Charities and not-for-profit in West Midlands

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

Dominic Curran leads the charities team at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP that is particularly known for its faith-based charities work as well as for its national and international reach. Curran is praised for being ' unequivocally committed to providing excellent client care'. Other strengths include assisting social care charities and advising on financing issues by way of grant work, social investment and secured lending.  The first-class team acts for 12 of the top 15 third sector residential care providers and four of its lawyers are approved as Interim Managers by the Charity Commission. Anna Dabek advises charities on complex employment law issues. Edwina Turner has particular expertise in complicated governance issues. Phil Watts has niche expertise in almshouse charities.

Practice head(s):

Dominic Curran

Other key lawyers:

Anna Dabek; Edwina Turner; Phil Watts; Esther Campsall; John Wearing

Testimonials

‘A highly competent group of solicitors who are experts in their respective fields. They are all responsive, give sound advice, and take the time to explain legal matters patiently and in plain English. They combine expertise in their field of law with their specialism in charities, which I value’.

‘As ever, expert and accessible. The lawyers’ responsiveness to requests for help with often sudden and unexpected issues is exemplary. They really do fulfil a role as a trusted partner and adviser, beyond transactional legal issues’.

‘Highly responsive and tuned in to our charitable activities, requirements and those of our members. Able to offer helpful, tailored advice in an approachable and clear way. Esther Campsall is always willing to offer practical and prompt advice; friendly, clear and flexible, she is so easy to recommend to our members’.

‘The team we work with at Anthony Collins is extremely helpful and professional. The lawyers offer sound, practical advice in plain English. ’

‘Dominic Curran is  extremely personable, helpful and professional. We deal with a number of law firms, and it is the only firm to have reached out during the Coronavirus crisis to see what it could do to help us, and even to just have a Zoom coffee with us’.

‘The team has always provided timely, comprehensive advice, clearly outlining next steps. Edwina Turner has been down to earth, knowledgeable and amenable. Edwina has time and time again, been very accessible to my queries and helped me to navigate the legals of many different situations. She has gone above and beyond to provide a great service to my organisation and I cannot commend her highly enough’.

‘The charity team has an excellent balance of individuals with combined knowledge, experience, personal commitment to the sector, client service ethos and reasonable approach to fees and billing. The lawyers also use technology sensibly’.

‘In-depth understanding of the charity sector. Quite possibly uniquely – the firm actually publishes its own social impact report, which helps show that its values align with the sector and that it’s not just another law firm purely focused on money. John Wearing has a deep understanding of social care and the issues faced by charities’.

Key clients

Barnardo’s

Mind

Kent Wildlife Trust

Fareshare Midland

Charity Commission

National Care Forum

Key Provider of live-in care services across Europe

Ecology Building Society

Health and Social Care Provider

St Basil’s

Work highlights

  • Acted on behalf of Mind in drafting and negotiating a partnership agreement with the television channel ITV.
  • Supported Kent Wildlife Trust in respect of drafting conservation covenants, which will allow the trust to register local land charges against plots of land.
  • Appointed as interim managers of charities by the Charity Commission to deal with certain concerns the Commission may have in relation to the governance of a charity.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has a well-established national reputation for its work with charities and advises many of the UK’s biggest and most prominent charities. Cambridge-based Neil Burton leads the department that includes Adam Williams and Lucy Howard both of whom are principal associates in Birmingham. Williams acts for various charities and specialises in governance and charity law regulation. He also advises a number of high-profile philanthropists. Howard routinely advises charities on the validity of will provisions and also acts for charities in relation to any claims that are pursued under the Inheritance Act 1975.

Practice head(s):

Neil Burton

Other key lawyers:

Adam Williams; Lucy Howard

Testimonials

‘They have a good understanding of the sector and are able to provide constructive and pragmatic advice’

‘The lawyers are very responsive and accessible and will often work evenings and weekends to ensure they meet tight time-scales.  Nothing ever feels like too much trouble’.

VWV

VWV has a large and specialist team that acts for a diverse range of clients in the UK and overseas. It advises more than 1,000 charities and has particular strength in health and social care charities as well as educational charities. In addition it assists many public sector bodies on charity law and trusteeship issues and acts for a large number of arts charities and faith-based charities. Head of team Shivaji Shiva frequently works with faith charities to resolve complex internal disputes and supports national charities that promote physical activity. Senior associate Jaime Hobday has a particular focus on the education sector.

Practice head(s):

Con Alexander; Shivaji Shiva

Other key lawyers:

Jaime Hobday

Key clients

Aston University

Barnwood Trust

Birmingham MIND

Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Blue Coat School Birmingham

Bromsgrove School

Cheltenham Ladies College

Coventry University

Creative Education Trust

Dudley College

Evolve Academy Trust

King Edward VI Academy Trust Birmingham

London Metropolitan University

London South Bank University

Loughborough Endowed Schools

National Star College

Queen Alexandra College

RoSPA

Royal Academy of Music

Solihull School

The Schools of King Edward VI Foundation

United Reformed Church Synods

University of Bath

University of Exeter

University of Law

Windsor Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised several major faith charities including gurdwaras, mosques and temples on the resolution of complex internal disputes.
  • Advised the trustees of a long established charity supporting disabled people on the final stage of a multi-phase governance review introducing major structural changes and streamlining the governance of the charity so it can focus on its aim of catalysing change.
  • Provided comprehensive support to the national office and member charities of a national federated charity, including guidance to members on responding to Covid-19, the development of strategic guidance on property issues, and advice on the management of major legacies.

Higgs LLP

Higgs LLP is renowned for its experience in governance, constitutional and regulatory work for charity and not-for-profit clients. Philanthropy also continues to be a focus of the group. Under the leadership of Kirsty McEwen who has an 'outstanding knowledge of the charity sector' the practice acts for many established charitable and not-for-profit organisations specialising in faith in addition to non-denominational religious organisations, educational charities, sports bodies and heritage charities. McEwen acts for smaller as well as larger regional and national organisations. Ellie Williams routinely advises on complex restructures and charity registrations as well as advising trustees following intervention from the Charity Commission.

Practice head(s):

Kirsty McEwen

Other key lawyers:

Ellie Williams

Testimonials

‘Expert charity advice based on a deep understanding of the issues that charities face. A fantastic network of charity contacts that have proved very useful to our charity. Expertise delivered with understanding and empathy. Always practical’.

‘It is very definitely a capable and articulate team with a very strong grasp of Charity Law and its principles. The lawyers are kind and understanding and concerned to complete an assignment taking into account client needs. We worked through a pandemic together and there were no problems!’.

‘I have worked with Kirsty McKeown and Ellie Williams on a long complex and demanding piece of work this year. They are both very approachable and unlike many lawyers in this day and age they listen and look for solutions. They, when required, stand their ground and are focused on the best outcome for their client. Kirsty makes herself available when required no matter what time of the day that is. Ellie similarly is finely tuned to client needs and wants to help at all times’.

‘Higgs offers one of the few truly specialised Charity practices in the Midlands with a depth of knowledge of the sector and the ability to address all areas of the law relating to Charities rather than just employment or M&A or property as so many others seem to do. Each member of the team has experience as a Trustee in their own right which is so important to aid understanding’.

‘Kirsty McEwen is one of the stand-out Charity solicitors in the Midlands in my opinion with a deep level of knowledge of the sector, its legal issues and how these can be resolved. She speaks in a language that all Trustees can understand and makes the complex straightforward, which is a key skill. She is not phased by any problem and is able to draw on a wealth of experience to efficiently guide and advise clients’.

‘I am in regular contact with the charities team and have found them to be exceedingly thoughtful to our needs, and have been always agreeable to changes to their billing process to accommodate our procedure. The lawyers have been ready to agree  to our wishes regarding fees always noting that the level is fair to us, the client. They have streamlined the regulatory requirements to take this burden off the trustees’.

‘The personal attention by the team leader, Kirsty McEwen, who is there to help in even the smallest detail has been of great help to the board of trustees. The support given by the office staff in the team is vital to provide a smooth operation, which gives us confidence that there is depth of support within the office.’

‘The Charities and not-for-profit team at Higgs is absolutely committed to the NFP sector. The firm has invested in its people and has developed a real deep specialism in this field. Outwardly it supports many initiatives in and around Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. The lawyers can be found speaking at events both locally and nationwide and have developed excellent working relationships with the Charity Commission and other regulators. The team collaborates well with strategic partners and launched a diversity programme during the pandemic.’

Key clients

Millennium Point Trust

ANAWIM – Women Working Together

Steps to Work

Starting Point Recruitment

The CBSO Development Trust and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Tax Advisors Benevolent Fund and The Tax Advisors Charitable Trust

West Midlands Police Benevolent Fund

Sport 4 Life UK

Association of Dog Boarders

Work highlights

  • Advising two charitable entities on a merger process.
  • Advised West Midlands Police Benevolent Fund on various matters including drafting comprehensive membership rules and advising on governance and regulatory requirements issues arising out of COVD-19.
  • Advising Steps to Work on the acquisition of another not for profit entity and wholesale review of Articles of Association.

Lodders Solicitors LLP

Lodders Solicitors LLP advises high-profile national and regional charities as well as more discreet charitable trusts, breed societies and ancient foundations. Mark Lewis heads the team that advises on general charity law matters as well as governance and constitutional issues. In addition it is well placed to handle complex restructures and reorganisations. Lewis has particular expertise in advising ecclesiastical, agricultural, equine and engineering charities in addition to membership bodies and various breed societies. Steven Baker advises numerous regional and educational charities on their property portfolios.

Practice head(s):

Mark Lewis

Other key lawyers:

Steven Baker

Testimonials

‘The practice has a longstanding relationship with our charity and can therefore apply experience and history to advice given. Our contact partner is approachable and personable and available when needed, if only to answer a quick query. He is experienced and knowledgeable but delivers his advice in a way that is easy to understand’.

‘Unusually for a firm of solicitors we have a lead partner who co-ordinates the work of the various teams and ensures that there is ‘joined-up thinking’ to break though the normal silo mentality of the various specialisms. Mark Lewis acts as lead partner for the firm’s services and is proactive in drawing our attention to important changes in legislation of the Charity Commission guidance.’

Mark Lewis uses his extensive experience of charities and companies to give us clear and pragmatic advice, which has been particularly helpful in respect of the relationship between the charity and its subsidiary given the changes in guidance during the pandemic lockdowns.’

Key clients

The Grand National Archery Society

The Roman Association Trust

Values Education for Life CIO

The Johnson or Secular Clergy Association of The Archdiocese of Birmingham

The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers

The Roger & Douglas Turner Charitable Trust

The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture

The Farming Community Network

The Vishwa Hindu Kendra Southall CIO

Work highlights

  • Provided support to the The Grand National Archery Society on governance and related issues including further revisions to its constitution to ensure that it continues to operate in accordance with best practice and as required by UK Sport; in particular to adapt the constitution so that it achieves a Crystal Mark for clarity as well as seeking to facilitate electronic communication.
  • Continuing to advise on the reorganisation of two charities by merging them together through the medium of a charitable incorporated organisation.
  • Incorporated an unincorporated charity as a charitable incorporated organisation which has proceeded to acquire an undertaking for the provision of alternative education and vocational development.

Shakespeare Martineau LLP

Shakespeare Martineau LLP is best known for its wide-ranging work in the social housing and education sectors and acts for a number of noteworthy educational charitable bodies. Corporate and governance work remain a key area of growth for the practice and it is also adept at advising charities on issues regarding legacies. Leicester-based Andrew Wilkinson heads the team. Anne Tromans regularly acts as a professional trustee and provides advice to lay trustees on their reporting requirements and trustee duties. Lesley Davis specialises in setting up and managing charitable trusts, foundations and CIOs. Newly-promoted partner Rachel Gwynne has a wealth of experience in advising on charity law, regulation and governance.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Wilkinson

Other key lawyers:

Anne Tromans; Lesley Davis; Rachel Gwynne

Testimonials

‘The team is dedicated to the sector and is committed to delivering exceptional client service. As a firm throughout the pandemic the lawyers were quick to mobilise technology to stay connected to clients and the wider community‘.

‘My main contact is Anne Tromans. Anne gets on well with clients, is able to translate complex charity issues so that trustees feel reassured and confident in her advice’.

‘Very detailed specialist knowledge. Vast experience. Imaginative approach to problem solving. Good communications. Pragmatic and commercially aware advice. Fast and responsive’.

Key clients

Cornerstone Group

Churches Housing Association of Dudley and District (CHADD)

St Martins’ Trust

Stonewater Group

Diocese of Birmingham

Staffordshire University

King Edward VI College, Stourbridge

Work highlights

  • Advising the Diocese of Birmingham on employment, safeguarding, property matters and other general queries
  • Advising Stonewater Group on the implementation of an innovative employee-based shared ownership scheme which is helping eligible employees get onto the housing ladder by buying a home on the open market.
  • Advised Cornerstone Group on the surrender of its city centre office lease and the applicability and implications of the charity law disposal regime.

Thursfields Solicitors

Thursfields Solicitors has a number of long-term full service retainers with various charities and not-for-profit organisations and works with numerous regional and national charities. The skilled team advises on the full spectrum of matters from the establishment of charities through to mergers and governance issues. Jenny Smith heads the practice that has recently noticed increased referrals from law firms that do not have their own charities specialisms. Katherine Ellis  has an emphasis on legacy fundraising and management as well as contested probate claims and charity project management issues. James Monk is also recommended.

Practice head(s):

Jenny Smith

Other key lawyers:

Katherine Ellis; James Monk

Testimonials

‘We have worked with two members of the charity team at Thursfields and have found them to be helpful, responsive and knowledgeable. Billing is transparent, feedback is constructive. Katherine Ellis is exceptional. She has immersed herself in the charity sector in the Midlands. All of the work she has undertaken for us has been thorough, timely and excellent value’.

‘The charities team, led by Jenny Smith, is one of the standout departments in the region. Combining huge experience in governance and advisory matters, with a strong litigation presence, charities can have confidence that their case will be handled in an expert and professional way. Jenny Smith inspires loyalty and respect with her considered and confident approach, combined with thoughtful and expert analysis. She is wonderful to work with and uses her huge experience and passion for knowledge to superb effect’.

The people I have had the privilege to work with at Thursfields have shown great interest in the work of the charity and have always been willing to roll their sleeves up in practically supporting. Katherine Ellis’.

‘The practice is knowledgeable , easy to approach, good communication. The person I dealt with was available all the time, ready to answer questions, with good experience’.

Key clients

KEMP Hospice

Sight Concern

Yorkshire Baptist Association

Birmingham Dogs Home

Carers Trust, Lee Valley Crossroads Care Service Limited

Work highlights

  • Acting on retainer for Yorkshire Baptist Association to advise on governance, trust and property matters.
  • Instructed by Kemp Hospice to advise on the transfer of assets, activities and liabilities of the trading company to the charity.
  • Instructed by Birmingham Dogs Home to advise on a variety of matters relating to charity legacy administration and management.

Browne Jacobson LLP

Under the leadership of Catherine Rustomji the practice at Browne Jacobson LLP continues to flourish. Recently it has been busy advising on governance matters and has increasingly been advising on family and corporate foundations. The team advises charities, not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises as well as charity trustees and individuals who wish to establish charities both regionally and nationally. Clare Auty is particularly knowledgeable about trading charities in the health and social care sector.

Practice head(s):

Catherine Rustomji

Other key lawyers:

Clare Auty

Testimonials

‘Technical expertise. Sector knowledge. Availability’.

Key clients

Baron Davenport

John Taylor Hospice

Performances Birmingham Limited

Birtenshaw

Society of Dyers and Colourists

Age UK Staffordshire

Sir Francis Nethersole’s School Foundation

The Wyggeston’s Hospital and Hospital Branch Trustee

Nottingham Castle Trust

Birmingham Museums Trust

A Students’ Union

Work highlights

  • Advising Baron Davenport’s Charity on legal structures, a charity merger, governance and future plans.
  • Advising John Taylor Hospice on  charity law, governance and risk issues as well as property and commercial advice.
  • Advised on the £13.5m renovation of Symphony Hall, Birmingham. This involved banking and finance advice, constitutional and related matters, construction, state aid, grant and loan funding and property.