Alison Paines > Withers LLP > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Withers LLP
20 Old Bailey

Living Wage

Work Department

Charities and philanthropy


Alison is a partner in the charities team. She has over 25 years of experience in advising charities and other non-profit bodies, and those who contract with or donate to them.

Her clients include an eclectic mix of service providers, grant-makers, educational bodies, aid agencies and research institutes, as well as individual and corporate philanthropists.

She advises on all aspects of charities’ activities but specialises in strategic and governance advice. She is particularly well known for her expertise on medical charities (especially those linked with the National Health Service), educational charities, charities associated with government and international charity issues.

Alison is well used to negotiating for clients with the Charity Commission and other regulators. She is the past Chairman of the Charity Law Association and the current Chair of Governors at a leading school.


Qualified in 1981. Solicitor with Crossman, Block & Keith 1981-87; joined Withers 1988 and became a partner in 1991.

Contributor to ‘Charities Manual’ (Tolley’s) ‘Practical Trust Precedents’; ‘Revenue Law’ (Tolley). Editorial board and contributor ‘International Charitable Giving; OUP.




Charity Law Association; Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners; International Institute of Foundation and Association Lawyers; Law Society.


Notting Hill & Ealing High School; Girton College, Cambridge (MA Classics and Law); Lancaster Gate College of Law.

Lawyer Rankings

London > Public sector > Education: institutions

Withers LLP advises a range of institutions on employment, immigration and charity matters, including some cross-border work with international universities, primarily those in the US. The team is jointly led by Alison Paines, whose work includes advising charities and non-profits, with a focus on independent schools, Chris Priestley, who leads the charities and philanthropy team, advising multi-academy trusts in particular on joint ventures and collaborations, and Philip Reed, who advises independent schools and academy trusts on governance, mergers and fundraising.

London > Public sector > Education: schools

Withers LLP advises schools in relation to property, data protection and reputation management. Its work with academy trusts dates back to advising the first academy conversion back in 2003. The team is led by Alison Paines, who advises charities and non-profits, Chris Priestley, who handles commercial projects, and Philip Reed, who advises independent schools, academy trusts and other education providers on critical issues including governance, strategic advice and restructuring.

London > Private client > Charities and not-for-profit

(Hall of Fame)

Alison PainesWithers LLP

The ‘committed; available; detailed and attentive’ team at Withers LLP under the leadership of Chris Priestley is ‘highly effective’ and its ‘knowledge of the sector is second to none’. With Priestley ‘there’s nothing that he doesn’t know and nothing that he wouldn’t do to help you out as a client’. He is highly recommended for his expertise in governance matters as well as mergers and commercial projects for charities. The group acts for 65% of the top 50 charities in the UK. The practice also has a significant international reach and is regularly instructed on charity matters spanning multiple jurisdictions. Alison Paines (who has ‘excellent technical skills’) has particular expertise in board strategy, structuring and governance for national and international charities as well as significant strength in regulatory matters. It has a large UK tax team that advises on income derived from legacies that is led by Paul Hewitt.