Philanthropy & Charitable Giving

Increasingly, successful people wish to use their wealth to make the world a better place, in their own lifetime and beyond.

There are many different ways to support a worthwhile cause, each of which can have different legal and financial implications for the donor. Drawing on our experience in the fields of not-for profit and charity law and tax advice, our philanthropy and charitable giving team has extensive experience of finding the most appropriate way of achieving clients' philanthropic aspirations in their differing circumstances.

In some cases, clients will wish to support existing charitable entities; in other circumstances, establishing a new charitable foundation may be the preferred way of furthering individual philanthropic aims. Our team can also help clients considering other ways of making a difference, whether through projects such as venture philanthropy and microfinance, or by adopting a policy of ‘social responsible investment'.

When it comes to the establishment of their own foundations, clients will have differing wishes. Some will want to maintain a high profile, playing an active role and being closely involved in decision making, perhaps involving other members of their family; some will wish to maintain their anonymity; and some will prefer to leave the decision making to others. We can advise on the optimum location, format, and governance arrangements to address clients' wishes. But once the foundation has been established, our advice need not stop there. We can provide on-going advice in relation to governance, grant making and other legal issues, both in the UK and the US.

Although no one supports philanthropic projects simply to save tax, most donors will wish to ensure that their support is delivered as tax-efficiently as possible - and our team has the knowledge and experience to help. Whilst many of our clients operate only in their own domestic contexts, many will have connections with several different jurisdictions, giving rise to international tax issues.

We advise our clients on the various methods of supporting their chosen causes and their implications in the UK, the US and elsewhere, including the application of UK and US tax relief in relation to gifts of money, property and other assets, whether made during life or on death. We have considerable experience in the establishment of dual-qualified US/UK charitable structures to enable philanthropists who are subject both to UK and US tax to give tax- efficiently and have helped many clients structure their cross-border charitable giving where other jurisdictions have been involved.

Recent work

  • Advising established foundations including the Batty, Chapman, George Drexler and Garfield Weston and Foundations/Charitable Trusts.
  • Establishing charitable foundations for various high-profile individuals including Peter Harrison and Roger de Haan.
  • Advising the Matisse Foundation.
  • Working closely with several charities, including the Garfield Weston and the Paul Hamlyn Foundations, on the issues of grant-making and good governance.
  • Advising the De Haan Charitable Foundation in the establishment of two Academies and an arts and regeneration project.
  • Advising a private foundation on qualifying donated land as a public park.

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We recognize and value the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring to the organization. Diversity is not limited to gender and ethnicity, and includes factors such as religion or belief, disability, age, marital status and sexual orientation. All our employees and Partners are responsible for the promotion and advancement of equality and diversity within the Firm.

Much of our work on diversity in the last three years has been about putting good monitoring tools in place to ensure that we understand where the gaps are within our workforce, making changes to our strategies and communicating our policy on equal opportunities and diversity to our staff and training those involved in managing and recruiting others.

Since 2002, Withers has experienced a period of growth. The expansion of our client base has highlighted our clients' need for a highly skilled and diverse workforce. The business need to support diversity is evident and Chris Priestley (a Partner in our Commercial group) has been nominated to ensure that Diversity is high on the partnership agenda.

Diversity Audit

In 2006 we undertook our first diversity audit of our workforce, monitoring age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and disability. New joiners are monitored on an ongoing basis. Our diversity statistics are published below.

Communication of our commitment to Diversity

Each year our staff are asked to acknowledge their understanding of and commitment to the Firm’s Equal Opportunities Policy as part of our annual audit.

Our Supervisors and Partners receive training to ensure they understand their obligations in implementing our equal opportunity policy in the workplace.

In addition, all interview panelists are trained in the Firm’s approach to diversity and given guidance on our structured skill based approach to interviewing.

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Opportunities for promotion are communicated and made available to all staff on a fair and equal basis. A skills framework is used in all promotion, appraisal, and pay discussions to ensure a consistent and fair approach across the Firm.

Selection of candiates for promotion to 'Of Counsel or Partner' status is undertaken by a panel of Withers Partners, whose selection decisions are based upon technical expertise and pre-defined partner competencies.

Training is made available to all staff and Partners in line with our business needs. Training needs are recognized formally via our appraisal process, which is objective and skill based, to ensure a fair and equal approach.

Recognition for Diversity

Withers was ranked 2nd (out of the top 100 law firms) for having a high percentage of female equity partners in The Lawyer Career Report Survey 2006.

Withers also ranked 2nd (out of the top 50 firms) for Diversity with respect to women and ranked 1st for Diversity with respect for Gay and Lesbians in the Vault survey 2006.

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