Legal Services

Article modified: May 2017, Author:


Funded/Community Legal Services

A local Law Centre can often provide advice to community groups although not necessarily on employer matters (use the Law Centres Federation website to find info). A Council for Voluntary Service (or similar) often has some legal advice service for voluntary groups (see Local contacts page), usually free.

  • LawWorks (was Solicitors Pro Bono Group) aims to enable and encourage lawyers to provide free legal help to individuals and community groups in need. Phone 020 7929 5601.
  • Environmental Law Foundation is the national UK charity linking communities to legal and technical expertise to prevent damage to the environment. Suite 309, 16 Baldwins Gardens, Hatton Square, London EC1N 7RJ, phone 020 7404 1030, email: info@elflaw.org
  • Activists’ Legal Project provides information about the law to people who are thinking of taking direct action, or who have taken direct action. Run by volunteers.

Commercial firms

Your local solicitor can probably deal with most legal matters for the organisation.

Specialist charity lawyers can be helpful on constitutions, contracts, possibly fundraising literature (e.g. legacy promotion or covenant forms), endowment arrangements. Advice on some of these may be available from accountancy firms. If your auditors are any good, they may be a cheaper source. If you want a ‘city’ type firm, the charity specialist is likely to be more cost effective than others.

Known sector experience

The following law firms are known to have specific charity/voluntary sector knowledge.

  • Bates, Wells & Braithwaite Do various training events, including with Directory of Social Change; loads of specialist lawyers, produce regular legal update for clients; have experience in social enterprise too. From Feb. 2015 at 10 Queen Street Place, London, EC4R 1BE, phone 020 7551 7777.
  • Berwin Leighton Paisner, Adelaide House, London Bridge. London, EC4R 9HA , phone 020 7760 1000.
  • Bircham Dyson Bell (Charity clients from major national and international charities to smaller, grant-giving charitable trusts, include family charities, learned societies, royal charter companies, heritage trusts, membership organisations, service providers and research institutes. 1 Dean Farrar St, London, SW1H 0DY, phone 020 7222 8044, email: simonweil@bdb-law.co.uk
  • Blake Morgan Offices in south Wales, Oxford, Reading, London, Portsmouth, Southampton.
  • Brabners A north west England law firm with a Charities and Social Enterprise team.  Horton House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, L2 3YL, phone 0151 600 3341.
  • Burness Paul and WIlliamsons Offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen.
  • Anthony Collins Based in Birmingham, “the largest social housing, charities and community regeneration operations outside London”. 134 Edmund Street, Birmingham, B3 2ES.
  • CharlesRussell Speechlys (Charles Russell merged with Speechly Bircham November 2014) Has various charity specialisms, see Expertise page for choice.. Offices in London, Cheltenham, Guildford.
  • Farrer & Co Tends to have high-status clients. 66 Lincoln’s Inn Field, London, WC2A 3LH, phone 020 7242 2022, email: enquiries@farrer.co.uk
  • Foot Anstey Offices in Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton and Truro with dedicated charity and social enterprise team acting for organisations ranging from local voluntary groups through to national charities. Contact James Evans, Senate Court, Southernhay Gardens, Exeter EX1 1N, phone 01392 685243, email: james.evans@foot-ansteys.co.uk
  • Geldards has taken over Robinsons, an East Midlands firm with national coverage which claimed to be the leading provider of legal services to independent religious charities.
  • Goodman Derrick 90 Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1PT, phone 020 7404 0606.
  • Hempsons Offices in London, Manchester and Harrogate. Email: (city)@hempsons.co.uk
  • Henmans Freeth has offices in Oxfordshire – clients include RSPCA, Oxfam, Cancer Research UK and Save the Children.
  • Hewitsons Offices in Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Saffron Walden. Clients include RSPB, local Wildlife Trust. (Head of Charities Team is Mr Chris Knight in Northampton office.)
  • Hunters (incorporating Alexanders).
  • IBB Solicitors, based in Uxbridge. Membership charities is one speciality, out of wider services for charities.
  • Interface Legal Advisory Service is run by a lawyer previously with the much missed Interchange Legal Advisory Service in London. He provides a service designed primarily to help the voluntary sector, and affordable rates.
  • Jordans, perhaps best known in the charity field for legal publications, also provides company formation, charity constitution, trademark and other services.
  • Laytons, in Guildford, London and Manchester.
  • Matthew Boyer A Devon-based practice. “Well over half of my work is for charities or for bodies seeking charitable status. In addition to charity law and corporate governance of charities, I specialise in planning & environmental law and health & safety. I work hard to keep overheads down so that I can offer a highly competitive specialist service to causes that I support”. Phone 01647 432222, email: boyer@matthew-boyer.demon.co.uk
  • Michelmores Offices in London and Exeter. The Charity Team aims to provide responsive and cost-effective advice to voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises. Phone 01392 688688, or Shivaji Shiva on 01392 687542, email: tss@michelmores.com
  • Pearce Legal “have been advising charities of all sizes for over 20 years, from village halls, Scout groups, schools, churches and missionary organisations to national and international organisations.” 2 The Square, Solihull, West Midlands, B91 3SX, phone 08444 127 899.
  • RadcliffesLeBrasseur has a long tradition of providing services for the charity sector. The charity team represents more than 100 charity clients, and “are recognised as a leading firm in the field of charity law”. 5 Great College Street, London, SW1P 3SJ, phone 020 7222 7040, email: michael.elks@rlb-law.com Offices also in Leeds and Cardiff.
  • Russell Jones and Walker Particular expertise in membership organisations, phone 020 7837 2808, email: enquiries@rjw.co.uk. Offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield.
  • The Charity Team at Russell-Cooke was previously the firm Sinclair Taylor and Martin, and James Sinclair Taylor remains in charge and is a regular contributor at various sector events. 2 Putney Hill, Putney, London, SW15 6AB, phone 020 8789 9111.
  • Stone King Offices in Bath and London. “Act for many hundreds of voluntary organisations including over 150 of the country’s largest charities”. Charity Services.
  • Thomson Snell and Passmore, offices in Kent and Sussex.
  • Tozers West country firm with offices in Exeter, Plymouth, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot.
  • Turcan Connell has a charity law unit, and a Scottish focus (based in Ediburgh). Princes Exchange, 1 Earl Grey Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9EE, phone 0131 228 8111.
  • Veale Wasbrough Vizards, based in Bristol, and now also London, has a charities team.
  • Withers See charity law as a core area of work, and run a programme of conferences and in-house seminars. 16 Old Bailey, London, EC4M 7EG, phone 020 7597 6000.
  • Wrigleys Solicitors. Particular interest in social economy matters, publishing a quarterly newsletter with Unity Trust Bank. The leading charity lawyers in the North East. 19 Cookridge Street, Leeds, LS2 3AG, phone 0113 244 6100, email: thepartners@wrigleys.co.uk


Also worth a mention

  • Charlie Cattell has many years experience advising on social economy legal structures, and provides comprehensive registration services for companies, charities and community interest companies.
  • EarthRights Solicitors ‘A unique law firm which seeks to protect the environment by working with individuals and groups, ranging from local campaigns to NGOs, and green businesses – where appropriate for free or at low cost’. Email: earthrights@gn.apc.org or Devon office: charlie@earthrights.org.uk

1 thought on “Legal Services”

  1. A suggestion from LinkedIn: TrustLaw Connect is the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global pro bono service that connects NGOs and social enterprises with the best law firms around the world. Works with all types of organisations in the arts, education, environment, good governance, human rights, humanitarian relief or international development sectors. http://www.trust.org/services/trustlaw-connect/beneficiaries/

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