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Bates Wells & Braithwaite LLP

Organisation Summary

Business Sector:Legal and associated business services

Business Activities:Specialist public benefit and commercial advice, especially for social enterprises and charities

Business Location:England, Wales, International (HQ London)

Bates Wells Braithwaite (BWB) is a commercial law firm widely regarded as the leading charity and social enterprise firm in the UK (including by principal directories: Chambers and Legal 500). It has the largest specialist social enterprise team and provides full services, with specialist knowledge and experience, through various other departments, including Employment, Property, Public and Regulatory and Dispute Resolution. Clients include many of the best-known charities and social enterprises (including a number of E3M members), the next generation of innovative start-ups, international networks and local groups.  Landmark cases have included working with The Fairtrade Foundation; Charity Bank; The Eden Project; and Big Society Capital, from original concepts to date.

BWB was founded in 1970 with a commitment to public benefit and soon developed a unique specialisation in working with service providing charities, prefiguring the contemporary charity legal sector and placing BWB at the beginning of the social enterprise movement. Today public benefit clients make up the core of BWB’s business and over 65% of its turnover.

BWB has been at the heart of developments in the social enterprise sector. The firm developed the concept of the Community Interest Company and assisted Government with the facilitating legislation. It advised the Bishop of Oxford in the 1991 test case which established the relationship between charity law and social investment, and in recent years has been working on the development of a regulatory environment attuned to social finance.

BWB’s social enterprise engagement has accelerated since 1997, particularly in piloting, implementing and responding to the reform and reorganisation of public services, with advice to Government, commissioning authorities and new and established independent service providers.

E3M Member

Bates Wells & Braithwaite LLP

Name:Julian Blake

Title :Partner and Joint Head of Charity and Social Enterprise

Julian leads a specialist team of 30 lawyers in the Charity and Social Enterprise division. Since 1991 he has in the main applied commercial disciplines in establishing, developing and working with social purpose clients. This includes: operational, commercial and regulatory advice; social franchises and funding schemes among others.

Julian has been closely involved with pioneering areas, including: Fair Trade; Microcredit; Renewable Energy; Social Investment and Social Finance; and the engagement between Social Enterprise and the public sector, including public service contracts (and public procurement); public sector grants (and state aid); public service re-organisation and reform and the implementation of public policy.

Julian has produced and contributed to many charity and social enterprise publications, including in collaboration with Social Enterprise UK and has delivered many seminars around the country. He is a Trustee of Media Diversity Institute.

Bates Wells & Braithwaite LLP

Name:Jim Clifford OBE

Title :Head of Advisory and Impact

Jim heads the Advisory and Impact teams at BWB and helps social sector and private sector organisations to create, analyse, enhance and realise value through acquisitions, disposals, mergers and other structural, and transactional approaches as well as through outcomes-based planning, strategy and evaluations. He is the author of over sixty social impact studies, as well as other research assignments, and has developed and managed corporate transactions in the UK and abroad in both private and not-for-profit arenas.

Jim’s innovative work in social investment was recognised in 2013 with an OBE, having recently designed and developed the first charity-led social impact bond IAAM – ‘It’s all About Me’, which he now also chairs. IAAM is a UK-wide social enterprise finding and training therapeutic adoptive parents for harder-to-place children.

Jim’s career spans over 30 years, latterly acting as head of valuations, of not-for-profit advisory, and social impact services at leading UK business advisors Baker Tilly.