Senior Associate

Term: Permanent
Working hours: Full-time (09:30 - 17:30)
Reports to: Head of Department
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

Role Responsibilities

Reporting directly to Andrea Squires, Head of Department, the role involves advising clients on the broad range of employment issues that schools face day to day. This will include advice on recruitment, contracts, policies, the application of the national agreements (Burgundy Book and Green Book), grievances, workplace investigations, disciplinary matters and absence management, restructuring, Union consultation, TUPE and some contentious work including settlements and Tribunal claims.

There may be some overlap with both the Academy Conversion Team, headed by Anna Shadbolt, and the School Support Service Team, headed by Theresa Kerr. Specialist advice may need to be provided in relation to the impact of TUPE, pensions and safeguarding.

Our School Support Service team provide both front-line/helpdesk 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. You will be responsible for carrying out bespoke employment instructions and supervising junior colleagues in relation routine employment enquiries from the helpdesk.

We also work in partnership with a number of HR providers to whom we provide in effect a legal underpinning service. The ability to build effective partnerships with others is a crucial aspect of this role.

General tasks and responsibilities will include the following:

  • Provide timely legal advice to legal enquiries received either 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;

  • Lead and advise on bespoke instructions and transactional work including contentious instructions and Tribunal matters;

  • 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 employment law as it applies to schools and colleges;

  • Carrying out or supporting workplace investigations and advising on grievance and disciplinary procedures;

  • Advising on restructures and school reorganization including redundancy proposals

  • Advising on TUPE transfers and school outsourcing and insourcing and the need for admission agreements and bonds;

  • Drafting contracts and policies and the impact of the national agreements;

  • Drafting and advising on settlement agreements;

  • Advising on workplace pensions including the TPS and LGPS;

  • Dealing with employment claims, including drafting proceedings and instructing Counsel where appropriate, including advising on discrimination claims;

  • Advising on data protection including the DPA and GDPR in the employment context.


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 and unionised sector and our lawyers typically advise on statutory provisions and case law, the application of statutory guidance, the impact of national agreements and matters of public law as well as standard employment law and practice.

The Education team comprises experienced lawyers 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, including specifically the Employment team with whom we work closely, sharing know how and experience.   

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 and are passionate about working with schools.

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. Employment law experience is essential. Experience of the educator sector is desirable but not essential but the candidate must be willing to embrace training to get up to speed fast with issues affecting schools and other education organisations. The candidate may currently be working in a law form or for a local authority or other public sector organisation.  

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, ambitious, willing to work hard and who can also work well as part of a team and develop a team around them. There are partnership prospects for experienced candidates who can demonstrate an ability to develop a client base. 

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.