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About Alison

Partner and Head of National charities, Alison specialises in all aspects of contentious and non-contentious work for charities. She has over 20 years’ experience in providing strategic, pragmatic and commercial advice to a wide range of charities, social enterprises, educational institutions and individuals. In Legal 500 and Chambers UK she has been individually ranked as a leader in her field for many years and is described by sources in Chambers 2020 as “very likeable, accessible, thoughtful and easy to speak to.” She has also been described as ‘extremely warm and has a great client manner but also has a fantastic depth of knowledge and an extremely tough edge when needed’. She is also consistently recognised by Citywealth as a prominent figure in the Leading Lawyers Honours List.

Alison is well known for her client focussed approach and ability to cut through difficult situations in order to identify workable solutions for her charity clients. She maintains a calm approach even in the most challenging circumstances and has a strong reputation for achieving successful outcomes for clients.

With extensive experience in charity law and governance she regularly engages with the Charity Commission and is highly skilled in supporting charities through disputes, distress situations and organisational change. She regularly advises the trustee boards of charities when taking sensitive or complex decisions and carries out governance and board reviews.
Alison has advised charities in relation to Charity Commission investigations and inquiries, and has a strong track record of working with charities to handle the media and protect the charity’s reputation. She also advises charities on the gifts they receive in wills, including the interpretation of wills, tax issues, and legal challenges to wills.

Whilst working with many charities to review their governing documents, she has developed a wealth of experience advising on constitutional amendments and has regularly worked with Royal Charter Bodies, Charities created by Act of Parliament, Charitable Companies, CIOs and Foundations, as well as all types of social enterprise to update and refresh their governance arrangements and policies and procedures.

Having been a trustee of a number of charities, Alison has a strong understanding of the practical issues which charity trustees face on a day to day basis. She also sits on the Audit and Risk Committee of an Oxford College and is a member of the Advisory Board to the Association of Medical Research Charities. She is a trained mediator and is regularly asked to speak at events and provides training to charities.

Recent Experience

  • Advising in relation to a high profile Charity Commission Statutory Inquiry.
  • Acting for a charity in relation to serious safeguarding allegations.
  • Advising multiple charities in relation to regulatory concerns and serious incident reporting.
  • Acting for a University on the funding arrangements for a new research institute.
  • Advising a charity on the recovery of several million pounds which had been fraudulently removed from an estate.
  • Advising multiple charities on restructuring their funds and endowments.
  • Acting on the merger of two well-known national charities.
  • Advising in relation to multiple charity and social enterprise start ups.

Professional Memberships

  • STEP Diploma
  • CEDR accredited mediator
  • Member of the Charity Law Association
  • Trustee of the Oxford Hospitals Charity
  • Advisory Board of Association of Medical Research Charities
  • Audit and Risk committee of Wadham College, Oxford

Career Experience

2019 to present: Partner, Winckworth Sherwood LLP

2016 to 2018: Partner, Penningtons Manches LLP

2007 to 2016: Partner, Blake Morgan

2000 to 2007: Solicitor, then Partner, Henmans

1996 to 2000: Trainee Solicitor, then Solicitor, Parrott & Coales