Mr Loophole is UK’s best-known solicitor

Payne Hicks Beach divorce partner Fiona Shackleton has lost her position as the UK’s highest-profile solicitor, eclipsed by road traffic lawyer Nick Freeman.

According to legal research company Sweet & Maxwell, Freeman has featured in 120 national press article compared with just 56 that mention Shackleton.

The divorce lawyer first gained national attention for representing Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana in 1996. In 2008, she was instructed to act for Paul MCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills (17 March 2008).

Freeman & Co named partner Freeman was originally a prosecutor for Greater Manchester Police but later switched sides to represent celebrities accused of motoring offences. Past clients include Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, comedian Jimmy Carr and David Beckham.

Freeman was nicknamed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his apparent ability to win cases on minor technicalities, a tag which he has since trademarked to prevent other lawyers from using it.

Also mentioned among the top 10 most-cited lawyers is Kaim Todner partner Karen Todner, cited 67 times after she was instructed to represent Gary McKinnon in his fight against extradition to the US (2 December 2009).

Finers Stephens Innocent partner Mark Stephens came in behind Shackleton with 50 mentions while Stefan Cross, who represented staff who launched an equal pay claim against Birmingham City Council, gained 20 mentions.

Leigh Day & Co partner Martin Day also reached the top 10 with 15 mentions after he launched a group litigation order against Trafigura on behalf of 30,000 Ivory Coast claimants. That case settled in September last year (23 September 2009).

Most cited solicitors in UK newspapers

(Press coverage July 2009 – June 2010)

1. Freeman & Co named partner Nick Freeman, 120 mentions

2. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom partner Bruce Buck, 87 mentions, Chelsea FC chairman,

3. Kaim Todner partner Karen Todner, 67 mentions, represented Gary McKinnon, the British hacker the US is trying to extradite

4. Giovanni di Stefano, 62 mentions, Ian Brady and Ronnie Biggs’ lawyer

5. Payne Hicks Beach Fiona Shackleton, 56 mentions, John Cleese divorce case

6. Finers Stephens Innocent Mark Stephens, 50 mentions, media lawyer who commented frequently on the John Terry super injunction

7. Julian Young & Co partner Julian Young, 39 mentions, represented Sean Hodgson, incorrectly convicted of murder in 1982 and freed after a DNA test

8. Public Interest Lawyers solicitor Phil Shiner, 38 mentions, represents anti-war activist Maya Evans

9. Stefan Cross Solicitors name partner Stefan Cross, 20 mentions, represented staff suing Birmingham City Council over pay discrimination

10.   Leigh Day & Co partner Martyn Day, 15 mentions, represented claimants following the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast

Most frequently cited barristers in UK newspapers

1. Tooks Chambers’ Michael Mansfield QC, 126 mentions, represented a number of clients in the Bloody Sunday inquiry, plus Ali Dizaei (Metropolitan Police commander jailed for corruption)

2. Doughty Streets’ Geoffrey Robertson QC, 100 mentions, voting chaos, plus commented regularly on Gary McKinnon extradition

3. Matrix Chambers’ Cherie Booth QC, 97 mentions, care homes scandal, religious bias in decision over assault

4. Doughty Streets’ Helena Kennedy QC, 75 mentions, defended wife of suspected terrorist

5. Brick Courts’ Jonathan Sumption QC, 65 mentions, main lawyer for the Government in Guantanamo torture claims 

6. Matrix Chambers’ Julian Knowles, 59 mentions, legal aid to expenses MP

7. Cloth Fair Chambers’ John Kelsey-Fry QC, 57 mentions, Mike Ashley fraud case, Steven Gerrard assault

8. Blackstone Chambers’ Lord Lester QC,  50 mentions, libel law reform

9. Matrix Chambers’ Rabinder Singh QC, 39 mentions, Iraqi abuse case, Tesco V Sainsbury case, Devon

10. Doughty Street Chambers’ Gavin Millar QC, 37 mentions, John Venables/child abuse images, assisted suicide case