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  1. Charities and not-for-profit
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Who Represents Who

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Brodies LLP provides ‘excellent and practical advice’ to a mixture of individual philanthropy clients, family foundations, in addition to large corporate and institutional charities. Drawing on its ‘strong understanding of the regulatory sector’, the group is well versed in the use of corporate vehicles to establish charitable organisations, including community benefit societies, community interest companies and Scottish charitable incorporate organisations (SCIOs). The group continues to advise the OSCR on a range of matters, including all aspects of the appointment of a judicial factor to Scotia Aid Sierra Leone (a charity accused of fraud and financial mismanagement). It also assisted JustRight Scotland with the establishment of a new human rights law and advocacy centre in Glasgow. The practice is co-led by Brenda Scott, whose focuses are corporate governance, constitution reform and charity trustee duties, and the ‘dynamic and highly specialist’ Alan Eccles, who is noted for possessing ‘an encyclopaedic knowledge of charity law across all the UK jurisdictions’. ‘Safe pair of hands’ Helen Kidd and charitable trust expert Eric Galbraith are also recommended.

‘Experts in their field’, Burness Paull LLP’s team is most known for developing corporate legal structures (including innovative partnership models), consortium structures and charity mergers, for the spectrum of small and large charitable organisations. Clients include major housing trusts and a number of local authority offshoot charities, operating culture and leisure facilities. Noted for his ‘gravitas and excellent all-round knowledge’, Stephen Philips assisted Renfrewshire Council with setting up a dedicated delivery vehicle for the UK City of Culture designation, encompassing local government legislation, charity law, procurement law and state aid. Phillips also advised Sustrans on the formal offer of grant funding to Glasgow City Council to cover half of the eligible costs towards the design and construction of a cycle path infrastructure project. The ‘highly rated’ Gillian Harkness is recommended for her expertise in charity structures and M&A. Graeme Palmer was promoted to partner in August 2017.

Turcan Connell handles the full range of charity and philanthropy matters, with an emphasis on advising clients in the education, heritage, culture and arts sectors. The group also has expertise in advising charities on regulatory inquiries by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), as well as risk and governance issues. The practice is led by Gavin McEwan, who advised the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy Foundation on a review and reorganisation of a series of historic benevolent and endowment funds. McEwan is also assisting the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh with a number of major transactions, including a major land purchase, and Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland on a high-profile rebranding and a review of its constitution and governance following the Foundation’s severance from Lloyds Banking Group. Simon MacKintosh and senior associate Kenneth Pinkerton are other key practitioners.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP’s ‘pragmatic’ team leverages its credible corporate and commercial offerings to advise a wide range of prominent charities on the spectrum of structural and operational matters. It also handles contentious work. Clients include a number of military charities, social impact investment vehicles, and rural and landowning charitable organisations. The group is  assisting Poppyscotland with various issues, including the protection of its intellectual property, the assumption of other charitable funds, and its media relations. Christopher Smith continues to advise the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Citizenship Trust on the establishment of a $15m Social Impact fund. Legal director Lianne Lodge leads the practice, and has particular expertise in the establishment of Scottish charitable foundations and the relationship between landed charities with trading subsidiaries.

Lindsays’ multidisciplinary team is noted for combining ‘legal expertise with a deep understanding of governance and the charity sector’. It advises a broad range of third sector clients on charity law contracts, corporate, property, litigation and employment matters. Practice head Alastair Keatinge stands out for providing ‘clear and pragmatic advice, built on his detailed practical experience as a charities lawyer’; he is advising Carnegie UK Trust on the establishment of an affordable credit fund, to be operated by Social Investment Scotland, and related loan arrangements. Keatinge also assisted with the establishment of Amaloidosis Research Consortium in Scotland, which will support a large American medical research charity. Ben Doherty has experience advising charitable organisations on employment matters.

Shepherd and Wedderburn provides a full service to charity clients, most notably in the education sector, including a number of universities and independent schools, which it advises on employment and pensions matters, in addition to more traditional corporate charity work. Constitution and governance expert Malcolm Rust and Christopher McGill (who is ‘very knowledgeable’ in the area of estates and legacies) lead the practice. Rust’s highlights included advising the founders on the establishment of the Chaffinch Trust and the trustees of a major educational trust on the creation of a new charitable entity, which included a new and less restrictive constitution, to allow for the transfer of assets and an easier amendment process. The ‘excellent’ Neil Maclean often advises charities on employment law.

Anderson Strathern’s team is noted for its ‘speedy and responsive service and good awareness of its client’s needs’ in addition to possessing ‘good knowledge of OSCR requirements’. The firm advises charitable organisations across a range of sectors, including renewable entities, royal charter bodies, educational endowments, universities and SCIOs. ‘Personable’ senior associate Victoria Simpson heads the practice, which includes the ‘extremely helpful’ John Kerr. The group is advising a major UK charitable trust on updates to its policies and procedures, including a data protection audit and its investment requirements for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Common Reporting Standard (CRS) self-certification. Other highlights included assisting a Scottish housing association with a key tenant scheme, as well as corporate charity issues.

Balfour+Manson LLP is particularly noted for its work with faith organisations, but its clients comprise a broad range of established charities and individuals or groups setting up new charitable organisations. The ‘responsive and technically knowledgeable’ team handles both non-contentious matters (including property, constitution, governance and re-organisations) and contentious work such as regulatory inquiries and investigations. Practice head, Hugh Angus recently advised a number of religious organisations in connection with major reorganisations and charitable status applications for various local churches. Alan Gilfillan  (who is rated for his ‘first-class’ knowledge of charity law) advised on the registration of a charity following a merger, as well as on the cessation of a joint charitable venture and constitutional issues relating to the high-profile disaffiliation of a religious community. Clients include the Samaritans and the Scottish National Institution for War Blinded.

BTO Solicitors LLP advises a broad range of clients on their transition to charitable status, as well as on governance and day-today- charitable operations, reorganisation applications to the OSCR, and regulatory matters. Karen Brodie and practice head Patrice Fabien supported Southside Housing Association with its application for Big Lottery funding for a new community hub project, and on several other governance and procurement matters. Jeremy Glen assisted the Peter Vardy Foundation with the incorporation and registration of a new SCIO. David Hoey handled the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association’s transformation into an incorporated company structure. Associate Marion Davis is recommended for her expertise in charity structures, governance and regulatory issues.

MacRoberts LLP is praised for its ‘excellent level of service and quality of advice, and for its solutions-focused approach’. The firm is singled out for its knowledge of public law, procurement, grants, tax, IPR and GDPR matters, and charity law and regulation. Practice head Valerie Surgenor focuses on governance, charitable fundraising and commercial contracting. Public procurement expert Duncan Osler advises a number of charities and social enterprises on their arrangements with government agencies and local authorities. The group assisted the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland with governance and fundraising related compliance, including a full GDPR audit. It continues to handle constitutional matters and trustee training for 18 separate People’s Postcode Lottery trusts in Scotland. Robin Fallas is also recommended.

Adrian Bell leads Morton Fraser’s third sector practice, which assists a variety of Scottish charities and not-for-profit organisations, predominantly in the education, healthcare, arts, culture, sport and environment sectors. The group has a niche in advising newly elected local councillors, appointed to charity boards by local authorities, on their role and duties. Highlights included handling multiple matters for a major aid charity and European Development funding recipient, including commercial contacts, governance and issues arising from Brexit. It has also assisted a number of clients on incorporation as an SCIO, and issues arising out of the transfers.

T C Young has extensive expertise in social housing, in addition to community ownership and regeneration charities, for which it handles a variety of issues, including alterations to legal and governance structures, securing limited liability status, mergers, joint ventures and other strategic partnerships. The practice is led by the ‘very approachable and knowledgeable’ Mark Ewing, who is praised for providing advice that ‘effectively balances the charity’s legal obligations with its business requirements’. Ewing is advising the Tiree Community Development Trust on the donation of a significant community asset from another charity, which involves the creation of a bespoke legal structure and extensive due diligence. He is also advising the Iona Community on general legal advice, including fundraising appeal queries, state aid and the possibility of lease arrangements. Christine Stuart is another key practitioner, with experience in constitutional and governance issues, regulatory frameworks, commercial contracts and procurement issues.

The 'high-quality’ team at CMS provides the full range of services to clients in the third sector, particularly educational and research establishments that require advice on charities law, regulatory and financial charity matters. The ‘pragmatic and results-focused’ Graeme Bruce leads the team and specialises in constitutional and corporate governance issues, charity restructuring, setting up charities and registrations. Bruce handles a broad range of charity issues for the recently established Newlands Junior College. Chris Rae (who is ‘efficient and always happy to assist’) is advising Marie Curie on asset management matters, including lease renewals, in addition to tax advice connected to the organisation’s charitable status. He is also assisting Bernardo’s with the establishment of a new vulnerable youth housing enterprise in Scotland.

Harper Macleod LLP’s team applies its ‘expert knowledge’ to the range of regulatory, commercial and constitutional charity law matters. The group is well known for advising small, community-based organisations and a vast number of Scottish registered social landlords, in addition to larger municipal and arms-length external charitable organisations. The ‘approachable and clear’ James McMorrow leads the team, which includes the ‘very commercial’ Jennifer Jack and solicitor Kelly Sleight, whose expertise includes SCIOS, community interest companies, as well as data protection matters. The group is instructed by retailTRUST to advise on a variety of commercial contracts, employment, construction and corporate matters; it is currently assisting the client with an amendment of its charitable objects. In another highlight, it is providing in-house legal support to Wheatley Housing Group in relation to a range of regulatory and governance issues. Other clients include the Highland Rugby Football Club and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice.

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP advises a broad range of healthcare and education sector charities, trade associations, social enterprises and grant-giving organisations, in addition to handling charitable matters for philanthropic individuals, including the establishment and running of foundations. Highlights included assisting Glasgow City Heritage Trust with a review of its constitution and the Grocer Company of Glasgow with constitutional updates that reflected the spirit of the original document. The group also advises Scottish Women’s Institutes on various corporate matters pertaining to its operations in Scotland. Colin Millar and Graham Murray  are the key contacts.

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