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.

In November 2023 Liz featured as a charity law expert in a Channel 5 documentary, entitled “Captain Tom: Where Did the Money Go?”, with a subsequent documentary titled “Captain Tom: What Happened Next?” aired on Sunday 4 February. To find out more about Liz’s contribution to the documentary, see her article on our website here. If you missed the first documentary, you can watch it on My5 here. You can also now watch the second documentary on My5 here.

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

Liz is a member of the Executive Committee 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, the new Charity Governance Code, and the Charity Commission’s updated CC14 guidance (on charities and investment matters). Liz is a member of the CLA Standing Committee on Model Documents for Charities. She will also be co-chair for the CLA Conference for 2023 and 2024.

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.

Liz is recommended and named as a ‘Next Generation Partner’ by Legal 500 [UK 2024]. In this edition, a client notes “I have worked with Liz Brownsell for many years; she is very knowledgeable, abreast of the latest developments in charity law and regulation, and always on-hand to give quick, practical advice in a responsive and tailored manner. Her client care is exceptional.” Another adds “Liz Brownsell has also been very supportive and worked well to ensure a recent change in our structure went through as smoothly as possible.” Another says “Liz Brownsell is extremely astute and knowledgeable, and has a fabulous grasp of developments in the third sector. She also works very hard for her clients.”

Liz is also ranked in Chambers [UK 2024]. Clients in this edition say “Liz is always very professional but also empathetic. She has a firm grip on her subject area and is very solutions-focused.” Another adds “Liz has an extraordinary knowledge of charity law and is very innovative in getting to solutions for her clients.” Liz is also described as “a very impressive lawyer who is effective and efficient” and a “very dedicated lawyer”.

Awards and Memberships

Legal 500 Next Generation Partner 2024 logo
Liz Brownsell Chambers logo 2024

Liz Brownsell is a trusted adviser to Amnesty International. Liz combines her in depth knowledge of the charity and INGO sector with a pragmatic approach and she is a pleasure to work with. Liz has been selected by our International Board as an expert adviser as we commence a major governance reform project and I am looking forward to working with her closely on that.

Rebecca Jefferies, Director of Legal & Governance at Amnesty International

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