complex and demanding real estate deals.”
“Richard Buckeridge of Gardner Leader has dealt with my legal matters in a clear friendly and efficient manner offering sound advice and producing work of excellent standard.”
“Suki Hardy and Clare King are both friendly and experienced solicitors. For us, they stand out because they meet deadlines and do what they say they are going to do. We have struggled with other solicitors delaying matters, but this has never been the case here. Suki and Clare always undertake a thorough job and are willing to go above and beyond.”
The property litigation team advises numerous investors, owners, and occupiers on adverse possession claims, contract breaches and portfolio disputes, among other matters. Michelle Di Gioia is an accredited CEDR mediator and professional negligence specialist. Andrew Shipp, who made partner in 2020, is highly experienced in High Court actions and TOLATA claims, and frequently works with the firm’s property agent and landlord client base. Alistair Goggins is the head of the dispute resolution practice.
“Gardner Leader is a strong and growing regional firm which I have worked with for many years. It knows its market well and its property litigation practice is very effective.”
“Excellent quality for a smaller regional firm that serves the local community well, and has far better quality legal offering than its local competitors.”