A HOST of Dorset lawyers and their firms have been recognised among the top of their profession.

Bournemouth-based commercial law firm Steele Raymond figures in the Legal 500 guide for the 16th consecutive year.

It was the only locally-based practice among the eight highest scorers in the south west for client service.

Steele Raymond was awarded ‘top tier’ ranking in company and commercial law, commercial property and dispute resolution. Its family team maintained its ranking in in the second tier.

The company had outstanding comments and recommended lawyers in six other disciplines – employment, family, private client, education, property litigation; and contentious trusts and probate.

A change in the regional structure of the Legal 500 meant local firms were up against practices in a larger area than before, including Devon and Cornwall.

The firm has seen growth and a series of new appointments in in residential development, employment, family, commercial property and dispute resolution despite the coronavirus crisis.

Six Steele Raymond lawyers are in the ‘leading individuals’ list of the Legal 500. They are chairman Tim Stone and partner Paula Eckton for their work in corporate and commercial; managing partner and head of dispute resolution Peter Rolph; and three partners in the firm’s property group, head of commercial property Chris Twaits, property partner Jennifer Rogerson and head of residential development Emma Stainwright.

Two senior associates were named ‘rising stars’: Lindsay Halliwell in family law and Johanna Hammersley in pension property investment. A further 12 lawyers are recommended within their individual legal disciplines across the firm.

Chairman Tim Stone said:“I’m absolutely delighted that once again Steele Raymond has received the highest possible Top Tier rankings in the Legal 500 across its core commercial practice areas and to do this for 16 consecutive years is something very special. It is testament to the hard work, resilience and complete dedication of all our team to ensure the best possible outcomes for our valued clients.

“It is particularly pleasing this year as the scope of the rankings were expanded significantly to cover not only Dorset, but also the counties of Devon and Cornwall bringing us up against some major national law firms.

“The Legal 500 is one of the leading independent guides to the UK legal profession. It’s a very good test for us, particularly as we are ranked alongside a number of large national firms. This latest set of rankings is a significant highlight because the rankings for the firm are based on the quality of our work, a rigorous interview process and of course, most importantly, feedback from our valued clients. Ultimately the results are for our clients – without them we don’t even get past first base.

“As a firm we continue to evolve and grow in a very turbulent economic environment. But we pride ourselves on our ability to serve - providing outstanding client support day in and day out.”

Lester Aldridge, based in Bournemouth and Southampton, earned six top tier rankings, with 16 teams ranked overall.

The tier one teams are corporate and commercial; commercial litigation; employment; health and safety; commercial property; and shipping.

Eight partners were named leading individuals and 35 partners were named overall, including ‘next generation partners’ and ‘rising stars’.

Matthew Barrow, managing partner of Lester Aldridge, said: “Our consistently high scores in the Legal 500 reflects the exceptional quality and service levels of our people and I am also delighted to see so many of our associates recognised this year demonstrating our depth of expertise.”

Dorset firm Ellis Jones Solicitors saw its services and lawyers endorsed across a host of categories.

The firm, with more than 140 staff, has offices across in Bournemouth, Canford Cliffs, Ringwood, Swanage and Wimborne as well as London.

Its commercial litigation team won ‘top tier’ ranking.

Its corporate and commercial; employment; commercial litigation; contentious trusts and probate; family; personal tax, trusts and probate; and commercial property teams were all recognised.

Joint practice heads Lauren Day and William Fox Bregman were praised, with Lauren Day named one of three leading individuals in the South West.

Mr Fox Bregman was hailed for his “‘wealth of commercial litigation experience” while Partner Paul Kanolik was recognised as a “key name to note”.

Partner Katie Taft was recognised for her expertise in family law. Seventeen partners and solicitors were mentioned in their own right or as part of their team in the guide.

A full list of highly rated lawyers can be seen at legal500.com