Leading Individuals

Charities and not-for-profit in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP‘s team has ‘a great and growing charity law practice; the team is very responsive and knowledgeable’. The Ipswich office is the key hub of related expertise, and is home to charity law specialist and practice head Liz Brownsell, who is ‘always on hand to give quick, practical advice in a responsive and tailored manner’. Employment expert Sonya O’Reilly also plays a key role in the practice, as do senior associate Jennifer Marley and legal director Louisa Saunders, who both assist with incorporation, governance, commercial and land-related matters.

Practice head(s):

Liz Brownsell

Other key lawyers:

Sonya O’Reilly; Amy Bradburne; Jennifer Marley; Louisa Saunders


‘Birketts have a great and growing charity law practice; the team is very responsive and knowledgeable, with lower rates than London firms; their fee arrangements are always clear, upfront and transparent.’

‘I have worked with Liz Brownsell for many years; she is very knowledgeable, abreast of the latest developments in charity law and regulation, and always on-hand to give quick, practical advice in a responsive and tailored manner. Her client care is exceptional.’

‘The practice ensures it has a good understanding of the operation of our organisation, the needs and challenges that we face. There is a good diversity of strength within each respective team.’

‘Sonya O’Reilly is our lead partner and she works hard to ensure that we receive a high level of customer care and support as well as in her specific field of law. Liz Brownsell has also been very supportive and worked well to ensure a recent change in our structure went through as smoothly as possible.’

‘I found Birketts LLP to have the experience of dealing with charities and the expertise necessary to sort out our particular needs. This gave me the confidence that our legl problem was in good hands and would be resolved and this proved to be the case.’

‘Associates at Birketts LLP are knowledgeable, understanding of the issues that need to be resolved and helpful in sorting them out. In particular, I was very impressed with Amy Bradburne who became my regular contact and constantly updated me with progress reports to arrive at our end goal.’

‘The practice is particularly strong and innovative in the creation and governance of charitable structures. The team is also exceptionally well-placed to handle cases which cross over with litigation, real estate, or probate and succession because they work so well with the strong teams that Birketts have in those areas.’

‘Liz Brownsell is extremely astute and knowledgeable, and has a fabulous grasp of developments in the third sector. She also works very hard for her clients.’

Key clients

Amnesty International


Trust for London

The UK Cyber Security Council

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care

Child Health Research CIO

The Royal Academy of Arts

The Diocese of London

The Royal Horticultural Society

National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB)

London Diocesan Fund

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices

East Anglian Air Ambulance

Quadram Institute of Biosciences

The All Saints Educational Trust

St Mary’s West Kensington

Margate Creative Land Trust

St Elizabeth Hospice

Priscilla Bacon Norfolk Hospice Care Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Amnesty International on a major governance reform project, following a governance review report presented to the International Board.
  • Advised What Works for Children’s Social Care on its merger with the Early Intervention Foundation to become ‘What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care’, which completed in December 2022.
  • Advising The UK Cyber Security Council on its transfer to Royal Charter status as a new professional membership charity established to raise and regulate standards of practice within the cyber security industry, having previously advised on its establishment and on its application for a Royal Charter.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The Cambridge office at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP is a key hub for its national charities practice and is the base of head of the firm-wide group Stephen O’Reilly, who provides ‘prompt, sensible legal advice and always appreciates the wider business context'. He is supported by senior associate Martyn Robinson, who ‘displays excellent technical and broader industry knowledge'. The firm has a stellar roster of clients, among them The National Film and Television School and Our Future Health. Robinson recently assisted the FIA Foundation with governance matters, while O’Reilly advised Every Youth, newly-branded successor to End Youth Homelessness, on establishing itself as a stand-alone entity.

Practice head(s):

Stephen O’Reilly

Other key lawyers:

Martyn Robinson


‘We worked closely with Martyn Robinson on developing the company’s constitutional arrangements. Martyn was responsive, displayed excellent technical and broader industry knowledge, and ensured we had a smooth and rapid pathway to completing the necessary arrangements.’

‘Aware of trends and insights in the charity sector.’

‘Stephen O’Reilly provides prompt, sensible legal advice and always appreciates the wider business context. He has an ability to appropriately assess risk and help steer clients who are new to charity laws.’

Key clients

Our Future Health

FIA Foundation

Turning Point

Quality by Randomization Limited (trading as Protas)

Barchester Healthcare Foundation

Towards Zero Foundation

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club

National Oceanography Centre

The National Film and Television School

Richmond, The American International University in London, Inc

Mills & Reeve LLP

The charities and social enterprise practice at Mills & Reeve LLP advises an impressive array of charity clients, among them the Francis Crick Institute, The Children’s Trust and the Institution of Engineering and Technology. 'Exceptional lawyer' and practice head Neil Burton, charity finance-focused Sarah Seed, fundraising specialist Dona Ardeman, and employment expert Nicola Brown are some of the key practitioners to note in the Cambridge office. The team stands out for its ability to ‘clearly identify risks and best approaches'. Principal associate Nathalie Jacoby-Danesh moved to Browne Jacobson LLP in April 2023.

Practice head(s):

Neil Burton

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Seed; Dona Ardeman; Nicola Brown; Mark Ashton


‘The practice is able to respond and provide opinion at very short notice without compromising the quality of the advice. It is able to work with its own specialist teams to provide seamless and comprehensive advice. It is very mindful of the scope of what is being asked and does not exceed costs by providing additional advice without checking this is required and wanted. The firm is also very flexible efficient in billing.’

‘The individuals are very experienced and good at identifying the key arguments. They do not view it is a transactional process but think holistically about what information, if available, may support or enhance key points. They clearly identify risks and best approaches, meaning decisions made and steps taken are based on the client’s appetite for risk.’

‘The team quickly grasps the organisational position and will listen and give a balanced view on alternative approaches. Nicola Brown gives well-rounded advice on complex issues.’

‘An all-rounder law firm with expertise in all key areas to provide that immediate and timely legal support.’

‘Neil Burton is an exceptional lawyer with a real talent for client relationship building and providing commercially astute advice.’

‘I find them not only knowledgeable about the field but also transparent about costs which makes the decision to proceed or not with a specific project much easier. I have found the support staff I have worked with on more administrative matters to be both efficient and conscientious.’

‘The regular charity updates provided by Mills and Reeve are informative and timely. I also take advantage of a range of the Mills and Reeve webinars, both those aimed at charities and at the commercial sector. We have found them to be accessible and informative even if not specifically tailored to the charity sector.’

‘Neil Burton and Mark Ashton at Mills and Reeve are both knowledgeable and approachable and, most importantly, able to apply that knowledge to the specific circumstances of my organisation.’

Key clients

Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI)

Childrens Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)

Institution of Engineering and Technology

Henry Smith Charity

Francis Crick Institute

Cornwall Care

RAF Benevolent Fund

The Children’s Trust


Royal Institute Chartered Surveyors

St Dunstan’s Educational Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advised CIFF on a wide-range of charity, governance, funds, regulatory, tax, corporate and commercial matters.
  • Advised the charity trustees of Cornwall Care Limited on its charity disposal /merger to Sanctuary, which included charity trustee duties; disposal rules; and governance issues.
  • Advising the IET on charity law and constitutional matters; trading subsidiaries, governance and corporate issues such as intra-group arrangements and associated tax aspects; overseas not-for-profit branches; and offering strategic advice to the board.

BDB Pitmans

The Cambridge-based practice at BDB Pitmans provides ‘creative thinking and practical solutions, and is able to deal with complex issues'. The firm provides a diverse range of services to its charity sector clients including advising on property transactions, employment, fundraising-related matters and data protection. Senior associate Kate Parkinson, who is ‘very quick to grasp complex sets of facts to provide practical, client-driven advice‘, is the standout lawyer in East Anglia. She assisted the Ruth Strauss Foundation with contractual arrangements and regulatory matters.

Other key lawyers:

Kate Parkinson


‘In-depth charities experience, creative thinking and practical solutions, and is able to deal with complex issues.’

‘Kate Parkinson stands out as a go-to advisor for charity clients.’

‘I feel that the people we deal with at BDB Pitmans understand our needs very well and adjust their ways of working to accommodate us.’

‘Excellent responsiveness. and understanding of our particular situation. Professional approach and strong pragmatism.’

‘A diverse and broad team with key areas of expertise to provide well-rounded advice’

‘Kate Parkinson is very quick to grasp complex sets of facts to provide practical, client-driven advice.’

Key clients

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Internet Watch Foundation

The Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust

Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology

Ruth Strauss Foundation


Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind

Punctum Books

The History of Parliament Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised the Institution of Engineering and Technology in various matters, including its relationship with its members, as well as considerations around governance and restricted funds.
  • Advised the Ruth Strauss Foundation on all aspects of its governance , including producing precedent documents, and on various fundraising initiatives throughout the year.
  • Advising the Internet Watch Foundation in extending its HQ space, representative of its growing importance and reach.

HCR Hewitsons

The cross-office education and charities practice at HCR Hewitsons is regarded as being ‘very good at applying the charity regulations and understanding the aims and aspirations that clients hold’. Practice head Virginia Henley works from both Central England and Cambridge, the latter is also the base of agriculture and estates partner Denise Wilkinson, who is ‘exceptional in her range of knowledge and provides clear and reasoned advice’. Employment partner Elizabeth Swinburn is also active for charity clients. Susanne Hinde departed for Howes Percival LLP in April 2023.

Practice head(s):

Virginia Henley

Other key lawyers:

Denise Wilkinson; Elizabeth Swinburn


‘We have had a long association with HCR Hewitsons. They understand the organisation, and have been involved in its development over the years. While the main relationship is for advice on corporate governance issues, we always know that we can seek wider expertise across the firm. My experience when I have done so is that the quality of advice and support is always good.’

‘HCR Hewitsons are very good at applying the charity regulations to our specific organisation and understanding the aims and aspirations that we hold.’

‘Denise Wilkinson is exceptional in her range of knowledge and applying this to the specific property-related issues that we require. She is able to draw on a diverse range of specialisms to provide clear and reasoned advice.’

Key clients

The Gertrude Homes

Charity Commission (IRFI)

Jesus College, Cambridge

Cherry Hinton Almshouse Charity

Needham’s Foundation

Visit Cambridge

Mrs Ann Dutton’s Charity

National Hair and Beauty Federation

Downing College, Cambridge

The Middleton Centre

Reach for Health

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Cambridge Boathouse Limited

Wood Green Animal Shelters

Soham Moor Old Grammar School

Stuntney Village Hall

Work highlights

  • Advised The Gertrude Homes in complex correspondence with the Charity Commission regarding a cy-pres application and changes to the constitution via a Charity Commission scheme.
  • Advised the Charity Commission in reviewing the governance arrangements of the charity and making recommendations as to future viability of necessary changes in structure and approach to ensure legal compliance.
  • Advised Jesus College, Cambridge in connection with governance and a significant new project.

Mishcon de Reya LLP

Mishcon de Reya LLP is noteworthy for the growing strength of its charities, social ventures and philanthropy practice. Led from London by Chris Willis Pickup, but present in Cambridge through ‘exceptional‘ senior associate Emma Millar, the practice acts for major UK charities, among them Alzheimer’s Research UK, Wellcome Trust, and The East of England Agricultural Society. Millar notably assisted the Royal Entomological Society with the development of the charity’s plans for revenue diversification.

Practice head(s):

Chris Willis Pickup

Other key lawyers:

Emma Millar


‘The team is very well-versed in different business models and configurations that will greatly help anyone either already operating in, or considering entering the not-for-profit space. The practice understands innovation, progressive business models, aligning org and governance structures with strategy and designing legal frameworks that incentivise the right behaviours.

‘The Taylor Vinters team and firm is the first (of many) we have worked with that felt aligned with our values in this way, that felt human first ahead of anything else, and that felt energetic and even fun to work with.’

‘Taylor Vinters have been able to provide a comprehensive range of expertise and advice on a range of diverse topics to support our organisation in a complex transaction involving the sale of a commercial events business and a multi-million-pound land sale. A key feature which influenced the selection and appointment was their knowledge of charity law.’

‘The team at Taylor Vinters have given our organisation significant support over the last two years and hopefully will continue to do so. Proposals are clear for different/new areas that we work in and are explained in plain English. The team also focuses on delivering value for money, passing work to junior colleagues where feasible or advising on alternatives where the charity may be able to save money.’

‘Individuals go above and beyond to fully understand what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve. Their knowledge and how to apply this to a charitable organisation is excellent. Their advice is always clear and estimates are given before doing any work. All those we work with are superb and we highly value the whole team. All partners and associates are exceptional, including Emma Millar.’

‘Excellent team led by the superb Chris Willis Pickup who brings a deep understanding of charity law coupled with an unparalleled knowledge of the workings of, and how to work with, the Charity Commission.’

‘Really comprehensive service, proactive engagement and thorough follow up – I felt like I was in good hands.’

‘I think that the uniqueness is based on something simple but rare. The team’s knowledge and experience is just exceptional – you feel in the absolute safest of hands with them. And this is combined with a deep commitment to working sensitively with the people involved – they understand that being right is not enough: you also have to help people get to a position where the answer is palatable. So for me, it’s a combination of technical skill and people skill. It’s very special.’

Key clients

Alzheimer’s Research UK

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Wellcome Trust

Founders Pledge


Royal Entomological Society

Parenting for Lifelong Health

GSR Foundation

Play Included CIC

The East of England Agricultural Society

Work highlights

  • Advising the Royal Entomological Society in diversifying its revenue streams and supporting commercial and governance policies.
  • Advising on the registration of Opora, a charity working with Ukrainian refugees settling in the UK .
  • Advised Play Included CIC on the international expansion of its innovative Brick-by-Brick programme for neurodivergent children.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

The team at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is led partner Hilary Aldred who advises a wide-range of charity and not-for-profit clients, including some key to the education sector, on employment, education and charity law matters. The ‘hardworking, strategic, and highly commercial' team acts for The Company of Biologists, National Oceanography Centre, and numerous Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Managing associate Sophie Whitbread and commercial and IP partner Rachel Bradley are also called upon by charity clients.

Practice head(s):

Hilary Aldred

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Whitbread; Rachel Bradley


‘A stellar team with exceptional judgment and hard-hitting cases. They are hardworking, strategic, and highly commercial. They understand the needs of their clients well.’

‘Hilary Aldred is the go-to solicitor on the intersection between charities, employment, public, and education law. She knows everything there is to know in this area. Sophie Whitbread is hardworking, with terrific judgment.’

‘If the main contact is not available, then I’m always given an alternative who is up to speed with the actions ahead of time. Billing is always accurate and sent in a timely manner.’

‘Sophie Whitbread understands how our business works, which is really unique.’

‘Extremely knowledgeable and competent regarding GDPR, and fully aware of the practical challenges for a small not-for-profit. Resourceful in finding practicable solutions for the client.’

‘Very friendly and understanding. Lots of patience for our situation and challenges.’

‘Offers knowledge, experience and practical advice on structuring, documenting, and negotiating international licence agreements to achieve the best outcome for their clients.’

‘Rachel Bradley is very knowledgeable, quick to respond and always gives sound commercial advice when advising on international licence agreements and business issues.’

Key clients

Christ Church, Oxford

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

International Headache Society

National Oceanography Centre

Reeds Foundation

The Institute of Leadership and Management

Cambridge Commonwealth European and International Trust

The Company of Biologists

The Licensed Trade Charity

Marine Stewardship Council

The Fire Fighters Charity

Pembroke College Oxford

The Chartered Association of Business Schools

Wellington College

Oratory Schools Association

Jesus College, Oxford

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Work highlights

  • Acting for Christ Church, Oxford on a wide-range of matters including data sharing, and freedom of information requests as well as privacy issues and employment.
  • Advising a non-profit organisation on employment matters including how to implement changes to the benefits it offers its employees.
  • Advising The Company of Biologists Limited on all its commercial agreements, including drafting and advising on agency agreements with foreign agents, granting rights to sales agents and drafting and negotiating site licence agreements to licence access to their journals to institutions all over the world.