• A well-known adviser in the charities market who is highly versed in sensitive regulatory work and fund-raising matters.

    Chambers UK 2021

  • One client appreciates that "she tailors her advice and her approach to the type of organisation you are."

    Chambers UK 2021

  • Best Lawyer - Charities

    Best Lawyers 2021 9th Edition

  • She provides the client with a masterly route map for the direction they have to follow and she can cover every angle of a case she is instructed on

    Chambers 2020

  • Thea Longley has an ability to make difficult things as straightforward as possible. Authoritative, pragmatic, reassuring, approachable and diplomatic – even fun!

    Legal 500 2021

  • Thea Longley is compassionate and motivated to support charitable sectors, and is an excellent sounding board on governance

    Legal 500 2021

  • Her advice and case-handling are first class

    Chambers 2020

  • Recognised as a Leading Individual

    Legal 500 2020

  • [Thea Longley] is exceptional. [She] stands out for her strength on the governance side

    Legal 500 2020

  • Creative, concise, approachable and authoritative

    Chambers 2019

  • Pragmatic, proactive, knowledgeable and flexible

    Chambers 2019

  • Best Lawyer - Charities Law

    8th Edition of Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom

  • “Recognised as a Best Lawyer”

    Best Lawyers in UK 2019 Edition

  • "Very professional and efficient"

    Chamber 2018

  • Thea Longley is a ‘great communicator’ who, according to one client, ‘steers you towards the best option’

    Legal 500 2017

  • [Thea is] 'technically excellent'

    Legal 500 2017

  • Leading individual

    Legal 500 2016

  • Thea is a 'delight to work with'

    Legal 500 2016

  • "She is extremely responsive and well informed, and also very flexible. She comes up with positive solutions."

    Chambers UK 2016

  • Named leading individual in practice area, Charity & Social Enterprise

    Legal 500 2015

  • Clients and peers hail Longley for her technical ability and 'professional, user-friendly approach.'

    Chambers UK 2015

  • 'Very calm and always on point, both with the granular detail and with what our organisation is trying to achieve.'

    Chambers UK 2015

  • Thorough and 'highly knowledgeable' team head Thea Longley provides 'practical advice'.

    Legal 500 2014

  • Held in the highest regard for her 'expert work, rapid responses, diligence, outstanding customer service and friendly and flexible attitude.'

    Chambers UK 2014


I work with a broad range of not-for-profit organisations. I enjoy helping charities with governance issues, start-ups, restructuring and funding arrangements.

I work with charities, sports organisations, trade associations and philanthropists.  I like getting to know my clients and building long-term relationships, offering practical advice to support them to succeed.


  • Restructuring the Commonwealth Games Federation

    I worked with CGF to help them incorporate the organisation as a company limited by guarantee. We have also set up an associated charity for them called the Commonwealth Sports Foundation which will help them deliver exciting projects in commonwealth countries.

  • The Royal Foundation

    I advised on the registration of the Royal Foundation back in 2009 and our team continue to work with them to provide legal support. The Foundation’s projects cover a number of different areas. It has been great to see the impact of their work including The Invictus Games, the Heads Together Campaign and work to help endangered wildlife.

  • Girlguiding UK

    Girlguiding UK is a £20m organisation empowering nearly half a million girls to be their best and face the challenges of growing up today. I lead the team at Bates Wells providing legal advice across a range of areas. My work with them has included supporting them to make changes to their Royal Charter.

  • I was consultant editor for the charity section of the leading legal text book Halsbury’s Laws of England
  • I work with international charities to manage relationships with overseas branches and delivery partners.
  • I advised the Football Foundation on its grant-making activity, including its award winning £60 million Barclays Spaces for Sport facility funding programme
  • I undertook a governance review of a medium-sized charity looking to update its articles of association to comply with the Companies Act 2006
  • I advised on the formation of various corporate foundations and advising on structuring the relationship and appropriate activities
  • I give advice to sports organisations funding grass roots activities through an associated charity, including setting up charities for the Football League, RFU, ECB, Newcastle United FC and Ipswich Town FC
  • I’ve advised on various mergers, including an eight-way merger of infrastructure charities in Suffolk
  • I work with trade associations on governance issues and constitutional reviews
  • I work on updating Royal Charters and other constitutional updates
  • I work with membership organisations including National Childbirth Trust, Girlguiding UK and British Menopause Society

Qualifications and career

  • University of St Andrews, MA English and Modern History, 1996
  • Taught English in China, 1996
  • College of Law, London, 1999
  • Joined Bates Wells, 1999
  • Admitted as a solicitor in 2001
  • Partner at Bates Wells in 2008
  • Secondment to the Strategy Unit at the Cabinet Office, working as the only lawyer on the team that wrote 'Private Action, Public Benefit', the review which led to the Charities Act 2006 and the introduction of community interest companies

Pro bono, memberships, and appointments

  • Member of the Charity Law Association and a former executive committee member for 9 years.
  • Charity Commission approved practitioner for interim manager services
  • Member of Sports and Recreation Alliance
  • Co-wrote 'Charities - The New Law 2006: A Practical Guide to the Charities Acts.'
  • Lectures on legal topics including constitutional issues, charity legislation, outsourcing, registering as a CASC, fundraising and governance
  • Trustee of a small grant giving trust based in Sussex.