Chris Priestley > Withers LLP > London, England > Lawyer Profile

Withers LLP
20 Old Bailey

Living Wage

Work Department

Charities and philanthropy.


Head of the firm’s charities & philanthropy practice.  Particular areas of expertise are: regulatory investigations; safeguarding; cross-border collaborations, structuring and fundraising; charity governance and mergers; Royal Charter work; and advice to educational and healthcare charities.  Chris also advises on the structuring of complex charitable groups (both domestic and international) arrangements and the ownership by charities of underlying business and social enterprises. Chris has a strong reputation for advising corporate and private donors on their philanthropy strategies and the structuring of family foundations. He regularly addresses conferences on charity law topics, is a member of the executive board of the Charity Law Association and authored the ICSA Charity Trustee’s Guide. Clients include Macmillan Cancer Support, Arts Council, College of Optometrists, Cancer Research UK, NSPCC; Girls’ Day School Trust; British Red Cross Society; and the Tate.


Trained Robson McLean; qualified 1994 (Scotland); partner Withers LLP 2003. Author of fundraising chapter in Tolley’s ‘Charities Manual’; regular contributor to Charity Press; trustee:  Barrow Foundation; and W.O Street Foundation.




Executive committee, Charity Law Association; Institute of Fundraising Codes of Practice Committees.


George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh; University of Edinburgh (LLB Hons; Diploma in Legal Practice).

Lawyer Rankings

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

(Hall of Fame)

Chris PriestleyWithers LLP

Withers LLP acts for 65% of the top charities in the UK and is recognised for its expertise in governance and regulatory matters as well as mergers and commercial work for charities. ‘The range of knowledge and expertise within the Withers team is fantastic’. Alison Paines is well-regarded for her work with healthcare charities. The first-class team regularly advises leading charities in education, arts, sports and the life sciences sector and is also known for its commitment to philanthropy. Chris Priestley advises nationally-significant businesses and individuals working with charities on their CSR and philanthropic initiatives. Paul Hewitt heads the firm’s work for charities on legacy income and trustee disputes. ‘The team is great, works incredibly well together and provides a level of confidence in its opinions’. 

London > Public sector > Education: schools

Withers LLP specialises in advising academies, handling conversions, restructurings, governance work and operational issues as well as employment, safeguarding and reputational mandates. EdTech and UK-US education work, led by Alana Petraske from the New York office, are key specialisms. Chris Priestley heads up the charities and philanthropy team, which houses the education practice. Philip Reed joined from Farrer & Co.

London > Public sector > Education: institutions

Withers LLP‘s HE practice sits within the dedicated charity and philanthropy team, and draws on a core group of employment, immigration, IP, tax and real estate specialists. The group is highly recommended for international clients, with strong links to Asia and the US; dual-qualified partner Alana Petraske in New York works closely with the team. James Shaw handles spin-out activities for UK universities, while Chris Priestley has experience with large-scale projects, and Alison Paines focuses on strategic and governance advice. Philip Reed joined from Farrer & Co.