Kennedys adds DAC Beachcroft specialist liability lead for Newcastle launch

Andrea Ward joins to launch insurance specialist’s 13th UK office as DAC Beachcroft colleagues Tom Walshaw and Andrew Sheppard defect to Kennedys in London

l-r, Andrew Sheppard, Claire Mulligan, Andrea Ward and Tom Walshaw Image courtesy of Kennedys

Kennedys has hired the head of DAC Beachcroft’s specialist liability team to open an office in Newcastle. 

Andrea Ward has joined the firm from DAC Beachcroft with specialist liability partners Tom Walshaw and ​Andrew Sheppard, who will work alongside Ward from London. The trio handle complex and sensitive matters involving allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, stress, bullying, harassment, discrimination, defamation and claims under the Human Rights Act. They also advise on managing reputational risk. 

Kennedys said Ward would be based in the new office alongside “a small number of partners and staff”. The launch brings Kennedys’ office count to 44 globally and follows it adding bases across the UK, Australia and US since 2021. 

Claire Mulligan, partner and head of Kennedys’ UK liability defence group, said: “We have been keen to grow this specialist area to meet demand for some time now, but the high levels of service our clients expect meant we needed the right people to take it forward.    

“I am delighted to say we have found them, and I know the experience and expertise they bring will be of huge benefit to our clients and the wider business.”   

Ward brings more than 30 years of experience as a solicitor, the past seven of which she spent as a partner DAC Beachcroft. Prior to that she was at DWF and also spent three years as head of legal services at Newcastle charity St Cuthbert’s Care. 

Meantime Walshaw and Sheppard have been partners at DAC Beachcroft since 2017 and 2019 respectively, prior to which they both practised at UK rival Clyde & Co. Walshaw defends claims against local authorities and blue light organisations in complex liability claims, while Sheppard specialises in technical liability and quantum work involving claims against public sector bodies, educational establishments and employers. 

Ward commented: “The service that Kennedys offers, including access to specialists across a range of different disciplines and jurisdictions, is an attractive proposition to clients and I think our combined skillset will really complement that. 

“There’s a real opportunity for growth here, and I know all three of us are just excited to get started.” 

The Newcastle launch follows Kennedys hiring a 36-strong insurance team from UK rival Langleys to launch in Leeds at the start of 2021. In the interim the firm has added lawyers from Clyde & Co and US firms Wheat Oppermann and White & Williams to open in Brisbane and Perth in Australia and Houston and Wilmington in the US. 

DAC Beachcroft, meanwhile, is understood to be in talks to sell the personal injury and specialist claims arm of its business, which employs more than 1,000 people, to a private equity firm.

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