From freedom of information disputes to IP issues, real estate to pensions, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co's cross-firm Education team handles the broad spectrum of issues impacting the sector. By combining sector-focused experts from a range of disciplines, clients benefit from commercially-sound advice and full service support.
Who are these clients and what are the key issues at large?
Higher education institutions - the issue of funding takes centre stage, as the era of generous state support has ended and competition from overseas institutions has increased. Against this backdrop, driving quality remains a challenge.
Further education institutions - as the UK recovers from the economic downturn, further education faces budget pressures at a time when demand for courses and training has intensified. For some providers, the policy shift towards a focus on apprenticeships will require a review of leadership and governance to ensure they can adapt and respond effectively.
Academies, state and independent schools - schools are going through a significant period of change as the Government implements its policies and alters the shape of the sector.
Hands-on public sector experience gives our team the edge in helping these clients adapt to change. Many of us have experience of working in-house for local authorities, including Mark Greenburgh at Buckinghamshire Local Education Authority. A number of partners including Andrew Manning Cox and Julian Pallett are also school governors or sit on the boards of UK universities. This sector insight enables the team to truly understand clients' operating environment, commercial needs and priorities.
Delivering the best outcome for you
Any educational institution facing an employment challenge needs legal advisers who can act swiftly and effectively. Minimising the potential for PR fall-out and retaining quality staff to ensure continuity for students' education is also crucial.
With extensive, award-winning public sector employment expertise, clients are in safe hands. It's why the Girl's Day School Trust turns to our team as a trusted adviser on issues ranging from employment tribunals to industrial relations with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Clients benefit from the team's ability to get to the nub of the issue quickly, dealing with matters before they escalate.
Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co also offers extensive experience of negotiating and drafting successful construction contracts in the education sector. Our sector-focused specialists appreciate that safety of students and ensuring that works do not disrupt their education is paramount. As is the need for projects to be delivered within budget and on timetable.
Renowned for taking a creative and pragmatic approach to contract negotiation, our experience includes advising on Solihull College's multi-million pound campus development. A team led by Richard Green advised the college to adopt a procurement strategy that allowed design work to start early and run parallel to contract negotiations. The result? All work was completely smoothly and on time.
Results for clients
Birmingham City University
Our combination of sector specialisation and commercial nous came to the fore when advising Birmingham City University on its £125 million, 42,000 sq m City Campus development. An in-depth understanding of the complex public procurement framework led to an important, commercially favourable outcome for the client.
The university continues to call upon our expertise throughout the lifecycle of this multi-faceted development project. When it was forced to re-locate the entire development as a result of High Speed 2 proposals, the need for first-rate real estate and planning expertise ensued. Cue Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co.
Steering the client through complex development agreements and successfully handling a judicial review challenge, the project is now back on track and set to deliver an inspirational learning environment for 10,000 students.
International advice to the University of Coventry
The University of Coventry set up a centre in Guangzhou in 2011 to facilitate joint research and education initiatives. Our Guangzhou-based specialists continues to provide pragmatic, commercial advice on a broad range of issues, including setting up corporate entities and liaison with local authorities. Knowledge of Chinese law, procedure, practice and customs, together with an understanding of the University's commercial objectives, enables us to smooth the path between the Chinese legal system and its business.
St. Modwen's £450 million campus redevelopment
The ability to advise with certainty and speed sees the firm continue to act at the heart of major projects in the sector. Take St Modwen's development partnership with Swansea University on a £450 million science and innovation campus. Attracting national headlines, the 700,000 sq ft development will include 430,000 sq ft of academic space, 899 student apartments and associated retail space.
The complex project involved guiding the client through a competitive dialogue process, negotiating the development agreements, the forward sale of the student accommodation and the construction contracts. All of these weighty issues had to coincide. The experience, size and specialist resources within the team meant all elements of the project were successfully delivered simultaneously.
Employment advice to Shrewsbury School
As trusted advisers to Shrewsbury School, we provide advice on a range of employment matters - including the successful implementation of a new pay and grading structure. Proactive and pragmatic, we help identify potential employment issues before they escalate.