Frances trained and qualified with a leading City firm in 2011 where she worked on a number of high profile and high worth transactions, before leaving the corporate sphere in order to focus on charity, ecclesiastical and education law at a specialist firm in Westminster. Prior to undertaking legal training, Frances worked at Bonhams Auction House and studied History and History of Art, ultimately obtaining a Master’s degree in the same. As a result, she is well placed to offer advice on legal issues as they affect matters of art and heritage, cultural property or charitable institutions with valuable collections as well as her core practice areas of charity and ecclesiastical law.
Before joining Birketts, Frances was Deputy Diocesan Secretary for the Diocese of Ely, having formerly been Deputy Diocesan Registrar of the Dioceses of Ely and Guildford. In this capacity she worked with the senior management team to support the implementation of the Diocesan ‘growth’ strategy as well as running the Church Buildings and Pastoral Department and dealing with complex historical trusts.
Frances has acted for a wide range of clients including charities of all purposes, sizes and structures, private and commercial clients in the art sector, educational institutions and the Church of England both nationally and locally via Diocesan Boards of Finance and Education. She works on governance and constitutional matters (including charity registrations), cy-près applications, Royal Charter petitions, management and restructuring of complex historical trusts and permanent endowment, and gift and loan agreements in respect of works of significant academic, artistic and historical interest. Frances provides specialist advice to dioceses, parishes and clergy on legal matters pertaining to the Church of England including the application of canon law, ecclesiastical legislation and the management, development and disposal of ecclesiastical buildings and assets. Frances is also a Notary Public for Ecclesiastical Purposes.
Frances was elected to the committee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society in April 2017. She is also a member of the Charity Law Association, the Education Law Association, the Heritage Alliance and the Institute of Art and Law. Frances was appointed a trustee of the Norwich Historic Churches Trust after moving to Norwich in September 2019.
Frances’ diverse career path has given her invaluable first-hand experience and exceptional insight into the workings of charities, art and heritage and ecclesiastical bodies, providing her with a privileged understanding of the unique challenges faced in these sectors.
Commenting on her appointment, Frances Godden, said: “The Charities and Social Enterprise team at Birketts has long been held in high esteem across the sector and I am delighted to join such an accomplished group of lawyers. With my diverse experience and broad knowledge, I hope that my skills will complement those of my colleagues to create the very best service for our clients.”
Liz Brownsell, Senior Associate and Co-Head of Charities and Social Enterprise, added: “I am very pleased to announce Frances as a valuable addition to our robust multi-disciplinary team. Her varied experience and knowledge of ecclesiastical and art law, as well as her understanding of the demands of such a diverse client base, particularly in respect of church matters, is likely to prove a huge asset for clients across the region.”