Liz Brownsell
Partner, Head of Charities
  • Experience
  • Other Information

Liz is the Head of our Charities Team. Her expertise covers a wide range of matters affecting charities, including setting up and incorporation, mergers, corporate structuring and restructuring, governance (including constitutional and membership issues), commercial arrangements and contracts (including joint ventures and collaborative agreements), trading and charity retail (in particular Gift Aid for charity shops), fundraising, matters involving the Charity Commission (including investigations), releasing permanent endowment and other restricted funds, and general charity law.

Liz has further specific expertise advising on academy conversions, covering every type of conversion, including primary and secondary schools, special needs schools, sponsored conversions, Catholic schools, and Church of England schools. Liz also provides post-conversion support to academy schools on matters such as compliance with DfE and EFA requirements, governance, mergers with other academy trust companies and other commercial issues.

Liz leads the firm’s in-house training offering to our charity clients through Birketts’ Shaping Excellence Programme, and regularly delivers seminars on a variety of topics. Liz also delivers the firm’s rolling programme of Charity Trustee Induction and Refresher Training, which provides charity trustees and senior managers with essential training on the role and responsibilities of charity trustees.

Liz qualified as a Solicitor in March 2006. She is based in our Ipswich office.

Liz is a member of the Charity Law Association and has an active interest in the development of the sector. She has been involved in a number of CLA Working Parties, including Lord Hodgson’s review of the Charities Act 2006, the Law Commission’s consultation on technical issues in charity law, and the new Charity Governance Code. Liz is also a member of the CLA Standing Committee on Model Documents for Charities.

Liz is also a member of the Education Law Association and the Charity Retail Association.

Liz regularly writes for sector media and has published a number of articles in publications such as Charities Management Magazine.

In her spare time, Liz enjoys crochet, walking her dog and family days out.

Liz is recommended and named as a ‘Next Generation Partner’ by Legal 500 [UK 2022]. In the previous edition, clients say ‘Liz Brownsell is engaged and responsive, and really gets invested in the client organisation and helping it succeed. Great at bringing together a team of colleagues with the right expertise to handle a matter from start to finish’. Another adds ‘I have found Liz Brownsell to be fantastic to work with on the conversions of schools to academies. She is thorough, quick to respond, extremely helpful and very organised’.

Liz is also ranked in Chambers [UK 2022]. Clients in this edition say “Liz both knows her stuff and can make it accessible and engaging. I would go to her for anything I need to know about charity law”. Another adds “Liz is generous with her time and has a great ability to understand where we are currently, before applying a great deal of lateral thinking and knowledge to the situation in order to chart the path of least resistance that gets us to where we ultimately want to be”.

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Amnesty International has been working with Liz for a number of years. I value her highly practical approach to legal issues, combined with legal advice which is of good quality and, importantly, is always prompt and cost effective. It’s refreshing to work with her because she covers all these areas so well and consistently.

Nick Williams, Senior Legal Counsel, Amnesty International