Temple Bright surges nationally in education sector construction projects

Bristol and London law firm Temple Bright has received a flood of instructions on construction projects for existing and new schools clients across the UK.

Bristol-based construction partner Julia Davenport-Cooper, who joined the firm in 2016, described a series of new appointments in the sector as evidence of a fast-developing niche practice for schools clients nationwide.

In the South West, Temple Bright continues to win repeat instructions from established clients including the Ofsted outstanding-rated Churchill Academy, which Julia has advised on several previous schemes, and the Lighthouse Schools Partnership, which operates 17 schools in the region with more to be added soon.

Temple Bright previously advised the Churchill Academy on a new science and technology block and is now instructed to act on further improvements, including demolition and car park works. The firm is retained to advise the Lighthouse Schools Partnership on works across its estate and will shortly advise Chew Valley School, a new joiner to the partnership, on a scheme of replacement windows.

Further afield Temple Bright recently advised first-time client, the prestigious Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, on the £5.5m construction of a new boys’ boarding house. At the start of this year the firm was appointed by another new client, the Longsands Academy in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, on a programme of roof works.

Since then the firm has secured a role advising a third new client, Townfield Primary School in Merseyside, on a £1.5 to £2m project after winning a competitive tender process.

Julia Davenport-Cooper said: “We are delighted to be advising such a variety of education sector clients on such a diverse portfolio of work. Over the past two years our schools construction practice has really boomed and it is fair to say that we are now a go-to adviser nationally, for projects falling within a very wide range of value and complexity.

“Our clients are also a wide range, in both profile and location. But the majority of schools and academies have in common the need for a genuine specialist in this area, with a strong track record and an understanding of their priorities and those of their contractors. A big part of our success in the sector comes from our ability to take a pragmatic and collaborative approach, which is only possible with such a track record and understanding.”

Another advantage for the firm, Julia said, is its ability to field a comprehensive team which includes broad expertise alongside construction law. On schools projects she has been able to introduce Temple Bright partners in real estate, planning and dispute resolution. The firm operates a streamlined ‘partner-only’ business model, which means that clients receive advice from a tight-knit team of experienced lawyers, rather than being passed down the ranks to junior assistants.

Temple Bright co-founder Tim Summers said: “It is great to see this niche continuing to develop at Temple Bright, thanks to the hard work and expertise of Julia and the support of other partners. The firm is now establishing a national reputation for construction work in the education sector.

“This is a strong demonstration of the benefits of our distinctive approach, for clients across the South West and beyond: dedicated attention from a team of senior lawyers, with no delegation to juniors, and greater certainty on fees.”

Temple Bright was launched by three partners in Bristol in 2010, initially advising entrepreneurs and SMEs in the South West. In 2013 it opened a London office just north of the City in Shoreditch, with an initial focus on technology work. The firm now has more than 60 partners handling a full range of commercial practice areas and a client list extending to listed companies, public sector bodies, schools and charities alongside a continuing large SME base.

This article appeared in the Bristol Business Newsletter on 26 October 2018.