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Sam Macdonald

Work 020 3375 7445
Farrer & Co

Work Department



Sam is the Head of the Schools Group. He advises charities and other not-for-profit institutions on all aspects of UK charity law and related tax law. He also advises philanthropists on structures for giving and the establishment of charities, and overseas organisations on their engagement with the British and European charitable sectors. Sam represents the firm on the Charity Tax Group and the Charities' Property Association, and is a member of the Charity Law Association.


Trained Farrer & Co: 1995-97; Assistant Solicitor Farrer & Co: 1997-2004; Partner Farrer & Co: 2004 to date.


Conversational French.


Manchester University.

London: Private client

Charities and not-for-profit

Within: Leading individuals

Sam Macdonald - Farrer & Co

Within: Charities and not-for-profit

Farrer & Co  fields a ‘very responsive team that provides clear advice and guidance’. It is a ‘good all-round and solid team that always has someone available to assist who is a safe pair of hands’. The ‘excellentAnne-Marie Piper heads the team, which includes the ‘very professional and approachableJames Carleton, who is ‘experienced and pragmatic’; Elizabeth Jones, whose ‘response times are always quick and clients feel that the advice is realistic in terms of tailoring the advice to ensure that it is commercially viable'; 'superb' newly promoted partner James Maloney; and Sam MacDonald, who advises charities and other not-for-profit institutions on all aspects of UK charity law and related tax law. Another key member of the team is Julian Smith who advises a wide range of foundations and functional charities including those organisations that have been established by statute or by Royal charter. At associate level Laetitia Ransley  is ‘extremely professional and thorough. She provides clear and concise yet comprehensive advice’. Philip Reed  is also ‘effective and personable’. The ‘strong’ team continues to advise Leonard Cheshire Disability (a major international disability charity) on a wide range of issues. In other key matters it advised on the establishment of the London Emergencies Trusts. This is a charity that was established to help victims of terror attacks and other emergencies in London.

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London: Public sector

Education: individuals

Within: Leading individuals

Sam MacDonald - Farrer & Co

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Education: institutions

Within: Leading individuals

Sam MacDonald - Farrer & Co

Within: Education: institutions

Farrer & Co's team 'is highly knowledgeable, easily approachable and offers very clear advice'. It provides extensive expertise across charity, constitutional and employment law together with safeguarding matters and large-scale collaborative projects and joint ventures. David Copping is the chair of the higher education group; Sam MacDonald, who is 'excellent in all respects', and David Smellie, 'who has excellent industry knowledge', are two of the senior specialists within the team; and Julian Smith focuses on charity, trusts tax and governance matters for universities. The team advised Imperial College London on safeguarding matters following an audit, and in other work it assisted King’s College London’s international directorate - King's Worldwide - on the correct structuring of international collaborations, work that included producing a suite of contracts and the formation of a new subsidiary company. Its client roster includes Oxford and Cambridge colleges, the London Business School and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

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Education: schools

Within: Leading individuals

Sam MacDonald - Farrer & Co

Within: Education: schools

'Market-leader' Farrer & Co 'provides excellent value for money, legal acumen and sector knowledge'. Practice head Sam MacDonald is highlighted for his 'excellent, pragmatic advice' and is noted for his blend of charities and education expertise. David Smellie has 'unrivalled knowledge of safeguarding' and is also a key name for contentious employment matters. Head of the schools practice Jonathan Eley's work ranges from child protection and special needs matters to disciplinary and exam administration cases. Paul Jones advises independent schools on a range of commercial matters including international joint ventures. The team is advising a number of boarding schools on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and in other work, a multi-disciplinary team assisted King's College School in Wimbledon with the sale of the business and assets of pre-preparatory The Rowans School to Shrewsbury House School.

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