Firms To Watch: Charities and not-for-profit

At gunnercooke LLP, Michele Price, who joined the firm in 2021, is ‘diligent, responsive, knowledgeable, patient and thorough’. The team frequently works on various matters such as sensitive safeguarding issues, and commercial fundraising agreements.

Charities and not-for-profit in London

Bates Wells

Bates Wellshas unrivalled knowledge of the charity sector and is the go-to firm in the space of social investment and blended finance’. It is ably led by the vastly experienced Thea Longley, and clients appreciate that the practice is’ big enough to have individuals who specialise in particular sub-sets of charity practice, while also having a broad knowledge of key legal and governance issues for charities‘. Philip Kirkpatrick advises a whole host of major charities and foundations, and Lawrence Simanowitz’s specialisms include advising on charity formations and governance, as well as UK and international structuring and fundraising issues. Stephanie Biden leads on the firm’s work for faith-based charities, while Laura Soley advises on a myriad of complex technical issues relating to statutory charities, royal charter bodies and trusts. Erica Crump acts for a variety of cultural institutions and large international charities. Other recent highlights include the recent promotion of Oliver Hunt and Hannah Lyons to the partnership. Augustus Della-Porta works with many Muslim organisations and other well-known charities, and Luke Fletcher acts for various prestigious and household name charities. At associate level, Lucy Rhodes plays a pivotal role in the department.

Practice head(s):

Thea Longley

Other key lawyers:

Philip Kirkpatrick; Lawrence Simanowitz; Stephanie Biden; Laura Soley; Erica Crump; Oliver Hunt; Lucy Rhodes; Hannah Lyons; Luke Fletcher; Augustus Della-Porta; Louise Harman; Simon Steeden; Sung-Hyui Park


‘Bates Wells has unrivalled knowledge of the charity sector and is the go to firm in the space of social investment and blended finance.’

‘This team is not only excellent at understanding charities and not-for-profits, they are at the forefront of the fast evolving field of social investment and purposeful business.’

‘Thea Longley – as team leader. Thea is very good at maintaining an overview of key issues we face, and signposting us to individuals with particular specialisms, as well as advising us directly when appropriate. Thea’s knowledge, experience and practical approach are very much appreciated’.

‘Luke Fletcher is a pleasure to work with. We have always found him accessible, eager to help and very practical in his solutions. He also has the big picture in mind’.

‘Augustus Della-Porta is both a lovely person and a brilliant lawyer’.

‘Oliver Hunt (Partner) has worked closely with us and understands our issues and concerns. He thinks “out of the box” on our behalf and takes the initiative’.

‘Lawrence Simanowitz – he has real technical and practical expertise in the field of charity law and much experience of dealing with the Charity Commission, as the main regulator. He is tenacious and thoughtful when confronted by difficult problems’.

‘Sung-Hyui Park, (Partner) is the stand out individual for all our work. She takes the time to listen, provides logical and easy to understand advice and then goes the extra mile to follow up to ensure all is clear.’

Key clients

The Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust

Early Intervention Foundation



Ukraine Sponsorship Pathway UK

The British Psychological Society

The Royal Foundation of the Prince and Princess of Wales

Jewish Museum


Work highlights

  • Advised the Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust on its highly publicised decision and related process to return its 72 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria.
  • Advising two of the Sainsbury’s Family Charitable Trusts in the Butler-Sloss case, against the Charity Commission and Attorney General, which was brought to clarify the law on trustee investment duties and has established the ability of charities to align their investments with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Advised the Ukraine Sponsorship Pathway UK on the expedited formation and registration as a charity with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Farrer & Co

The outstanding team at Farrer & Co has a ‘deep knowledge of the charity sector and fantastic expertise‘. It has an impressive client base of leading UK and international charitable organisations, and a long track record of advising on some of the most complex, ground -breaking and high-profile work in the sector. Under the joint leadership of James Maloney and Elizabeth Jones, the nimble team covers the full range of issues from charity mergers and restructuring work, to advising on corporate foundations and partnerships. Other core areas of expertise include handling disputes and managing reputational issues. In addition, it continues to be busy advising on various safeguarding issues, and innovative charity finance matters. Anne-Marie Piper is particularly known for her skilful handling of difficult regulatory cases, as well as other issues relating to mergers, reorganisations and governance. Julian Smith acts for a wide range of foundations and functional charities, and is well regarded in the charity investment sphere. Sam Macdonald has a broad practice; he advises philanthropists on their charitable giving as well as advising overseas organisations.

Practice head(s):

James Maloney; Elizabeth Jones

Other key lawyers:

Anne-Marie Piper; Sam Macdonald; Julian Smith; Sara van der Pas; Hannah Whyatt


‘The team is well established and highly knowledgeable with many combined years of experience in dealing with charities and not-for-profits as well as the regulators they work with. Anne-Marie Piper along with James Maloney – both provide exceptional knowledge and candid advice’.

‘The practice is strong in charity law and company law which are the two areas where we seek advice. I have found them to be very responsive and eager to find solutions. James Maloney is always available and responsive’.

‘Throughout all our dealings with Farrer & Co, they are always incredibly diligent, clear and swift in their advice. We trust their incredible expertise and technical knowledge on complex cases which is communicated to us clearly and in a manner that is easy to digest and forward on to our clients where necessary’.

‘We have worked closely with James Maloney who has gone above and beyond to get to know myself and my colleagues, but more importantly, our charitable organisation, product and client base. This is evident in his communications with us and willingness to go above and beyond so that we can respond swiftly to our clients’.

‘Farrers are the market leaders in advising Royal Charter charities. They have a strong sense of the drivers within the organisation and how that interacts with Charity law’.

‘Principally we work with Elizabeth Jones and to a lesser extent with Anne-Marie Piper and Sam Macdonald. It is a genuinely partner led service with access to the individual flair and experience each has. Sara van der Pas gives steady support’.

‘The team sits at the heart of the firm and so is able to draw on the expertise of other teams to provide a full service. Sam Macdonald is not only an expert in charity law he truly understands us and the context in which we operate, tailoring his advice accordingly, meaning it is more impactful and cost effective.’

‘Sam Macdonald and Hannah Whyatt –  Universally, I would describe the lawyers at Farrers as having a good technical knowledge but an ability to apply it in a practical way in the support they give us’.

Key clients

Age UK


The Prince’s Trust


The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)

Home-Start UK

The Rhodes Trust

Save the Children


Cycling UK

Sweaty Betty Foundation

Stone King LLP

Co-led by Stephen Ravenscroft and Hannah Kubie, Stone King LLP has an enviable reputation in the market for its work on a broad range of issues from crisis management work to advising on innovative charity formations and registrations. It has a strong national offering, and is particularly well regarded for its work with education-related charities and faith charities. Julian Blake is another important member of the ‘friendly and responsive‘ department. Rosamund McCarthy Etherington is a leading charity lawyer who works across many sectors, and has a keen interest in governance, while Ann Phillips is another known name in the market who has a wealth of experience in diverse areas, and has advised many long-established charities on complex trusts and endowments. Lee Coley has a broad practice that predominantly focuses on ecclesiastical law and charity law affecting the Church of England. Chris Jones joined the team from Harris & Harris.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Ravenscroft; Hannah Kubie

Other key lawyers:

Julian Blake; Rosamund McCarthy Etherington; Ann Phillips; Chris Jones; Lee Coley; Reema Mathur; Nicole Reed; Frances Godden


‘Stone King offers first class legal and management expertise at all levels, combining exceptional expertise in sectors, leading solicitors across a wide range of specialist fields, regional teams as centres of excellence nationwide and client care second to none making the firm a first choice for my clients’.

‘Responsive team. Support us over a variety of different areas, including government contracting, commercial activities, HE/employment law, IP and charity governance. Committed to the charity’s success’.

‘Stephen Ravenscroft – Responses to claims have been handled with judgement, care and sensitivity, and have seen the firm working successfully and very constructively with trustees of the trust and gallery’. 

‘The specialist support and advice provided by Lee Coley and more recently by Frances Godden is excellent. This is particularly in respect of land and trust matters. Lee Coley is measured and considered and provides clear advice and guidance that supports me to make effective decisions’.

‘Julian Blake is the most committed, probably the most able and in my view the best charity and social enterprise solicitor. He provides exceptional client care and support and consistently achieves effective solutions whatever the complexities’.

‘Stone King has exceptional expertise in the field of social enterprises and the wider social economy. They are highly skilled and experienced and value driven which makes them stand out from lawyers in other firms. Key people working in this area that really stand out include Julian Blake, Hannah Kubie and Nicole Reed’.

‘In my experience of Stone King, their depth of knowledge – both legal and practical within the charity sector is fantastic. Their ability to make the law accessible but also ‘put themselves in the shoes’ of their charity clients is so valuable. They are consistently strong listeners, pragmatic whilst guiding you within the law’.

‘Ann Phillips has been a great source of strength, expertise and legal brain. Equally Julian Blake. Efficient, focused, rounded and informed in their advice. Their work is pre-emptive, thoughtful and acknowledges the operating environment of their client’’.

Key clients


National Union of Students

Higher Education Statistics Agency

Reach Foundation

Oasis Charitable Trust

Baker Dearing Educational Trust

Northern Roots (Oldham)

Community Leisure UK

Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund

Alzheimer’s Society

De La Salle Brothers

Diocese and Bishop of Bristol

Work highlights

  • Advising Mermaids on its engagement with the Charity Commission and governance matters.
  • Advising the National Union of Students in relation to allegations of antisemitism.
  • Advising the Higher Education Statistics agency on its merger with Jisc, creating a sector body capable of generating ‘real time’ data on educational outcomes to inform improvements in educational provision.

Withers LLP

Clients of Withers LLP remark that ‘the partners in the practice are among the leading lights of charity law' and notably single out Alison Paines and practice head Chris Priestley for praise. The ‘extremely professional and knowledgeable’ team acts for a significant proportion of the top 50 charities in the UK, and a key strength of the first-rate practice is its expertise in strategy and governance matters, as well as its regulatory engagement at a senior level with the Charity Commission. In addition, given the firm’s international reach, the practice is regularly instructed on charity matters that span different jurisdictions. Paul Hewitt heads up the firm’s work for charities on legacy income and trustee disputes, while Philip Reed advises charities, not-for-profit organisations and philanthropists on a wide range of issues. The senior associates in the department also receive a lot of plaudits; Roger Waite acts for some of the UK’s largest charities and has considerable experience of advising many of the most substantial NHS charities, Emma Flower garners praise for her wide-ranging experience in areas as diverse as mergers, constitutional matters and fundraising law, and Amy Carter advises charities, philanthropists and businesses on a broad range of matters.

Practice head(s):

Chris Priestley

Other key lawyers:

Alison Paines; Paul Hewitt; Philip Reed; Emma Flower; Roger Waite; Hugo Walford; Hannah Brearley; Amy Carter


‘The team at Withers are always really supportive and offer practical, organisation-focused advice which balances legal technicalities and business risk. Chris Priestley is our lead partner and offers great service and insight across the sector’.

‘The senior individual on the team, Alison Paines, was highly expert in the field and greatly accelerated my learning curve in a complex field. She was ably supported by Roger Waite who coupled his own expertise with a high level of responsiveness’.

‘In the charities team, Emma Flower is consistently impressive. Extremely knowledgeable, thorough and highly capable, I feel entirely confident with her advice’.

‘Partner, Philip Reed – I have found him very responsive, easy to work with, reassuring when the legal issues have been quite challenging and unfamiliar’.

‘Excellent international reach and expertise. Partner-led service. Chris Priestley brings decades of charity experience and expertise and delivers to clients in plain English. High quality, personal service’.

‘Alison Paines – an incredibly good lawyer who has great emotional intelligence and understanding of the human story that often lies behind the technical legal issues that a situation may present’.

Alison Paines is among the top charity lawyers in England, and has an incredible ability to find solutions to difficult problems. Chris Priestley is unflappable and has a profound knowledge of the sector and of charity law. Emma Flower is very shrewd. Roger Waite has acute powers of analysis and is extremely knowledgeable. Hugo Walford is also very sharp, and good with clients’.

‘I work closely with Hannah Brearley and Chris Priestley. Both are outstanding problem solvers, good listeners and adhere well to instructions. They deliver on time and on budget. Their advice is tailor made for our business needs.’

Key clients

NHS Charities Together

The Donkey Sanctuary


Cancer Research UK

The British Red Cross Society

Royal Society


Wellcome Trust

SSAFA – The Armed Forces Charity

Plan International

Cats Protection

Royal British Legion

Diabetes UK

International Science Council

Local Trust and Big Local Trust

Castle Howard

TS Eliot Foundation

Start Network

British Red Cross Society

BP Benevolent Fund

Work highlights

  • Acted for NHS Charities Together for many years including throughout its £150m Covid appeal, as well as the complex legal questions around the use of NHS charity funds to support staff.
  • Advising RSPB on a ground-breaking environmental finance project, involving the creation and sale of carbon credits generated from the restoration of peatland across the UK.
  • Advising SSAFA on an agreement in relation to a long-term fundraising venture.

BDB Pitmans

With the ‘highly recommendedPenny Chapman at the helm of BDB Pitmans‘ team, the nationally recognised practice advises all types of charities on charity registration and governance issues, as well as on their commercial activities and on corporate partnerships. In addition, it has considerable expertise in resolving trustee disputes, conducting charity investigations, and facilitating Charity Commission compliance. The team advises numerous high-profile charities, grant makers, funders, and start-ups across various sectors such as the health, education, faith and arts industries. Jonathan Brinsden has considerable expertise in diverse areas such as cross-border transactions, and social impact/ESG investments, in addition to charity sector collaborations. Increasingly, the team is advising many philanthropists, and has been advising on safeguarding obligations and serious incident reporting. Nicola Evans is another name to note along with Sarah Williams. Harriet Ainsworth also plays a key role in the department.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chapman

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Brinsden; Nicola Evans; Sarah Williams; Harriet Ainsworth


‘Very high quality expertise. An in-depth knowledge of the charity sector’.

‘Nicola Evans has huge experience and technical knowledge in the field of charity law’.

‘Excellent partnership with strength in depth. Very responsive to our needs’.

Key clients

ABF The Soldiers Charity

Air Ambulances UK

Barts Charity

The Big Give Trust

Blind Veterans

Christ Church, Oxford

Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust

Goldsmiths Students Union

HALO Trust

Holocaust Education Trust

Jewish Care

Landmark Trust

Macular Society

MS Society

Nuffield Health

The Pret Foundation

Royal National Theatre

RNRMC (Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity)

ROH (Royal Opera House)

Royal Star and Garter Homes

Ruth Strauss Foundation

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

Work highlights

  • Advised Blind Veterans UK on extending its charitable objects, to enable its world leading experience of treating those suffering with blindness or visual impairment as a result of injures in warfare, to help those suffering similar injuries fighting for the Ukraine.
  • Represented Nuffield Health in the Supreme Court in responding to a challenge by Merton Council on a novel question on the proper test for 80% mandatory charity relief from business rates.
  • Advised the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust on the charity’s successful expedition to find Shackleton’s ship Endurance, including advice on grant funding and various commercial aspects, from IP to hiring helicopters.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP has a strong reputation for its work with various high-profile national and international charities, as well as with historic cultural institutions, ecclesiastical bodies and military charities. Led by Sarah Rowley, the practice covers the full range of legal requirements that charities may have from fundraising and data protection matters, to mergers and acquisitions; it also deftly handles a broad range of contentious matters. The group is well equipped to manage large-scale projects for charities, as well as being adept at establishing and managing charitable and individual foundations. The legacy management practice at the firm's Guildford office advises many UK charities on both contentious and non-contentious probate matters. Simon Weil is another key member of the department; he specialises in tax planning, trusts and philanthropy. Senior associate Liz Gifford joined the team from Barker Gotelee.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Rowley

Other key lawyers:

Simon Weil; Penelope Byatt; Liz Gifford


‘Having used multiple firms specialising in charity law, I have no hesitation in recommending Charles Russell Speechleys to any charity. They are efficient, hugely knowledgeable and very enjoyable to work with. I actively enjoy consulting them’.

‘Sarah Rowley is an exemplary partner: accessible, smart, quick and highly informed. Her advice is always clear, high quality and timely. The whole team are very impressive in their grasp of sector issues and ability to cut through to the key issues’.

‘Proactive, approachable and outstandingly professional. They put their clients first and they are so approachable – this latter point makes them almost unique’.

‘Approachable, friendly and personable but with a deep sense of trust in all that they do. Stand-out partner is Sarah Rowley who goes above and beyond every time’.

‘I work with Penelope Byatt who provides outstanding client service and has a deep knowledge of charity law’.

Key clients


Dementia UK

Westminster Abbey

City & Guilds of London Institute

Royal Air Force Museum

Marie Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust

The National Army Museum

National Museum of the Royal Navy


British Computer Society

Harbottle & Lewis LLP

The busy team at Harbottle & Lewis LLP advises corporate foundations, media-related fundraising charities and not-for-profit organisations on issues such as mergers and reorganisations, as well as innovative funding and investment models. Under the direction of David Scott and Colin Howes, the excellent team frequently works with the firm's reputation management group to help clients that face public scrutiny. In addition, it has been working with its private client colleagues to advise on the establishment of philanthropic foundations. At associate level, May Delaney has a varied practice; she has recently advised trustees on their investments in NFTs, and assisted with placing a high-profile charity into dormancy.

Practice head(s):

David Scott; Colin Howes

Other key lawyers:

May Delaney; Katerina Capras; Emily Miles


‘The team is extremely knowledgeable and is also able to connect us to other specialisms in the company to ensure we’re the best we can be. All the people we have worked with are great communicators – able to speak without jargon‘.

‘Harbottle & Lewis have been a great firm to work with. The breadth of the sectors they cover is incredibly helpful as we work across charity, private client, and corporate. Therefore, Harbottle go the extra mile to engage internal expertise to provide their high-level service. They are responsive, clear and easy to work with’.

‘Colin Howes and Emily Miles are both highly skilled, approachable lawyers, who respond quickly and helpfully to queries. They have both supported on complex topics, ensuring that the charity remains comfortably within its charitable remit’.

‘Katerina Capras is an approachable, thoughtful and highly knowledgeable individual. She is extremely good at communicating complexity with simplicity and clarity, enabling trustees to make informed decisions. We always value her calm and clear analysis and proportionate approach’.

‘We work with May Delaney – she has made a proactive effort to get to know our organisation. It’s clear she builds significant trust with her clients and provides a holistic service, referring to others where necessary. May is lovely to work with – when you are speaking with May, there is no jargon! I appreciate her patience, warmth and clarity’.

‘Highly experienced in a wide range of situations, capable, very good at the extra bits around the edge which straddle into other areas, empathetic. David Scott – highly experienced. good all rounder, good on costs. May Delaney – highly experienced, very responsive, a rising star’.

‘The team at Harbottle are highly knowledgeable on charity law, responsive to queries and pragmatic. They are able to take a complex topic and clearly outline the legal requirements.’

Key clients

The Wigmore Hall

Screen Academy Foundation

The Talent Fund

Virgin Unite

Film London

Make My Money Matter

Dance Umbrella

Theatr Clwyd Trust Ltd

Modern Masterpieces

Semble Network

Merky Foundation

We Imagine If

Association of Applied Biologists

Centre For Entrepreneurs

Creatures United

The Earthshot Prize

The Platinum Jubilee Pageant

Work highlights

  • Advised The Talent Fund on Ed Sheeran’s “For One Night Only” intimate one-off concert in London to raise funds for mental health support charity, Shout.
  • Advised the Platinum Jubilee Pageant on the charitable arrangements relating to Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant in June 2022.
  • Advised The Earthshot Prize in connection with the transmission of the 2022 awards ceremony held in Boston, US and broadcast globally.

Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP

Jennifer Emms heads up the department at Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP, which is praised for connecting philanthropy with charity and private wealth. Ceris Gardner is a recognised name for her work on charity law and tax matters, and more recently has had a particular emphasis on governance and risk issues. Emma-Jane Weider acts for many operating and grant-making charities in the arts and educational sectors, as well as for a variety of religious and international charities on a whole host of legal and governance issues. Jennifer Chambers is a known name for her work on a range of taxation and trust matters, and is adept at advising on philanthropy and charity law.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Emms

Other key lawyers:

Ceris Gardner; Emma-Jane Weider; Clare Maurice; Jennifer Chambers


‘We value the firm’s depth of knowledge of the charity sector, the involvement of the partners and the speed of the response where needed’.

‘We have particularly valued the advice of Emma-Jane Weider in providing clear and prompt advice where needed’.

‘Clare Maurice and Jennifer Emms are always lovely to work with and great team players when joining up for a client’.

‘World class founding partners who have built unparalleled next generation expertise’.

‘Ceris Gardner is a global standout for her expertise and relationship skills’.

‘Great specialist firm with expert knowledge in the philanthropy space’.

Russell-Cooke LLP

The team at Russell-Cooke LLP is praised as 'approachable, highly intelligent, efficient, and coordinated' and 'work is done quickly and is well, informed by deep industry insight with a knack for finding resolution on even the most nuanced legal issue’. Led by Andrew Studd, the group is adept at advising on the establishment of new charities and on philanthropy issues, and continues to see an increase in work on regulatory interventions by the Charity Commission; it is also skilled at advising charities that have been created by Acts of Parliament and by Royal Charter. James Sinclair Taylor is a long-standing adviser to charities, social businesses and other not-for profits, while Chris Rowse continues to work with various high-profile clients. Pippa Garland advises charities from a wide range of sectors, and Carla Whalen was recently promoted to the partnership. At senior associate level, Gareth Roy is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Studd

Other key lawyers:

James Sinclair-Taylor; Chris Rowse; Pippa Garland; Gareth Roy; Carla Whalen; Alison Sadler


‘The individualised and personal service that we received from Russell-Cooke was above and beyond what I expected to receive. They were readily available both online and in -person with little notice. Their ability to delegate within the team and the diversity of opinion available was exceptional and we are grateful for their work’.

‘Andrew Studd is an exceptional lawyer. His attention to detail and calm, reassuring manner was always appreciated. I had full confidence and trust in his knowledge and skill and the quality of the material that was provided was fantastic. It was also provided with such speed and efficiency’.

‘Chris Rowse is our main contact – he is always very responsive and a great partner in working towards and identifying robust, pragmatic solutions. He is also invaluable in dealing with Board members’.

‘Pippa Garland translates complex legal matters into language that can be understood by those without a legal background. She summarises conversations into concise notes that can be shared and is always keen to come up with solutions that work for everyone’.

‘Andrew Studd gives highly pragmatic advice in the context of a strategic approach. He is the go to solicitor for charity law.’

‘Very knowledgeable team with various expertise. Gareth Roy – expert in his field and responds quickly to support our organisation. Carla Whelan – expert in her field and responds and advises us promptly’.

‘Andrew Studd (partner) is approachable, empathetic and clear in his advice. He goes out of his way to understand the underlying pressures facing his clients and offer advice, support and a thoughtful perspective. The client relationship is professional but warm and personable’.

 ‘We have worked very closely with Pippa Garland (Partner) and Alison Sadler (Associate). Both have been extremely professional, capable and friendly in their approach. We particularly value the pragmatic but insightful approach to their advice’.

Key clients


British Heart Foundation

Breast Cancer Now


Sadler’s Wells

Anthony Nolan

St John Ambulance

Borough Market

National Council for Civil Liberties

Youth Hostel Association (England and Wales)

Work highlights

  • Advised UK for UNHCR (the UK charity partner for UNHCR) on its partnership with the premier league football club, Nottingham Forest FC.
  • Advised Sadler’s Wells on the renewal of its headline sponsorship with Barclays Bank plc.
  • Advised Social Interest Group on all company and charity law aspects of its merger with Safe Ground.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Winckworth Sherwood LLP has a varied practice which advises several substantial charities in the UK. Under the joint leadership of Alison Talbot and Joanna Bussell, the team is well placed to advise the full range of charitable organisations across multiple sectors from education, housing and leisure, to arts, culture and ecclesiastical. Talbot covers all aspects of contentious and non-contentious matters for charities, and has supported many charities through disputes, distress situations and organisational change, while Bussell has considerable experience in advising on the establishment of new charities; she also advises on the recruitment, selection and appointment of trustees. Aiden Hargreaves-Smith acts for a wide range of private and institutional charity clients, including major charities, the Diocesan Board of Finance, individual parishes and clergy, bishops and cathedral chapters.

Practice head(s):

Alison Talbot; Joanna Bussell

Other key lawyers:

Aiden Hargreaves-Smith


‘Alison Talbot is head and shoulders above others in her field, providing an expert and incisive service to clients. While focused on the law, crucially she also understands the wider aspects that might affect a charity’s reputation, and public profile, and ensures all of this is taken into account in the carefully considered advice she provides’.

Key clients

Burberry Foundation

St Anne’s College

Archbishop of Canterbury

Muscular Dystrophy UK

National Trust


Cancer Research UK

City of Trees

Fashion Museum

Brighton Dome and Festivals Limited

Sandwell Leisure Trust

Absolute Leisure

Active Newham

One Trust

Magna Vitae

Newport Live

Your Leisure

Work highlights

  • Providing advice to The Burberry Foundation on ongoing charity law issues in relation to the Burberry Foundation.
  • Advising on the potential merger between Tower Hamlets Community Transport and another charity based in Tower Hamlets which inter alia provides advice, support, facilities and accommodation for children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities.
  • Advising Camden Highline on a new infrastructure project – a new “Park in the Sky” for London, which will turn a disused stretch of railway viaduct into a new elevated park and walking route, connecting Camden Gardens in the West to York Way in the East.

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP

The charities and social economy team at Wrigleys Solicitors LLP is one of the largest specialist teams in the country. With Malcolm Lynch at the helm, it acts for a broad spectrum of regional, national and international clients. Key areas of focus include advising on charity governance, corporate foundations and impact investments; the group is also skilled at helping international charities as well as faith-based charities, NHS bodies and health-based charities. The group receives a steady flow of instructions from arts, culture and heritage charities, and is adept at advising on community led housing and co-operative and friendly societies. Elizabeth Wilson heads up the charity property team, Fiona Wharton is also well regarded, and Chris Billington’s recent work has included advising on regulator investigations and compliance.

Practice head(s):

Malcolm Lynch

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Wilson; Fiona Wharton; Chris Billington


‘We have been with this firm for many years and have always found their advice helpful, and to be given in the Charity’s best interest. They are a good team comprising many skills with an excellent knowledge of Charity Law.’

‘The individuals we have worked with over the past several years always have the Charity’s best interest at heart. They respond quickly to emails or phone calls and are easy to work with.’

‘Elizabeth Wilson and Neil Whitaker worked hard to ensure that we achieved an excellent return on the sale of a prime site property, and achieved a good outcome for the Charity. Likewise Nat Johnson and Elizabeth Wilson have helped us to negotiate a lengthy detailed transaction.’

‘The individuals are responsive and able to take action that is appropriate on their own in order to come prepared to speak to their client in a knowledgable manner. The firm knew what the client needed before asking and pursed a course of action that was aligned with the our common end goal.’

Key clients

Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments

City Mental Health Alliance

Friends Provident Charitable Foundation

Poundland Foundation

Wales Council for Voluntary Action

Yorkshire Tennis

Church Army

Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches

Sisters of the Cross and Passion CIO

Youth Futures Foundation

Healthcare Workers Foundation

Work highlights

  • Providing wide-ranging work to Poundland Foundation including charity governance advice, advice on commercial participation and professional fundraising, and advice relating to the foundation’s grants programmes.
  • Advising City Mental Health Alliance on contracts governing the organisation’s facilitative role in relation to the Global Business Collaboration For Better Workplace Mental Health.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

The versatile team at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP has a superb reputation for its work with faith-based charities and various national charities, and is ‘immersed in the charity sector‘. Under the guidance of Dominic Curran, other areas of expertise include regularly working on interim manager appointments by the Charity Commission, and on financing matters for charities through grant work, social investment or secured lending. It continues to be busy helping charities with fundraising issues such as corporate partnerships, lottery funding and grants. Matthew Wort leads on various employment issues, and Edwina Turner heads up the charities governance team.

Practice head(s):

Dominic Curran

Other key lawyers:

Matthew Wort; Edwina Turner


‘Anthony Collins has proved to be very knowledgeable in helping us navigate constitutional change; they have been proactive in strategic planning of a very complex situation. They are readily available and communicate clearly’.

‘We have valued the knowledge base brought to our situation and the clarity in communication and the ability to present options (and potential consequences) for our consideration’.

‘We feel like important and valued clients, they are responsive and proactive and respectful’.

‘The team are personable, warm and welcoming and offer a human face to what can feel overwhelming for the lay person’.

Key clients




Kent Wildlife Trust

Nene Rivers Trust CIO

The Wall of Answered Prayer

The Blackburn Diocesan Board of Education

The Worcester Diocesan Board of Finance

Teddington Baptist Church

Church Pastoral Aid Society

Sanctuary Foundation

Work highlights

  • Assisted SeeAbility on its acquisition of a property from another established charity.
  • Advising the trustees of Kent Wildlife Trust on risk decisions regarding ash die back.
  • Advising on various issues relating to The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer, an upcoming landmark on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Blake Morgan LLP

The impressive team at Blake Morgan LLP is led by legal director Ben Brice and acts for some of the largest, household name charities, not-for-profits and social enterprise organisations in the UK, alongside smaller charities. Through its various offices in London, Thames Valley, the South Coast and Wales, the group covers the full spread of issues from advising on collaborative working with charities and third parties to the registration of new charities. Brice is adept at covering various aspects of contentious and non-contentious charity law, and Gina Cheetham is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Ben Brice

Other key lawyers:

Gina Cheetham


‘Having a range of specialists in one firm means that we don’t have to explain the situation more than once. Property, employment, health, regulation, charity law all in one place provide real synergies.’

‘They have access to a wide range of specialities and are able to respond quickly to our needs. We use them for a wide range of matters and they always seem to deliver.’

‘My main contact is very personable and is able to explain things clearly and concisely. He makes me feel as though he is part of our team, not just an external adviser, and wants the best for us as a charity’.

‘Good advice, practical. Friendly and quick to respond‘.

‘Everyone we worked with was great, timely, professional and delivered what we needed‘.

Key clients

Church Mission Society


Search for Common Ground

Pilgrims’ Friend Society

Linacre College, Oxford

International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists

St Barnabas Society

Armenian General Benevolent Union London Trust

Tricolor Associates

Langley House Trust

The Guildhall Trust


Women’s Prize Trust

Global Witness


Cancer Research Wales

Work highlights

  • Advised Search for Common Ground in connection with the options available for restructuring its group and international network of NGO organisations and branches to enable growth and more efficient access to funding.
  • Advised Women’s Prize Trust on the transfer of the trust fund established to generate income for the annual Women’s Prize for Fiction.
  • Advised Pilgrims’ Friend Society in connection with the acquisition of two care homes, one requiring an approach to the Charity Commission to seek the introduction of a new scheme to appoint PFS as sole corporate trustee of the home and the other by way of a more conventional merger by way of transfer of the entire undertaking of the care home.

Forsters LLP

Forsters LLP fields an experienced team, which receives a steady stream of instructions from grant makers, operating charities and organisations in the public sector; other key clients include commercial clients and philanthropists. It has specialist US/UK law expertise to assist individuals and companies with structuring charities and bequests. The group is also known for its work with wealthy individuals advising on the establishment of charities and making donations. Neasa Coen has a solid reputation in the market for her work on social impact investments. Fiona Smith is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Neasa Coen; Fiona Smith


‘Forsters is my go-to firm for private client matters. In this case, I required some discrete advice. Forsters’ charities expert, Neasa Coen, rapidly appreciated the issue and proposed a solution which the trustees were content to adopt’. 

‘Neasa Coen excelled in the advice she gave and her communications with all parties concerned, notably the Charities Commission’.

‘Very good private client support, both tactically and strategically’.

‘Proactive. Easy to collaborate with’.

‘Neasa Coen is very switched on to the important legal and commercial challenges faced by the charities sector. Particularly her knowledge around impact and sustainable investment. She is incredibly bright and friendly, and always willing to have a conversation’.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

The charities practice at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP frequently acts for charities, NGOs, foundations, social enterprises and multinational corporate clients. The team is led by Richard Norridge and regularly works on matters that have an international dimension. Rebecca Perlman is another important member of the department who advises on a broad range of issues from the formation and regulation of charities, to fundraising and investment work; she also has a particular specialism in advising on social investments. At senior associate level, Matteo Yoon is also well regarded.

Practice head(s):

Richard Norridge

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Perlman; Matteo Yoon; Hussein Mithani


‘The team at HSF always make you feel like you are a priority. They are friendly, welcoming, and incredibly thorough with their work’.

‘They provide us with incredibly generous support. They are efficient, responsive and very helpful. Rebecca Perlman and Matteo Yoon lead the team very well and draw on a wide level of support and expertise from within the firm to support us’.

‘Great practice – strong wide and diverse team, with a good commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. Strong pro bono team. Always good – Matteo Yoon leads the work well, Rebecca Perlman is excellent, as are many others’.

‘Their ability to guide charities on all matters of governance, to provide robust challenge and advice’.

‘Matteo Yoon is an exceptional lawyer with strong relationship building skills and an awareness of the needs of his clients’.

‘They worked hard to understand us and they cared. The team members problem solved and shared their time.’

‘HSF has provided amazing support to our charity over the years and are a key partner’.

Hussein Mithani – has been a brilliant advocate of our work and has both provided wonderful support but has helped to raise awareness of our work’.

Key clients

Médecins Sans Frontières UK

Queer Britain Museum Limited

Social Tech Trust

Impact Investing Institute

Royal National Institute for Blind People

Citizens UK Charity

Advice on Individual Rights in Europe

St Columba’s Church and Restart Lives

Work highlights

  • Continued to advise Queer Britain Museum Limited on two transformative projects.
  • Advising Social Tech Trust on its investment into Xploro, a health information platform that uses augmented reality, gameplay and artificial intelligence to deliver health information to young patients, in a way which reduces stress/anxiety.

Hunters Law LLP

Under the stewardship of Dominik Opaliński, Hunters Law LLP is highly sought after for its work with many charitable enterprises, clubs, societies, institutions and not-for-profit organisations, and provides comprehensive advice for all business activities that are undertaken by charities. The group advises staff, volunteers and trustees on a wide range of matters, and Opaliński has extensive operational experience from working on the ground across Africa; he continues to work with many charities and international philanthropists. Paul Almy is another notable member of the department who frequently helps charities on governance issues and other commercial, employment and property matters.

Practice head(s):

Dominik Opaliński

Other key lawyers:

Paul Almy


‘Their depth of knowledge in the Charities and Not-for Profit sphere, which stretches over many decades. An admirable tenacity in seeking out and implementing innovative solutions to problems that Charities are now called upon to face and address’.

‘The partner who stands out in this respect is Dominik Opaliński. One can but admire his determination to bring to fruition for his charity clients his inventive solutions’.

‘We deal with Paul Almy, senior partner – he understands both our own history and understanding of our Royal Charter and the protocol of dealing with such areas as the Privy Council’.

‘Great in-depth knowledge of charity law combined with a long association with our charity means we have access to up to date information and advice’.

‘Wide knowledge of the law generally but always helpful and supportive when we have issues or problems that arise. Highly professional and I am comfortable that we are looked after extremely well. Friendly and always available’.

‘Dominik Opaliński is an energetic and hardworking partner who shows exceptional interest and enthusiasm for his clients’ causes, and can find himself involved in very unusual cases’.

‘They know us well. They know our needs. They give us excellent advice on normal legal matters and especially in the matters to do with abuse cases’.

‘Dominic Opaliński has been a godsend in a particular case over the years. He looks for the best for the victims and ourselves. He is always available and keeps us up-to-date with developments’.

Key clients

Chartered College of Teaching

Help Musicians

Institute of Biomedical Science

Leaders of Worship and Preachers Homes

The Guarantors of Brain

Ursuline Sisters Brentwood CIO

Work highlights

  • Advised on the creation of a significant new birds of prey centre and its registration as a charity.
  • Advised on the sale of a religious congregation’s former headquarters to another religious congregation.

Pothecary Witham Weld Solicitors

Headed up by Gerald Kidd, the churches and charities team at Pothecary Witham Weld Solicitors is well known for its work with churches and religious orders; in recent years, the firm has enjoyed particular success working with Islamic charities. Through Alexa Beale, the group specialises in charity property transactions, and Christopher Perkins is skilled at handling land transactions for charity clients, particularly schools and religious organisations of all denominations and faiths. The team often advises on the sale and purchase of places of worship, and charity property investment portfolios.

Practice head(s):

Gerald Kidd

Other key lawyers:

Christopher Perkins; Alexa Beale

Key clients

Baptist Union of Wales

Animal Rights Charity

Providence Marian Company

So Give Ltd

Emmanuel Chinese Church


Paul VollerChris Knight and Con Alexander lead a large national team of sector specialist lawyers at VWV across its four offices. The group advises more than 100 charities of all types and sizes, and is particularly well regarded for its advice to charities in the healthcare, arts and educational sectors. It advises a significant number of universities that are constituted as charities, and is skilled at advising faith charities on all aspects of their operations. Shivaji Shiva is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Paul Voller; Chris Knight; Con Alexander

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Tonkin; Shivaji Shiva


‘Experienced team, with clear up-to-date technical and practical knowledge (e.g. dealing with regulators) and a pragmatic approach which helps to manage time/costs without compromising on the quality of advice’.

‘A highly knowledgeable but pragmatic approach from Con Alexander and Rachel Tonkin. They gave clear, detailed advice but without over-complicating things. They understood our aims and priorities as a client, and sought to achieve those in a balanced way’.

‘A real range of expertise in the charity sector’.

‘Con Alexander – an excellent all-round adviser.  Shivaji Shiva – hugely experienced and excellent with clients from the faith-based sector’.

Key clients

Nuffield Health

Institute of Cancer Research

Royal College of Surgeons

London Symphony Orchestra

Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising a consortium of 15 charities including leading UK universities in a bidding joint venture for research projects to support the renewal, sustainment and improvement of environmental projects in the UK and elsewhere.
  • Advising the trustees of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust on the disposal of the remaining manuscripts and artefacts of the late Lawrence of Arabia to Oxford University, Cambridge University and The Bodleian Library.
  • Advised a large national charity on the regulatory aspects of the sale and leaseback of a number of operating sites with a total transaction value in excess of £197m.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The charities practice at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP is known for its work with household name charities, and is increasing its work with government departments, local authorities and commercial bodies. It has particular expertise in the education, health, care and religion sectors. Practice head Emma Moody and Jo Coleman are well regarded, and the team is well equipped to handle matters nationally through its various offices, and internationally through its US connections.

Practice head(s):

Emma Moody

Other key lawyers:

Jo Coleman


‘The team really take the time to understand our organisation. They are interested not only in the legal side of our activities but also in our wider operation. They attend our AGM so they understand the issues we are grappling with, they are keen to offer proactive advice and support whenever needed – Jo Coleman stands out’. 

‘I specifically work with Jo Coleman who provides an outstanding service to our organisation. She is consistently available, helpful and wise.’

Key clients

BBC Children in Need

Which? / Consumers’ Association

National Trust

Royal Academy of Engineering

Dogs Trust

Mental Health Matters

Mental Health Concern

National Benevolent Charity

Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) NNESTA Challenges

National Energy Action

Board of Deputies of British Jews

Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul


Department for Education

Academy of Medical Sciences

Humankind Charity


United Synagogue

Hay Festival

Royal College of Pathologists


Gerald and Gail Ronson Family Foundation

The Prudence Trust

The Jeremy Coller Foundation

The APAX Foundation

Work highlights

  • Instructed by the Dogs’ Trust to provide advice on the functioning of its constitution and any potential amendments.
  • Advised Christie’s on the charity law implications of its auctions where representations are made that sale proceeds will go to benefit charities.
  • Undertaking a wholesale review of the Apax Foundation’s grant making processes and policies.

Druces LLP

The team at Druces LLP continues to be busy advising a large volume of charities, including a significant number of household name clients, across a range of charitable sectors, including the animal, medical, religious and education spaces. Led by Helen Freely, the team has advised a number of charities on various political activities, and is increasingly providing charity real estate advice. Roy Campbell is another key figure who advises wealthy individuals on their philanthropic plans.

Practice head(s):

Helen Freely

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Cropley; Roy Campbell


‘Wide range of work, lots of experience with internationally-focused charities, as comfortable with long-established charities as new ones’.

‘High level and wide range of knowledge, very friendly to deal with, sensible and commercial approach. Helen Freely and Caroline Cropley are the key names’.

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams

Praised for providing a ‘very personal service’, the dynamic team at Lee Bolton Monier-Williams advises a diverse range of clients from churches and schools to housing associations, social enterprises, international aid organisations and art and cultural organisations. Led by Howard Dellar, it continues to advise a variety of clients from various Christian denominations, the Muslim community and secular organisations. Khalid Sofi plays a significant role in advising charities that are linked with Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities.

Practice head(s):

Howard Dellar

Other key lawyers:

Khalid Sofi; Susan Newell; Ian Blaney; Ed Henderson


‘We have worked very closely with Khalid Sofi. We value his attention-to-detail and willingness to help us grow and develop as an organisation. He is responsive and open to any and all queries we have’. 

‘The particular expertise LBM-W offers in ecclesiastical law is exceptional. The team works together to provide guidance and advice at every level for our organisation. We work with a specialist team headed by Ian Blaney, supported by colleagues with areas of expertise and availability –  Howard Dellar, Susan Newell and Ed Henderson’.

‘Khalid Sofi – has unparalleled knowledge of the charity sector (and especially the faith segment therein) and interactions with the Regulators. Khalid’s depth of knowledge and nuanced understanding of the regulatory landscape are acknowledged as an asset by faith sector charities’. 

‘We have recommended Khalid Sofi to clients and he has always acted extremely professionally and knowledgeable in respect of Charity Law. He also provides the clients with commercial and pragmatic advice which is excellent.’

‘As a charity with varied needs over time, we have always felt very well served by the appropriate solicitors in this firm. We have good confidence that LBMW know what the Charity Commission’s attitude is likely to be in issues where this is relevant.’

‘We had a complex business transfer requiring sensitive and expert handling of the legal documentation and Susan Newell was expert in her handling of this task: always expert, confident, quick to respond, and understanding the importance of the human factor in reaching a good agreement with the other partner’.

‘We have found that the knowledge that the practice has on Islam and Mosque related issues to be very useful to us. Khalid Sofi has been effective in helping us move our existing charity to a CIO, and would definitely work with him again on future projects’.

‘Khalid Sofi is a remarkable and knowledgeable lawyer who is able to explain difficult technical terminology in simple and straightforward English. It really breaks down the barriers and makes each conversation with him insightful’.

Key clients

Restless Development

Al-Khair Foundation

Hamilton Trust

Muslim charity -Helping the Needy

MAB charitable Trust

Action for Humanity

Havering Islamic Cultural Centre

Southgate Mosque and Community Centre

The Anjuman-e-islahul-al-muslimeen of UK

Islamic Help

West London Synagogue

East London Mosque Trust

Sandgate Heritage Trust

The Bishop of Derby and Derby Diocesan Board of Finance

Work highlights

  • Advised Southgate Mosque and Community Centre, a new charity, on the proposed structure for the charity, prepared the governing document and registered with Charity Commission.
  • Assisted Restless Development with amending its articles of association and passing the necessary resolutions to effect such changes.
  • Advised on the merger between Sandgate Society and Sandgate Heritage Trust Ltd. This resulted in the formation of a new Charitable Incorporation Organisation known as the Sandgate Society.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Under the joint leadership of Daff Richardson and Hilary Aldred, the multi-practice offering at Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP advises a broad range of third sector clients including local and national charities, as well as education institutions, social housing and trade associations and religious organisations. The group has considerable strength in contentious side work, and Laura Dadswell advises many high-net-worth families on the creation of philanthropic structures, and ongoing compliance and governance issues.

Practice head(s):

Daff Richardson; Hilary Aldred

Other key lawyers:

Sophie Whitbread; Laura Dadswell


‘Penningtons Manches has one of the strongest Charities and Non-for-Profit legal teams nationally. They advise on, and fight, complex and cutting-edge cases, and have unparalleled commercial judgment. There is quality in their most junior associates right up to their leading partners’.

‘Hilary Aldred – One of the leading lights in Charities and Non-for-Profit law. She knows everything there is to know, and has a wealth of experience to draw on’.

‘Sophie Whitbread – A terrific and hardworking lawyer with excellent judgment and negotiation skills’.

‘The team is very pragmatic. Daff Richardson is an excellent sounding board whose advice and guidance have been invaluable both about UK employment law but also about a discussion of the issues arising in our international operations’.

‘The team are knowledgeable, easy to work with and make themselves available in a very timely way’.

‘Daff Richardson has been extremely proactive in helping us manage our risks as a charity, with clear advice and pragmatic guidance’.

‘Very approachable and knowledgeable about our industry. Offer sound advice in a timely manner. Provide excellent service.’

‘Very client-need focused, highly commercial and practical, and very knowledgeable of our sector.’

Key clients

Christ Church, Oxford

Pembroke College, Oxford

International Headache Society

National Oceanography Centre

Reeds Foundation

The Institute of Leadership and Management

Cambridge Commonwealth European and International Trust

The Company of Biologists

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

The Licensed Trade Charity

Marine Stewardship Council

The Fire Fighters Charity

Green Templeton College, Oxford

The Institute of Psychoanalysis

The Chartered Association of Business Schools

The Institute for Fiscal Studies

The Finzi Trust

Wellington College

Oratory Schools Association

Jesus College, Oxford

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Work highlights

  • Acted for The Oratory Schools Association on the disposal of a significant development site.
  • Supported the in-house legal team at the National Oceanography Centre on a wide range of matters.
  • Advised the Company of Biologists Limited on all the company’s commercial agreements.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Headed up by Ian Davies, the team at Trowers & Hamlins LLP acts for major charitable funds. The main focus of the practice is on large and innovative charities that raise funds from contracts, or from charging the beneficiaries of services; it also acts for a significant number of housing charitable associations. Sharron Webster provides corporate advice, while Emma Burrows provides employment advice to charities. Helen Briant is another notable member of the practice, who works with a number of charity clients on fraud and other contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Ian Davies

Other key lawyers:

Emma Burrows; Sharron Webster; Helen Briant


‘Strong understanding of faith-based sector and of the housing sector’.

‘The specialist knowledge of the team is both helpful and supportive as part of the decision making by trustees of our charity’.

‘The individuals we work with, across a range of topics, are all very knowledgeable in their particular field and this provides confidence and enables our charity to make progress in supporting our beneficiaries’.

Key clients

Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation

Sheppard Trust

Dimensions UK

Caterham School

Spectra Conect/Ambitious Together Foundation

Gravesham Borough Council

Phoenix Futures

Choice Support

Siri Singh Sabha Gurdawara Crawley

Advance Charity

Disabilities Trust

National Autistic Society

Art Fund

Amnesty International UK

Work highlights

  • Advising Phoenix Futures on several different matters including a merger with Ley Community Drug Services, another registered charity, with the intention of creating a new residential treatment service for vulnerable people in the community of Ley.
  • Acting for the trustees of a faith charity, Siri Singh Sabha Gurdawara Crawley, seeking declarations from the High Court that they were the validly elected trustees and to confirm which version of the constitution was in force at the time that a decision was made by the charity to relocate to a new site.
  • Instructed by Amnesty International UK to review and advise on the implementation on all x people policies and procedures.

Ashfords LLP

The cornerstone of Ashfords LLP's practice involves disputed charity matters by way of legacy disputes; these matters are handled by the disputed wills and trusts team. Its wider charity offering comprises lawyers with a specialist charity interests from other departments such as the private wealth, employment and commercial litigation teams. Kerry Morgan Gould represents a number of national charities, as well as various smaller local charities. Robert Horsey and John Toth are among the other key senior members of the offering.

Practice head(s):

Kerry Morgan-Gould; John Toth; Robert Horsey

Other key lawyers:

Sasha Wicks


‘The Disputed Wills & Trusts Team consistently achieves great results for us in defending contested legacies left to charities’.

‘The team always responds quickly to new instructions and has secured a quick and pragmatic settlement of several disputed legacies for us’.

‘Kerry Morgan-Gould continues to stand out as a highly trusted and immensely capable partner. Whether the case calls for the very sensitive handling of a bereaved Claimant or for a robust response to a nuisance claim, Kerry always judges the situation and the financials just right, and she has obtained great results for us’.

‘Sasha Wicks is also proving to be a very clear-headed and pragmatic adviser to her charity clients’.

Work highlights

  • Represented a national charity in defending a claim by a spouse for reasonable financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
  • Represented a housing association in relation to an issue that arose relating to a death in service benefit policy.
  • Represented national charity clients in a claim challenging the validity of a testator’s will.

Boodle Hatfield LLP

The versatile team at Boodle Hatfield LLP combines its private capital expertise with its specialist charity and philanthropic experience. Eleanor Sepanski leads the practice, which advises many high-net-worth individuals on their philanthropic pursuits. The group also frequently works on corporate charitable matters, and is skilled at advising on alternative not-for-profit structures. Clare Stirzaker regularly advises clients on philanthropic governance as part of their family and family business governance work.

Practice head(s):

Eleanor Sepanski

Other key lawyers:

Clare Stirzaker


‘They were very comfortable advising a UHNW client on charitable structures and took time to understand their requirements’.

‘Eleanor Sepanski made the client feel at ease straight away and her in depth knowledge of philanthropy was a comfort to the client who did not have straightforward needs’.

Key clients

Honourable Artillery Company

Work highlights

  • Provided asset management and transactional property advice for the Honourable Artillery Company’s City estate.

DAC Beachcroft LLP

DAC Beachcroft LLP regularly works on matters involving multiple regulators that are highly sensitive and also where there are incidents requiring crisis management, stakeholder management and the national and international media. The group covers the full spectrum of issues for charities of all types and sizes. Led by Emma-Jane Dalley, it has particular expertise in advising charities in the health and social care sector. Alistair Robertson is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Emma-Jane Dalley

Other key lawyers:

Alistair Robertson; Anne-Marie Gregory


‘They are always approachable, helpful, diligent, friendly and nothing feels too big or random as ask!

‘A highly efficient and well-resourced team, excellent teamwork. Ability to march people at the right level of seniority to tasks as required’.

‘Alistair Robertson – very experienced in a wide range of complex work. Pleasant to work with’.

Key clients

Nuffield Health

Greensleeves Homes Trust


Children’s Trust

Disabilities Trust


St Anne’s Community Service

Department for Education

Newcastle University

Sheffield University

Methodist Homes (MHA)

United Response

ESCP Business School (European Business School)

Royal College of Physicians

The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT)

Stand Against Racism & Inequality

Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, Westminster

National Academy for Social Prescribing

NHS England

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Aviva Community Fund

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

The Trinity Challenge

Novalis Trust

Royal College of Occupational Therapists

Girls Day School Trust

Sustainable Hospitality Alliance

Work highlights

  • Advised the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child health on all aspects of charity and governance law, including regulated amendments to its royal charter and bye-laws.
  • Advised Helpforce on its conversion from a CIC to a charitable company, including advice on all aspects of its operations.
  • Advised the National Academy for Social Prescribing on all aspects of charity, compliance and regulation including the creation of subsidiary organisations.

Edwin Coe LLP

David Goepel leads the department at Edwin Coe LLP, which draws on the strength of the firm's private client offering to increasingly work in the area of philanthropy. The group is adept at helping private individuals and families to structure and establish new charities, and Goepel advises many UK local and national charities on issues such as the powers and duties of charity trustees, and tax issues affecting charities. Alison Broadberry has a keen focus on assisting clients with their charitable and philanthropic planning.

Practice head(s):

David Goepel

Other key lawyers:

Alison Broadberry

Key clients

Salvation Army International Trustee Company

Theatre Royal Haymarket

African Institute for Mathematical Sciences

Coram’s Fields

The Spinoza Foundation

Catholic Order

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Stephen O’Reilly heads up the practice at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, which acts for a number of high-profile bodies in the areas of science, medicine and research. In addition, it is skilled at advising various commercial companies on the establishment of corporate foundations, and advising banks on lending to charities. O’Reilly is experienced in charity mergers, governance issues, and advising on payments to charity trustees. Glynne Stanfield is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Stephen O’Reilly

Other key lawyers:

Glynne Stanfield


‘Stephen O’Reilly was very precise in outlining the work to be carried out and very helpful in helping us to make the correct decision out of the alternatives offered. Didn’t use legal language when explaining issues which helped in day to day communication. All in all this was a good experience’.

‘Responsive and straightforward. The Team at Eversheds Sutherland understood what we needed immediately and took the time to make sure we understood the entire process ahead of us’.

‘Stephen O’Reilly was calmly authoritative and inspired confidence. Stephen made our lives incredibly easy and was a joy to work with. I looked forward to our meetings!’.

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

Excello Law

Excello Law fields a team of experienced senior lawyers whose expertise spans corporate, governance, commercial, employment, property and litigation work. Vanessa Williams leads the practice, which works with a wide range of not-for-profit structures, and clients include trusts, CICs, CIOs, companies limited by guarantee, trade bodies and educational establishments. Sue Boyall advises small and larger charities on various property matters.

Practice head(s):

Vanessa Williams

Other key lawyers:

Sue Boyall


‘The most impressive aspect of Excello Law is that the practice is comprised of solely partner-level solicitors, so the advice you get is always of the best quality and the work turnaround is much quicker as the partner is always fully up-to-speed with the matter’. 

‘Vanessa Williams. She stood out for her legal acumen and her ‘can do’ attitude. She was available to us as required, was happy to explain as well as draft, and took the time to really understand what we wanted rather than rely on precedents. The turnaround was exceptional’. 

‘Sue Boyall is an excellent solicitor, serving the charity sector with in depth knowledge of the governance and financial context in which they operate’.

‘Excello have the knowledge needed for Trustees of a charity to make the best decisions. Vanessa Williams has a great manner and patience in helping the process of setting up changes for the charity. Sue Boyall was also really helpful’.

‘Excello as a team are very responsive. The team are professional, competent and take time to explain the legalese. Vanessa is always very approachable, clear in her advice and analysis, patient in explaining it and takes time to understand our particular circumstances’.

 ‘Sue Boyall-  I find her extraordinary. The qualities that I most value are Sue’s calmness and clarity and the ability to explain to people far less knowledgeable than her what is required and why’.

‘Vanessa Williams. Friendly approach, understanding of the situation.’

‘Vanessa Williams delivered exactly what we wanted and accepted that, as a charity, we did not want a standard legal document but something bespoke to our situation’.

Key clients

Little Theatre (Leicester)

Reaseheath College

Diagrama Foundation

Fairfield Hospital

MCKS Charitable Foundation UK

The Children’s Research Fund

Thames Reach Charity

Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets

Ethical Property Foundation

Royal Court Liverpool Trust Limited

Bishops Waltham Youth Hall

Royal Court Liverpool Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised a long-standing charity on its dissolution.
  • Advised MCKS Charity Foundation UK on the acquisition of assets from another not-for-profit entity.
  • Advised on the consolidation of three ancient charitable trusts into a single new CIO.

HCR Hewitsons

Virginia Henley leads the practice at HCR Hewitsons, which advises a broad variety of charities on the full range of issues. Clients include not-for-profit organisations, community interest companies as well as registered societies. Other areas of expertise include advising many almshouse charities, and the group continues to act as a trusted adviser to various schools and Oxbridge colleges. Denise Wilkinson and her team also advise many major landowning charities in England and Wales.

Practice head(s):

Virginia Henley

Other key lawyers:

Denise Wilkinson

Key clients

Holy Cross Preparatory School Kingston

True Athlete Project

4th Kenton (St Mary’s) Group

Hornchurch Housing Trust

Cheltenham College

Clifton High School Foundation

The National Association of Master Bakers Limited

Smallwood Trust

Milton Keynes Community Foundation

Mountain Trust

Old Wilsonians’ Sports Club

Grumpy Givers

The Tipping Point Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised Holy Cross Preparatory School on the hive out of School from parent religious community.
  • Advised the True Athlete Project on the successful registration of the charity through statutory appeal process against initial rejection by Charity Commission.

Macfarlanes LLP

Macfarlanes LLP is ‘a top-quality firm with lawyers of real ability at all levels, and is able to handle both traditional and commercial trust and charity work’. Nicholas Harries heads up the department, which draws on specialist teams from across the firm to provide a range of services to both operational charities and individuals with philanthropic aims. Clients range from family grant-making foundations to high-profile operational charities.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Harries

Other key lawyers:

Charlotte Howard; Emma Cox


‘This team brings great technical expertise and the client-care skills of one of the country’s foremost private client teams into the non-profit and charity sphere. They have charm and skill with dedication to their clients. A very impressive offering’.

‘Nicholas Harries – an outstanding private client partner with all the necessary skills. Charm in bucket loads. He has experience as a barrister behind him as well as being a highly experienced partner’.

‘Charlotte Howard – a very clear thinker and hard working counsel. Emma Cox – a relaxed style combined with clarity of purpose and technical expertise‘.

‘I value the services provided by Macfarlanes personnel because they are clearly extremely competent in their knowledge of the laws relating to the Charity sector and are able to convey their import to our charity in a clear and understandable manner. Their services are delivered promptly and in the most helpful manner’.

‘Emma Cox has brilliant rapport with clients, really getting to know them and therefore being able to advise them in the best way. Her advice was very clear and immediately actionable, and she was able to relate very complex issues in ways that balanced the needs of the charity with the regulations’. 

‘Very strong understanding of the market and commercial challenges currently facing property owners. Very strong matter management, shrewd guidance and advice to clients, robust negotiations with other side’.

‘Strong client base with strength and depth in their charity practice. Nicholas Harries – highly experienced and unfailingly calm and unflappable’.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Neil Burton continues to lead the practice at Mills & Reeve LLP, which advises all types of charities on a wide spectrum of issues. Areas of recent growth have included advising membership organisations, education charities, and health charities. The group is also adept at handling a diverse range of matters such as alternative fundraising and philanthropy issues. Sarah Seed has considerable experience in debt capital markets, and has a particular emphasis on the not-for-profit and public sectors.

Practice head(s):

Neil Burton

Other key lawyers:

Mark Ashton; Sarah Seed


‘Very responsive team with good knowledge of the Commission’s guidance and ways of working. Good links with other areas of expertise, including tax and funds’.

‘Neil Burton and Mark Ashton offer a very personal service, feeling more like trusted colleagues than third party advisors’.

‘Take time to understand the needs of the business’.

‘Knowledgeable and experienced in complex matters’.

‘Neil Burton offers timely and accessible advice and guidance’.

Key clients

Cornwall Care

Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Francis Crick Institute

Royal Society of Chartered Surveyors

Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

Institution of Engineering and Technology

RAF Benevolent Fund

Royal Society of Chemistry

Work highlights

  • Advised the charity trustees of Cornwall Care Limited on its charity disposal/merger to Sanctuary.
  • Advised Childrens Investment Fund Foundation on a wide range of charity, governance, funds, regulatory, tax, corporate and commercial matters.

Mishcon de Reya LLP

The team at Mishcon de Reya LLP is praised for its ‘deep knowledge and expertise coupled with its passion and energy for the work’. Under the leadership of Chris Willis Pickup, the team excels in a broad array of matters from charity regulation and governance issues, to advising research charities and social ventures. Other core areas of expertise include philanthropy, charity tax and advising purpose-driven businesses. Andrew Goldstone is another name to note.

Practice head(s):

Chris Willis Pickup

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Morriss; Emma Millar; Andrew Goldstone


‘Chris Willis Pickup (Partner) – outstanding lawyer with excellent understanding of client business requirements’.

‘Very personable and they always come across as normal people. They have expertise in a number of areas that is so valuable and are able to translate this into understandable non-legal language. They always want to help and have the best interests for the charity’.

‘Chris Willis Pickup has an incredible depth of knowledge both of charity law, and the ever-evolving environment in which charities operate. He is a fantastic leader and always calm and reassuring’.

‘Emma Millar – I am always deeply appreciative of her methodical review, clear advice and accurate feedback. She makes the time to really understand what I’m asking and I always feel I have her full attention, despite a busy workload. She is an excellent lawyer’.

‘Chris Willis Pickup has an exceptional knowledge of charity law as you would expect – what makes him stand out is that he has considerable, direct experience of the workings of the Charity Commission – he knows how to navigate it and to get results. He’s also an exceptionally nice person!’

‘Nicola Morris – exceptional drafting abilities, deep knowledge of charity law, ability to explain clearly to non-lawyers, excellent persuasive writing (eg Board papers), really cares about the client’.

‘Emma Millar – great ability to apply charity and company law at the same time, excellent clarity of thought, great commitment to helping the client through difficult situations, understanding of stakeholder issues – delivering difficult messages very tactfully‘.

‘Chris Wills Pickup – exceptional knowledge of charity law, able to untangle extremely difficult situations, very calm, willing to do whatever it takes to support the client’.

Key clients


Royal Entomological Society

Parenting for Lifelong Health

The GSR Foundation

Play Included C.I.C.

The East of England Agricultural Society

Work highlights

  • Advising a charitable University on the UK’s largest repatriation of Benin bronzes.
  • Advising a well-known charity on its exclusivity agreement for spinout climate and technology investments.
  • Advising the non-profit lowRISC C.I.C. on expanding its open source mission to North America through the acquisition of a tech company in Canada and the set-up of its US base.

Payne Hicks Beach LLP

Rosamond McDowell leads the offering at Payne Hicks Beach LLP, which has many long-standing private and institutional clients in the charity sector. Martin Paisner specialises in private client and charity work. Another recent growth area for the practice is through the work of Till Vere-Hodge, who has particular expertise in art and cultural heritage issues for museums and other charity clients.

Practice head(s):

Rosamond McDowell

Other key lawyers:

Martin Paisner; Sara Morgan; Till Vere-Hodge; Dean Ryan


‘Long experience in the field. Good, strong individuals’.

‘Till Vere-Hodge is very keen to do his best for his clients and is a pleasant person to work with’.

‘This firm is a pleasure to deal with. They are responsive, thorough and very professional’.

‘The team I work with most closely is led by Rosamond McDowell, supported by Sara Morgan (Partner) and Dean Ryan (Senior Associate). They are a formidable team which brings clarity and solutions to complex issues, who provide an exceptional and outstanding service’.

‘I have enjoyed the privilege of working closely with Martin Paisner for some several decades. Martin’s professional work, whether as a private client adviser, his wonderful skills as a charity solicitor, or his numerous appointments as a trustee of more foundations than any other solicitor I know, is a testimony to the high regard and esteem in which he is held’.

‘Martin Paisner’s skills are extraordinary.’


Wilsons fields a large team, and its strong charity legacy disputes practice has a national presence. The offering is co-led by Charlotte Watts and Gillian Fletcher, and remains a firm of choice for several household name clients. The team works on the full range of disputes involving wills and legacies, and also handles a number of statutory will cases in the Court of Protection. Peter Jeffreys is another seasoned practitioner who excels in advising charities on problem wills and estates.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Watts; Gillian Fletcher

Other key lawyers:

James Aspden; Peter Jeffreys


‘The team at Wilsons is rightly recognised for their work for charities. Wilsons are the team you think of when you think of charity work (both contentious and non-contentious). They have a really strong profile in the market and well-deserved recognition as experts in this area’.

‘I would like to particularly recommend James Aspden. James is highly effective, and focused on attaining a great outcome for the client’.

‘An ongoing development of excellent service for charities covering all areas and ensuring advice covers all areas of charity law and governance and compliance. Their complete package for charity clients is superb’.

Key clients




Macmillan Cancer Support


Blue Cross

Guide Dogs

Marie Curie

British Heart Foundation

Save the Children