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The Partners

Gary McGonagle

Gary McGonagle

Gary is one of the founding partners of the firm and has specialist knowledge and experience in Corporate, Commercial and Intellectual Property law. He qualified as solicitor in 2001 and was previously a partner in a city law firm and in a media and entertainment firm in London. His previous private practice experience combined with working as an in-house lawyer for a FTSE listed, international fashion company gives him a wealth of commercial and legal experience to draw upon.

His specialist experience includes advising on:

  • Corporate acquisitions, mergers, MBO’s and disposals
  • Investments, restructuring and insolvency
  • Commercial trading agreements
  • Mainstream intellectual property and general commercial issues for a variety of Technology, Media and Fashion companies

His core specialisms include: –

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Technology and Office Solutions

Author of a chapter entitled, “Buying and selling brands” in The Handbook of European Brand Rights Management (2011).
Author of a chapter entitled, “Business Structures” for a book entitled “Growing Business Innovation” which is endorsed by the Intellectual Property Office (2017).

For any enquiries please contact Gary McGonagle

Ian Robertson

Ian qualified as a solicitor in 2001 and is the head of Howman’s commercial litigation and debt recovery department and has over 30 years’ experience in commercial dispute resolution working at commercial firms in London and Sussex.

Ian specialises in disputes arising out of an asset finance transaction and acts for a number of well-known funders. He frequently advises clients upon issues concerning fraud and misrepresentation, disputes as to quality and fitness for purpose, disputes over title and asset recovery.

Ian also acts in relation to a variety of insolvency claims particularly in bringing proceedings against directors of insolvent companies. Ian’s reported cases include:

  • Armstrong v Onyearu [2017] EWCA Civ 280 (Acting for a Trustee in Bankruptcy in proceedings concerning the principle of equity of exoneration).
  • Singh v Dhanji [2014] EWCA Civ 414 (Concerning whether a landlord was in breach of his statutory duty to consent to an assignment of the lease by imposing an unreasonable condition requiring all alleged breaches of covenant, served under the Law of Property Act 1925, to be resolved).
  • Sunderland Mutual Marine Insurance Co v Wiseman [2007] EWHC 1460 (concerning a conflict of laws in a claim arising out of an alleged insurance fraud).
  • Re Online Rentals Limited [2005] (whether the presentation of a Winding Up Petition amounted to an abuse of process).
For any enquiries please contact Ian Robertson

The Team

Alex Churcher

Alex Churcher

Alex joined Howman Solicitors in August 2015 and is an Affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives currently completing his Level 3 Professional Diploma.

As well as assisting the Commercial Litigation Team with various contentious matters, Alex also undertakes debt recovery work for a variety of clients, from multinational companies to small and medium sized businesses and in a number of different sectors.

For any enquiries please contact Alex Churcher
James Eaton

James Eaton

James joined Howman Solicitors as a Paralegal in September 2023. He assists across a range of areas including Corporate, Litigation and Debt Recovery.

James graduated from Exeter University in 2022 with an LLB Law Degree and has subsequently completed the LPC at the University of Law.

For any enquiries please contact James Eaton

Leah Groves

Leah Groves

Leah is a Corporate Solicitor specialising in the sale and acquisition of dental practices (NHS, private or mixed), acting for sellers and purchasers in their personal capacity, as partners or via limited companies.

She is a skilled multi-disciplined lawyer who delivers practical high quality legal advice on all aspects of buying and selling dental practices including:-

  • Sales and purchases of dental practices covering asset and company share transactions
  • Incorporating your dental practice
  • 24-hour NHS retirement
  • Protecting your NHS contract including regulatory advice and NHS contract transfer
  • CQC registration within the context of sales and purchases
  • Drafting and advising on partnership and expense sharing agreements
  • Property assistance for freehold and leasehold properties

Despite being London based, Leah is sought out and instructed by healthcare professionals all over England and Wales, who specifically want her on their side when buying or selling their dental business.  Leah’s excellent reputation in the sector is further reinforced by her membership of the prominent dental business organisation, Association of Specialist Providers to Dentists (known as ‘ASPD’) and her repeat personal recognition and professional rankings in the Legal500 and Chambers and Partners legal directories.

She has extensive experience in this sector and an in-depth understanding of how dental businesses work and the nuances of NHS contracts and the CQC having acted for the dental profession since 2005. She takes a commercial and proactive approach to her deals and works tirelessly to ensure that transactions proceed as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Get in touch with Leah to see how she can help you and your dental business plans today.

For any enquiries please contact Leah Groves

Victoria Keene

Victoria joined Howman Solicitors as a paralegal in 2012 and qualified as a solicitor in 2016. She has over a decade of experience specialising in commercial litigation, insolvency law and debt recovery. 

Asset Finance
Victoria is a recognised specialist in the asset finance industry acting for funders and suppliers. Victoria has particular expertise in the following areas:

  • Advising on contractual issues including misrepresentation, disputes relating to fitness for purpose and fraud;
  • Advising on interim remedies, including return of goods;
  • Advising on alternative dispute resolution procedures and representing clients and mediations;
  • Advising on insolvency procedures.

Victoria’s insolvency practice complements the work she undertakes for her asset finance clients. She regularly advises insolvency practitioners on matters such as:

  • Transactions at an undervalue;
  • Post Petition Dispositions;
  • Preference Payments;
  • Directors’ misfeasance.


For any enquiries please contact Victoria Keene
Analia Lizalda-Powell

Analía Lizalda-Powell

Analía is a paralegal who joined Howman Solicitors in 2022. She enthusiastically supports the team in Corporate and Litigation matters.

Analía graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in French and Spanish in 2021.

Having completed the PGDL in early 2024, Analía will continue on the SQE qualification route.

For any enquiries please contact Analia Lizalda-Powell
Kayla Mcdonald

Kayla McDonald

Kayla is a consultant solicitor, working in the Commercial Litigation and Corporate departments whose knowledge and understanding complements work across the firm’s main practice areas. 

During her training with the firm and subsequently, Kayla has acquired an excellent understanding of the commercial litigation landscape including the following areas: – 

  • Disputes arising out of asset finance agreements;
  • Debt recovery and general commercial disputes; and
  • Insolvency (both advising office holders and directors).

In addition, Kayla has honed a deep understanding of the intricacies of corporate transactions, acquisitions, private equity transactions and provides tailored advice on compliance matters. Kayla understands each client’s unique needs and objectives and translates this to achieve excellent results. Kayla’s recent experience includes: –

  • Investment in a UK Ltd company;
  • Asset/share sale of nurseries; and
  • Acquisition/sale of Pharmacies.

Prior to qualifying at Howman Solicitors, Kayla joined the firm as a paralegal in May 2021 and has gained a wealth of experience and possesses commitment to excellence in every client interaction.

For any enquiries please contact Kayla McDonald

Hugh Mulley

Hugh is a specialist company and commercial lawyer with over 20 years’ experience acting for clients across the business spectrum. He advises on a wide range of company and commercial legal matters, including:

  • Buying and selling companies and businesses
  • Shareholders and joint venture agreements
  • Standard terms of business

Commercial agreements Hugh has a background working in major London law firms and has also spent four years working as a lawyer in the Middle East.

Hugh is recognised for giving direct and common sense advice and has a diploma in Corporate Finance giving an extra dimension to the service that he provides.

For any enquiries please contact Hugh Mulley
Paul Polain

Paul Polain

Paul joined Howman Solicitors in June 2023 as a consultant bookkeeper, with over 30 years’ experience in accounts and practice management exclusively within the legal sector.

He is a qualified Association of Accounting Technicians bookkeeper and assists the team with all aspects of the accounting function.

For any enquiries please contact Paul Polain
Conor Stacey

Conor Stacey

Conor is a consultant solicitor, working primarily in our Corporate practice, with the addition of having a good understanding and ability to assist in the firm’s Litigation practice.

Conor has gained valuable experience advising across a broad range of corporate matters including corporate governance and advisory matters, private mergers and acquisitions, joint venture transactions and private equity transactions.

Conor regularly works on transactions across in a range of industry sectors, with a particular focus on healthcare.

In addition, Conor has been able to build his knowledge within the firm’s Litigation practice by advising various asset finance houses and private individuals, assisting with their commercial disputes and debt recovery matters.

Prior to qualifying at Howman Solicitors, having joined the firm in May 2019 as a paralegal, Conor has also spent time in the firm’s Commercial Property and Insolvency practice.

For any enquiries please contact Conor Stacey

Lynne Burns

Lynne Burns is an Employment Law specialist and has over 20 years’ experience in handling all types of employment law both contentious and non-contentious.

She has worked as in house Counsel and Counsel for EMEA for two global businesses and has been a Partner in West End and City practices.

She deals with all types of Employment litigation in the Employment Tribunal and High Court and non-contentious advice including advice on TUPE, re-structuring, outsourcing, redundancies and the practical realities faced by a business. Litigation experience includes dismissals, discrimination, Equal Pay and breach of contract claims.

Lynne provides practical hands on advice to help avoid issues before they arise and rapidly diffuse them if problems have already occurred. She will advise you when the right time is to settle a case and when it is advisable to pursue the matter all the way to Court or Tribunal.

For any enquiries please contact Lynne Burns