Legal advice

Nearly every aspect of setting up and running a voluntary sector organisation includes a legal component in some way. From incorporation and charity law through to employment law, data protection, equalities, tax law and contracting.

In the first instance, you may be able to find some relevant general legal information from our Knowhow Nonprofit site; many pages also contain signposting to specialist sources of legal information. For more complex matters, specific legal advice and assistance about your situation is often required.

NCVO cannot offer legal advice as we are not lawyers but can suggest the following:

Free legal assistance for small organisations

Options for free legal advice are limited and in the first instance, you may be able to find some relevant general legal information from NCVO Knowow Nonprofit or the Charity Commission.

LawWorks for not–for-profits

LawWorks is a charity that links not-for-profits with pro bono lawyers in various areas of law.

One-off legal assistance: where a small not-for-profit organisation (<£500k income) needs help with a one-off legal issue, LawWorks matches the organisation with a volunteer lawyer from its network of member law firms and in-house legal teams who can advise on that matter.

The Honorary Counsel scheme matches not-for-profit organisations with legal volunteers for longer-term pro bono assistance. The ‘Honorary Counsel’ will carry out a health check of the organisation’s main documents and act as a first point of contact for free initial advice when needed. They welcome applications from not-for-profit organisations who would like their own Honorary Counsel.

They also produce their Free Talks - short online videos about common legal issues faced by small not-for-profit organisations.

Trust Law Connect

TrustLaw Connect is a pro-bono legal service run by the Reuters Foundation. Applications for legal support are individually assessed, and if the charity meets the programme criteria they are matched with a legal firm.

Advocates for International Development (A4ID)

Advocates for International Development (A4ID) brokers free legal advice for organisations working towards international poverty eradication and sustainable development. To access this pro bono advice, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their website.

A4ID also provides free online legal tools and e-learning which are likely to benefit any organisation. For example, A4ID’s free online legal health check will help you identify your organisation’s legal needs.  

Voluntary sector specialist law firms

The following are some suggested providers on a fee-paying basis.

Some of the bigger and well known charity law firms include BWB, Russell Cooke, Farrer & Co, Stone King and Hempsons.

Smaller legal advice organisations that specialise in charities and voluntary organisations include Advising Communities and Interface Legal Advisory Service

Other local or smaller firms can be found from the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor directory that can be filtered by area of law and location.

As a cheaper alternative to engaging full legal services, BWB have developed www.getlegal.org.uk offering a range of essential legal documents, available to download and customise for your organisation through a guided, step-by-step process.

Many solicitors and law firms also run pro bono programs directly so it may be worth asking firms direct even though demand often exceeds what they can offer.

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