• Laura Soley is truly exceptional and an absolute delight to work with.

    Legal 500 2021

  • Always accessible and responsive; and always instils confidence in clients with her professional competence and measured and personable approach

    Legal 500 2021

  • Recognised as a Leading Individual

    Legal 500 2020

  • [Laura is] bright and astute

    Legal 500 2020

  • 'Very experienced and level-headed'

    Legal 500 2018

  • ‘Calm and unflappable’ Laura is ‘responsive and completely client focused’

    Legal 500 2017

  • Leading individual

    Legal 500 2017


I have a broad practice covering general charity law and governance matters. I have a particular focus on dealing with technical charity law issues and structures.

I am often called on to help charities with more complex structures, such as charities governed by Royal Charter, Act of Parliament or scheme or charities with tricky property-holding structures. I also regularly advise on charitable trusts, restricted funds and endowments, including setting up new endowments and releasing out of date funds.

I co-lead Bates Wells’ Charity Legacies group. We give practical guidance to clients on all aspects of legacies from fundraising and administration through to legacy disputes.

I am also a member of our philanthropy group.


  • Rationalising restricted funds for a medical charity

    I assisted a medical charity to review its numerous restricted funds and permanent endowment funds which the charity was finding difficult to use because the purposes were out of date and income returns too low. I assisted the charity to modernise and merge these funds as well as to release endowment. Following this exercise, these funds can now be put to good use.

  • Re-structuring art gallery

    I assisted an art gallery to re-structure by merging with its associated “Friends of” charity. Aspects of the work included helping with the consultation of members as well as modernising the Articles of Association of the gallery. The charity now has much simpler and up to date governance arrangements.

  • Advising on major gift to University

    I advised on a major gift of £3 Million to a University in the UK to fund an institute for the study of an ancient religion. The corporate donor had very specific intentions about how it wanted his gift to be used, so work involved negotiating a gift agreement which reflected the needs of both parties and ensured sufficiently flexible use of the funds.

  • I have been helping a charity governed by Royal Charter to update its Charter and Bye-Laws.
  • I reviewed the structure of a charity established by Act of Parliament and advised on the scope of its powers.
  • I assisted a charity to obtain a scheme to merge together three connected charities, modernise their objects and allow sale of property.
  • I have been assisting a charitable trust to update its trust deed to make it fit for purpose.
  • I assisted with an environmental charity with the establishment of a number of expendable endowment funds to raise funds for particular projects
  • I was a member of the Charity Law Association’s working party on the Law Commission’s paper on “Technical Issues in Charity Law” and led on Bates Wells’ own submission
  • I contributed to The Charities Acts Handbook: A Practical Guide on trusts and endowment

Qualifications and career

  • Exeter University LLB Hons Law, 1992
  • Guildford College of Law, 1995
  • Trainee solicitor, Allen & Overy, 1997
  • Solicitor, Allen & Overy, 1999
  • Solicitor, RadcliffesLeBrasseur, 2001
  • Joined Bates Wells, 2002
  • Worked at charity, the National Pro Bono Resource Centre in Sydney, Australia, 2003
  • Re-joined Bates Wells, 2005 and became partner in 2012

Pro bono, memberships, and appointments

  • I co-chair Bates Wells’ Diversity and Inclusion Forum