Bates Wells & Braithwaite is home to the UK's premier charity and social enterprise group. Its dedicated charity law specialists work with an incredibly broad range of third sector clients, from small local charities and start-up social enterprises right through to the major national and international charities. One peer conceded that "I would have to say they are the top firm in the sector. I can't think of anyone else who has this breadth of understanding." Another added: "It is a very well-oiled enterprise; I take my hat off to the depth of knowledge that they collectively have as charities lawyers." The team is blessed with market-leading senior lawyers - what some commentators refer to as "a golden generation" of charities lawyers - but also remarkable strength throughout its ranks. As one source noted, "there is a real culture of leadership and integrity at the heart of what they do. It's a well-led organisation where talent is allowed to develop and thrive."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Julian Blake is one of the joint leaders of the charity and social enterprise department at Bates Wells & Braithwaite. He works with a range of third sector clients, predominantly assisting them with corporate and commercial issues. Sources note that "Julian is characterised by prompt and clear advice and an incisive mind backed by plenty of experience of this sector."
Philip Kirkpatrick co-chairs the charity and social enterprise group alongside Blake. He works with clients on their concerns relating to constitutional matters, on fund-raising, and on the formation of business ventures, amongst many other issues. Sources note that "he has an intellectual understanding of the brief, he's a really bright man - and a very decent man as well."
Stephen Lloyd is the firm's senior partner, and one of the leading lights of charities law; sources pay homage to his "first-rate advice and his sharp, enquiring mind." Clients highlight him as a practitioner who provides "lots of lateral thinking and lots of creative solutions; he tries to keep things out of court, which is right for charities. He's the best charities solicitor I have come across."
Rosamund McCarthy works with a number of charities, from small, local concerns to major national and international charitable brands. As one source stated, "she's exceptionally professional, incredibly prompt at dealing with issues, especially in our environment - you need to be responsive and agile." Another commentator noted that "she is able to help us achieve our aims and objectives as a campaigning organisation, while also ensuring we don't expose ourselves to unnecessary risks - she's really exceptional."
Lawrence Simanowitz works with third sector clients across the full spectrum of their legal needs. In common with the team's commercial and practical ethos, there is a certain pragmatism to his advice, which impresses clients: "I think he's great; he's not been a lawyer all his career, so he recognises that there is a world outside of the law."
Abbie Rumbold is recognised for her skill at assisting grant-making and fund-raising charities clients. Clients suggest that "she is easy as pie to work with; she talks clearly, explains things really simply and comes at things with the right perspective. She's not a lawyer who will try and bamboozle you."
Thea Longley receives regular instructions from a range of third sector organisations, including charities, social enterprises and local authorities. She is best known for advising charities involved in the sports sector.