21 September 2012

What the directories say - The Legal 500 - The Clients' Guide to the UK Legal Profession 2012

Forsters has once again been very highly rated by the Legal 500 in its 2012 Guide. Forsters is now recommended in no fewer than 19 practice areas, with 19 lawyers endorsed in the editorial and seven lawyers listed in the elite "leading lawyers" list.

Commenting on the firm's performance, the Legal 500 says that:

Property 

Commercial Property

Forsters LLP ‘runs its department in a far more client service oriented way than most’. It has a strong institutional investor client base that includes BA Pension Fund and the Crown Estate. It also advised Realis Estates on the £350m East West Centre development in Stoke-on-Trent, and continues to act for Rocco Forte Hotels and Soho House Group. Group head Howard Gill has ‘very detailed knowledge’, Smita Edwards is ‘an exceptional lawyer’, Eugene McMahon has an ‘excellent ability to grasp deals’, and Victoria Towers is ‘hardworking and committed’.

Sophie Hamilton is, as in previous years, named as a leading individual.

Property Litigation

A thriving commercial property department underpins Forsters LLP’s ‘sharp’ and ‘tight-knit’ group, which represents landlords, estates, and tenants including Fujitsu. The ‘calm’ and ‘efficient’ Natasha Rees specialises in residential property, and has helped the group become ‘a leading firm’ in the field of leasehold enfranchisement. Jonathan Ross is ‘articulate’ and ‘commercially aware’.

Jonathan Ross and Natasha Rees continue to be ranked as leading individuals.

Planning

Forsters LLP’s small planning team adopts ‘a collaborative approach’, and is ‘keen to build lasting relationships’. Much of its work involves advising private companies and individuals, with recent highlights including obtaining planning permission for the chef Mark Hix’s new restaurant in Soho.

Michael Cunliffe is again named as a leading individual.

Property Finance

Forsters LLP is highlighted for its ‘very high level of service, vast industry knowledge, and commercial thinking’. Clients include RBS, Royal Bank of Canada, and SG Hambros Bank. Victoria Edwards has ‘very good understanding of client needs’.

Construction

Forsters LLP provides ‘pragmatic’ non-contentious advice to clients of the firm’s wider real estate practice, and is particularly active on commercial refurbishment matters. The ‘first-class’ Sarah Cook is highlighted for her ‘creative problem-solving skills’, and advises McDonald’s, among other clients.

Private Client 

Personal tax, trusts and probate

David Robinson is once again named as a leading individual. 
Offshore expert Peter Golden and Rupert Mead, who is noted for acting for UK landowners, were both promoted to partner at Forsters LLP in 2011. The team can draw on the firm’s wider capacity in property, finance, family, planning, and employment to service an increasingly international client base.

Agriculture and Estates

The ‘wise’ team at Forsters LLP handled a range of work in 2011, including a large mansion purchase, intricate tax planning for a farming business, and significant agricultural restructurings. Penny Elliott is ‘not afraid to give strong advice’; and Craigie Pearson is ‘quick to grasp issues’. Rupert Mead, noted for his ‘calm approach’, has been promoted to partner, as has Peter Golden.

Penny Elliott and Andrew Lane are named as leading individuals.

Contentious trusts and probate

Forsters LLP is ‘focused and diligent’. A team led by Caroline Bassett is advising Sheikh Abdullah Ali Alhamrani in declaratory proceedings in the BVI, with related simultaneous unfair prejudice proceedings. Emily Exton is ‘unwavering in the face of adversity’.

Charities and not for profit

Forsters improves its rankings this year. Its‘outstanding’ team is led by Charles Pike, who is providing advice on all aspects of the Chance to Shine appeal, from constitutional to fundraising matters. The firm is also advising the Institute of Food Research on a range of issues. Craigie Pearson is also highly regarded.

Art & Cultural Property

Forsters LLP handles a range of art and culture property matters cross-departmentally, from sale, purchase and loan agreements to litigation and the formation of charitable funds. Rupert Mead and Craigie Pearson are recommended.…Forsters LLP  specialises in Old Masters artworks.

Family

Forsters family team improves its ranking this year:‘Forward-thinking West End firm’ Forsters LLP draws on the abilities of ‘tactician’ Ann Northover, who is ‘outstanding’, and Shona Alexander, who has an ‘excellent strategic outlook’. The team has particular expertise in cases involving family trusts and pensions elements, and is also noted for its fee-conscious approach.

Corporate & Commercial: M&A

In an illustration of Forsters LLP’s strength in real estate, Craigie Pearson advised a Hong Kong investment consortium on its £30m investment in a holding company engaged in urban regeneration in the UK housing market. The hire of Craig Thompson from Howard Kennedy adds strength on the media side. Clients including British Airways Pension Fund and Soho House.

Commercial Litigation

Forsters team, led by Andrew Head, is once again recognised for its expertise in this area.

Employment

Forsters is ranked for the first time in this practice area. Jane Wheeler at Forsters LLP acts for a broad range of mid-sized companies but is best known for advice to senior executives, where she ‘gets good results for her clients’ through her ‘no-nonsense approach’.

Our Insights

"An excellent firm, much more user friendly and approachable than most. The construction and property teams are excellent providing pragmatic advice in a timely manner. Very good indeed."
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