The Charities Sector

The charities industry...

The charities sector aims to create social rather than material wealth. You'll often hear the terms 'not-for-profit' and 'third sector' - all of these terms tend to be used interchangeably when describing the sector. Naturally, like any other sector or industry, charities also require legal support and more often then not, law firms will offer legal services for this sector at reduced rates

 

If you're someone that has a genuine interest in improving and enriching society and helping the local and national community but also love the law - this may be the sector for you!

What do the lawyers do?!

Charities need lawyers to support them on a day to day basis with common legal issues and in respect of bigger projects that impact the future of the charity. 

Lawyers that specialise in this sector will (amongst other things):

 

  • assist with the incorporation of a charity and complete the relevant forms required by the Charity Commission

  • advise on the implications of charity law in relation to issues such as use of fundraising funds, responsibilities and duties of trustees, inquiries with the Charity Commission and protecting charitable assets 

  • advise trustees of a charity on good governance practice 

  • advise, negotiate and draft commercial agreements and contracts in relation to the charity fulfilling their 'objects' (i.e. the purpose of the charity), to buy goods and services and to raise funds

  • advising charities on corporate matters such as restructuring the management or arrangement of the charity and advising in the event of financial difficulty 

  • advising on the dissolution process of closing a charity 

  • agreeing and negotiating joint venture agreements when a charity wishes to work with other organisations 

  • assist on real estate matters for the charity such as buying and selling trustee property 

  • advising on employment issues of the charity such as TUPE transfers when a charity is bought by another organisation or when two charities merge

  • advising on redundancies and pensions of employees of the charity

  • arranging grants and financing for a charity (i.e. 'finance' work)

  • general advice on charity regulations and when to seek Charity Commission consent 

  • dealing with any disputes that can arise such as legacy disputes (where a charity receives money from a Will)

The charity sector tends to be heavily dominated in a law firm by the corporate and commercial disciplines. This is largely to do with the fact that charities require ongoing support with their commercial and governance processes so its usually these teams that build the client relationships and then refer their clients to other disciplines when appropriate.

Clients in this sector...

Clients will include:

  • trustees

  • senior managers of the charity 

Example legal cases

Irwin Mitchell advised the Telford College of Arts and Technology on a merger with New College Telford which included advising on governance, trustee duties, corporate arrangements, property and complex funding arrangements. 

Browne Jacobson advised the Amy Winehouse Foundation following the Charity's establishment of which William Colacicchi was subsequently appointed a trustee. 

Bevan Brittan acted for Nottingham County Council in connection with the establishment of an employee led charitable Community Benefit Society which delivered a range of cultural services back to the council to help make long term budget savings.

Law firms to consider...