Alison Paines


  • Education: Girton College, Cambridge , M.A.
  • Admitted: England and Wales, 1981
  • Languages spoken: French
  • Year joined: 1988
  • Year became partner: 1991


Alison is the Head of the Charities and Philanthropy Group at Withers, with over 25 years of experience in advising charities and other non-profit bodies, and those who contract with or donate to them.

Her clients include an eclectic mix of service providers, grant-makers, educational bodies, aid agencies and research institutes, as well as individual and corporate philanthropists, with the following being a representative sample: British Red Cross Society, Cambridge University, Cancer Research UK, Girls' Day School Trust, Guy's & St Thomas' Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, Orders of St John Care Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and TATE.

She is particularly well known for her expertise on medical charities (especially those linked with the National Health Service), charities associated with government and international charity issues.

Alison is well used to negotiating for clients with the Charity Commission and other regulators.

She is the immediate past Chairman of the Charity Law Association.

'Alison Paines' team at Withers LLP delivers "excellent advice on how to structure transactions, and is thoroughly steeped in the sector".'

'Alison is a "very knowledgeable and thoroughly professional charity lawyer who gives sound and practical advice".'

Legal 500, 2013 & 2014

'Clients say they have "immense trust in her" and characterise her as being "highly technically able".'

'Alison Paines maintains an exceptional reputation for her work within the sector and is particularly acclaimed for her "understanding of charity and trust governance".

'One source comments: "I would highlight her patience and describe her as creative and dynamic in her thinking".'

Chambers, 2014 & 2015


  • Governance reviews for Cancer Research UK, Girls' Day School Trust and Orders of St John Care Trust
  • Undertaking the role of General Counsel for the International Baccalaureate Organization
  • On behalf of Sutton Trust, establishment of Education Endowment Fund, and related negotiation with Department for Education relating to £120m funding
  • Advice to Local Trust on the development of its 'Big Local' grant and operational procedures, following its receipt of £200m from the Big Lottery Fund
  • Advice for NHS charities on the impact of the Government's proposals to establish Academic Health Science Centres with leading universities; and the structuring of relevant corporate and charitable entities
  • Advice to Association of NHS Charities on Department of Health's deregulation proposals
  • Charity law advice on property development structuring for University College London Hospitals Charity, and related dealings with Charity Commission
  • Merger advice to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (involving employment and property transfers, as well as future fundraising issues)

Publications and speaking engagements

  • Alison edits and contributes to Oxford University Press' "International Charitable Giving" (published November 2012); she has also contributed to a book by the Bertlesmann Foundation on comparative legal structures for charities and other non-profits across the European Union.
  • She writes (with Anna Sumner and Graham Elliott, also of Withers) the ‘Charities' chapter of Tolley's ‘Revenue Law - Principles and Practice'
  • In December 2012 she lectured with the Department of Health and the Charity Commission at roadshows in Manchester and London on the Department's deregulation proposals
  • In November 2013 she spoke at a variety of events in Hong Kong and Singapore on fundraising and governance structures for international charities


  • Charity Law Association (Chairman 2008-2011; executive committee member 1997 - 2007; deputy chairman 2004 - 2007; member of Standing Committee on Taxation; member of Charities Act 2006 implementation working party; former chair of working party on European Commission's challenge to the UK Revenue's treatment of foreign charities)
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (Charities Special Interest Group)
  • Law Society of England and Wales

On a personal note

Alison is Governor of the Godolphin and Latymer School and former trustee of two grant making foundations.


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