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25 October, 2018 - 18:38 By Tony Quested

The Legal 500 Guide: Top life science, hi-tech and media lawyers in East Anglia

The Life Sciences and hi-tech sectors are driving the Cambridge technology cluster to ever greater glories on the world stage. Investment rounds are now hitting levels never seen previously as global backers seek to gorge on a slice of the Cambridge pie.

The Legal 500 guide has rankings for Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) under Biotechnology, IT and Telecoms, Intellectual Property and Media & Entertainment.

Biotechnology is such a key growth area it is worth running through all the top-rated firms. Taylor Wessing is on its own in Tier 1. Ditto Mills & Reeve in Tier 2. Marks & Clerk and Penningtons Manches are in Tier 3. Malcolm Bates, Tim Worden and David Mardle get special mentions for Taylor Wessing, which handles work for international heavyweights in the segment.

James Fry
James Fry of Mills & Reeve

James Fry, who leads the Mills & Reeve life science team is said to have “excellent sector knowledge” while Zickie Lim, capital markets expert Stephen Hamilton, IP partner Alasdair Poore, corporate partner Anthony McGurk, disputes specialist Graeme Menzies and head of technology Kevin Calder “also play central roles in the firm’s work for biotechnology clients.”

Marks & Clerk is said to have “a significant client base in the biotechnology sector” while at Penningtons Manches corporate partner Ross McNaughton is said to play “a key part in the firm’s life sciences team and last year assisted a drug discovery company with drafting and negotiating a master services agreement for the provision of data room services by a US company, which involved complex issues around data protection.”

IT and telecoms

Three firms are ranked in Tier 1 – Eversheds Sutherland, Mills & Reeve and Taylor Vinters. Birketts, Greenwoods GRM and Hewitsons are in Tier 2. Leading individuals in this arena are Kevin Calder of Mills & Reeve, Quentin Golder of Birketts, Simon Crossley of Eversheds and Tom McGuire of Taylor Vinters.

Simon Crossley of Eversheds Sutherland
Simon Crossley, Eversheds Sutherland

Crossley is described as “the key contact” at Eversheds as global head of life sciences. His recent highlights, says the guide, included acting for the National Grid in the development of its smart meter business.

Intellectual Property

Five firms are Tier 1 for Intellectual Property law – Eversheds Sutherland, Mills & Reeve, Stobbs IP, Taylor Vinters and Taylor Wessing. Eight leading individuals include Chris Sleep of Stobbs IP.

The guide says that Eversheds has – according to one client – “a team that is modest in size but works well with client and counsel and is as good as any and better than most.”

At Mills & Reeve the overall level of service is described as “fantastic with rapid response times and well communicated dates for deliverables,” according to client feedback. James Fry gets another namecheck here for his excellence.

The write-up for Stobbs IP is outstanding. The guide reports: “StobbsIP Cambridge rates 10/10 for its high-end brand management work and clients remark that it is good in all areas of IP.”

Founder Julius Stobbs is highly praised, as are senior solicitor Chris Sleep and senior trademark attorney Claire Sugden. The Legal 500 enthuses: “The firm climbs the ranking on the strength of its stellar client base, which includes Facebook, Converse, Boots, Barclays, Glencore, McDonalds, O2, PepsiCo, PurpleBricks and Grandmaster Flash.

“For Facebook and its subsidiaries, the firm advises on trademark strategy and enforcement which in 2017 included 80 UK and European Union trademark opposition, cancellation and invalidity actions.”

Media and Entertainment

Greenwoods GRM and Stobbs IP are the only firms ranked for Media and Entertainment work.

The Legal 500 reports: “The corporate and commercial practice at Greenwoods GRM in Peterborough has many clients in the media industry, for which it handles acquisitions and disposals.

“It also excels in the licensing and exploitation of media assets, advice to e-commerce and digital businesses, and data protection matters.” 

Corporate partners Alastair Gunn  and David Woods are recommended along with associate Adele Whaley. “Highlights for the practice included assisting a magazine publisher with a multimillion pound equity fundraising transaction.”

StobbsIP is said to have positioned itself as a centre of excellence for advice on brands. The firm works for US hip hop artist Grandmaster Flash. “This involves management of his global trademark portfolio, negotiating and drafting performance agreements and handling enforcement actions against unauthorised use of his trademarks,” The Legal 500 reports.

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