Charities and not-for-profit in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

'The responsiveness of this team is outstanding and unsurpassed ', says a client of Birketts LLP. The firm advises on the incorporation of new charities, as well as handling mergers, fundraisings, employment issues, property work, disputes and regulatory matters for a host of well-established charitable organisations. Liz Brownsell in Ipswich leads the practice and is a key adviser to major clients including Amnesty International and The Royal Academy of Arts. Clients appreciate the 'tenacity and honesty' of legal director Erika Clarke in Norwich, who handles charity law and procurement matters. Senior associate Frances Godden is recommended for matters of ecclesiastical law.

Practice head(s):

Liz Brownsell

Other key lawyers:

Erika Clarke; Frances Godden

Testimonials

‘The level of responsiveness of this team is outstanding and unsurpassed in my 18+ years of working in not-for-profit organisations. Very often we are small, and not very commercially attractive, our challenges are unique in nature and we seek advice often times due to our limited in house expertise. This team treats us exactly the same, with the same levels of respect and attention as any of the much bigger clients who probably spend much more money for much less input. Our business is always valued, and the strong, reliable and trusted working relationships are incredibly valued by our organisation.’

‘ Erika Clarke never fails to support us with tenacity and honesty around some of our most challenging issues. I cannot recommend the team highly enough to other not for profit organisations who may be intimidated by the thought of high fees and difficult legal issues, their supportive approach makes these issues manageable for the small organisation.’

‘A progressive team and approach across different sections. They listen well and seeks to focus on what info they need and for why.’

‘Erika Clarke – a candid and professional focus – takes you to the next step needed.’

‘I find Erika Clarke calm efficient, effective and most importantly unflappable!’

‘Personal attention and care. Attention to detail. Good follow up.’

‘Erika Clarke was exceptionally attentive to detail. She returned calls and emails promptly and was available whenever needed. She was exceptionally attentive to our needs and to any potential dangers and pitfalls.’

Key clients

Amnesty International

WWF-UK

The Royal Academy of Arts

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Trust for London

London Diocesan Fund

Creative Land Trust

Lumos Foundation

Walking With the Wounded

Spiritualists’ National Union Trust

East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH)

East Anglian Air Ambulance

National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB)

Quadram Institute of Biosciences

Church of England Central Services

British Association for Immediate Care (BASICS)

The All Saints Educational Trust

Innominate Trust

Redwings

Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law

Your Ambition

Work highlights

  • Advised British Association for Immediate Care on the incorporation and the reorganisation of the charitable group.
  • Advised Sunshine Baby Bank on the registration of a new charity, which was registered within 2 working days of the application being submitted to the Charity Commission.
  • Advised EACH in respect of all of its new charity shop leases and management of its retail portfolio of circa 50 charity shops.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a 'highly commercial and dedicated team focused on delivering top-quality advice'. The firm acts for many of the UK's largest charities, including the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Institute of British Architects; it is also a key adviser to the $6bn Children's Investment Fund Foundation. Neil Burton in Cambridge leads the group, which calls on Sarah Seed's charity fundraising practice, employment partner Nicola Brown, property specialist Nick Finlayson-Brown and many others to provide a comprehensive service. Principal associate Nathalie Jacoby-Danesh 'combines a top-quality legal mind with extraordinary client support' to handle corporate, governance and regulatory matters.

Practice head(s):

Neil Burton

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Seed; Nicola Brown; Nick Finlayson-Brown; Denis Costello; Lauren Parker; Matthew Short; Nathalie Jacoby-Danesh

Testimonials

‘Highly commercial dedicated team. Focused on delivering top-quality advice while being conscious of not-for-profit focus on minimising costs. Mills & Reeve’s solicitors also come across as being unusually pleasant and helpful and are really nice to work with.’

‘Nathalie Jacoby-Danesh: excellent commercial and charities/not-for-profit solicitor who combines a top-quality legal mind with extraordinary client support.’

‘A broad team with specialist departments covering every area needed for private client advice. Probably widest area of expertise compared to other local Norwich firms.’

‘Lauren Parker is top of her game and in demand. Denis Costello – attentive and easy to contact. Have worked well with him recently on complex gravel lease issues.’

‘Locally based in Norfolk, with first-class staff and service.’

‘All the staff I deal with are first-class in their various fields – from corporate to wills, trusts and property.’

Key clients

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK)

The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Science Museum Group and  National Railway Museum

English Heritage

The Henry Smith Charity

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Francis Crick Institute

Livability

Clean Air Fund

Wellcome Sanger

Work highlights

  • Acted for The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (“CIFF”) (the 5th largest global philanthropic organisation) on a restructure of its $6bn investment portfolio.
  • Provided The Henry Smith Charity with a variety of charity law and grant-giving advice.
  • Acting for The Institution of Engineering and Technology, advising on the full range of issues.

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans is a strong player in the charities sector nationally and it now has significant capability in its Cambridge office. Clients remark that it has 'excellent charity expertise and great depth of knowledge across all types of social enterprise'. Senior associate Kate Parkinson, who joined from Bristol firm VWV and is 'a consummate professional, very well read, friendly and super responsive', was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the Charity Law Association. Lucinda Brown, who joined from HCR Hewitsons in 2020, provides charitable trust litigation expertise, while legal director Emma Roche is 'a great support during protracted negotiations'.

Other key lawyers:

Kate Parkinson; Lucinda Brown; Emma Roche

Testimonials

‘Kate Parkinson is a Senior Associate and is a specific stand-out in the team. I have found that she really takes time to understand client needs, and is excellent at building relationships. She brings fantastic insight into the charities market, based on real hands on experience.’

‘Kate Parkinson has gone above and beyond to assist us with a complicated set of Articles that required complete revision. Kate has always been prompt in reply, extremely polite and welcoming in her correspondence. But all of our work with BDP is like that.’

‘The team at BDB are clearly passionate about the work they do and are top notch advocates for the charity sector. They are a warm and friendly firm, and always bend over backwards to help achieve the best results for their clients, which with the charity sector is ultimately the beneficiaries.’

‘I have worked mainly with Kate Parkinson at BDB Pitmans. Kate is a consummate professional, very well read, friendly and super responsive. Her communication skills are second to none – she presents her recommendations in a clear and concise way and is quick to translate legalese into layman’s terms when required. Nothing is too much trouble for Kate and her passion for the third sector, and deep understanding of the dynamics and challenges it faces, is apparent in everything she does.’

‘The team at Pitmans have been very helpful and professional continuously throughout our multiple engagements on property matters. I have found Pitmans to be very responsive and helpful with our various demands and they have provided very good guidance and advice. Pitmans have also shared any contacts with us they think might be of use or relevant to our ongoing projects and activities.’

‘Emma Roche was instrumental and a great support during our very protracted negotiations. Emma always produced a swift turnaround for reviews and summarised key areas for discussion in a simple and digestible way, as well as identifying areas for push back and advice on other sticking points, but also on a balanced view of the expected outcomes and our direction of travel as an organisation.’

‘Kate Parkinson is hugely approachable, has deep expertise and is able to adapt her delivery style to different clients.’

Key clients

Comité International Radio-Maritime

Buddhamahametta Foundation

Multiple Sclerosis Society

Obstetric Anaesthetists Association

Work highlights

  • Acted for The Britten-Pears Foundation, Snape Maltings and Aldeburgh Music Endowment Fund on the transfer of the property from three founding charities into a new recipient charity. This involved the transfer of over 40 properties.
  • Acted on the sale of Multiple Sclerosis Society’s former HQ at Edgware Road, London and on its relocation to City North, Finsbury Park, London.
  • Advised the Thai Buddhist NGO Buddhamahametta Foundation on establishing its sister UK charity.

Howes Percival LLP

Many partners at Howes Percival LLP acts as charity trustees and have experience in dealing with complex governance issues. The firm has a multi-disciplinary practice, led from Norwich by Catherine Scott, that handles all aspects of charity formations, restructurings and reorganisations, as well as providing real estate and employment law advice. The firm also has a strong tax practice that provides assistance with Gift Aid and enhanced legacy income, as well as inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning for donors.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Cubitt

Testimonials

‘Queries are answered in easy to understand language. At this difficult time the firm is communicating in a timely manner.’

‘Christopher Cubitt handled the case and showed excellent availability, as well as being very easy to work with.’

Key clients

The Paul Bassham Charitable Trust

Hillside Animal Sanctuary Limited

History of Advertising Trust

Flagship Housing Limited / Flagship Housing Developments Limited

Hunt & Coombs LLP

Hunt & Coombs LLP is one of the leading advisers to ecclesiastical charities in Rutland, Northamptonshire and the Peterborough Diocese, providing support to many churches on land transactions, and also acting for numerous schools. Anna Spriggs in Peterborough, who has extensive experience in ecclesiastical matters, and trusts and probate expert Paddy Appleton in Oundle are the lead lawyers. Peterborough-based private client specialist Henry Anstey also assists charity clients with wills, trusts and charitable status issues.

Practice head(s):

Anna Spriggs; Paddy Appleton

Other key lawyers:

Henry Anstey

Testimonials

‘Team is well known and individual contact is good. Good reputation and attention to detail.’

Key clients

The Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance

Work highlights

  • Acting for the Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance on various matters including: complex covenant releases and reverter provision, statutory disposal and management of glebe land, commercial leases and licences for church and/or educational use – including acquisition of new church sites, complex multi-party Options and Promotion Agreements a number of development sites
  • Advising the Peterborough Diocesan Board of Finance in the sale of glebe land for development with complex S106 and title issues.

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors

Clapham & Collinge Solicitors in Norwich launched its charities practice in 2016 and has since grown it client base to include charities based both in Norfolk and further afield in East Anglia. Clients describe a 'very approachable and friendly firm that is very proactive and works well collaboratively'. Neale Grearson leads the multi-disciplinary practice that includes litigator Philip Lumb and head of employment Nicola Strefford. The firm's work encompasses the full range of issues from the formation of charities to advice on property transactions.

Practice head(s):

Neale Grearson

Other key lawyers:

Philip Lumb; Nicola Strefford

Testimonials

‘Very approachable and friendly firm that is very proactive and works well collaboratively.’

‘A friendly and approachable team, always happy to help.’

‘Neale Grearson is laid back, friendly and knowledgeable.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a national plc on the formation of a new Charitable Incorporated Organisation and setting up commercial participation and service agreements.
  • Acted for a church on the conversion of the unincorporated charitable trust to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
  • Acted on behalf of a charity in connection with the acceptance of a complex property legacy of Spanish property including incorporating the Charity in Spain as a Spanish Not for profit entity and negotiating the sale of the bequeathed property.

Greenwoods GRM

Greenwoods GRM increasingly acts for well-known national charities and major education institutions; among its clients are Pembroke College and The Diamond Learning Partnership Trust. Victoria Robinson leads the charity sector group from Peterborough, calling on the expertise of senior associates Ann-Marie Clow and Claire Banks for advice on real estate transactions, and corporate and commercial matters respectively. Employment partner Joanna Scally in Cambridge recently assisted Emmanuel College with matters concerning a long-serving employee with a disability.

Practice head(s):

Victoria Robinson

Other key lawyers:

Ann-Marie Clow; Clare Banks; Joanna Scally

Key clients

Stamford Endowed School

The Diamond Learning Partnership Trust

Emmanuel College

Churchill College

Murray Edwards College

St Edmunds College

Pembroke College

HCR Hewitsons

HCR Hewitsons has a ‘very professional group providing prompt and clear advice', and the firm counts large charities such as the National Hair & Beauty Federation among its clients, as well as major landowning education clients, including Downing College, Cambridge. The practice is largely based in Northampton, but the Cambridge office is home to the vastly experienced Denise Wilkinson, who advises charities on conservation and land issues.

Other key lawyers:

Denise Wilkinson

Testimonials

‘Very professional group, prompt and clear advice, reference to specialists in the practice, good team communication.’

‘We are grateful for the team’s empathy, and for their concern to understand our needs. The availability and responsiveness in particular of the partners compares very well with other firms that we have experience of.’

‘The team at HCR Hewitsons have been particularly supportive in helping us to carry out our affairs swiftly and competently. Their knowledge about our organisation is what makes them unique. This comes from a long and established working relationship over a good number of years.’

‘Very responsive, knowledgeable, and willing to bring wider expertise into the relationship when needed.’

‘Everyone I have dealt with has been quick to respond and made an effort to understand the issue I have put to them from my perspective.’

‘Excellent professional service. Worked very well around my challenges.’

Key clients

Abu Salabikh Archaeological Trust

Charity of Ann Howsden

Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre

Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry

National Hair & Beauty Federation

Craft Bakers Association

Downing College, Cambridge

Morris Education Trust

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

HertsCam Network

ICENA Ltd

Garden House Hospice Care

Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge

Swavesey Fire Relief Fund

Trumpington Village Hall CIO

Varrier-Jones Foundation

Jesus College, Cambridge

Upshot Systems CIC

Wye Building Preservation Trust

The United Church Schools Trust

Work highlights

  • Appointed to review the governance of an Islamic charity under investigation by the Charity Commission, following fines by Ofcom.
  • Set up new Community Interest Company and then advised on acquisition of part of the business of The Football Foundation by client, Upshot Systems CIC.
  • Advised Morris Education Trust (now known as Eastern Learning Alliance) on the merger between two multi-academy trusts and on the conversion of a primary school to academy status as it joined the merged trust.

Steeles Law

The level of service has been extremely high', says a client of Steeles Law, and the practice is praised as 'personal, honest, direct, yet friendly whilst at the same time maintaining an extremely professional standard of engagement'. The firm frequently handles academy conversions, as well as acting for charities outside the education field including the Ethical Property Foundation and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Property specialist Michael Fahy is the lead partner; head of corporate and commercial Richard Bailey, who also leads the firm's education group, and commercial expert Alistair Ponder also play key roles in the practice.

Practice head(s):

Michael Fahy

Other key lawyers:

Alistair Ponder; Richard Bailey; James Conley; Robert Hickford

Testimonials

‘Steeles Law for me have been a critical partner in the development of our social business and social network. We work predominantly with the third sector, but like any sector, have legal needs, these needs have been our own and those of our clients and close network. Steeles Law and the staff have shown a real commitment to the needs of these organisations, not only recognising their limited budgets, but also that many have disabilities, or that English is not their first language, and therefore have made significant adjustments to accommodate these needs. This has been absolutely critical in providing a quality service to a diverse community.

‘Alistair Ponder, a partner covering Commercial Law, has been a huge support in helping me register new social organisations in a cost-effective way. He has also been invaluable in providing relevant advice and guidance, and making significant adjustments to accommodate our clients disabilities.’

‘Robert Hickford has been a huge support with a major project for one of my clients. Robert and his team worked hard to make reasonable adjustments for my client who has hidden disabilities.’

‘Collectively what comes across is a well-managed and highly knowledgeable team with a rare and valuable knowledge base across urban and rural charities – which often have different needs. Since the March 2020 lockdown the service has been seamless.’

‘Michael Fahy is a first-class charity solicitor who has supported many of our charity clients.’

‘James Conley has been a fantastic support for our employment law needs. We found ourselves in a challenging HR situation recently and James provided excellent cool-headed advice to both Chair and senior management team. He has also been hugely helpful in reviewing contracts.’

‘The ability within the organisation to communicate internally and find the right people to meet a client’s needs. And that they have gone out of their way to provide additional support outside of the normal work remit.’

‘The level of service has been extremely high. Personal, honest, direct, yet friendly whilst at the same time maintaining an extremely professional standard of engagement with their clients. Alistair Ponder, for all the hard work and honest and open customer service he has provided us. He has been amazing and we are extremely grateful for the time he has spent with us.’

Key clients

Ethical Property Foundation

Consortium Multi-Academy Trust

CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy)

Longfield Hall Trust Limited

Work highlights

  • Acted for and advised a charity in detail regarding a ‘partnership agreement’ issued by its local authority to govern the use of a site, activities permitted, discretionary elements, responsibilities, and reporting and consulting lines.
  • Advised and assisted a charity with its restructure and conversion from a CIC to a CIO.
  • Advised and acted as project manager for a charity client on a sublease within its Head Office building to a tenant for a 5-year lease, liaising between the client’s Facility Manager; its Agent; and a specialist Charity Surveyor.