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Freeths - Law firm
News 29th Nov 2023

Freeths planning for success in Bristol with senior hire

National law firm Freeths continues to bolster its market leading Planning and Environment Group with the appointment of Sarah Phillips as Legal Director in Bristol.

Sarah joins from Herbert Smith Freehills with over 17 years’ experience of advising both private and public sector clients on complex planning matters.

Sarah’s appointment will expand the Group’s Bristol offer and she will work alongside Directors Ben Derrington and Richard Broadbent who lead on environmental regulation and permitting along with associated criminal prosecution/defence; and all natural environment issues such as habitat regulations, biodiversity net gain and nutrient neutrality etc respectively.

The Freeths national Planning and Environment Group, which comprises both planning and environmental lawyers and planning consultants, received a triple accolade in this year’s Planning Law Survey which identified Freeths as one of the fastest-growing planning teams over two consecutive years.

Freeths 30 strong team now rank as the 16th largest in the country and are amongst the top 20 planning law firms. Partner Alison Ogley has also been named in the top 20 rated planning and environment lawyers nationally.

With leading environmental law Partner Penny Simpson also named this year in the ENDS Report Power list as one of the 100 UK environmental professionals who have made the greatest impact in the past two years the Group’s national reputation continues to grow.

Sarah’s appointment follows a record of continued growth for the 50+ strong Bristol office, which has recorded an increase in revenue of 51% on the previous year and was also recently named Law Firm of the Year at the Bristol Law Society Awards 2023 (over 20 partners).

Paul Brailsford, Partner, National Head of Planning and Environment at Freeths, said: “We are a passionate and ambitious team with unrivaled multi-disciplinary experience and a solid strategy for growth. Sarah’s appointment alongside directors Ben and Richard cements a first class planning and environmental law offer that will be a real game changer for clients in the region. Our plans for Bristol do not stop here and we hope to add planning consultancy expertise to the team in the near future.”

Adam Watson, Managing Partner of Freeths Bristol, continued: “At Freeths Bristol, we pride ourselves with working amongst some of the country’s top talent, this is reflected within our office’s year-on-year record growth. Therefore, we’re extremely pleased to welcome Sarah to the team. With Sarah’s distinguished capabilities recognised in the field, we’re confident she will bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise for our clients.”

Sarah Phillips added: “I’m excited to join Freeths alongside some of the country’s most acclaimed planning and environmental lawyers. Since being introduced to the team, it was clear there was a real synergy with my own personal values and Freeths’ ambitious expansion strategy. With a shared appetite of collaborative working for our clients, I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few months has in store whilst I begin my next career journey.”

Image of Sarah Phillips

Author: Sarah Phillips


Ben Derrington

Author: Ben Derrington


Author: Richard Broadbent


Author: Paul Brailsford

Partner, National Head of Planning & Environment

Penny Simpson

Author: Penny Simpson


Author: Alison Ogley


Author: Adam Watson

Managing Partner - Bristol

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