The 2022 Legal 500 guide has been published, with SMB maintaining high rankings across the firm. The independent guide is compiled through a combination of submissions by the firm, peer feedback and client testimonials. Managing Partner, Razi Mireskandari, said “The feedback in this year’s guide is excellent and reflects the hard work right across the firm in an exceptionally difficult year. We are very grateful for the wonderful feedback from our peers and colleagues at the Bar. Of course, we also want to say thank you to our clients; they are the truest barometers of the quality of service we provide.”
Eleven of our departments have been ranked, which is a brilliant achievement in proportion to our number of lawyers at the firm.
General Crime have maintained their Tier 1 ranking, with Anthony Burton CBE listed in the Hall of Fame, Phil Smith listed as a leading individual, and Senior Associate Henrietta Ronson listed as a Rising Star. The team, described as having “modern attitudes and ways of working”, is recognised for its international work. Phil Smith and Anthony Burton are noted for “decades of experience of the highest profile cases”, with the team benefitting from Phil’s “encyclopaedic knowledge of the law. Henrietta is also praised: her “communication is outstanding. She remains level-headed, even in the most extreme crisis situations, which inspires absolute trust in her clients.”
The Media Team, comprising the Film, Television, Music, and Publishing departments, have maintained a Tier 1 ranking for Media and Entertainment. “The team has genuine experience of the film industry and the practical issues that face film makers” says one review while another describes the team as “Commercially-minded, detail-oriented, good humoured and caring people.” The team also has a number of individuals ranked, including Razwana Akram who is ranked as a Leading Individual for the first time. She is described as “is a commercially- focused lawyer, able to quickly get to the heart of any issue and provide tailored solutions. She’s pragmatic and responsive, with a strong understanding of the film and TV sector.” Alongside joint head, Simon Goldberg, they are mentioned for “representing exceptional knowledge in the film industry and film finance.” Partners Martin Soames and Jonny Petch are also recognised as a Leading Individual and Next Generation Partner respectively while Blaise Gaymer is listed as a Rising Star.
The Media and Communications Disputes team also retain a Tier 1 ranking (in the Reputation Management category) and have recently been recognised by The Lawyer for a major award. One source describes them as “excellent lawyers who offer swift advice which is uncommonly clear, helpful, and insightful. Have a very strong understanding of journalism and its goals.” Louis Charalambous is noted as “one the most highly regarded media lawyers” while Jeffrey Smele is “always thoughtful, with good judgement and attention to detail, as well as being a delight to work with – he goes from strength to strength. A future Titan.” Other team members are recommended, with Stephen Shotnes described as “a highly experienced litigator; one of the best (if not the best) tacticians in the game. No spot is too tight for Stephen to be able to find a way (or ways) out of it.” Elsewhere Martin Soames and Gordon Clough are praised for their “exceptionally clear, constructive and timely advice. What is more, they seem to genuinely enjoy finding a way through challenging media law issues and share journalists’ passion for a good story.”
The Civil Liberties and Human Rights team hold their Tier 2 ranking with the Death Penalty Project work. We are incredibly proud of DPP’s work and reputation as “a leading force in the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.” Department heads Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabbar are ranked as leading individuals, having “knowledge that is unmatched, and well developed connections from path breaking work over many years of death penalty litigation, especially those arising from the Caribbean.” Abdul Varachhia is recommended as a “technically gifted and experienced professional with a proven ability to provide honest and pragmatic legal advice and guidance in complex areas of law.”
The Family Team are ranked again in Tier 3 and have had an exceptionally good year, also being listed in the Chambers and Partners High Net Worth Guide. The team received excellent feedback with one source stating “its thoroughness is breath taking and the team is always one beat ahead. Level-headed and pragmatic, the lawyers gave me utterly sound advice. But also its human and empathetic side meant that the lawyers felt like partners rather than service suppliers.” Head of the team, Jane McDonagh, is described as “exceptional” and “very experienced, thoughtful, articulate, sensitive but tough when required.” Tom Farley-Hills is listed as a Leading Individual and “underneath the polite and delightful exterior lurks a master tactician and strategist.” Elsewhere Tessa Bray is described as “highly professional and charming but also so amiable and pleasant” while Teena Dhanota-Jones is “personal and understanding whilst being extremely professional.”
The Corporate, Commercial and Finance department is recognised in the M&A Smaller Deals up to £50m category, described as as “highly commercial, attentive and thorough with every transaction they complete. The team’s expertise is wide and varied and they work very well across departments, resulting in speedy conclusions.” Partner Natalie Wright is noted as a Leading Individual who regularly leads on an array of corporate deals, most notably in the media, healthcare and private equity spaces. Peter Weiss is also recommended being described as “incredibly attentive, communicative and responsive. Truly great customer service.”
Within the Commercial Litigation, Mid-Market category our Dispute Resolution team “have a very innovative practice in terms of securing litigation funding for media-industry based litigation. They also have a wealth of experience in that sector, which gives them a real edge in cases that touch on those areas.” Five of the team are recommended: Razi Mireskandari, Peter Gould, Antony Perlmutter, Emma Linch, and Gordon Clough.
The Sports team, headed by Leading Individual Marc Sobol, frequently advises on major sports media deals, leveraging over 20 years of in-house broadcasting experience. His most notable deal of the year was advising US investment firm Narrative Capital on its acquisition of Sony Pictures Television’s UK channels portfolio.
Finally, Practice Head Maninder Gill’s team have been ranked for Intellectual Property, being described as an “attentive team that are always available round the clock. Billing is transparent” and “the key capabilities of the team are, besides an outstanding knowledge of the IP practice and international developments, accessibility: they react very quick, the same day, and very pleasant to deal with and using clear language.” Likewise, under Maninder’s leadership, the team are recognised in Tier 4 for their Franchising work. Maninder is described as “an outstanding individual and an excellent professional. Exceptionally client focused, very accessible, great at finding solutions to client problems.”
For more information about any of the departments please view the SMB expertise.
In support of Black History Month, Razwana Akram and Rachelle Senghor headed out today to the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House.Read more
SMB’s Media Team have advised FAE Film and Television Limited on the production and financing of new film Save The Cinema for Sky Cinema.Read more
In a judgment handed down on Tuesday 19th January, SMB won a claim to recover the domain name blackjack.com on behalf of our client, Hanger Holdings.Read more