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Asia Guide

Charities — Australia


Arnold Bloch Leibler - Charities Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Prominent, from the firm's inception, in the representation of charitable and NFP entities and active on behalf of an array of causes, ranging from the rights of indigenous peoples to the goals of environmental, religious and cultural organisations. Uniquely involves all members of the firm in providing support in such areas as tax, corporate matters, IP and litigation, and offers particularly focused expertise in the establishment of special purpose philanthropic entities and private ancillary funds.

Strengths The way in which the firm's deep-rooted commitment to the charitable sector is reflected by "a level of support that goes beyond legal advice" is emphasised by several referees. One notes: "We are well looked after and respected," another speaks of lawyers who are "incredibly generous with their time, provide exceptional advice and generally go above and beyond," and a third reports: "Our dealings with them are frequent and constant, but there's never any notion that they are tired of us; they're as eager and enthusiastic as at first contact."

The firm's combination of a depth of resources which makes it "a charities one-stop shop" with a "great reputation in this sphere" is also seen as a powerful asset, one interviewee observing: "You feel steel-plated with Arnold Bloch Leibler on your side."

Work highlights Advised long-standing client the Australian Conservation Foundation on a comprehensive array of corporate governance, taxation, risk management and other strategic concerns, and on discrete issues arising from property transactions and charitable bequests.

Acted for Aboriginal children's charity Children's Ground with regard to its relations with key partners, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and Kakadu West Arnhem Social Trust, and to the extension of its work in the Northern Territory and Central Australia.

Notable practitioners

Joey Borensztajn focuses closely on the application of taxation law in the charitable sector and is also noted for his extensive experience in the setting up of private and public ancillary funds. Sources testify to his high level of activity and to his record as "a good leader" of matters who is consistently "across the brief." He headed the team assisting the charity Barefoot to Boots, which provides both football gear and health and education equipment to refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East, with its official registration in Australia as a public benevolent institution and deductible gift recipient.

Senior partner Mark Leibler AC is a "leading player" in the practice area, well known for his long-standing association with Australian charitable and social justice issues and as one of the key sources of inspiration for the firm's deep engagement with them. He is particularly well qualified to provide advice on complex taxation issues.

Practice head Peter Seidel is the recipient of especially enthusiastic client feedback which characterises him as a "first port of call and constant anchor" for charities, one source noting: "He's very good at understanding us, what our focus is and the complexity of situations where we are exposed, and provides really good guidance on how to react." Well known for his "extraordinary depth of knowledge of indigenous affairs," he advised the First Nations Foundation on leasing documentation and funding and partnership agreements supporting its effort to encourage the development of financial literacy among traditional owner groups in Victoria and Western Australia.

About the Team (content provided by Arnold Bloch Leibler)

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Gilbert + Tobin - Charities Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Offers a specialist service to the full range of 'third sector' clients, including charities of all sizes, community organisations, corporate foundations and entities established by philanthropists and private families. Provides broad corporate expertise together with skills marshalled from across the firm such as tax, IP, banking and real estate, and attracts clients from such sectors as health, education, the arts, sports and overseas aid. Especially valued for its provision of 'big picture' perspectives on actual and potential policy developments in the NFP sector.

Strengths The team's development of highly empathetic relationships with its clients is a common theme in referee feedback, one source describing the practice as "way ahead in its levels of commitment and its ability to understand the needs of charities," and another noting: "It's a very dedicated and passionate firm which shares an interest in the same social issues as us."

Contributors also stress that this empathy is backed by "unfailingly expert and practical advice and assistance," one interviewee reporting: "The full suite of legal advice provided on what was a big, transformative transaction for us was very comforting."

Work highlights Represented Australia's oldest charity, The Benevolent Society, on all aspects of its acquisition of the New South Wales government's disability clinical services, a highly unusual instance of a not-for-profit organisation participating in a major privatisation, requiring the development of innovative governance structures.

Advised the Australian Province of the Society of Jesus on a comprehensive national consolidation and restructuring of operations carried out by over 150 separate entities, a mandate involving complex considerations of ensuring compliance with both civil and canon law.

Notable practitioners

Darren Fittler heads the practice, winning client acclaim as a "very wise and experienced counsel who understands the complicated nuances of the charities and NFP governance framework in Australia" and as a provider of what one referee calls "expert advice which always helps us solve problems and advance our standing." Active on behalf of charities of all sizes and in a variety of contexts, he is particularly adept assisting charities - lately including Parkinson’s Australia and Free the Bears - which need to transform themselves from incorporated associations to public companies limited by guarantee.

About the Team (content provided by Gilbert + Tobin)

Gilbert + Tobin’s Third Sector Advisory Group provides specialist advice to the charitable and not-for-profit sectors including large and small charities, community organisations, corporate foundations, industry associations and private families and individuals.

Our approach
Our group’s deep knowledge of, and experience in, areas of law that relate specifically to charities and not-for-profit organisations, coupled with our broad corporate expertise, enables us to provide innovative, holistic and strategic legal advice and guidance. We provide a full suite of top-tier experience in areas such as corporate/commercial, tax, intellectual property (including trademarks), finance (including banking and loan agreements), real estate and projects (including leasing), construction, planning and employment. We also have a long-standing and well known commitment to the community through our pro bono practice and CSR initiatives.

Unique service offering
We know about laws, regulations and law reform relating specifically to the charities world in which our clients operate. But being a broad service national firm, we also offer access to our wide range of corporate and commercial expertise. This is a powerful and unique combination allowing us to give an unparalleled service to large charities undertaking complicated and complex transactions while still providing the advice and guidance clients need for all their activities, not just those specific to charities.

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Herbert Smith Freehills - Charities Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Respected, specialist sector knowledge, backed by and fully connected to an outstanding range of expertise spread throughout the wider, full-service firm. Advises particularly extensively on structuring, tax and governance issues and further noted for its handling of complex regulatory mandates. A diverse clientele comprises both established and start-up charities, the offering for philanthropic foundations and trusts being particularly strong.

Strengths Sources concur in identifying the practice as "a leader in non-profit and charitable law" and its lawyers as "doyens in this space," with contributors citing such assets as the team's "long experience in the sector" and familiarity with "Australia's more complex charity structures" as particularly noteworthy strengths.

Interviewees are also quick to refer to the combination of specialist charities know-how with ready access to the full range of complementary legal support. As one referee puts it, "the fact that they are a full-service one-stop shop is clearly important, but I also have full confidence in the depth of their expertise in the NFP space."

Work highlights Assisted Justice Connect, a charity working to help disadvantaged Australians secure pro bono legal advice, on the development of a user-friendly taxation advice application for its website.

Notable practitioners

John Emerson co-heads the practice and commands immense market respect as a "pre-eminent lawyer in this space" whom one interviewee characterises as "one of the top legal experts on the Australian NFP landscape." He is especially highly regarded for his interactions with government agencies in general and with the Australian Taxation Office in particular, and is further noted for his deep understanding of the regulatory frameworks governing the operations of charities.

Practice co-head Alice Macdougall stands out as an "extremely knowledgeable" provider of "calm, clear and concise" advice on charitable matters, one referee noting that she is "always accessible, never makes you feel that you are asking stupid questions and is always considered in her response." Especially highly recommended for her expertise on charity establishment, governance and taxation issues, she is also hailed as an exceptional communicator "who truly uses her knowledge for the benefit of the sector as a whole."

About the Team (content provided by Herbert Smith Freehills)

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Jackson McDonald - Charities Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Standout reputation in the Western Australian community for its representation of charities and NFPs across a comprehensive range of sectors, and particularly well known for supporting native title holders. Handles the structuring and establishment of charitable entities and the formation of their constitutions, together with governance, fund-raising and taxation issues. Interacts regularly with the Australian Taxation Office and the ACNC and also acts extensively for government agencies, funders and individual philanthropists.

Strengths The practice is described as a "well established and highly regarded" team with "a genuine understanding of the requirements of the not-for-profit sector" and a particularly high profile for its representation of indigenous groups.

Clients also value the fact that the practice is able, "in any matter with applicability to another area, to refer to colleagues with specialised knowledge."

Work highlights Acted for the Foundation for the Association for the Blind with regard to a reorganisation necessary for the continuation of fund-raising for its guide dog programme in Western Australia, including the conversion of the foundation from a charitable incorporated association to a public ancillary fund.

Assisted the Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation in a thorough restructuring of its governance model and revision of its governing rules, with a view to increasing the efficiency of its oversight of RPH funding.

Notable practitioners

Adam Levin wins high praise for his work on behalf of traditional owner groups. One source, who emphasises the excellence of his work in the setting up of corporate bodies and charitable trusts, observes: "Anyone who's done anything in the indigenous area knows of Adam Levin." Also prominent across a broad range of other charitable issues, where he is acknowledged as "a good operator and very active in pushing the legal boundaries," he advised on structuring, governance and intellectual property aspects of the establishment of the Western Australia-headquartered Centre for Entrepreneurial Research & Innovation.

Interviewees "have no hesitation in recommending" Elizabeth Tylich for charity or NFP-related mandates, one source citing her "good handle on legislation in this area and understanding of the arena in which we operate and the broader environment" and her application of this expertise "to put our operations into context and provide very current and on-target advice." Active on an exhaustive range of structuring, governance and regulatory briefs for some of Western Australia's largest charities, she advised Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA on its transition to Hollywood Hospital and various fund-raising activities.

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McCullough Robertson - Charities Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Distinguished by the scale of its investment in NFP, charitable and philanthropic causes and support for community initiatives in Queensland, backed by an Australia-wide capability. Offers especially focused expertise in the areas of indigenous education, health and aged care and community housing, in addition to advising on legislation governing charitable entities, specialist taxation issues, and a wide range of corporate services.

Strengths Referees testify to the firm's "strong social responsibility programme," one client noting that "the staff's commitment to social impact work is a passionate mission for them; they're always thinking very proactively about us and are very quick to support whatever we want to do."

Feedback on the team contains frequent references to its combination of "a strong understanding of our business" with an ability to "provide resources in all area of the legal arena throughout Australia, at both state and federal level."

Work highlights Advised the National Affordable Housing Consortium on constitutional, structuring and governance issues arising from the evolution of its strategic relationship with a UK-based charity.

Acted for long-standing client Girl Guides Queensland in a restructure of its constitution and governance procedures, a mandate made complex by the fact that the structures concerned are governed by state legislation.

Notable practitioners

Heather Watson enjoys a very high level of recognition among her peers as a "very good operator" with "a very impressive knowledge of the issues," while clients prize her as a "thorough, helpful, solutions-oriented lawyer with an excellent understanding of our sectors and context." Highly experienced in the representation of both charitable organisations and philanthropic individuals on the full range of establishment, structuring, governance and compliance issues, she lately advised the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) on governance and structuring issues consequent upon its transition from being a statutory body to public company status.

About the Team (content provided by McCullough Robertson)

McCullough Robertson has a long history of engagement with our community, working closely with community partners and supporting organisations, charities and people across a diverse range of areas.

Our approach to working with and for charities mirrors our commitment to our firm’s corporate clients. We understand that achieving real outcomes requires long-term and genuine commitment. We know that meaningful relationships must endure to build trust and focus endeavours.

We work with non-profit and community organisations, to build capacity and achieve sustainability. We understand that what we do today, and how we act and interact with others, leaves an indelible mark on the future.

We specialise in the areas of:

  • Indigenous education
  • health
  • aged care
  • community housing

The team members sit on a range of boards, including Australian Regional and Remote Community Services Ltd, UnitingCare Queensland, Uniting NSW.ACT, National Affordability Housing Consortium Ltd, Community Services Industry Alliance Ltd, SEFA Partnerships, and the Advisory Committee - Governance to White Ribbon Foundation.

The team’s work supports McCullough Robertson’s culture of giving, which extends through the whole firm. The practice makes a significant contribution to the pro bono work of the firm, which has a demonstrable value in terms of social capital. 


In 2009, they established the McCullough Robertson Foundation as a vehicle to support and formalise charitable activities and fundraising.

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MinterEllison - Charities Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Offers a formidable breadth of knowledge from its offices across Australia, assisting all manner of clients from small start-ups to global corporates in an exhaustive range of areas, including community health and social welfare, medical research and education. In addition to a full suite of relevant expertise, it provides clients with training and seminars covering fields such as tax and fund-raising and is further noted for its good relations with regulatory authorities, including the ACNC and ATO.

Strengths Exceptional client service, regardless of financial circumstances, is a keynote strength in the eyes of several contributors. As one interviewee puts it, "the level of service has been almost embarrassing, no distinction being made between pro bono and fee-paying clients." Another reports: "They are incredibly supportive of organisations like ours - and that support means that we can focus on our work."

The strength of the team's "excellent reputation" in this space is highlighted by a number of sources, one noting: "It assists charities to be able to tell their donors that they are being advised by a firm with Minters' reputation as it increases their confidence that the charity is getting sound and orthodox advice." Another concurs: "It's a very important element, carrying a lot of weight, to have a big, reputable firm representing you in dealings with government."

Work highlights Acted on a comprehensive range of issues for prominent children's cancer charity Camp Quality, including IP, IT and employment law advice and assistance with the development of a new social enterprise in the learning and development space.

Represented UnitingCare Queensland in the creation of the state's first social impact bond, designed to help reduce the number of indigenous children in out-of-home care through the funding of initiatives such as the New Parent Information Network.

Notable practitioners

Brisbane-based practice co-head Nicole Gordon stands out as a "highly experienced, very commercially astute lawyer" whose "excellent relationship skills" make her a particularly effective negotiator, one referee adding that it is also "obvious that she genuinely cares for her clients and is anxious to provide them with a service which is economical, prompt and first-rate." Especially well regarded for her expertise on taxation matters, she lately advised Community Legal Centres Queensland on ensuring compliance with regulations governing its tax-exempt and deductible gift recipient status.

About the Team (content provided by MinterEllison)

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Prolegis Lawyers - Charities Department

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Band 1

第一等

Chambers Commentary (based on the Chambers research)

What the team is known for Pre-eminent charities and NFP boutique, handling the full range of practice area mandates for clients of all kinds, including both public and private bodies and individual philanthropists. Particularly noted for its coverage of governance, fund-raising, employment and reputational issues and increasingly active on property and IP protection matters.

Strengths Interviewees respect the practice, not only for its rare "depth of expertise," but also for the swift provision of carefully targeted counsel, one client reporting: "They always seem to come back quickly with the advice we need, and to pitch the options just right for us – particularly where governance issues are concerned."

Prolegis is also widely acknowledged by peers as "one of the largest" and the most specialised of a very limited number of charity law boutiques in Australia, commentators especially commending its handling of trust and philanthropy issues and its representation of high net worth individuals in the establishment of ancillary funds.

Notable practitioners

Founder and principal Anne Robinson is "highly regarded" and "highly respected" in this space, one interviewee describing her as "as expert as they come." Offering over 30 years' experience in the practice area, which includes direct experience on the boards of several leading charities, she is particularly well known for her advice on governance, trust structuring and taxation issues.

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Band 1

Arnold Bloch Leibler

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Joey Borensztajn focuses closely on the application of taxation law in the charitable sector and is also noted for his extensive experience in the setting up of private and public ancillary funds. Sources testify to his high level of activity and to his record as "a good leader" of matters who is consistently "across the brief." He headed the team assisting the charity Barefoot to Boots, which provides both football gear and health and education equipment to refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East, with its official registration in Australia as a public benevolent institution and deductible gift recipient.   

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Band 1

Makinson & d'Apice

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Bill d'Apice of Makinson & d'Apice in Sydney "has been in this space a long time" and "is definitely an expert," according to market sources. He possesses particularly focused expertise on the ways in which charity and not-for-profit law impacts on ecclesiastical organisations, having represented the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference and a wide range of bodies at archdiocesan, diocesan and individual congregation level for a number of years. 

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Band 1

Herbert Smith Freehills

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

John Emerson co-heads the practice and commands immense market respect as a "pre-eminent lawyer in this space" whom one interviewee characterises as "one of the top legal experts on the Australian NFP landscape." He is especially highly regarded for his interactions with government agencies in general and with the Australian Taxation Office in particular, and is further noted for his deep understanding of the regulatory frameworks governing the operations of charities. 

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Band 1

Gilbert + Tobin

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Darren Fittler heads the practice, winning client acclaim as a "very wise and experienced counsel who understands the complicated nuances of the charities and NFP governance framework in Australia" and as a provider of what one referee calls "expert advice which always helps us solve problems and advance our standing." Active on behalf of charities of all sizes and in a variety of contexts, he is particularly adept assisting charities - lately including Parkinson’s Australia and Free the Bears - which need to transform themselves from incorporated associations to public companies limited by guarantee.   

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Band 1

MinterEllison

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Brisbane-based practice co-head Nicole Gordon stands out as a "highly experienced, very commercially astute lawyer" whose "excellent relationship skills" make her a particularly effective negotiator, one referee adding that it is also "obvious that she genuinely cares for her clients and is anxious to provide them with a service which is economical, prompt and first-rate." Especially well regarded for her expertise on taxation matters, she lately advised Community Legal Centres Queensland on ensuring compliance with regulations governing its tax-exempt and deductible gift recipient status.

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Band 1

Arnold Bloch Leibler

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Senior partner Mark Leibler AC is a "leading player" in the practice area, well known for his long-standing association with Australian charitable and social justice issues and as one of the key sources of inspiration for the firm's deep engagement with them. He is particularly well qualified to provide advice on complex taxation issues.

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Band 1

Jackson McDonald

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Adam Levin wins high praise for his work on behalf of traditional owner groups. One source, who emphasises the excellence of his work in the setting up of corporate bodies and charitable trusts, observes: "Anyone who's done anything in the indigenous area knows of Adam Levin." Also prominent across a broad range of other charitable issues, where he is acknowledged as "a good operator and very active in pushing the legal boundaries," he advised on structuring, governance and intellectual property aspects of the establishment of the Western Australia-headquartered Centre for Entrepreneurial Research & Innovation.    

^ Return to Top

Band 1

Herbert Smith Freehills

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Practice co-head Alice Macdougall stands out as an "extremely knowledgeable" provider of "calm, clear and concise" advice on charitable matters, one referee noting that she is "always accessible, never makes you feel that you are asking stupid questions and is always considered in her response." Especially highly recommended for her expertise on charity establishment, governance and taxation issues, she is also hailed as an exceptional communicator "who truly uses her knowledge for the benefit of the sector as a whole."

^ Return to Top

Band 1

Prolegis Lawyers

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Founder and principal Anne Robinson is "highly regarded" and "highly respected" in this space, one interviewee describing her as "as expert as they come." Offering over 30 years' experience in the practice area, which includes direct experience on the boards of several leading charities, she is particularly well known for her advice on governance, trust structuring and taxation issues.   

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Band 1

Arnold Bloch Leibler

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Practice head Peter Seidel is the recipient of especially enthusiastic client feedback which characterises him as a "first port of call and constant anchor" for charities, one source noting: "He's very good at understanding us, what our focus is and the complexity of situations where we are exposed, and provides really good guidance on how to react." Well known for his "extraordinary depth of knowledge of indigenous affairs," he advised the First Nations Foundation on leasing documentation and funding and partnership agreements supporting its effort to encourage the development of financial literacy among traditional owner groups in Victoria and Western Australia.

^ Return to Top

Band 1

Jackson McDonald

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Interviewees "have no hesitation in recommending" Elizabeth Tylich for charity or NFP-related mandates, one source citing her "good handle on legislation in this area and understanding of the arena in which we operate and the broader environment" and her application of this expertise "to put our operations into context and provide very current and on-target advice." Active on an exhaustive range of structuring, governance and regulatory briefs for some of Western Australia's largest charities, she advised Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA on its transition to Hollywood Hospital and various fund-raising activities. 

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Band 1

McCullough Robertson

From the Chambers Asia-Pacific guide

Heather Watson enjoys a very high level of recognition among her peers as a "very good operator" with "a very impressive knowledge of the issues," while clients prize her as a "thorough, helpful, solutions-oriented lawyer with an excellent understanding of our sectors and context." Highly experienced in the representation of both charitable organisations and philanthropic individuals on the full range of establishment, structuring, governance and compliance issues, she lately advised the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) on governance and structuring issues consequent upon its transition from being a statutory body to public company status.

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