• Lawrie Simanowitz got immediately to the heart of the issues and offered sound counsel throughout.

    The Jewish Museum 2021

  • Lawrence Simanowitz is imaginative and brilliant

    Legal 500 2021

  • He was instrumental in helping us think through what was appropriate in the context of our organisation concerning our regulatory obligations.

    Chambers UK 2020

  • A persuasive advocate for his client in contentious situations. He is a formidable opponent.

    Chambers 2020

  • Recognised as a Leading Individual

    Legal 500 2020

  • “It has been a pleasure to work with you and thanks again for helping us turn (and keep) this dream a reality, the work you [Bates Wells] do in advising, supporting and protecting especially small charities like ours is invaluable and you should all be proud.”

    Nic Lee, Founder & Executive Director


  • Excellent in all areas of brand management

    Legal 500 2018

  • Excellent communication skills and knowledge

    Legal 500 2018

  • "He is extremely good at rapidly understanding a situation and recommending a best-fit solution"

    Chambers 2018

  • Leading individual

    Legal 500 2017

  • Lawrence 'always offers a solution where we can't see one'

    Legal 500 2016

  • "Creative and flexible in his thinking, he doesn't just give you a narrow opinion."

    Chambers UK 2016


In my experience, charities need their lawyers to see the bigger picture as well as having specialist knowledge.

Many of the clients I advise value a combination of skills including – understanding the aims of trustees and senior management;   interpreting the requirements of regulators (including the Charity Commission,  the Fundraising Regulator and the Information Commissioner) as well as government departments such as DfID and DCMS; advising on and negotiating with partners and third parties (whether on grant agreements, service contracts, or mergers),  and how to navigate through charity law – from establishing an organisation with (often novel) charitable objects, through to minor or fundamental constitutional or governance changes.

I chose this area of law because I value the important work being done by charities and social enterprises for the public benefit.  I chose Bates Wells because we believe in combining our values and commitment to the sector with legal rigour, professionalism, and commercial expertise. 

Some of the areas in which I have most experience include international organisations, the arts and creative sector, environmental and campaigning organisations, human rights bodies, philanthropy , fundraising and think-tanks.


  • Charity Commission interventions

    Whilst the specifics of clients are confidential, I have had detailed and intensive experience of aggressive Charity Commission investigations and other regulatory intervention in relation to governance, safeguarding, fundraising, reputational issues and serious incident reporting. Sometimes it is necessary to push back firmly. At other times that is not at all the right approach!

  • Sightsavers funding and collaboration agreements

    I have advised Sightsavers for more than a decade, during which time they have moved from a turnover in the mid tens of millions, to a turnover of over £300m. I have recently advised on a single contract with DfiD for nearly £100m, with multiple dimensions, including the subcontract with partner organisations, and documentation of the relationship with overseas governments.

  • Brexit

    One of the sad consequences of Brexit is the loss to the UK of outward facing internationalist organisations. Some of the fantastic clients, which I helped establish in the UK such as European Council on Foreign Relations and International NGO Safety Organisation (INSO) have chosen to make this move and have sought my advice.

  • Open Society Foundation general legal advice

    I am proud to have been external counsel for 12 years for this international foundation established and funded by financier-philanthropist George Soros.

  • Advice to the Royal Albert Hall...

    ...on its 150 year old constitution which includes a Royal Charter, several statues, and a unique membership structure.

  • I overturned a House of Lords decision in obtaining charitable registration for the English Theosophical Society
  • I established and provide on-going advice to Girls Not Brides, set up to advocate for an end to child marriage, including negotiating on major funding agreements.
  • I have carried out a constitutional reorganisation of over 200 Samaritans branches including multiple simultaneous mergers.
  • I am currently advising a UK-based international network of organisations in 60 countries on international governance arrangements and licensing of intellectual property (including brand and methodology)
  • I provide on-going advice to an international organisation with UK headquarters on structures related to overseas fundraising
  • I advised on the merger of nine charitable companies around the UK into a single UK entity
  • I advised an internationally recognised UK arts festival on restructuring, including board training and negotiations with members
  • I have established an international human rights and conflict resolution NGO operating in countries with intractable political issues
  • I am retained external counsel in the UK for one of the world’s largest, US-based philanthropic foundations, advising on issues ranging from grant-funding to regulatory compliance
  • I assisted on a high profile arts centre in its negotiations with a major funder and its outreach work with community groups and partner organisations
  • I advised a household name organisation on data protection issues including a recent major breach of security, relationship with subsidiaries, and information governance policy
  • I review contracts for a leading UK charity including fundraising and grant-making
  • I produced a report to a leading international NGO on its duty of care to individuals deployed overseas in high-risk situations

Qualifications and career

  • University of Oxford, BA (Hons) Politics, Philosophy & Economics
  • Former producer and director of television documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4
  • Three years working as a parliamentary researcher at the House of Commons
  • Completed articles at Lewis Silkin
  • Joined Bates Wells as a solicitor, 2000
  • Partner at Bates Wells, 2006

Pro bono, memberships, and appointments

  • Member of the advisory board of Rethinking Economics
  • Chair of 38 Degrees Trust
  • Trustee, Refinitiv Charities
  • Charity Commission approved practitioner for interim manager services