Leona Roche

Senior Associate and Joint Head of Faith-Based Organisations

Recommendations

  • "It has been great working with you…your advice and support has been a rock throughout some challenges at [our charity].”

    Client feedback

  • “I really appreciate the work you put in and that you rushed to get it all done…the [other party] acknowledged the quality of the contract too!”

    Client feedback

  • “Your understanding of the Catholic world [was] an added bonus”

    Client feedback

  • “Your understanding of the complexities and sensitivities of our situation was evident and appreciated”

    Client feedback

  • “Thank you for investing time and energy in engaging in learning about us and the challenges we are facing”

    Client feedback

Experience

One of the best things about being at Bates Wells is the inspiring mix of clients I get to work with.  Catholic and Christian organisations.  Educational and cultural charities.  And dynamic membership organisations like students’ unions and NUS!  My work is just as diverse and motivating – incorporations, mergers, restructures.  Constitutional updates and governance reviews.  Technical charity and company law advice.

A highlight for me is co-leading our faith-based organisations group with Stephanie Biden – this is a group of solicitors from across our firm with a passion for advising faith-based charities.  I enjoy working as part of a team, and regularly work with Jamie Huard on transactions that involve property issues, including the sale or disposal of land.

I love to help trustees feel more confident about their role as a charity trustee.  I’ve trained many on their duties, on essential charity law, and how to comply with company law in practice.  When the Charity Commission revamped their key guidance “The Essential Trustee”, I fed in lots of ideas to help make sure the final guidance was user-friendly and practical.

I am proud to be part of the team that launched our Faith at Work lunches – internal lunches for our staff to come together and hear colleagues talk about their faith tradition and what it means to them, both in their personal and work lives.  We even won an award at the ComRes Belief at Work Awards for this initiative.  At Bates Wells, we’re people people and celebrate our diversity.  We value openness and encourage people of all faiths and none to thrive here.

Recent projects

  • I advised YMCA England, the national charity that supports local YMCAs in England.

    They wanted to equip their local YMCAs by providing up-to-date model governing documents that reflect good governance practice. We drafted easy-to-read documents, and made sure they could be used by the different types of YMCAs – CIOs (charitable incorporated organisations), companies, registered providers of social housing. We also made sure the documents met with the technical and governance standards of the Charity Commission and Homes England.

  • I was pleased to help the founder of a new health and educational charity get registered with the Charity Commission.

    It took a long time to agree this with the Charity Commission. We had to really test and explore the unique objects of the charity and the novel ways in which it wanted to promote global health. Despite the long effort involved, it was rewarding to get the charity finally registered.

  • I have helped NUS, the National Union of Students, to provide excellent resources to their students’ unions members.

    A useful guide to the different legal structures that charities can take. Model governing documents (approved by the Charity Commission) that students’ unions can tailor to reflect their unique internal governance structure. I regularly advise many students’ unions on their governance challenges, the relationship with their university, and trustee duties. Not to mention complying with the demands of company law when communicating electronically with their thousands of members.

  • Incorporating a Catholic charity that looks after a religious shrine and pilgrim site
  • Merging two local YMCAs together to create a new charity
  • Helping a number of educational charities “spin out” internal projects to create a new charity. Advising on the objects and governance structure of the new charity, and getting it registered with the Charity Commission
  • Advising a large Hindu charity on the governance review of its group of charities. Taking them through the stages needed to restructure their boards and inter-charity relationships
  • Advising US non-profits on the establishment of UK subsidiary charities. Helping them understand the relationship between the US and UK charities, advising on issues of independence and conflicts of interest
  • Ongoing advice to the Royal Albert Hall on its unique constitution which is over 150 years old, and includes a Royal charter and several statutes
  • Advising a students’ union on the rights of its student members to freedom of speech on campus and freedom of association
  • Helping membership organisations, including trade associations, with different governance and constitutional problems, including member disciplinary procedures and contentious removal of trustees

Qualifications and career

  • Queens University of Belfast, LLB Law and Accounting, 1999
  • Nottingham Law School, Legal Practice Course, 2000
  • Trained at Herbert Smith, 2000
  • Admitted as a solicitor, 2002
  • Practiced at Herbert Smith, 2002
  • Commercial solicitor at Capsticks Solicitors, 2005
  • Joined Bates Wells, 2007
  • Promoted to Senior Associate, 2012

Pro bono, memberships, and appointments

  • Pro bono advice to a number of Catholic charities
  • Over 10 years’ experience as a charity trustee
  • Member of the Thomas More Society (society for Catholic barristers and solicitors)
  • Member of the Conference of Solicitors for Catholic Charities (CSCC)
  • Charity Law Association member