The Law: Charity
14 March 2007
22 September 2003
17 January 2013
5 July 2004
4 July 2012
8 November 2006
Whats it all about?
Because most major charity clients tend to use the same firms for all their legal advice, working for a charity law firm usually involves a very broad range of disciplines. For this reason a week in the life of a charity lawyer can involve anything from advising on corporate and property deals through to licensing, copyright issues or a mixture of the whole lot.
Charities have lots of different legal structures, meaning that they can operate in very different ways from each other and from commercial institutions, such as corporations or banks.
With some significant exceptions, charities tend not to have pressing deadlines in the same way many other types of clients do, meaning that the pace of life in a charity practice is often more relaxed than in other types of firms.
Also, even major charities such as Oxfam and Amnesty International have an emphasis on cost, meaning they are often prepared to be more flexible if they can get work done competently at a lower price.
The working culture
Although their work is demanding for the reasons described, charity lawyers tend to have a better work-life balance than their counterparts in major City firms. Also, because charity lawyers are more motivated by a love of their work than by money, charity firms often enjoy a greater esprit de corp.
Why is this interesting?
The wide range of work that clients demand of their law firms means that charity lawyers enjoy a great deal of variety. Even more varied are the clients themselves, which can range from international relief agencies through to local bodies dedicated to local issues, faith groups, amateur sports clubs and pressure groups dedicated to everything from human rights abuses to global warming.
Personal and legal skills required
Because much of the work you will handle is commercial in nature, a few years spent practising commercial law is a great way to prepare yourself. As it is harder to go from charity law into commercial than it is to go the other way, it makes sense to get this experience early on in your career. Being able to communicate with all sorts of people is vital, as the varied nature of your client base means you will mix with people from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.