* St Philips plaudits

A city barristers’ chambers has received a boost with the announcement of the results of the Crown Prosecution Service Advocates Panel Competition.

Every member of the Bar in England and Wales who wished to prosecute cases on behalf of the CPS in the Crown Courts was invited to apply for the newly formed panel.

The process involved a full written application evidenced by advisory work and supported by references. This was the first major competition run by the CPS for a number of years and the new panels come into practice this month.

The criminal barristers at St Philips have received the largest number, 22, of Level 4 (the highest level below silk), and 12 level 3 practitioners in Birmingham. This included 31 barristers who have made it onto the newly formed specialist rape panel and all appointments are for a three-year period.

James Turner, senior criminal clerk at St Philips said: “It is great to see all of our barristers make it onto the newly selected panel and to receive the highest number in the Midlands, added to the fact we have nine criminal silks certainly shows our strength in depth and confirms our position as one of the leading criminal sets in the Midlands and the UK as a whole.”

Kevin Hegarty QC, head of chambers and criminal silk said: “It is a challenging time in the legal market as a whole and especially at the criminal bar. Many of the pressures are directly related to the cuts made in legal aid and we are therefore proud of the strong position St Philips maintains within the legal market both regionally and nationally.”

* Sydney Mitchell appointment

Midlands law firm Sydney Mitchell LLP has expanded its family team with the recent appointment of Mike Vale.

Mr Vale is a well-known lawyer in the Midlands and has handled many complex divorce cases involving multi-million pound assets.

The family team has been growing in reputation, led by partners Karen Moores and Mauro Vinti, and is regularly involved in complex matters involving substantial personal and business property, investments and pensions.

Mr Vale has practised exclusively in family law for 30 years and has been recommended in previous editions of the Legal 500 as “highly regarded”.

He said: “This has been an important move for me. In making the decision to join a new firm I was looking for a team that already undertook high quality work and where client care and client relationships were important. It has been a delight to become part of such a vibrant, knowledgeable and dedicated group of family lawyers. I feel sure we will be able to continue to expand and enhance the service Sydney Mitchell offers.”

* Horseplay

Law firm MFG Solicitors has signalled its intention to grow the firm’s equine legal practice with the appointment of a specialist lawyer.

As part of the move, Hannah Farmer has joined the Shropshire-based practice as an assistant solicitor from Yorkshire solicitors Dickinson Dees.

An experienced horsewoman, Ms Farmer will play a pivotal role in carving out a niche equine practice for the firm as it looks to develop its already reputable rural services.

Yorkshire-born Ms Farmer will work alongside partners Sarah Baugh and Tom Devey within the firm’s rural and agricultural division.

She said: “I have been given a fantastic opportunity here at MFG. I am looking forward to playing my part in establishing the firm’s name across the equine industry, whilst also contributing to the general growth of the rural affairs side.

“The equine sector plays an important economic role across the West Midlands which means the county’s breeders, owners and equestrian centres require the best possible legal advice.

“That’s something MFG can now offer.”