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Graham is a Partner and heads up the Education team at Ward Hadaway, leading a large team of lawyers across our offices who are dedicated and passionate about providing a full range of legal services to the education sector.

He has advised education establishments for approximately 15 years and is recognised in Legal 500 for his expertise in this sector.

He has developed a special interest in advising nursery schools, independent schools, academies, Multi-Academy Trusts and Maintained Schools and understands the opportunities and challenges they face.

Graham has vast experience in advising employer clients on a wide range of employment law and HR matters, such as disciplinary and performance management issues, grievance issues, restructuring and redundancy exercises, TUPE, exit strategies and advising on settlement agreements.  He takes a pragmatic and commercial approach to achieve his client’s aims and objectives.

He also conducts all of his own advocacy in the Employment Tribunal and has successfully defended a wide range of claims across the country, including unfair dismissal, race, sex, pregnancy and disability discrimination, whistleblowing and unlawful deduction from wages claims.

He is also one of the few lawyers who specialises in providing Education Law advice, including advice on parental complaints, school admissions, pupil exclusions and special education needs (SEN) issues.  He has successfully defended pupil discrimination claims in the First-Tier SEND Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal.


Examples of Graham’s work includes:-

  • Advising on the merger of two nationally recognised independent schools including advice on a large collective redundancy consultation process
  • Advising MATs on independent review panel hearings relating to pupil exclusions
  • Acting for a London School in the successful defence of First-Tier SEND Tribunal pupil discrimination claims
  • Advising a MAT on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme across the Trust
  • Acting for a local authority to successfully defend thousands of equal pay claims
  • Successfully defending a number of Employment Tribunal claims brought against a government department, including unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and race discrimination claims
  • Acting for a social housing company and successfully defending unfair dismissal, disability discrimination and race discrimination claims
  • Advising an ex-employee of a manufacturing business and issuing Employment Tribunal proceedings, resulting in a six-figure award of compensation

What people say

  • Graham Vials is pragmatic, responsive and able to really understand and assist with finding solutions to various employment law issues

    Legal 500, client quote
  • Graham Vials – depth of knowledge and experience is great, always available to us when we need him to be and responds swiftly.

    Legal 500
  • Graham Vials – a real fighter for his clients. ready to go the extra mile.

    Legal 500
  • Graham Vials is incredibly personable, skilled and willing to work with us to proactively problem solve, his understanding of the sector is exceptional.

    Legal 500
  • Graham Vials is exceptional and is the partner we would always go to in the event of a complex or sensitive matter. He is always pragmatic, responsive and understands the importance of context and related matters when giving advice.

    Legal 500, Client quote
  • Some cases are unusual and Graham's ability to interpret what has happened and come up with an effective solution in response is really good...He has a really common sense and collaborative approach and also knows the law really well.

    Client quote
  • While always giving the legal position with clarity Graham balances commercial interests with common sense and does do in a collaborative manner always seeking the input of all concerned. I cannot speak highly enough of the standard of service we have received.

    Andrew Flint, Head, Staindrop School
  • Graham has provided us with a very prompt and effective Employment Law and HR service. His clear and friendly advice and guidance has helped us resolve HR issues quickly, decisively and with confidence.

    Linda Davies, Head, Parkside Academy

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