Solicitor

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PQE: 1-10
Term: Permanent
Working hours: Full-time
Team: Education
Location: London
The firm

Winckworth Sherwood is an exciting, diverse and growing business. Joining our team will see you work with some of the UK’s most interesting clients.

In the last year alone we have:

  • Worked on corporate transactions valued at over £3 billion
  • Advised our developer and social housing clients on over £1.6 billion of residential sales and over £1 billion of refinancings
  • Advised on HS2 which will see the development of over 330 miles of railway network with an expected £59 billion benefit to the wider economy
  • As if that wasn’t enough, we are also involved in the transformation of Battersea Power Station and act for the majority of London’s major Housing Associations who together own assets of over £17.3 billion.

However it’s not all about big numbers and high-profile projects; the real success of our business comes from the ability of our teams to provide fantastic service and create long-lasting relationships.

 

The role

Reporting to Theresa Kerr, our Head of School Support Service, the role involves working in our School Support Service team to provide both front-line telephone and email support direct to clients in response to a range of legal enquiries from schools and to undertake substantive transactions where initial instructions have developed into bespoke matters.

General tasks and responsibilities will include the following:

  • Provide timely legal advice to legal enquiries received through the helpline or by email and record all enquiries received;
  • Identify where an enquiry requires specialist input either from other members of the team or specialist lawyers within the rest of the firm;
  • Assist with the development of toolkits, template advice and model policies and contracts for School Support Service clients;
  • Assist with developing internal FAQs and precedents, to ensure consistency and quality of advice, as well as efficient working practices;
  • Prepare client briefing notes on legal developments  / areas of interest for our clients and assist in the delivery of both on-site training to clients and centrally held seminars and conferences;
  • Contribute articles to our termly Heads Up! newsletter;
  • Contribute to the development of the practice by identifying new opportunities for work and responding to new enquiries about taking up the School Support Service or any other instructions from prospective clients and assisting with tenders and pitches for new work;
  • Regularly update our School Support Service portal with new content.

Specific areas of expertise and advice include:

  • Advising on education law including the statutory framework relating to maintained schools and academies and general governance issues;
  • Advising on company law and corporate governance, particularly the statutory functions of a company secretary and the duties of trustees of a charitable company;
  • Advising on charity law and application to schools and colleges including public benefit especially for fee-charging charities;
  • HR and employment law, including familiarity with TUPE, the Standard Teachers Pay & Conditions Document and schools occupational pension schemes;
  • Advising on admissions to maintained schools and academies including clerking admission appeals, advising on referrals to the adjudicator and defending judicial review claims by disappointed applicants;
  • Advising on exclusions from schools including clerking exclusion appeals and defending judicial review actions brought on behalf of excluded pupils;
  • Advising on Special Educational Needs issues including defending Special Educational needs and Disability Tribunal claims relating to disability discrimination;
  • Dealing with parental complaints and advising on possible action against aggressive parents;
  • Advising on construction of trust deeds, transfers of trusteeship and other trust matters, including general property advice and occasional lettings by schools;
  • Advising schools on the acquisition and disposal of freehold and leasehold land, understanding the differences between land held for maintained schools and typical property arrangements for academies;
  • Advising on school relocations and closures, including referrals to the Adjudicator and challenges to the Adjudicator's decisions;
  • Advising on the acquisition of trust status and other changes of statutory category, and prescribed alterations to schools;
  • Experience of academy conversion and re-brokerage including drafting Articles of Association, advising on funding agreements with the Secretary of State, sponsorship arrangements, charitable status, acquisition of freehold and/or leasehold land and trust issues;
  • Advising on school building programmes such as BSF and Priority School Building Programme;
  • Experience of procurement and advising on typical commercial contracts entered into by schools such as catering and cleaning contracts, IT and data management;
  • Advising on data protection including the DPA and on dealing with Freedom of Information Act requests, as well as knowledge of the GDPR
The team

Supporting schools and colleges is a core business of Winckworth Sherwood. In addition, we act for a number of education charities and foundation bodies such as Diocesan Boards of Education and Catholic Dioceses. A large part of our practice is acting for academy trusts and this work is growing as more schools become academies and operate independently of local authorities.

Education is a heavily regulated sector and our lawyers typically advise on statutory provisions, the application of statutory guidance, matters of public law including judicial review, data protection and complaints handling as well as the whole array of private law including contract, employment, property, company and litigation. 

The Education team are experienced advising schools and colleges on the whole range of legal issues affecting schools and therefore a broad knowledge of the law is helpful, but there is back up from the more specialist lawyers in the rest of the firm who focus on specific legal disciplines.

Of equal importance is a focus on delivering a great client experience. That means listening to our clients, making sure we do things the way they like, and only recruiting people who share this vision.

The Education team are highly rated by both Chambers and Legal 500 but more importantly by our clients from whom we receive instructions year on year and who often refer us to other schools and education organisations.

Candidate specification

The successful candidate will have a strong academic background and be commercial and intelligent in their approach and have the ability to cope with an intellectually stimulating and varied workload. Previous experience in the educator sector is desirable but not essential.

Excellent written and oral communication skills are important as is being able to build client relationships and provide a friendly and approachable service to our clients. We are looking for a key member of the team who is enthusiastic, self-motivated, willing to work hard and who can also work well as part of a team.

The department has an expanding, client base with significant opportunities for further development.  We are committed to developing our lawyers through exposure to interesting and varied work combined with supportive training.