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The King’s Fund seeks to appoint lawyer to its board

The King’s Fund is an independent charitable organisation working to improve health and care in England. It was founded in 1897 by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, to raise money for London’s voluntary hospitals. The work of the Fund has evolved over time in response to the changing needs of the population, but its mission has endured. The money invested in the Fund more than a century ago provides a substantial proportion of its income, enabling it to maintain its independence.

The Fund’s work today involves understanding developments, challenges and opportunities across health and care. It uses this understanding to influence policy and practice, and to help people navigate the complexity of the systems in which they operate. The Fund believes its vision can only be achieved through collective action involving many organisations and sectors, so it seeks to collaborate with and learn from a broad range of partners – including local and national NHS organisations, local government, people using health and care services, the voluntary and community sector and others – working together to achieve its goals.


The King’s Fund’s vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all. It aims to be a catalyst for change and to inspire improvements in health and care by:

  • Generating and sharing ideas and evidence
  • Offering rigorous analysis and independent challenge
  • Bringing people together to discuss, share and learn
  • Supporting and developing people, teams and organisations
  • Helping people to make sense of the health and care system

Strategic priorities

In common with many organisations, this is a challenging and exciting time for The King’s Fund, as it seeks to balance the delivery of its strategy with continued support for health and care leaders as they respond to the impact of Covid-19, and whilst working to enhance its financial sustainability and ensure it is fit for the future.

The three areas of focus identified as priorities for the current five-year strategy have only been cemented further by the impact of Covid-19. These are, in cooperation with people in the health and care system, to:

  • Drive improvements in health and wellbeing across places and communities
  • Improve health and care for people with the worst health outcomes
  • Support people and leaders working in health care

The organisation’s broad knowledge of the health and care system and the relationships it holds across the system form the foundation of its work. The King’s Fund will continue to provide independent analysis, explain key issues and respond to developments across the breadth of health and care, making sense of a complex and changing landscape.

Role specification

The role of The King’s Fund Board of Trustees is to manage and regulate the affairs of the Fund. The Board ensures compliance with the objects, purposes and values of the organisation in accordance with the Royal Charter, as well as compliance with all relevant laws, regulations and requirements of its regulators. It is also responsible for making sure that it submits annual returns, reports and accounts as required by law.

Successful candidates will need demonstrable evidence of the following attributes:

  • Commitment to the objectives and values of The King’s Fund and to the Nolan seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership
  • Acceptance and understanding of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship
  • Knowledge and understanding of health and social care policy and the way public and private organisations engage in the provision of services and in policy decision making
  • Absolute personal and professional integrity
  • The practice of collective and compassionate leadership
  • An inclusive approach, with a belief in the importance of embracing diversity in its broadest sense
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Proven success in working with a diverse team of influential people

Trustees are also expected to engage with the Chief Executive and Senior Management Team outside the regular Board meetings to provide guidance and undertake a range of activities as outlined above.

Person specification

At this time, The King’s Fund is seeking up to three Trustees to add a diverse range of experience to its Board, whilst sharing in a common passion for its mission. The areas of expertise which it has identified as a priority are:

Finance: Likely suiting an individual from a CFO or audit partner background, Trustees with finance experience will provide appropriate challenge and support on the Fund’s finances to ensure the highest standards the highest standards of probity and financial health, and may sit on the Audit Committee.

Law: A Trustee from a legal background will provide an analytical mindset and valuable perspective about any legal issues which may come before the Board, advising on when it is necessary to consult outside counsel.

Life sciences: Given the nature of the Fund’s work, it would value the sector insight of an individual with a background in health and human life sciences, either in industry or academia. Owing to potential conflicts of interest, those who currently hold executive roles in pharmaceuticals are unlikely to be considered.

The King’s Fund welcomes applications from those seeking their first trustee or non-executive role, and is especially keen to hear from women or candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Required for this role

  • Trustee ready Sitting on a trustee board requires the ability to take a more advisory approach than in executive roles. If you have not previously held any trustee or non-executive positions, you should demonstrate a track record of influencing the direction of your organisation at board level. If you already have significant trustee or non-executive experience, please detail this.

Desired for this role

  • Advanced financial and accounting acumen In-depth experience of working directly with financial and accounting issues. Experience could be either in a leadership role of a finance function or as a director or partner of a professional services firm. Candidates will be able to lead the board in debates about complex financial and accounting matters, and will ideally be chartered in their field.
  • Legal acumen In-depth experience of working directly with legal issues as a qualified lawyer, either in private practice or in-house. Candidates will be able to lead the board in legal debates and in deciding when legal advice needs to be procured.
  • Life sciences sector experience Demonstrate previous experience within the life sciences sector.

Board composition

Rt Hon Professor the Lord Ajay Kakkar, Chair
Dr Carolyn Wilkins OBE
Dr Aseem Malhotra
Dominic Dodd
Rt Hon Jacqui Smith
Dr Jane Collins
Sir Jonathan Michael
Dr Mark Britnell
Dame Ruth Carnall
Simon Fraser


In all candidates, an inclusive approach and a belief in embracing diversity in its broadest sense is important. Applications are particularly welcome from candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds and women. International candidates may be considered for this role under exceptional circumstances.

Terms of appointment

The role is non-remunerated, although reasonable travel expenses may be reimbursed. There are six Board meetings per year (currently held virtually, although the Board is eager to return to in-person meetings when possible), and Trustees are expected to contribute to the wider work of the Fund on a mutually agreed basis. Trustees are elected for a term of three years, with the possibility of renewal for a further term of three years.


This process is being run in-house by the organisation, who will view the applications without edits. We therefore advise applicants to avoid using ‘see CV’ or ‘please call me to discuss further’ in your application as it may restrict your chances of progressing to the next round.

Connected Parties

This organisation has requested that candidates do not contact them directly. Instead, if you know someone at the organisation, please mention it in your Reason for Application.


Please get in touch with nurole.com directly for further information enquiries@nurole.com

The Garden Museum in London seeks new Trustee with a background in legal practice

The Garden Museum is the only museum in Britain dedicated to gardens and to celebrate their place in history, art, design, and modern lives.

We are seeking three new Trustees to join the Garden Museum’s Board of Trustees and to offer perspectives and knowledge which are currently under-represented. Being a Trustee is a fantastic way to support the Garden Museum and help shape its future. Our Board is made up of 14 individuals whose skills and experiences help us to deliver our mission: to explore and celebrate British gardens and gardening through our collection, exhibitions and events. Our Trustees champion the Museum, its work and aims, and support the team of 30 members of staff. While Trustees play a role in all aspects of the Museum, we are particularly seeking candidates with experience in one of the following areas:

  • A Trustee with a background in legal practice or charity administration to offer support and advice. As the Garden Museum expands, so does our remit; we are involved in a project to ‘green’ the area around the building and another with a family Trust to revive the artist-gardener Cedric Morris’s house and art school in Hadleigh, Suffolk. These projects would benefit from legal or charity expertise. Experience of HR or personnel would also be beneficial.
  • A Trustee to represent the Museum’s subsidiary charity, the Tradescant Trading Company, which operates our café, venue hire and retail. We’re looking for a Trustee with expertise in similar commercial operations who can become a sounding board for this side of our work.
  • A Trustee to bring fresh ideas and perspectives. Since re-opening in 2017 we have welcomed an additional audience which is younger, often city-dwelling, more diverse, and more digitally-aware. We’re looking for a Trustee who reflects this audience, with new ideas to share which will enable us to develop this area of our work further.


Please click here for further information or email volunteer@gardenmuseum.org.uk.

General Medical Council seeks to appoint external co-opted member to its Audit and Risk Committee

Do you have an extensive audit and/or financial background and board-level experience in an executive/non-executive role? If so, the General Medical Council (GMC) is seeking to co-opt one external member onto its Audit and Risk Committee for an initial period of four years.

The GMC has an important regulatory healthcare remit, protecting patients, improving medical education for students and trainee doctors in the UK and supporting doctors throughout their careers. Our operational remit is delivered by 1400 staff working across four countries, supported by high quality back office services. Our audit activities are highly visible, supporting business performance, helping us learn when things don’t work as well as we would like and adding value to the continuous improvement we strive to achieve.

It is an exciting and challenging time for the organisation as we take forward our new Corporate Strategy for 2021-25. The Audit and Risk Committee plays a vital role in providing assurance to Council that operational and strategic activities are supporting us in delivering the Strategy.

Working with the GMC is an extremely rewarding role. As a new co-opted member, you will be joining at an important time as we work to support doctors and to protect patients in health systems that are under pressure like never before.

The Audit and Risk Committee meets five times a year, currently meetings are taking place online. There will be an expectation that members will be available to travel to our offices in London and Manchester once board meetings can take place again in person (previously four meetings a year took place in London with two in Manchester). The Committee’s role is to provide oversight of the GMC’s governance, risk management and internal control practices. The Committee performs its role by providing a structured, systematic oversight of the organisation’s governance, risk management and internal control practices. It assists Council, and management, in fulfilling its responsibilities by monitoring the integrity of the GMC’s financial statements and monitoring and reviewing the activities and performance of our co-sourced internal audit and external audit.

Your expertise will be vital to optimising the Committee’s effectiveness and in enabling us to provide assurance on the important work we do on behalf of millions of patients.

You should have experience of working on boards at a senior level as well as recent, relevant financial experience and be a chartered accountant with a professional qualification from one of the accountancy bodies. Strong knowledge and an understanding of audit, risk management and corporate governance is essential, as is experience of a non-executive role on an audit committee.


Please click here for further information.

Dept for Communities & Local Govt: The Valuation Tribunal Service seeks new Chair

The Valuation Tribunal Service (VTS) is an executive non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).  It was established under the Local Government Act 2003 to provide administrative support, procedural advice and central direction to the Valuation Tribunal for England. It has a strong corporate identity and clearly delegated powers and responsibilities.

The VTS employs around 70 staff and is able to encourage the spread of best practice across the organisation, leading to better public service delivery.

Aims & Objectives of VTS

To support the Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE) in the administration of a fair, efficient and accessible system to deal with appeals against council tax and business rates valuation. This will be done by providing guidance and supporting the recruitment, induction and integration of new members.

  • To drive continuous improvement of performance and efficiency across all aspects of the organisation.
  • To enhance the quality and consistency of service to all stakeholders.
  • To work in partnership with the sponsor Department to support policy development.
  • To build capacity and capability in the staff with continuous learning and improvement.
  • To operate with financial and organisational initiative and efficiency.

Key Responsibilities of the Role

The Chair is responsible to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He/she is responsible for ensuring that the VTS’s policies and actions support the Secretary of State’s wider strategic policies and that its affairs are conducted with probity. The role will involve:

  • Leading the development of the Board’s strategy to enable the VTS to deliver and effective and efficient appeals system;
  • Chairing Valuation Tribunal Service Board meetings (8 per year), ensuring that strategy and policies are fully discussed and that clear decisions are taken and disseminated appropriately;
  • Ensuring that the Board, in relation to decisions, takes proper account of guidance provided by the responsible minister or MHCLG;
  • Promoting the efficient and effective use of staff and other resources;
  • Delivering high standards of regularity and probity;
  • Representing the views of the Board to the general public;
  • Maintaining an appropriate relationship with the VTE, supporting and encouraging it to develop policies and procedures in line with Government policy and for the benefit of customers;
  • Working with the Chief Executive to create and arrange for the implementation of policies and systems to discharge VTS’s statutory responsibilities.
  • Representing the VTS in discussions with Ministers and their officials and other organisations to offer advice on the development of Government policy and to facilitate its delivery;
  • Supervising the work of the VTS Chief Executive and any committees or sub committees. Seeking, considering and acting upon, as appropriate, advice from the Chief Executive and others. Ensuring that the Board sub committee structure is kept under review to ensure it delivers effectively;
  • Putting systems in place to ensure that propriety and regularity are maintained in all VTS operations, including the approval of expenditure and authorisation for the award of contracts, and that high standard of governance are maintained; and
  • Supporting the role of the Chief Executive as the Accounting Officer for the VTS.

Person Specification

We are looking for a motivated team player with strong leadership skills, with high level experience of providing strategic guidance in a Board context.  The successful candidate will be able to see the big picture, whilst recognising the interests of a wide range of stakeholders, and will have proven governance, organisational and financial skills, including those relating to strategic planning, risk management and organisation-wide performance management.

Essential Criteria

1. Excellent communication, interpersonal and influencing skills and the ability to motivate and manage Board and staff members;

2. Strong strategic leadership experience and the skills necessary to lead the VTS and to hold the executive to account to make effective use of the organisation’s staff and resources;

3. Experience of leading or delivering change programmes and reforms;

4. Independence, integrity and impartiality;

5. An ability to handle issues which may be politically, presentationally or legally sensitive;

6. An ability to take account of a wide context of stakeholder views when setting organisational aims and objectives

Desirable Criteria

1. Knowledge of central or local government, or public administration.


Please click here for further information.

Ministry of Justice: Norfolk & Suffolk Recruitment Advisory Committee seeks new members

The Norfolk & Suffolk Recruitment Advisory Committee on Justices of the Peace is responsible for the recruitment and selection of magistrates within Norfolk & Suffolk and for liaison with the Judicial Office.

Volunteers are needed to sit as lay members on the Lord Chancellor’s Recruitment Advisory Committee on Justices of the Peace for Norfolk & Suffolk. As a lay member of the committee you would be involved in interviewing and selecting prospective new magistrates.

(For further information please refer to “Applying to become a member of an advisory committee or sub-committee: notes for guidance” which can be found here https://www.judiciary.uk/publications/advisory-committees-justices-peace/).

After two years’ appointment there may also be the opportunity to be appointed to the regional conduct panel looking into cases of alleged misconduct or lack of competence by magistrates, along with other matters affecting magistrates post-appointment.

Person Specification

The qualities sought in members of Advisory Committees include: good interpersonal skills; good judgment of character and ability; the ability to articulate clear, well founded reason on the suitability or otherwise of candidates; awareness of their own personal prejudices and an ability to set them aside; discretion in handling confidential information; the ability to work as a team member; commitment, dedication and enthusiasm; willingness to undergo such training as the Lord Chancellor may, from time to time, prescribe; understanding or willingness to acquire understanding of the local bench; willingness to talk about the magistracy and to participate in recruitment activities;

Members also need to be able to participate in interviewing candidates for the magistracy and therefore experience of interviewing is an advantage, but not essential.

Lay members of Advisory Committees bring a valuable external influence to the processes;

The Lord Chancellor will not appoint a person to serve on a Committee beyond their 70th birthday.


Additional Information

Time requirement:

The annual time commitment required can vary depending on the level of magistrate recruitment the committee is undertaking each year, but as a general guide this may involve between ten to twenty days of interviewing. In any event the Committee usually holds an average of two full meetings a year and members may also be required to attend training sessions from time to time. Meetings, interviews and training events are generally held within normal business hours Monday to Friday.


Please click here for further information.

Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy seeks new Non-Executive Board members

Note: This paid role may not be suitable for those currently in full time employment. The BEIS Board sets the vision for the Department and guides its overarching policy.  Board Members provide advice and challenge, based on business acumen and experience, to the Secretary of State and the Department’s executive team. The Board’s remit is set out in the Code of Good Practice for Corporate Governance in Central Government.

We are looking for up to four people to join the Board who can challenge conventional approaches to policy development, inspire innovative thinking and push BEIS to continuously improve.

One of the posts advertised will have responsibility for the Union and that person will be expected to be involved in BEIS’s work with the Devolved Administrations.

Two of the posts advertised include a role on BEIS’s Nominations Committee, which meets annually as a sub-committee of the main Board.


Person Specification

Essential criteria

  • Experience of operating at Board level or equivalent in the public or private sector (or both).
  • Ability to think logically and objectively in analysing complex financial and non-financial information to identify key issues/implications, make balanced judgments and effective decisions.
  • Strong analytical skills, with the ability to communicate complex issues clearly.
  • An understanding of public policy and an appreciation of the political context in which we work.
  • The ability to work well as part of a diverse team and take collective responsibility for decisions, as well as building and maintaining successful relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including those who may have differing or conflicting views.
  • An understanding of the key challenges faced by the public sector and the ability to bring their experience to bear on these challenges.
  • Sound judgement and a high level of integrity (including when dealing with confidential or sensitive issues) and a commitment to the 7 Principles of Public Life (http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/about-us/what-we-do/the-seven-principles).
  • A genuine interest in contributing to the effective running of the Department and across its multiple Partner Organisations.

Experience of operating in the energy sector, R&D field and/or other key sectors of the economy, either domestically or internationally, is desirable but not essential.


Please click here for further information.

Hilary Wild: How the Audit Committee can be a perfect fit for a lawyer

We were joined by highly experienced audit committee chair, Hilary Wild, who takes us through just how beneficial the presence of a lawyer on a board can be. The prerequisites of an audit committee member – the ability to think independently and objectively, integrity, the ability to manage confidential and sensitive information, are all characteristics often found not just in accountants but in lawyers too.

Whilst not all lawyers are not finance professionals, many lawyers are hugely financially literate and their place on an Audit Committee will be an asset. Indeed, as Hilary suggested herself, an Audit Committee made up solely of accountants would not be at all healthy! Lawyers have the potential to bring far more to the table.

Hilary has provided some useful background material from The Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors which provides us with a high level view of the context for audit committees, and a sample audit committee charter. Please do watch the webinar below to find out more.


The Bush Theatre (Shepherd’s Bush) seeks new Chair

The Bush Theatre is seeking to appoint a Chair of Trustees for an initial 4-year term. The appointment will take place in early 2021 with an appropriate hand-over period with the outgoing Chair, if required. This is a voluntary and unremunerated position.

The Chair will be responsible for ensuring that the Bush is run sustainably and in accordance with its vision and aims. They will provide leadership to the Board ensuring that Trustees are properly engaged with the work of the theatre. They will offer support and challenge to the Executive Team and will work closely with them and the Trustees to prepare our new five year plan, spanning 2022-2027.

The Chair must share a passion for our artistic work and our commitment to being an equal, diverse and inclusive organisation.


Please click here for further information.

Contact (UK charity for families with disabled children) seeks Trustee from Scotland with legal expertise

Contact is the charity for families with disabled children.  They understand that life with a disabled child brings unique challenges, and they exist to help families feel valued, supported, confident and informed.

As a UK charity, Contact is committed to having four nations representation at Board level and now have a vacancy for a Trustee from Scotland.

Charity People is proud and privileged to be supporting Contact to find this brilliant new trustee to represent Scotland at Board level, playing a crucial role in setting the future direction of the charity.  With a clear strategy in place, a solid financial base and a well-led and recently refreshed senior management team, the Board is supportive, challenging and passionate about Contact’s work.

The Board already has a diverse mix of backgrounds and experience.  However, they are keen to strengthen the diversity of the Board to better reflect the experiences of the families they serve, cultivating a culture that values all individuals and their wide array of contributions.

Contact is proud to have been able to reach out and extend support for families during the pandemic so far.  They are also in the first year of their ambitious new strategy ‘Transforming Lives Together’ with the aim of reaching more families earlier in their journey.

To support this important work, we’d love to speak to candidates with specialist skills in any of the following sectors:

•    Fundraising, individual giving or philanthropy
•    Digital, communications and marketing
•    Service delivery
•    Legal

We would be particularly keen to speak to parent carers and candidates from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.  It’s absolutely crucial to the charity’s sustainability and authenticity that the Board fully represents the people and communities it serves.

This is a fantastic charity, with people who care deeply about what they do.  If you believe you can contribute through your experience and skills, then please get in touch for an informal conversation.


please click here for further information.

Youth charity working in UK and Africa seeks Trustee with legal experience

Peace Child International seeks new trustee with legal background as they develop programmes to help disadvantaged young people  reach their full potential through entrepreneurship training & building their employability skills.

What will you be doing?

  • Able to advise CEO on any legal matters/contracts/new initiatives.
  •  Help set PCIs’ strategy and oversee the effective implementation of it.
  • Ensure the necessary resources are in place to deliver the strategy.
  • Ensure that  PCI defines its goals and evaluates performance against agreed targets.
  • Along with other trustees ensure the effective and efficient administration of PCI and supervise the financial stability of the organisation
  • Check that  PCI have appropriate policies and procedures in place which will safeguard children and young people at all times
  • Support the CEO to find new areas of support/interest

Trustee to attend quarterly evening board meetings in London. One of these meetings will be an away day in Hertfordshire.


What are we looking for?

  • An interest in young people and legal background
  • A commitment to Peace Child and our mission, vision and values
  • Previous experience of working with a charity would be an advantage but not essential
  • An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship
  • Experience to advise on all contracts, MOUs, partnerships that PCI may engage in
  • Having time to scrutinise board papers, contracts, exploring the ramifications of possible new projects which the management team have identified
  •  An ability to work effectively as a member of a team
  • An understanding of the challenges/advantages of working for a small charity

During 2020 we helped 1,920 marginalised young people in the UK and Africa to permanently escape poverty and secure an income of their own. We know there are so many more young people like this who urgently need our support, and this is what drives us to work even harder. We are really excited about the year ahead and will continue to place young people at the heart of our programmes. Our work in West Africa will be a major focus for us in 2021. Our aim is to support a further 2,000 marginalised young women to create and grow a sustainable business and become financially independent for life. We will be predominantly helping young women in Sierra Leone but we may branch out to other areas in West Africa and elsewhere if funding becomes available.

In the UK we have devised a six-week programme working with clusters of 5-6 young people providing tailored online support to increase their communication and decision-making skills, explore career paths and learn how to develop a cv and personal statement.  Above all, it will help them to recognise the strengths they already have and help them to set goals for themselves Because we are a small charity and work directly with our partners on the ground in West Africa we hear first hand accounts of the difference the programme makes. We rely on Trustees to help ensure that we are able to fulfil our contracts/obligations so that we can deliver the much needed programmes successfully.

Our Trustees get the opportunity to be part of youth led  development programmes and to assist in their development – following their progress in quarterly reports. Because we are a small team, there are numerous ways to support the CEO and help the charity to survive and thrive in quite challenging times.


Please click here for further information.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust seeks new Trustees – those with lived experience of CF welcomed to apply

Be part of our mission for a life unlimited and to beat Cystic Fibrosis…become a Trustee

CystiThe Cystic Fibrosis Trust c Fibrosis is the most common life-limiting genetic condition in the UK.   As the country’s leading charity dedicated to Cystic Fibrosis, our volunteers, Trustees and staff are working hand in hand with our community to address the challenges it presents and seize exciting new opportunities to make a real change.

As a result of three of our current Trustees completing their normal terms of office, we are now looking for new Trustees to join our board and would be keen to talk to you if you have any of the following:

  • Lived experience of Cystic Fibrosis;
  • Experience of clinical care of adults with Cystic Fibrosis;
  • Experience of creative marketing and communication skills, and using digital tools to drive transformation;
  • Experience of fundraising;
  • Experience of diversity and inclusion within organisations;
  • Understanding of social welfare, socio-economic variation and deprivation

We are keen to ensure that the diversity of our organisation, and the Cystic Fibrosis community is represented by our board of Trustees.  We would encourage applications from candidates from all backgrounds and would welcome the opportunity to hear from disabled people and from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and LGBTQI candidates.

As a member of the Board of Trustees, you will have specific statutory duties, such as ensuring that we comply with charity and company law and that we use our resources responsibly to achieve our aims. Trustees serve for three years with the opportunity of a second term for a further three years.

Although our Head Office is in London, our community is spread across the UK, and we are keen to reflect that regional diversity on our Board. With virtual meeting spaces, teleconferencing facilities and reasonable travelling expenses available, applicants are encouraged regardless of geographical location.


For further information, please click here.

Pancreatic Cancer UK seeks new Trustee – pancreatic cancer survivors welcomed to apply

Pancreatic Cancer UKPancreatic cancer is a tough one but we’re taking it on. We are supporting those affected by the disease, investing in groundbreaking research, lobbying for greater recognition of pancreatic cancer, and being a voice for everyone involved in the fight. Together we are taking on pancreatic cancer.

About the role:

We are at an exciting point as a charity, with big challenges, big ambitions, and the passion and energy to make big change happen. We need trustees to help us to realise our potential and we want Board membership to reflect the diverse society of the UK and its differing healthcare systems.

The key role of the Pancreatic Cancer UK Board of Trustees is the governance of the organisation ensuring that the charity acts in accordance with its constitution and that its activities are in furtherance of its objects.

We currently looking for three trustees to join our Board of Trustees as several of our Trustees are nearing the end of their terms of office. Our Board currently consists of nine members who possess a wide range of skills and experience and all of whom have a connection to pancreatic cancer either through having lost someone close to them or as a survivor.

We are an inclusive organisation committed to developing a diverse workforce and are looking for people who can demonstrate dedication to our cause and values. We welcome and encourage applications from people of all types and backgrounds. You may already have experience at the Board level, but this is not essential. We offer a range of support including mentoring and training. To help us achieve our ambitions we are very keen to talk to those who have knowledge/experience of digital developments in organisations, the health care/cancer sector, marketing and communications and we would like to continue the tradition of having pancreatic cancer survivors on the Board if at all possible.

You will also share our passion and determination to transform the future for everyone affected by pancreatic cancer. We need to stop pancreatic cancer from taking too many lives, too soon. We hope you will join us.


Please click here for further information.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (Martin Lewis charity) seeks new Trustee with a legal background

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute is an independent charity set up by Martin Lewis, and committed to breaking the link between financial difficulty and mental health problems. We conduct research, develop practical policy solutions and work in partnership with both those providing services and those using them to find what really works.

We are recruiting two new members to our Board of Trustees, which plays an essential role in guiding the organisation, shaping our strategy and ensuring that we meet our statutory obligations:

  • We are looking for a new trustee with an accounting qualification and experience in charity accounting to fulfil the role of treasurer.
  • We are also recruiting a new trustee with a legal background and experience in charity law.

The successful candidates will join a passionate and committed group of trustees, drawing from business, politics, regulation and the third sector. The commitment required for both roles includes attendance at quarterly board meetings, attendance at our annual general meeting, reading papers in advance of meetings, availability from time to time to support the senior management team through correspondence or ad-hoc meetings.

The successful candidate for the treasurer role will also be expected to attend quarterly finance committee meetings and an annual auditors’ meeting.

These roles are unpaid voluntary positions, but reasonable travel expenses can be claimed when attending quarterly meetings in person.

The Board always welcomes applications from people with lived experience of mental health conditions. We are also committed to improving diversity in the charity sector and are particularly keen to receive applications from members of minority ethnic communities.


Please click here for further information.

Polka Theatre in Wimbledon seeks new Trustee – legal skills welcomed

Reopening in spring 2021 following a major redevelopment, Polka is seeking energetic and talented volunteers to join our Board of Trustees at this exciting time. A major focus for Polka and its Trustees over the next few years will be to deliver a successful reopening of the building alongside a reimagined, revitalised and more sustainable organisation. Following a governance review and skills audit, we are looking to appoint up to four Trustees during 2021, with particular skills, experience and attributes that will complement current Trustees:

  • Creative working within Arts/Performance
  • Charity Development
  • Operational and Venue Management
  • IT/ Digital Technology
  • Commercial Development/Venue Sales
  • Legal/HR
  • Local community, particularly in East Merton

We particularly welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds or with young children of Polka-going age. We particularly want our Board to represent the diversity of our community.


For further information, please click here.

Autism charity seeks new Trustee (children’s environment policy/law expertise welcomed)

Our client has an exciting opportunity for a Trustee to join their team based in London. You will join them on a part time, volunteer basis where you must commit to attending four Board of Trustee meetings, one Away Day and one Strategy Day each year.

Our client is a charity dedicated to empowering people with autism to lead fuller lives through positive educational experiences, training for the people who work with them and support for their families and carers. They run Independent Special Schools for children aged 4-19, a Post-19 service, Outreach and Training and an Early Years service.

About the Trustee role:

Our client is seeking experienced individuals to join their Board of Trustees. They are keen to hear from individuals with expertise in education and who have experience of working at a senior leadership level in service delivery. This opportunity is both exciting and significant as you will plan a key role in shaping our client’s future development and growth.

Particularly seeking applications from people that represent the diversity of our client’s community.

What our client is looking for in their Trustee:

– Knowledge and understanding of educational and/or children’s environment policy and law

– Experience of working in an educational setting, in a leadership position

– Experience of working with a board, either as an executive or board member in the charity, public or private sector

– The ability to creatively help shape outcomes and participate actively in group decision making


Please click here for further information.

Action Against Medical Accidents (UK charity) seeks new Trustee – lawyer with clinical negligence background sought

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) is the UK charity for patient safety and justice. We are recruiting new Trustees to join our successful board and are offering the opportunity to become a Trainee Trustee with training and mentoring before taking up formal responsibilities. This is an exciting opportunity to share leadership of this unique and well respected charity.

We are particularly interested to hear from people with one or more of the following attributes:

  • finance/Treasurer ability;
  • health professionals with some patient safety background;
  • experience of avoidable harm as a patient/family member;
  • fundraising experience/knowledge;
  • lawyers with clinical negligence background.

We take equality and diversity very seriously, and particularly wish to hear from black and minority ethnic candidates, younger people and people with disabilities as these groups are under-represented on our Board.


Please click here for a link to an application pack.

Marine Conservation charity seeks new Trustee – familiarity with charity legal affairs welcomed

Our client is a marine conservation charity, working in places where the ocean is vital to local cultures and economies and committed to protecting marine biodiversity. They are seeking to recruit an Independent Trustee to join their Board.

Location: Head Office is based in Bristol, board meetings are held online and may require occasional in-person attendance.

Hours: Trustees are required to prepare for and attend quarterly board meetings as well as sub-committee meetings, and any ad hoc initiatives that are required.

Duration: Successful applicants will serve a three-year term with potential for re-appointment for a maximum of one additional term.

Role of the Board of Trustees:

Our client’s Board of Trustees is the highest level governance and decision making authority within the charity. Trustees ensure that there is a clear strategy and that the charity’s work and goals are in line with their vision. The trustees’ role is to be ‘guardians of purpose’, making sure that all decisions put the needs of the mission and beneficiaries first. Trustees also safeguard assets – both physical assets, including property, and intangible ones, such as the charity’s reputation. They make sure these are used well and that the charity is run sustainably.

Key responsibilities of Trustees include:

  • Reviewing, approving and timely filing of all official financial and governance filings required by the charity under UK law
  • Approving the organisational strategy as presented by management, including the objectives, measures and financing
  • Approving the annual operating plan and budget, annual performance milestones and objectives
  • Approving appropriate level policies that impact the overall governance of the organisation and the Board of Trustees
  • Regularly reviewing the performance of the organisation and the senior management team
  • Providing oversight of the management and mitigation of organisational risk by the senior management team
  • Managing itself to be an effective Board

All Trustees are required to serve on at least one of the following committees: The Finance Committee, the Safeguarding and Reporting Committee, and the Nomination and Remuneration Committee. Each committee has its own Terms of Reference.

The Board of Trustees oversees a UK-based charity, however board meetings are held online and this presents exciting opportunities for applicants from outside the UK and greater inclusion of global stakeholders in the board, and will be considered within the board’s efforts to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

Skills and experience required:

We are looking for an individual with a passion and commitment to environmental conservation and human rights. You must have strong networking capabilities and existing networks that can be utilised for the benefit of the charity. Experience of charity governance and working with or as part of a Board of Trustees would also be beneficial.

In addition, we would welcome applications from candidates with particular experience in:

Knowledge and experience of the countries where the charity works and the communities they serve (Indonesia)
Financial management and accounting (specifically charity accounting)
Philanthropy and fundraising
Strategy development and change management
Marketing and communications
Digital and data-systems
Charity legal affairs
Risk management and compliance
Safeguarding and human resources
Executive management and leadership

Our client aspires that their Board of Trustees is diverse, including members representing diverse professional and personal backgrounds, ages, ethnicity, and gender. Their non-discrimination policy extends to the trustees, who are expected to lead by example


Please click here for further information.

Age UK Nottingham seeks a new Trustee with legal expertise

Our Trustees are the people who lead the charity and decide how it is run. Being a Trustee at Age UK Notts means making decisions that will impact on people’s lives. As a Trustee you will make a difference to your local community and through the wider Age UK Network, to society as a whole.

What is the purpose of this role?

Age UK Notts has a Board of Trustees with between 7 and 10 Trustees. Our Trustees ensure Age UK Notts has a clear strategy, and that our work and goals are in line with our vision. The Trustees are the ‘guardians of purpose’, making sure that all decisions put the needs of our beneficiaries first. The Trustees have independent control over, and legal responsibility for, the charity’s management and administration.

What are the responsibilities of the role?

• To ensure Age UK Notts is carrying out its purpose for the public benefit

• To comply with Age UK Notts’ governing document and the law

• To act in the best interest of Age UK Notts, maintaining the professional integrity of the charity, whilst dealing with other bodies and individuals

• To ensure Age UK Notts is accountable

• To manage Age UK Notts’ resources responsibly

• To act with reasonable care and skill

• To act as an ambassador for Age UK Notts and for the wider Age UK network

• To safeguard the good name and values of the charity

• To have a positive commitment to, and actively promote, Age UK Notts’ Equality and Diversity policy

In addition to the above statutory duties of all trustees, each trustee should use any specific knowledge or experience they may have to help the board of trustees reach sound decisions.

What are we looking for?

Each Trustee must have:

• Integrity

• A commitment to the charity

• An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship

• A willingness to devote the necessary time and effort to their duties as a Trustee

• Strategic vision

• Good, independent judgement

• An ability to think creatively

• A willingness to speak their mind

• An ability to work effectively as a member of a team


The board of trustees particularly welcomes experience in one or more of the following areas:

• Issues relating to work with, and for, older people

• Legal matters

• Fundraising

• Public relations

• Marketing

• Campaigning

• Education and learning

• Digital Strategy

• Setting targets, monitoring and evaluating performance and programmes in commercial and not for profit organisations

• Budget setting and monitoring of finances

Please also note that we are looking for at least one of our new Trustees to have legal experience or background.

We are looking for people from a wide range of backgrounds to join our board and contribute towards leading the charity and delivery of services to the older people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

What can you gain from this opportunity?

Trusteeship can be rewarding for many reasons, from a sense of making a difference, to gaining new experiences and new relationships.


Please click here for further information.

Social housing provider Local Space seeks new Trustee – governance and law expertise sought

Local Space is a dynamic and unique registered provider of social housing. Many of our tenants and communities are facing challenging times – and that will continue for the foreseeable future. Our ambitions are huge and transformational; it is therefore important that we have a governance and strategic framework that moves our agenda forward.

To support this, we are looking for 2 individuals to join our dedicated Board. We want to see people who have a keen interest and competence in understanding communities as well as the importance of focusing on customers. The issue of diversity and equality is important to our strategic development and growth plans, not least because of our diverse customer base. We recognise that issues around race equality, disability, gender and culture etc all play a part in determining the nature of our business.

Whilst you do not have to be a housing specialist, it is important that you have a demonstrable interest in housing those in need, and an aptitude to develop in the field. Strong analytical and communication skills will be essential as well as an understanding of the role of a Board.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and women are currently under-represented on our Board and we welcome applications from these communities.

Main purpose of the role

To contribute experience, expertise and insight to determine strategy, direction and governance in the interests of customers and all stakeholders. In conjunction with fellow Board members the Board member shall:

  1. Fulfil the legal duties of the Board member role.
  2. Set strategy and agree the business and financial plans to support strategic delivery.
  3. Ensure effective and efficient provision of services in all areas and for all customers in the light of the Strategy.
  4. Provide financial stewardship and responsibility for the management of all Local Space assets. This will involve treasury management and regular scrutiny of Local Space’s financial position.
  5. Ensure effective and efficient administration of Local Space by establishing and overseeing a risk management framework and maintaining an agreed assurance framework.
  6. Oversee Local Space’s compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, including health and safety.
  7. Direct and control Local Space’s work by establishing, monitoring and reviewing a framework of delegation and systems of internal control.
  8. Engage in regular appraisals, performance reviews and learning and development.

Essential knowledge, experience and skills

The successful candidate will have:

  • Experience and understanding of one (or more) of the following areas:
    • Customer service
    • Community engagement
    • Housing provision
    • Equality, diversity and inclusion in relation to delivery of services
    • Financial management and treasury management
    • Risk Management
    • Digital Transformation / Project management
    • HR
    • Governance and law 
    • Asset management / repairs and maintenance
    • Development and procurement
  • Experience and understanding of one (or more) of the following areas:
    • Ability to rapidly gain a good understanding of the work of Local Space and the needs of its customers.
    • Understanding of monitoring Executive performance.
    • Experience of operating as a board member within another charitable, public sector or commercial organisation, or a strong and demonstrable ability to do so.

Essential competencies

The successful candidate will have:

  • Effective communication and influencing skills.
  • The ability to act independently and a willingness to provide constructive challenge to peers and the Executive Management Team.
  • A proven ability to work effectively as part of a team that makes collective strategic decisions.
  • Strong analytical capability with the ability to analyse complex information and concepts.
  • A genuine interest in housing those in need, and a willingness to learn and develop in this field.
  • An understanding of the role of a Board, and willingness to accept the statutory duties, responsibilities and liabilities of Board membership in a charitable registered provider of social housing.
  • An understanding of the positive role housing can play in improving the lives of diverse tenants and communities.
  • An ability to maintain standards of probity and work within the regulatory and governance frameworks.
  • An ability to work with electronic communications or a demonstrable willingness to learn.
  • The willingness and ability to devote the necessary time and effort required for the role.

Candidates should note that these competencies will be assessed at the shortlisting stage and at interview. We want to attract the widest pool of talent to this post. If having read the role profile, you feel that you can do the role, but you are not sure whether you meet the criteria outlined, we would you encourage you to contact David Weaver for an informal conversation via email (david.weaver@dwcglobal.co.uk).


Please click here for application details.

Disablement Association Hillingdon seeks new Trustees

Disablement Association Hillingdon (DASH) was formed in 1984. It is a user led registered charity and company limited by guarantee. DASH supports, empowers and assists any person with a disability or impairment in the London Borough of Hillingdon.

Our Trustees have the ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of DASH, and ensuring that the organisation is well-run and delivers its charitable outcomes for the benefit of disabled people in Hillingdon.

We are currently looking to recruit Trustees with the following skills and knowledge:

  • Personal experience of disability
  • Experience of fundraising for, or in, a third sector organisation
  • Financial management
  • Human resources
  • Strategic Planning and organisational development
  • Charity Law
  • Knowledge and experience of marketing or public relations in the third sector
  • Information Technology

Previous Trustee/Board experience is not necessary and we recognise the benefits of a diverse Trustee Board. As an organisation we are committed to eliminating discrimination and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

Trustees currently commit to attending monthly meetings of approx an hour and a half (held via Zoom).

Please click here for further information.

Blue Ventures Conservation seeks new Trustees

Blue Ventures ConservationBlue Ventures Conservation – Rebuilding fisheries with coastal communities

Blue Ventures develops locally-led approaches to marine management that benefit people and nature alike.

By listening and responding to basic needs, we design our models to catalyse and sustain marine conservation, unlocking the potential of coastal communities to manage their resources. We work in places where the ocean is vital to local cultures and economies, and are committed to advancing the rights of small-scale fishers throughout the coastal tropics.

Blue Ventures is currently seeking new members of our board of trustees.

Role of the Board of Trustees

Blue Ventures’ Board of Trustees is the highest level governance and decision making authority within Blue Ventures. Trustees ensure that the charity has a clear strategy, and that its work and goals are in line with the charity’s vision. Our trustees’ role is to be ‘guardians of purpose’, making sure that all decisions put the needs of the mission and our beneficiaries first. Trustees also safeguard our assets – both physical assets, including property, and intangible ones, such as our reputation. They make sure these are used well and that the charity is run sustainably.

Experience in charity legal affairs welcomed.

Please click here for further information.


Victim Support seeks new Trustee – legal experience welcomed

Victim Support is an independent charity dedicated to supporting people affected by crime and traumatic incidents in England and Wales. It aims to ensure that people affected by crime or traumatic events get the support they need and the respect they deserve, and helps people to feel safer and to move beyond crime.

The charity helps people by providing free, confidential advice, emotional support and practical help through local Victim Support teams across England and Wales, and a national contact centre. The work of its 2,000 staff and volunteers supports people affected by all types of crime including burglary, hate crime, fraud, theft, child sexual exploitation and modern day slavery; its offering includes a range of specialist services, including services for children and young people and those affected by domestic abuse and sexual violence. It also runs the National Homicide Service to support families affected by murder and manslaughter, and provides key support services to people affected by terror attacks.

Victim Support is independent of the government, the police, local authorities and the criminal justice system, but its unrivalled national overview gives it the ability to share best practice and innovate in its services, as well as to champion victims’ rights from a strong evidence base.

As the charity works towards a world where there are fewer victims, and where those affected have stronger rights, better support and real influence in the criminal justice system, joining the Board of Trustees is an opportunity to make a real impact and be part of its success story.

Role specification

The Board at Victim Support currently has three vacancies for Trustees. As a Trustee, successful appointees will:

  • Be an ambassador for Victim Support and for its work
  • Help to shape the strategic direction of Victim Support
  • Make sure Victim Support has policies in place that comply with current legislation and promote good practice
  • Make sure that staff, money and other resources are used appropriately, and that this is always monitored properly
  • Support the fundraising, income generation and outward-facing activities of the charity
  • Spend time with its services, getting to understand their work
  • Make sure that the needs of victims, witnesses and families affected by tragic incidents and crime are always at the centre of decisions taken by Victim Support
  • Attend training sessions, some of which are embedded into each Board meeting, to promote their knowledge and professional development in the role of Trustee


Person specification

Victim Support needs a Board which reflects and represents the people it supports and the voices it champions. The charity would therefore particularly welcome applications from Victim Support volunteers or anyone wishing to become a volunteer, anyone who has worked in an organisation helping victims, and anyone with personal experience of crime, or the criminal justice system.

Beyond this, skills in safeguarding, legal matters, income generation or fundraising, procurement, and insurance and risk would be particularly welcome; most important, though, is the willingness to engage closely with the charity’s work, and the enthusiasm to steer and support its strategy.

Victim Support welcomes applications from those seeking their first board role, and will provide appropriate training.

Required for this role

  • Trustee ready Sitting on a trustee board requires the ability to take a more advisory approach than in executive roles. If you have not previously held any trustee or non-executive positions, you should demonstrate a track record of influencing the direction of your organisation at board level. If you already have significant trustee or non-executive experience, please detail this.



Victim Support would like its Board of Trustees to be as diverse as the communities with which it works. As a result, whilst the charity would encourage anyone interested to consider an application, it would particularly welcome applications from those from groups currently under-represented on the Board. It also offers a full induction and training opportunities to all Trustees to support them fulfil their role.


Terms of appointment

The position of Trustee is unpaid. However, all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred on charity business will be reimbursed in line with the charity’s Volunteer Expenses Policy.

Time commitment

Trustees are asked to prepare for, attend and contribute to all Board meetings and join sub-committees and ad hoc working groups as required. Meetings are held at different locations throughout England and Wales. Regular annual commitments include:

  • Four full-day meetings of the Board (during working hours)
  • One Strategy Day
  • Potential to become a member of a Committee (People, Remunerations or Finance, Audit and Risk)
  • Visits to local offices as appropriate
  • Attendance at occasional fundraising or networking events.

The estimated total commitment for Trustees is c. 8-10 days per year in total.

Trustees are appointed for an initial term of three years, with the possibility of extension for a further period of three years.


This process is being run in-house by the organisation, who will view the applications without edits. We therefore advise applicants to avoid using ‘see CV’ or ‘please call me to discuss further’ in your application as it may restrict your chances of progressing to the next round.

Connected parties

The team at Victim Support is happy to be contacted by anyone who is considering applying regarding any questions; please contact verena.meyners@victimsupport.org.uk. All applications must be made through Nurole.


Please contact nurole for further information.

The University of Sussex Students’ Union seeks new Trustee – company law expertise sought

The University of Sussex Students’ Union is a charitable company. We’re a democratic, membership organisation and all students at the University of Sussex are automatically members of the Union. While we work really closely with departments from all across the University, we are a separate organisation. The Union also owns a trading subsidiary company which has its own Board. Any profits from these activities are gift-aided to the Union to support our charitable aims.

The Union and its trading subsidiary employ about 60 full-time and part-time staff and around 260 student staff, with a turnover of £7m. In the current situation that we all find ourselves in with the pandemic, the size of this operation has contracted considerably, but we hope to return to a similar size during the year ahead.

We exist to ensure students get as much as possible out of their time at the University of Sussex, and Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Whether that means providing opportunities to help them make friends, go to events, gain employability experience, try to change the world for the better, or just being there for them when things go wrong.

We are looking for motivated and experienced individuals to become trustees of the Union.

Skills and abilities (Essential):

– Offer challenge to management and officers

– Use your skills to help advance the Students’ Union

– Be a critical friend to the Students’ Union

– Be able to hold and justify an opinion/view, using evidence/analysis

– Listen and learn in debate and discussion

– Be an advocate for the Students’ Union

– Be able to network on behalf of the Students’ Union


Knowledge and experience

– Experience of working at a board level and of governance (Essential)

– Experience of the students’ union movement (Desirable)

Have expertise in one or more of the following (Essential):

– Social policy campaigning and advocacy

– Equalities and diversity legislation and/or experience of anti-racist campaigning

– Digital communications with regard to membership engagement

– Democratic governance

– Accounting and finance for charity sector organisations

– Company and/or charity law

– Human Resources Management


Personal attributes (Essential):

– Value student leadership; understand the importance of students actively shaping how we operate and what we do

– Being friendly and respectful of others in order to maintain a safe and considerate workplace

– Being honest, open and supportive of others, empowering others to be fulfilled in their role

– Being progressive, valuing equality, diversity and inclusion, ethics and the environment

– Act with integrity


Please click here for further information.

Refugee charity Indigo Volunteers seeks new Trustees – legal skills sought

Indigo Volunteers is a charity that recruits volunteers, supports grassroots organisations and creates networks along the European refugee route. We believe in the power of ordinary people, and enable them to work together to support refugees and displaced people. We work within a community of incredible grassroots charities, volunteers, sector experts, and humanitarian organisations that are positively dedicated to supporting communities coping with displacement, inequality, and social injustice.

Our Vision:

To be the leading voice in responsible volunteering, empowering a network of grassroots humanitarians who work together to grow and thrive.

We connect, share, and facilitate:

  • We match and connect volunteers to humanitarian organisations.
  • We share resources and capacity building opportunities.
  • We facilitate training and psycho-social support for our community.

Our Values:

  • Connectedness- We bring people together and ensure that everyone is heard, respected, and valued; fruitful and lasting collaborations are our prime measure of success.
  • Humility- We do not presume that we have all the answers; we listen rather than preach; we are open to consider different points of view; we always strive to question and improve ourselves first.
  • Accountability- We follow through on our commitments; we are honest and transparent; we take responsibility for our actions and lead by example.
  • Innovation- We are inquisitive and don’t take things at face value; we speak up and challenge the norm; we always strive to learn and create positive change.
  • Humanity- We believe in the growth of people and put them at the centre of everything we do; we stand in solidarity; we are kind and charitable to everyone we encounter.

Indigo is looking for board members to support us in running and growing the charity to achieve our vision.

The following roles are needed (click on the title for the job role profile):

We are particularly interested in hearing from people with any of the following skills:

  • Legal: Has an understanding of our legal duties as a charity.
  • Fundraising: Understands individual and community fundraising, has experience working with charitable trusts or other grant giving organisations, and is able to help us secure sustainable funding.
  • PR/Marketing: Understands the importance and dynamics of advertisement and public relations – i.e. communication, marketing, (social) media etc.
  • Business/social enterprise/tech: Knows how to create and implement a business plan, can help us further develop our working model  and strategy.
  • Has lived experience, or worked at senior-level within the refugee context.

Please click here for further information.

The Foreign Policy Centre seeks new Trustees (NFP or think tank governance and related law expertise sought)

The Foreign Policy Centre, an international affairs think tank, is seeking to recruit new members for its Advisory Council and its Board of Trustees.

Job Description

The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC), an international affairs think tank, is seeking to recruit new members for its Advisory Council and identify suitable candidates to join its Board of Directors (Trustees). Trustees have formal governance responsibilities while the Advisory Council is a looser affiliation, but both roles would work with the Executive Director and Chair of Trustees to help advise the staff team and build the FPC’s capacity.

At this time, we are looking to recruit new members who specifically have expertise and experience in three key areas:

  • Fundraising (including Trust and Foundation, high-value donor, governmental, institutional, event and online fundraising);
  • Not-for-profit or think tank governance and related law; or
  • Media engagement and strategy.

While we are open to applications from a wide range of backgrounds, we are particularly keen to see applicants with knowledge of the think tank or wider NGO sector. The specific time commitment for these new roles can be flexible depending on personal availability, but we are keen to recruit people who can be available to assist for between 5-10 days per year. Most activities will be conducted remotely but with occasional in-person meetings in London (when public health conditions permit).

To apply please send a copy of your CV and a covering letter outlining your interest in either or both of the roles and explaining your relevant expertise by email via the button below. Please visit www.fpc.org.uk or get in touch if you require further information ahead of making an application. Closing date 24 February 2021.

About the Foreign Policy Centre

The FPC is an outward-looking, non-partisan international affairs think-tank based in the UK. Our mission is to provide an open and accessible space for the ideas, knowledge and experience of experts, academics and activists from across the world, so that their voices can be heard by a global audience of citizens and decision-makers in order to find solutions to today’s international challenges.

The FPC has a global perspective and a focus on Europe, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Asia. We also seek to examine what a progressive, pragmatic and internationalist foreign policy for the UK could be. A commitment to democracy, human rights, good governance and conflict resolution is at the heart of our work. We do this through delivering high quality research and events. The organisation is currently set up as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.


Please click here for further information.

Oxfordshire MIND seeks new Trustee

Oxfordshire MindLooking to volunteer your time and knowledge to support Oxfordshire’s mental health? This charity wants to hear from you!

We are recruiting new Trustees – people whose life experiences and/or work experiences provide expertise to support their organisation in promoting good mental health through the provision of high-quality services and campaigning for positive change.

Trustees play a vital role as board members, ensuring the organisation has solid plans in progress to achieve their aims and that their funding is being used appropriately to do this.

Trustee positions are open to people of any age, background, or identity whose experiences connect with one or more of the following areas:

  • Lived experience of mental health issues facing children and young people
  • Lived experience of mental health issues facing adults
  • Experience in finance and/or accountancy
  • Experience connected with fundraising
  • Experience in NHS or local mental health commissioning
  • Experience in [charity] law and regulations

The charity is learning and growing, and they are committed to becoming an inclusive, anti-discriminatory organisation for the people they currently serve, the people who they have yet to serve, and for their staff and volunteers.

They recognise that not everyone will have had access to the same opportunities for numerous reasons and they are committed to acknowledging this in their recruitment processes.

Whatever your lived experience, your application is welcome. Your voice is important.

About the charity

This mental health charity is here to make sure anyone with a mental health problem has somewhere to turn for advice and support; in total over 20,000 people in Oxfordshire access their services each year. With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem at some point in their lives, people need this charity more than ever. Their work includes:

  • The Transitional Supported Housing Recovery Service (part of the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership).
  • The TalkingSpace Plus psychological therapy service in partnership with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.
  • The Oxfordshire Wellbeing Service, which is part of both the TalkingSpace Plus and Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnerships and includes:
    • Five Wellbeing Centres throughout the county
    • Public Wellbeing & Information Services
    • Physical Activity and Wellbeing
    • Benefits for Better Mental Health, a welfare benefits advice service
    • Volunteering and Peer Support Opportunities
  • Raising awareness and campaigning activity.

They employ over 100 staff and operate in 28 locations around the county.

Purpose of the role

To work in partnership with other trustees, the CEO and other senior Management Team to ensure that:

  • The charity has a clear vision and that there is a common understanding of this by trustees and
  • The charity has a long term strategic plan which supports the achievement of its vision and sets appropriate strategic priorities and objectives. (The charity and the CEO must also have shorter term operational plans and objectives which feed into the achievement of the strategic plan).
  • The CEO’s annual and longer-term objectives and targets support the achievement of the vision, mission and strategic
  • Board policies support the vision, mission and strategic
  • There are effective mechanisms to be aware and take account of the needs and aspirations of current and future service users;
  • There are effective mechanisms to review the external environment for changes that might affect Oxfordshire
  • There are systems to review regularly the strategic plans and priorities and current staff

Click here for application details.

Lyme Regis Philpot Museum Trust seeks new Chair

The Museum Trust is constituted as an independent charitable trust. Our Trust operates a subsidiary trading company. Appointed trustees are directors of the trading company, which is chaired by trustee Jacqueline Horsfield, who reports to the Board of Trustees.

Lyme Regis Museum is a dynamic institution with a global focus, located at the heart of the Jurassic Coast, England’s only Natural World Heritage Site. Situated in a delightful Edwardian building constructed in Northern Renaissance style, our museum tells the story of the town, its people, its literature and its unique place as the home of the science of palaeontology and Mary Anning, the world’s first great fossil hunter. Our collections also reflect the importance of Lyme Regis as the site of the last attempted seaborne invasion of England and as the birthplace of Thomas Coram, founder of England’s first charity. Our collections also reflect the town’s strong literary connections with Jane Austen, John Fowles, Beatrix Potter, JRR Tolkien and Tracy Chevalier.

The Museum is managed by our Director, David Tucker, supported by a small staff team and our dedicated volunteers.

Our Vision and Mission

We will inspire people about the astonishing global stories of Lyme Regis.

Our mission is:

  • to enhance and improve the collections
  • to provide a world-class visitor experience
  • to share our collections and knowledge.

In order to achieve our vision and mission, we will:

  • strengthen our relationship with international, national and local audiences
  • create significant partnerships internationally, nationally and locally
  • generate income to create a sustainable future for the Museum
  • make the best of our space and location.

To achieve these goals we will:

  • deploy our resources effectively
  • invest in digital
  • develop our people

Chair Role Description

In addition to the general responsibilities of being a Trustee (see below), the Chair has a number of tasks specific to their role. These include:

  • Providing leadership for the board of trustees in their role setting the strategy and policy of the organisation.
  • Chairing and facilitating the board meetings.
  • ensuring that the trust complies with its governing document, charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations and to make sure that the organisation pursues its objects as defined in its governing document.
  • Liaising regularly with the Director to maintain a clear grasp of the charity’s financial position and to ensure full and timely financial transparency and information disclosure to the Board.
  • Representing the organisation at appropriate events, meetings or functions.
  • Acting as a spokesperson for the organisation where appropriate.
  • Maintaining careful oversight of any risk to reputation and/or financial standing of the organisation.
  • Receiving regular informal progress reports of the organisation’s work and financial performance through the Director.
  • Attending and being a member of other committees or working groups when appropriate in role as Chair.

Chair Person Specification

  • Will have an understanding of the charitable and cultural sector
  • Strong leadership, people management skills and the ability to chair meetings effectively
  • A commitment to the vision of Lyme Regis Museum, in promoting it in the best interests of its many visitors, volunteers and staff
  • Strategic vision
  • Good, independent judgment.
  • An ability to think creatively
  • An understanding of legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship, together with an understanding of the financial aspects of running a charity
  • An understanding of the way in which the cultural sector works
  • An ability to work effectively as part of a team, contributing an independent perspective
  • Possess integrity, objectivity, accountability, honesty
  • The applicant must be legally eligible to stand as a registered Company Director and Charity Trustee.

Please click here for further information.

Pro Bono Economics seeks new Trustee

Charities need economists. (And we’ve got the data to prove it.)

In an ideal world, charities should profoundly understand their impact – both in order to make the strongest possible case for support, and to be sure they’re making the most of every pound entrusted to them. But measuring social impact is a difficult thing to do well, and too often it ends up marooned on the ‘no time yet’ list.

Pro Bono Economics (PBE) understands this, and was set up in 2009 to help charities and social enterprises better understand and improve their impact and value. A charity ourselves, we harness tools and insights from economics to improve both policy and practice, so that we and our charity partners can promote wellbeing and contribute to a healthier civil society. With over 500 volunteer professional economists donating their expertise and insight free of charge, PBE has to date helped almost 450 charities, covering a wide range of issues including mental health, education, homelessness, employment and poverty.

Our work will never be more vital than in the coming decade, as the UK recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. So this opportunity to join our Trustee Board offers an uniquely absorbing, rewarding role at the forefront of making things better.

Led by our Chair, Lord Gus O’Donnell, our Trustees oversee PBE’s governance, compliance, strategy and planning. We advise and support the management team, enabling them to achieve our aims as effectively as possible. While we all have a passion for economics and the impact the discipline can make, we are not all professional economists; indeed, for this role we are keen to hear from candidates with direct, practical experience of leading and managing within the charity sector.

The wider non-executive repertoire – independence of thought, an enquiring mind, commitment to the principles of public life, ability to absorb and interrogate complex information and draw sound conclusions – is non-negotiable; but we recognise that candidates may exhibit all of these skills and behaviours without yet having held a non-executive role, and would encourage those looking for their first trusteeship to get in touch. Finally, diversity of perspectives, background and insight are invaluable in our work, and we would particularly like to hear from candidates whose professional and personal profiles will bring new understanding and capacity to the Board.


Please click here for further information.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy seeks Non-Executive Director for its Intellectual Property Office

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is the official UK Government body responsible for Intellectual Property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trademarks and copyright. They operate and maintain a clear and accessible intellectual property system in the UK, which encourages innovation and helps the economy and society to benefit from knowledge and ideas. IPO helps people get the right type of protection for their creation or invention, and responsible for policy, educating businesses and consumers about IP rights and responsibilities, supporting IP enforcement, granting UK patents, trademarks and design rights.

The IPO is at an exciting point in its history building a stronger role both domestically and internationally and has ambitious plans to deliver its strategy through delivering excellent Intellectual Property services, creating a leading Intellectual Property environment and making the IPO a brilliant place to work. It has embarked on a significant transformation programme to ensure it focuses delivering for its customers, both current and future ones, and plays it full role as a key part of the innovation ecosystem to enable the UK to become the most innovative and creative country in the world.

Person Specification

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate that they have shown from previous roles elsewhere in the public or private sector the qualities, skills and experience to meet all the essential criteria relevant to this role.

Essential criteria

  • An understanding of the scope of intellectual property, the value of IP to inventors, entrepreneurs and SMEs and its contribution to innovation and growth;
  • An ability to challenge performance, and to encourage innovation and a culture of change in either a public, charity or private sector organisation; and
  • Experience of governance at a strategic level, gained by working in either executive or non-executive capacity, including audit, risk and financial management

Desirable criteria

  • An appreciation of the values and role of the public sector;
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with a wide variety of stakeholders; and
  • The ability to develop well defined strategies and pursue long-term goals as part of a team, including being able to challenge and support colleagues in order to reach consensus.

Additional Information

Terms of Appointment

Successful candidates will be appointed for a 3-year term, with the possibility of extension for a further 3 years.


Please click here for further information.

Langley Park Learning Trust seeks new Non-Executive Directors – legal/compliance expertise sought

This is an opportunity to contribute to the community within Beckenham, Kent by becoming an Academy Ambassador at Langley Park Learning Trust. LPLT seeks two non-executive directors/trustees with either executive level leadership experience or human resources or legal and compliance backgrounds. Board meetings are held at BR3 3BE when safe to do so.

The Academy Ambassadors programme brings the expertise of the business world onto boards at multi-academy trusts (MATs) throughout the country to raise standards of education and improve the life chances of young people, which is critical to our social and economic success.

The opportunity

Langley Park Learning Trust is a multi-academy trust composed of five secondary and primary academies. The trust, now two years post its inception, has a budget of £24.6 million, employs 538 staff and educates approximately 4,305 students. The trust seeks two non-executive directors/trustees to support its many ambitious goals including, ensuring all five of its schools achieve OFSTED Outstanding and excellent outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.

The board seeks two business leaders with board level experience in

  • Executive Leadership (of a commercial or charitable company) or
  • Strategic Human Resources or
  • Legal/Compliance

As a key member of the board you will support the trust in achieving the following over the next 12 – 24 months:

  • Ambitious Educational Targets: All five schools to achieve OFSTED Outstanding
  • To develop a Culture of Collaboration enabling staff to collaborate across schools to foster continuous improvement
  • Investment in People and Talent including recruitment and retention of staff

What’s involved?

Board governance in education is a strategic, ‘eyes on, hands off’ commitment which typically involves attending c. six board meetings per year/6-8 hours’ time per month.

You will be responsible for:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent

As an Academy Ambassador, you will join our ambassador network which provides resources, guidance, networking events and webinars to support you in your role.

All roles are pro bono.

People from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.


Please click here for further information.

Beacon Multi Academy Trust seeks Non-Executive Directors – legal expertise sought

Could you be an Academy Ambassador in Ilford? Beacon Multi Academy Trust seeks two non-executives/directors with experience in the areas of corporate governance, legal/compliance or strong links to higher education to join its board and add to the support and challenge as the trust grows through its next stage of development.

The Academy Ambassadors programme brings the expertise of the business world onto boards at multi-academy trusts (MATs) throughout the country to raise standards of education and improve the life chances of young people, which is critical to our social and economic success.

The opportunity

Beacon Multi-Academy Trust (BMAT) consists of 3 secondary schools all based within the London Borough of Redbridge. BMAT’s core purpose is simple: to help all students reach their full potential. BMAT celebrates the diversity of their students and has created a varied range of institutions to reflect the communities they serve. BMAT wants its pupils to live well and thrive academically and personally into adulthood. They ensure this by developing a solid foundation of skills to prepare them to play their part in society successfully and to achieve their full potential through informed choices, seizing opportunities and being able to live the life they choose. This is embodied by their approach to raise standards in education for everyone through high expectations inclusive practice. BMAT believes every young person deserves to have the best education possible.

The board seeks two business leaders with board level experience in

  • Corporate Governance or
  • Legal/Compliance or
  • Education

As a key member of the board you will support the trust in achieving the following over the next 12 – 24 months:

  1. Balancing the BMAT budget with reduced income; whilst maintaining the quality of provision. The trust has its finances under firm control but is mindful of financial pressures and consequently keeps this as a key focus.
  2. Future proof BMAT leadership succession planning and development.
  3. Three year growth and expansion plan to maximize income, value for money and mitigate identified risks.

What’s involved?

Board governance in education is a strategic, ‘eyes on, hands off’ commitment which typically involves attending c. six board meetings per year/6-8 hours’ time per month.

You will be responsible for:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent

As an Academy Ambassador, you will join our ambassador network which provides resources, guidance, networking events and webinars to support you in your role.


Please click here for further information.

Black Books Matter UK seeks new Trustee

Black Books Matter champions diversity in books and stories that represent, are written by and educate on the lives of people of colour. Through providing books, community projects and workshops into homes, communities and schools we strive to educate and inspire young people of all backgrounds to accept and amplify diversity.

Books have the ability to inspire young people while educating, enlightening readers about their history or for others truths they don’t live. They also are able to share positive stories of those they may not see of both themselves and others regularly in mainstream society. This is why we believe Black Books Matter is an important way to educate and inspire young people of all backgrounds. Our aim is to ensure every young person feels unique while creating open minds, tolerance for others and growth; so young people can be accepting and proud of the diverse world we live in and feel their voice is heard.

We currently have received funding to go ahead with our launch in April and go ahead with our 2021-2022 programme.

As we continue to grow we are looking for a diverse range of trustees from diverse background who can contribute to the management of Black Books Matter UK.

It would be wonderful to have a range of trustees would have experience and knowledge of one of the key areas of expertise; finance, fundraising, charity law. Our trustees most importantly need to be passionate abut our charities purpose and mission, and a love for books is always a plus!

Please click here for further information.

Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust seeks new Non-Executive Directors – legal expertise welcomed

Could you be an Academy Ambassador in South West London? Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust seeks four non-executives/directors to join its board. Board meetings are held at TW10 7HN when safe to do so.

The Academy Ambassadors programme brings the expertise of the business world onto boards at multi-academy trusts (MATs) throughout the country to raise standards of education and improve the life chances of young people, which is critical to our social and economic success.

The opportunity

Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust is comprised of Grey Court School and The Hollyfield School. The trust has a third local secondary school (Chessington School) joining in January. The trust currently provides an education for a total of 2,629 pupils, with 320 employees and operates with a budget of £15.40 million, this will increase when the third school joins the trust. The trust seeks four non-executive directors to join the board to support its aspirations to grow by adding primary feeder schools which will add hugely to the offer to students, parents, staff and the local community.

The board seeks four business leaders with board level experience in

  • Branding/ Marketing or
  • HR or
  • Legal/ Compliance or
  • Secondary Education Leadership or
  • Corporate governance

As a key member of the board you will support the trust in achieving the following over the next 12 – 24 months:

  • Raising standards – The trust aims to raise the standards for all pupils and in particular disadvantaged and vulnerable as well as other lower and higher performing cohorts.
  • Covid-19 response – It is important to the trust to maintain the standards of teaching and keep a robust offer for all students in spite of the restrictions posed by Covid-19. The focus is on the identification of pupils who are vulnerable to lost learning and the development of strategies to compensate, including providing additional resource and one-to-one support.
  • New school integration – The trust will need to ensure that the standards are improved across the schools following the integration of the new school in 2021 and that policies and key savings are fully embedded across all academies within the trust.

What’s involved?

Board governance in education is a strategic, ‘eyes on, hands off’ commitment which typically involves attending c. six board meetings per year/6-8 hours’ time per month.

You will be responsible for:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent

As an Academy Ambassador, you will join our ambassador network which provides resources, guidance, networking events and webinars to support you in your role.

All roles are pro bono.


Please click here for further information.

Theatrum Mundi seeks new Trustees – lawyers sought

Theatrum Mundi is a UK Charitable Incorporated Organisation governed by a voluntary board of trustees, who ensure the charity is properly run and achieves its objectives. This includes an Executive Committee focused on finance and long-term development. Theatrum Mundi also operates through an association loi 1901, a non-profit structure based in Paris whose president and committee support the development of activities in France and across the EU.

Theatrum Mundi has the charitable aim of improving the understanding of cities through education and research. We think that collaboration with artists can offer city-makers — architects, planners, engineers, and urbanists — critical approaches to the way their crafts shape the public life of cities.

Our concern is for the ways the public lives of cities, in all their forms, are understood and designed. We aim to enrich these by engaging urbanists in co-production of knowledge, culture, and design, with artists, writers, performers, and scholars.

We convene practitioners and scholars in workshops, seminars, public events, and creative projects. We also publish independently and through other platforms. Established now as a charity based in London, our projects and programmes operate internationally with a wide range of partners.


Theatrum Mundi was founded at LSE Cities in 2012, as a series of conversations led by LSE Professor of Sociology Richard Sennett and Dr Adam Kaasa. It was established as a research project at LSE Cities through seed funding from Nesta, and at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University through a grant from the Mellon Foundation. After 5 years of incubation and through the kind support of colleagues at both NYU and LSE, it became an independent charity in 2017.

Trustees are appointed for two years, after which they can renew or step down, in discussion with the board. Trustee roles are not paid, though reasonable expenses can be reimbursed. Trustees are expected to attend two board meetings annually, taking place in London or virtually, normally from 5-7pm on weekdays. Currently the Executive Committee meets quarterly, and other working groups may be established to address specific areas of action. Between meetings, trustees should be available to work with staff to develop and implement initiatives. Trustees should also be willing to represent the organisation publicly in order to expand our networks, share our work, and help create new opportunities for funding and programming.

We’re interested in hearing from people with a broad set of perspectives on cities and culture – artists, activists, urbanists, scholars, lawyers, businesspeople, community, organisational leaders, and so on. Previous trustee experience is not necessary, and we are keen to support new trustees to gain this experience. However, trustees will be expected to work concretely with the Directors and Associates on one or more of the following areas:

  • Engagement of a broader range of collaborators and audiences in contributing to and benefiting from our programme.
  • Legal and ethical frameworks for ensuring fair and transparent relationships with all our partners and collaborators, as well as a safe working environment for multiple forms of diversity.
  • Communicating our programme and increasing the impact of our research in making the public lives of cities more open and just.
  • Fundraising through new approaches such as crowdfunding, subscription, or sponsorship.
  • Evaluation of our working practices in relation to goals of racial justice, environmental sustainability, and intellectual and creative development.


Please click here for further information.

Marillac Neurological Care Centre seeks new Trustee with legal background

To strategically lead in the life of the Marillac Neurological Care Centre, and share our values, committing to one board meeting per month. We are particularly keen to hear from people who have Medical, Legal or Accounting backgrounds.

Marillac Neurological Care Centre is a 52 bedded centre in Warley, Brentwood. It provides care, treatment and rehabilitation for a wide variety of Neurological conditions including Brain Injuries to adults within a specialised highly skilled environment.

Our ideal Trustees will have skills in strategic thinking, excellent communication and leadership, with management skills at senior levels and proven success in improving governance and services. You will have good interpersonal skills and ensure decisions are made for the overall success of the charity.

Marillac Neurological Care Centre was founded by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in 1921, and is fast approaching its centenary year. The service is entering into an exciting phase of its evolvement and is venturing towards becoming an independent Charitable Company whilst maintaining its relationship with the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul and the Vincentian Values.

We have assembled a core team of advisers who have guided us to this stage and are now looking to add to the Board of Advisers with the possibility of becoming Trustees in April 2021.


Please click here for further information.


SAVVY Theatre Company seeks new Trustees – legal experience sought

If this extraordinary year has taught us anything, it is that community is essential.

SAVVY Theatre Company is currently looking for people to join our board of Trustees who can support our values of Inclusion, Co-creation, Bold Ideas, Relevance and Community.

We are keen to hear from people living and/or working in Croydon, or with executive level experience in finance, legal or fundraising, or with experience of working in disability arts.

In line with our recruitment and inclusion policies, we are keen to encourage applications from a wide range of people.


Click here for further information.


Haemochromatosis UK seeks new Trustee

GHaemochromatosis UKenetic haemochromatosis is the UK’s most common inheritable genetic condition, directly affecting over 380,000 people. Genetic haemochromatosis can cause liver disease, cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue, diabetes, severe joint pain, sexual health issues and neurological issues.

We are seeking additional members of the public to join our Board of Trustees, which oversees our charity’s work. Each Trustee brings their own unique perspective to the table, to inform key decisions that shape the future of our charity.

As a Trustee, you will support the development of the charity’s strategy, provide specialist skills in support of our executive team (when requested) and ensure that governance is of the highest possible standard.

These roles are voluntary, with reasonable travel expenses reimbursed. Trustees receive a full induction and relevant training upon appointment. The Board meets quarterly on weekdays by Zoom and attends an annual planning day at our headquarters in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

Trustees are also expected to attend our annual patient conference and AGM and to develop their trusteeship skills throughout the year. This commitment includes participation in our annual board development/training day. In total, trusteeship requires a time commitment of around five to six days per year. Appointments are for three years in the first instance and travel expenses are reimbursed in line with our charity’s expenses policy.

Haemochromatosis UK is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee and so prospective trustees must be eligible to act as trustee and as a company director.

We are particularly keen to ensure that our trustee board reflects the diverse nature of the communities we support. We encourage applications from everyone regardless of age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.


Please click here for further information.

Trestle Theatre Company in St Albans seeks new Trustee – legal expertise sought

Trestle Theatre Company is a mask & physical theatre company that has been delivering education workshops & training since 1981. Our mission is to inspire creativity through participation & dialogue & our ever-engaging masks.

Following a staffing restructure in November 2019 & the consequent challenges that COVID 19 has bought to the sector this year, Trestle Theatre Company are looking for new Trustees to join them on the next phase of their journey as they move into their 40th Birthday year.

Trestle is committed to its Board being representative of the communities we work with. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds & particularly encourage interest from minoritised ethnic communities, those with lived experience of disability & those under 25. If you need this information in any other format/would like an informal conversation about the role please contact Clare Winter or Helen Barnett on 01727 850950

General responsibilities

· To ensure the organisation complies with its governing document, charity law, company law & any other relevant legislation/regulations.
· To ensure the organisation pursues its objectives as defined in its governing document.
· To ensure the organisation applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objectives.
· To contribute actively to the Board of Trustees’ role in supporting the strategic direction of the organisation, helping to shape overall policy & assist Senior Management in defining goals, setting & evaluating performance against agreed targets.
· To safeguard the good name & values of the organisation.
· To ensure the management team administer the organisation effectively & efficiently.
· To ensure the financial stability of the organisation.
· To ensure the charity’s property is managed efficiently & effectively by the management team.
· To appoint & support the Executive Director/Creative Director & monitor their performance.

We are looking for passionate people with a commitment to the organisation so, although experience of sitting on a Board or Experience of committee work is desirable, it is not essential to have prior experience & we are happy to provide training & mentorship where necessary.


Please click here for further information.

Beyond Autism seeks new Trustees – law expertise welcomed

We are seeking experienced individuals to join the BeyondAutism Board of Trustees. We are keen to hear from individuals with expertise in education and who have experience of working at a senior leadership level in service delivery. This opportunity is both exciting and significant as you will plan a key role in shaping our future development and growth.

Ideally candidates will have:

  • Knowledge and understanding of educational and/or children’s environment policy and law
  • Experience of working in an educational setting, in a leadership position
  • Experience of working with a board, either as an executive or board member in the charity, public or private sector
  • The ability to creatively help shape outcomes and participate actively in group decision making

BeyondAutism is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young adults and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. An enhanced disclosure will be conducted for the successful applicant.


Please click here for further information.

Marine Life and Conservation Charity seeks new Trustee with legal expertise

Olive Ridley ProjectRegistered charity Olive Ridley Project (ORP) is looking for an enthusiastic Legal Expert to join our Board of Trustees.

About ORP

ORP is on a mission to protect sea turtles and their habitats. We do this through rescue and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles, scientific research, and education and community outreach programs. We run a marine turtle rescue centre in Baa Atoll, Maldives – the first such facility of its kind in the Maldives – with a resident veterinarian, and a sea turtle rehabilitation centre in North Malé Atoll, Maldives.

Since its initial startup in the Maldives, ORP has expanded to Kenya, Oman and Pakistan. Further expansion plans are on the horizon in the near future. The charity is at the forefront of turtle conservation, influencing local policy makers and fishing communities, and collaborating with a number of research institutes.

About the Role

ORP is currently looking to recruit a UK based Legal Expert to join our Board of Trustees to provide leadership and advice in all legal matters, especially with regard to British Charitable law. We are also currently undertaking a review of an international chapter or trust, associated with the charity but with its own Board of Trustees and CEO. The role of this new UK based Legal Expert would including aiding and guiding our international branches where appropriate.  The position is voluntary and unpaid.

Specific duties will include:

•Advising on all the organization’s legal policies and matters arising;

•All aspects regarding legal duties, including reviewing the current legal status of ORP and how it is currently being run;

•Reviewing contracts, agreements and MoUs with external agencies such as funders, collaborators, consultants and statutory bodies, ensuring that all documents meet the conditions of contractual agreements;

•Dealing with the Charity Commission when/where appropriate

•Overseeing and presenting legal overview to the trustee board;

•Liaising with designated staff or outside contracted individuals about legal matters;

•Ensuring ORP is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit;

•Help update and ensure ORP complies with, our governing document and UK/international laws in general;

•Manage and ensure ORP and its employees/trustees/volunteers use the charities resources responsibly;

•Ensure the charity is accountable, particularly when tasks or decisions are delegated to staff or volunteers;

•Work collectively as a group to ensure the best outcome for ORP;

•Represent and act as an ambassador for the charity.

Experience required

•Experience in law, with previous charitable and/or business experience at an appropriate level.

•Knowledge/understanding of UK charity law and fundraising regulations would be an advantage.

•An interest in marine life and ocean conservation.

What difference will you make?

By providing legal management to ORP, you will be helping to ensure that ORP is able to continue protecting sea turtles (6 out of 7 remaining species are threatened with extinction), and their habitats and, by extension, contributing to a cleaner ocean and greener planet.

What’s in it for you?

This is a great opportunity to use your professional skills to make a difference in the world and to be part of a dynamic international team, passionate about sea turtle and ocean conservation.

Time Commitment

The successful applicant will be able to commit approximately 8-12 hours per month to their role. In addition, we require participation in quarterly trustee board meetings, which take place via video conferencing due to the international nature of our operations.

Please click here for application details.

Office of the Sec of State for Scotland and Office of the Advocate General seek new member of Audit & Risk Assurance Cttee – legal practice desirable

An exciting opportunity has arisen to become a member of the OSSS and OAG Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, part of the core governance framework which the departments rely upon to effectively operate and deliver on their strategic outcomes, ensuring that the Accounting Officer has the necessary financial assurances. This role offers a unique perspective on the Scottish political landscape.

A member of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee should be independent, possess a good understanding of governance, risk and control, together with knowledge of accounting and business, and have broad experience of organisational change in large businesses/ corporations, together with the ability to grasp complex issues very quickly.

The role of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee member is to advise the Board and Accounting Officer via the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee on matters of financial accountability, risk, control, assurance and governance by understanding the objectives of the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland (OSSS) and Office of the Advocate General (OAG) and the Offices’ current significant issues and risks.

Committee members will:

  • Support the Chair of the OSSS and OAG Audit and Risk Assurance Committee to deliver on its agreed Terms of Reference, including the scrutiny of the Annual Accounts.
  • Ensure that the Committee oversees the compliance with the corporate governance code and to report to the OSSS and OAG Joint Management Board; and
  • Provide support to the Committee Chair; Lead NED and other NEDs to ensure that the right issues are addressed.

Person Specification

Committee Members should have the following skills:

  • Leadership Skills – support the Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee on setting the right agendas, providing a forward look  and support the Chair to provide clear and robust advise  to the Board and Principal Accounting Officer;
  • Strong Interpersonal Skills – should be engaged in building relationships across the OSSS and OAG and with Non-Executive Directors on the Board;
  • Financial, accountancy or audit qualifications/experience are desirable, but not compulsory;
  • Experience of risk, performance, financial and change management
  • An understanding of the key challenges faced by the public sector (particularly around the efficiency agenda) and the ability to bring their experience to bear on these challenges;
  • The ability to contribute and inspire confidence with a wide range of stakeholders both in formal environments (such as in Committee meetings) and in less formal environments (such as one-to-one meetings with Committee members, officials and Non-Executive Directors);
  • Sound judgement and a high level of integrity (including when dealing with confidential or sensitive issues) and a commitment to the seven principles of conduct in public life (http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/about-us/what-we-do/the-seven-principles); and
  • A genuine interest in contributing to the effective running of the Departments, at the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee and (as appropriate), elsewhere in the Departments;
  • Desirable to have knowledge of the policy environment in which the OSSS and OAG operates.
  • Desirable to have experience of legal practice.

Additional Information

The OSSS and the OAG occupy a unique place at the heart of the UK Government as the UK moves forward on an ever-evolving constitutional journey. In recent years, the departments have been at the centre of the transfer of further powers to the Scottish Parliament and our constitutional work will continue ensuring that Scotland’s views are fully represented in the EU Transition process.

The OSSS is responsible for not only the £8.9m administration cost of the OSSS and OAG but also the £0.4m sponsorship of the Boundary Commission for Scotland and the transfer of £28 billion funding to the Scottish Consolidated Fund which funds the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament.

The strategic objectives of the OSSS are:

  • To strengthen and sustain the Union: to act as custodians of the devolution settlement;
  • Support economic growth in Scotland; and
  • To champion the UK Government in Scotland: to represent and advocate the UK Government’s policies and achievements in Scotland.

The Office of the Advocate General’s Five Strategic Objectives are:

  • Providing Advice on Policy and Legislation.
  • Protecting the UK Government’s Interests in the Courts.
  • Strengthening and Sustaining the Union.
  • Helping to Ensure that Devolution Works.
  • Supporting Ministers.



£200 per meeting of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, or meeting connected to the work of the Committee, for role of OSSS and OAG Audit and Risk Assurance Committee Member. The Offices’ will pay reasonable travel expenses incurred whilst undertaking work for the Offices’ Audit and Risk Assurance Committee.

Time Requirement

Preparation for and attendance at up to 5 Committee meetings per annum, with regular contact and communication throughout the year. In addition to Committee meetings there will be up to 12 risk deep-dive sessions with SLT and other potential mentoring of individuals or projects. 3 Year fixed-term contract.

Please click here for further information.

MCC Foundation seeks new Trustees – legal expertise sought

The MCC Foundation is the charitable foundation of the MCC which works in the UK and overseas to transform lives through cricket. The Foundation is recruiting a number of new trustees and is looking for applications in various categories including people with legal expertise/experience. So, being/having been a lawyer is in this case a positive! It would also welcome applications (on a non-exclusive basis) from interested people in one (or more) of the following groups – women, African-Carribean and under-50s.

Details of the Foundation, the new trustee specification and the application process are included here.

If you would like to apply, the application should be sent to Sarah Fane (the Chief Executive – and previously founder and Chief Executive of Afghan Connection which worked with the MCC Foundation in successfully supporting the expansion of education, particularly for girls, in Afghanistan). Applications should arrive not later than 28 January – and interviews with the selected applicants will be held in the period 15-26 February.

Wanstead and Woodford Migrant Support seeks new Trustees – legal expertise welcomed

WWWanstead and Woodford Migrant SupportMS is a small charity based in North East London.  The charity welcomes people of any faith or none to use its services. It is a Christian initiative that has its roots in a Baptist church in Woodford and a Methodist church in Wanstead.  We are keen to maintain our Christian ethos.

Our mission is to empower migrants so that they can achieve their life goals.  WWMS currently provides a specialist immigration advice service.  Last year we secured funding that has enabled us to assist more beneficiaries.  However, the current Board of Trustees lacks the time, skills and experience to meet the increasing demands of the organisation. We are seeking three additional trustees to support the following service priorities:

  • Consolidation of our immigration advice service
  • Development of our new pre-action protocol service addressing housing and health issues
  • Establishing a comprehensive information, signposting and referral service

and to build long-term sustainability, including:

  • Readiness to employ first paid worker
  • Reaching out to and involving the local community
  • Drawing up and implementing fundraising and marketing strategies
  • Establishing mechanisms to allow for more service-user involvement

Responsibilities of the Trustee Board

  • Ensuring that the organisation pursues its stated charitable purpose, as defined in its governing document, by developing and agreeing a long-term strategy
  • Ensuring that the organisation complies with its governing constitution and charity law
  • Ensuring that the organisation applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its charitable purpose for the benefit of its service users
  • Safeguarding the good name and values of the organisation
  • Ensuring the effective and efficient administration of the organisation, including having appropriate policies and procedures in place
  • Ensuring the financial stability of the organisation
  • Protecting and managing the property of the charity and ensuring the proper investment of the charity’s funds

Person Specification

  • Commitment to the organisation
  • A willingness to devote the necessary time and effort
  • Strategic vision
  • Good, independent judgement
  • An ability to think creatively
  • A willingness to speak your mind
  • An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship, or willingness to learn about these
  • An ability to work effectively as a member of a team

The Board of Trustees particularly welcomes Trustees with skills and experience in the following areas:

  • Human Resources
  • Legal
  • Marketing
  • Fundraising
  • Policy and campaigning
  • Advice provision
  • Monitoring and Evaluation

Previous experience as a trustee is not required

Role details

  • This is a voluntary position
  • The Board meets at least four times per year
  • Board meetings are normally held in our office space in Woodford Green, however these meetings are currently held remotely
  • You will be able to commit an additional 4 hours per week
  • Reasonable expenses will be covered
  • An induction will be provided and training will be offered

This is an exciting and challenging time to become involved.  You can make a real difference to our work to empower our beneficiaries.

WWMS is fully committed to equality of opportunity and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified people. However, at present WWMS wishes to diversify its board and we particularly encourage interest from those with lived experience similar to those of our beneficiaries.


Please click here for further information.

Recovery Code X (PTSD organisation) seeks new Trustee for governance role

Recovery Code XWe are seeking a trustee who can take the lead to support, advise and guide the board on matters pertaining to governance in all aspects of our work. This is a chance to apply your knowledge of charity law and compliance to a community organisation that would really benefit from your expertise and enthusiasm.

Recovery Code X is a Bedford-based community organisation with a mission to inspire and empower people who have experienced repetitive, ongoing abuse and trauma to find the keys to unlocking the codes of their own recovery, and provide a safe environment with tools to support them on their journey to wholeness and harmony in mind, body and soul.

By blending the old with the new, we work with traditional approaches and the latest innovations (wherever possible) to heal the multi-dimensional harm caused by cumulative trauma of an interpersonal nature, over which the child or adult had (or has) no control or perceived avenue of escape, commonly known as Complex PTSD or Complex Trauma.

Our Vision

Our vision is of a trauma-informed society in which holistic healing methods are accessible to all survivors of prolonged abuse whether experienced in childhood or adulthood.

The Survivors Hub

Our first project is the Survivors Hub peer-to-peer support group for women with Complex PTSD, which received a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.


Click here for further information.

Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust seeks new Trustee – law expertise welcomed

Sir Richard Stapley Educational TrustDo you want to help improve access to postgraduate education? The Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust is seeking a new trustee

Our educational trust helps academically gifted, mature students overcome financial and other barriers to postgraduate education. We are a registered charity working across the UK.

We welcome applications from all members of the community, including younger people and those from BAME communities.

The role

  • To contribute actively to giving firm strategic direction to the Trust, setting overall policy, defining goals and evaluating performance
  • Scrutinising board papers, leading discussions, focusing on key issues, providing advice and guidance
  • Scoring grant applications once a year
  • Networking, acting as an ambassador and winning support externally.

The person

  • Committed to the Trust and its mission to improve access to postgraduate education
  • Extensive experience of postgraduate education in the UK
  • Strategic vision and experience of strategic planning
  • Ideally, experience as a trustee
  • Ideally, academic or professional expertise in law, music, arts or education.

We recently celebrated our trust’s centenary. The new trustee will help to steer the charity through an exciting period of development.

Our trustees are unpaid but we pay travel and other out of pocket expenses and provide an induction into the Trust’s work. For further details about the Trust, a Trustee Information pack and application details please see our website.

Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust seeks Trustee with legal background

Do you have a legal background and think you could use your skills to help change the lives of young people in recovery from cancer? We are recruiting for a Legal Trustee and want to hear what you could offer.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that inspires young people aged 8-24 to imagine a new future after cancer treatment. When treatment ends our work begins, as for many young people simply picking up where they left off before their diagnosis just isn’t possible.

Through sailing and other adventure activities, the Trust empowers young people to make friends with others who have had similar experiences (often for the first time), learn new skills, push their physical and mental boundaries, rebuild confidence and rediscover independence. Crucially, they stop feeling like the ‘only one’ and realise what they are capable of again. They can start looking positively towards the future.
The Trust has two bases – in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and Largs on Scotland’s West Coast – and employs a full-time team of 19. A number of seasonal staff are also recruited for the Trust’s main trip season (June-September). We work closely with the leading young people’s cancer charities and our NHS hospital partners to try to ensure every young person who needs support after the end of their treatment can come sailing, and stay involved, with the Trust.

Do you have a legal background and think you could use your skills to help change the lives of young people in recovery from cancer? The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is recruiting for a Legal Trustee and wants to hear what you could offer.

Who we areThe Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national charity that inspires young people aged 8-24 to imagine a new future after cancer treatment. When treatment ends our work begins, as for many young people simply picking up where they left off before their diagnosis just isn’t possible.

Through sailing and other adventure activities, the Trust empowers young people to make friends with others who have had similar experiences (often for the first time), learn new skills, push their physical and mental boundaries, rebuild confidence and rediscover independence. Crucially, they stop feeling like the ‘only one’ and realise what they are capable of again. They can start looking positively towards the future.

The Trust has two bases – in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and Largs on Scotland’s West Coast – and employs a full-time team of 19. A number of seasonal staff are also recruited for the Trust’s main trip season (June-September).We work closely with the leading young people’s cancer charities and our NHS hospital partners to try to ensure every young person who needs support after the end of their treatment can come sailing, and stay involved, with the Trust.

What we’re looking forThe Trust wants to appoint a Trustee with a legal background to support our Board, Youth Board, Chief Executive and Leadership Team in achieving our ambitions. You would join our 10-strong Board of Trustees, responsible for keeping the Trust on track to make sure the best outcomes for young people are always delivered.

The full Board meets four times a year with four committees (Finance and Investment, Governance, Fundraising and HR and Personnel) overseeing and ensuring the ongoing impartial governance of the Trust.

Full Board meetings are usually held in London or Southampton (travel expenses can be reimbursed) but will continue to be held on Zoom during the pandemic. Email and phone calls are expected between meetings with the CEO and other Board Members. You would need to commit to approximately 1/2 a day per month. The role is unpaid.

This is a fantastic opportunity to help steer the Trust towards its 20th anniversary in 2023 and beyond.

Could this be you? You will have a suitable legal qualification, ideally with skills and experience in, or knowledge of, legal requirements relating to company/charitable law and associated governance and be committed to applying these to help the Trust achieve its aims.

You will be passionate about making a difference to the lives of young people recovering from cancer and comfortable making decisions that determine the course the charity takes. An interest in or experience of sailing is not necessary.

In addition, you will have…

  • a responsibility to represent and present the Trust in a positive way at all times
  • integrity
  • strategic vision
  • sound, independent judgement
  • an understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of Trusteeship#
  • the ability to work cooperatively as a member of a remote team

The successful applicant will be required to undertake a satisfactory enhanced DBS / PVG check and annual safeguarding training. References will be required.

We value equality, diversity and inclusion and oppose prejudice. We strive to be more representative of all of the young people we support from across the UK and are committed to being an anti-racist organisation.

If you share these values and think you are well suited to this Trustee role, but for whatever reason, feel underrepresented by anything in this advert or on our website, we strongly encourage you to apply to help us be better.


Please click here for a link to a full candidate pack and application details.

City of Chelmsford Mencap seeks new Trustee – legal background welcomed

CitCity of Chelmsford Mencapy of Chelmsford Mencap is looking for new trustees to join its Board at a significant point in its development.

As we approach our 70th year of providing highly-respected services to those with a learning disability in the mid-Essex region, we are looking to accelerate our growth and to expand our reach and services. In order to do this we need to broaden the knowledge and experience of our Board. We are a warm and friendly group of committed individuals – please contact us to find out more!

We are looking for new trustees who will bring experience, knowledge, a can-do attitude (and a good sense of humour) to our Board. We would welcome all skills and attributes but, at present, we would particularly welcome applicants with a legal, HR, educational or fundraising background.

Person Specification

  • A commitment to the charity
  • A willingness to devote the necessary time and effort, including between meetings
  • Strategic vision
  • Good, independent judgement and integrity
  • An ability to think creatively
  • An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship
  • The ability to work effectively as a member of a team
  • Organised and self-motivated
  • General competence with IT
  • The ability to read and understand management reports
  • The ability to research and ask probing questions

Please click here for further information.

Parkinson’s UK seeks new elected Trustee – ideal role for a lawyer

Parkinson's UKWe would like to alert members to a potential role as an elected trustee at Parkinson’s UK, the leading UK charity supporting those affected by Parkinson’s through the provision of information and support and funding research.

One of our members will be retiring from that role in September 2021, and she believes it is a good role for a lawyer to take on.   While the election would not take place until next summer, it is worth thinking about it now, since there is a six months’ membership requirement, so you need to become a member before the end of January to be eligible to stand. Membership is free.   If you would like to hear more at this stage, it would be best if you get in touch with Nicola at nicola.rippon@bckr.com and then be introduced to the retiring trustee.

Parkinsons UK

Miranda Wayland from the BBC: Boardroom issues of the day – BLM and the diversity agenda

We were delighted to be joined by Miranda Wayland, Head of Creative Diversity at the BBC who talked us through how they go about analysing the gap between diversity/equality and equity and the practical steps which can be taken to address that gap as well as looking at diversity in its widest context. Miranda articulates well one of the key issues of understanding other people’s perceptions and perspectives.

The BBC – although different from other organisations – is a great comparator and the (internal) work which they were doing is really impressive and an example if we are to address these fundamental problems.

Click the video below to watch our webinar.

The Sophie Hayes Foundation (slavery/human trafficking charity) seeks new Chair

Sophie Hayes FoundationSophie Hayes Foundation (SHF) is a dynamic and growing UK registered charity, governed by a Board of Trustees.

Our charity is founded on the belief that women survivors of slavery and human trafficking deserve the chance for sustainable freedom, and that this can only come through independence. Our purpose is simple – to help women survivors achieve stable and sustainable freedom. We do that through advocacy and programs that allow women to develop confidence, skills and opportunities for education and employment.

Each year, we help hundreds of women through workshops and individual coaching and training sessions, and make connections so they can explore opportunities in the workplace and/or academic institutions.

There are three officers, the Chair, Treasurer and Company Secretary. Two main Board Committees: Governance and Nominations, and Risk and Finance, plus three Board Advisory Groups: Operations, Brand and Reputation and Fundraising

Trustees are responsible for the organisation’s strategy, governance, risk management and oversight, ensuring that the organisation can meet its obligations and responsibilities, and supporting the Management team as needed.

We are currently seeking a volunteer Chair for the Sophie Hayes Foundation Board. The ideal candidate will have experience chairing a Board or Board committee, qualities, support our mission and be aligned to our values, have strong leadership and be able to act as an ambassador for the organization, be an independent thinker and team player, and have specialist skills that you can contribute to the team.

The Board of Trustees seeks a wide-ranging level of experience, thinking and background to ensure that we have the skills, experience and diversity of thought and perspective to draw upon in our governance and decision-making roles.

You will need to have the time to contribute to our growth strategy by attending Board meetings (6 per year), support Committee Chairs and Board officers, work and support our small but mighty management team, and represent Sophie Hayes Foundation to key stakeholders.

Role Description

  • As a small/medium and growing charity, the role of Chair is a crucial one.
  • As a leader and important ambassador for the organisation, you will be expected to work with the Board, the CEO and key charity stakeholders.
  • Working with the Board, you are responsible for setting and achieving the SHF strategy, board governance, safeguarding and promoting the brand, reputation and values of the organisation, and ensuring appropriate risk management and financial sustainability.
  • In addition, the Chair is expected to work closely with the CEO as his/her line manager, as well as with the other
  • Board Officers (Treasurer and Company Secretary) and Committee Chairs.

Detailed responsibilities include:

  • Leadership and contribution to the Board on strategic direction, policies, goals, targets and evaluation of performance against agreed targets
  • Board agenda and Chairing of Board meetings
  • Oversight to ensure that the organisation pursues its objectives and complies with its governing document, charity law, and other relevant legislation or regulations
  • Oversight of financial strategy and management, in consultation with the Treasurer and CEO
  • Management, support and mentoring of CEO
  • Awareness of, and contribution to, Committee activity as an ex-officio member of all committees

Personal Qualities

  • Leadership competence and experience
  • Integrity
  • A commitment to the organisation and its objectives
  • An understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship
  • A willingness to devote the necessary time and effort to their duties as a trustee
  • Strategic vision
  • Good, independent judgment
  • An ability to think creatively
  • Willingness to speak your mind with an ability to listen
  • Work effectively as a leader and member of a team
  • A commitment to abide by the code of conduct.

Time Commitment

  • Term:3 Years
  • Meetings: Minimum of 6 Board of Trustee meetings per year (usually held on weekday evenings, after close of business), plus preparation and reading of documentation

Board matters: Meetings with Treasurer, Company Secretary and Committee Chairs on planning and governance matters, and to contribute to and ensure progress on key initiatives

People Management: Regular planning and update meetings with CEO (and other senior management) to support their activities and advise on ongoing business and management challenges

Stakeholder Engagement: Attendance at, and contribution to, major SHF events (1-2 p.a.), contribution to key stakeholder and funder meetings (6-8 p.a.), and support to media relations, as a spokesperson for the organisation

The Board of Trustees seeks to ensure that we have a wide-ranging level of experience, thinking and background, so that the Board has the skills, experience and diversity of thought and perspective to draw upon in its governance and decision-making roles.


Please click here for further information.

The Portfolio Lawyer with Jonathan Scott

Jonathan retired as Senior Partner and Executive Chair of Herbert Smith Freehills in 2015, and has since taken on a number of external appointments.  He has sought roles which would be “intellectually challenging” and “take him out of his comfort zone” as well as enabling him to “put something back”.  Does this resonate with what you’re after?  Members will learn a lot from hearing how Jonathan has gone about building his portfolio.

Jonathan is currently a non-executive director of The Competition and Markets Authority where he is interim chair, SID and chair of the audit committee.  He sits on the Press and Assessment Board of Cambridge University, chairing its Audit and Risk Committee and its The Regulatory and Compliance Committee, he is on the Development Committee of art gallery Kettles Yard, is Chairman of Governors of The Perse School in Cambridge and is a member of St Catharine’s College’s Remuneration Committee.  Previous roles include being a trustee of the Family Holiday Association and a trustee of the Gambling Commission, charged with the regulation of all gambling and gaming in the UK including The National Lottery. He also chaired The National Lottery Committee until April of this year.

How can lawyers shape society? with Andrea Coomber, Director – JUSTICE

JUSTICE is the all-party law reform and human rights organisation, working to strengthen the UK justice system in all its guises.  Andrea has been the Director of JUSTICE for seven years, hugely instrumental in developing its role in shaping the UK legal landscape. She will talk about the contribution that lawyers can make to society and to the world around them, considering the skills required for this wider role and the opportunities for lawyers to make such a contribution.  Sitting on boards is one such opportunity!

Between 2002 and 2013 Andrea was Equality Lawyer and then Legal Director at INTERIGHTS (the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights) where she litigated key cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  For a decade, Andrea trained lawyers and judges on international law and equality law in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, originally qualifying as a barrister and solicitor in Australia.

In October 2019, Andrea was appointed as a Lay Member of the Conduct Committee of the House of Lords.

The Headhunter’s Perspective with Jan Hall

Awarded an OBE in 1996 for services to the Department of Trade and Industry and fêted with being on the Woman’s Hour power list, Jan Hall was for many years regarded as one of Britain’s leading headhunters.  She founded the highly successful JCA Group in 2005, having previously been a senior partner at Spencer Stuart.

In 2018 (after selling JCA to Heidrick & Struggles), Jan stepped away from direct headhunting to start her own consulting business, advising boards on strategic succession planning and performing Executive and Board Effectiveness Reviews, as well as coaching and supporting the development of top executive teams and boards.

Jan will give a unique perspective on the NED world, based on her experience as adviser to the leaders of many of the world’s major companies.  She will tell members what does and doesn’t work when approaching headhunters, what really happens to those CVs that are simply “filed in their databases”, and what candidates should read into the “you came a close second” messages.  One not to miss!

ESG and corporate reputation: how should a Board respond? Rebecca Gudgeon, specialist in reputation management at Hudson Sandler

ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) has become a critical area for companies and the institutions which invest in them, who increasingly apply these non-financial factors as part of their analysis process to identify material risks and growth opportunities. As a result, it is an area which directors of a wide range of organisations (and their lawyers!) need to understand in the context of sustainability, reputational risk and responsible environmental and social stewardship.

Rebecca is one of the leading advisers on ESG, supporting leading UK and global brands. She is a partner at the communications firm Hudson Sandler and the head of its ESG consultancy – HS Sustain. Under Rebecca’s leadership, Hudson Sandler Sustain specialises in ‘cutting through the noise’.

ESG is a broad and complex topic but this will be an event which will give members clear insights into this developing and critical area.

deafPLUS seeks new Trustee with legal skills

deafPLUSdeafPLUS is a national charity established 50 years ago.  We provide a range of support services to deaf people / people living with hearing loss, to enable them to fully achieve their potential by breaking down barriers that exist in a hearing world.

We are deaf-led, and 75% of our staff are deaf. We are looking for Trustees who may be deaf* or hearing – who have the skills and enthusiasm we need and who want to play a part in leading the charity.  We especially encourage applications from deaf people.

If you have skills and experience in any of the following areas we would love to hear from you. 

Legal – especially relating to charity governance

Business Development / Income generation / Fundraising

Advice Services

Financial Governance/Audit

Knowledge of managing IT infrastructure, including Office 365

Advertising / Marketing

Project or People management.

deafPLUS Trustees meet quarterly.  Under normal circumstances these meetings are in Whitechapel, London.  Under COVID-19, all meetings are held virtually, via Zoom.  Meetings are typically of a Wednesday and held between 10am and 2pm.  Communication support is provided at all Board meetings.

What’s in it for you ?

The role of Trustee is not paid, (other than reasonable expenses), but provides the opportunity to operate at Board Level in an organisation with 40 staff and a turnover of over a £1million per year.

*By deaf we mean Deaf (BSL or lipreading / oral) deafened or Living with a Hearing Loss. We work across the whole spectrum of people who are deaf, and need Trustees who reflect that wide range, as well as trustees, deaf or hearing, who bring the skills and experience we are looking for. Communication support is provided at all meetings according to the needs of Trustees.


Please click here for further information.

David Paterson: top tips for current lawyers – plan early and take the initiative

We were joined by former lawyer, David Paterson, who spoke candidly about the need to preserve self esteem and be realistic when starting out on a portfolio life. His words will resonate with many of us. David guides our members through his own journey in transitioning from being an M&A and board advisory partner at HSF to holding a variety of non-executive and trustee roles in the charitable and sporting arena just two years later.

David recommends doing research to find out what it is you want from a portfolio life, be realistic, network, and use the services that BCKR has to offer.

Watch the recording below to hear more from David.


RACC-UK (Rare auto-inflammatory support organisation) seeks new Trustee with law expertise

TrusteeRACC – UK is the UK’s only patient charity for patients and families suffering from #Rare Autoinflammatory conditions.

We are looking for applications from people from all social and cultural backgrounds, which are passionate about Rare Diseases, enthusiastic and reliable, with a variety of skills and experience they could use to help with the running of Rare Auto-inflammatory Conditions Community – UK (RACC-UK), such as:

  • Charity governance
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Fundraising
  • Project management
  • Business management
  • Marketing
  • Communication
  • Human Resources
  • Event planning


We are looking for skilled, enthusiastic and reliable people to manage the affairs of Rare Auto-inflammatory Conditions Community – UK (RACC-UK) as trustees, ensuring that the Branch is governed and managed effectively, whilst continually having Rare Diseases at the forefront of their minds. Trustees serve on the governing body of the charity and have the responsibility for the running of the charity.

Please click here for further information.

Guy Henderson: Six steps to take when looking at life after law

This week we were joined by Guy Henderson, former lawyer at Allen & Overy, who performed a complete career change and is now Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse, amongst other things.

Guy takes us through the six steps he would recommend taking when sitting down to consider a life after law, planning for a life that makes you ‘leap out of bed in the morning!’


Christopher Rodrigues CBE: judgement, insight, worldly experience and a passion for the cause

Christopher Rodrigues, chair past and present of a diverse range of boards from the arts and sport to finance and education, provided our members with an invaluable insight into what he looks for in a useful board member, often counting lawyers among those who can best help the board make better decisions. He takes the refreshing approach of always trying to recruit members to his boards for whom the role will be their first.

Additionally, Christopher details how the nature and form of board meetings are changing over the course of 2020 while we try and cope with the limitations imposed by the pandemic – some changes are for the better, and some will be retained even after the threat of covid has subsided.

Lisa Mulley: taking control of your personal and professional life with consulting

We were recently joined by Lisa Mulley who leads Peerpoint, the consulting panel for Allen & Overy, who considers how lawyers, in her experience, can take their first brave steps into the world of legal consultancy, thereby allowing them greater control and the freedom to explore different avenues.

‘Knowing your skillset’, and ‘good listening skills’ are just a couple of areas crucial for lawyers to consider if they wish to successfully pursue a career in consultancy. These are equally crucial areas for lawyers to review in preparation for securing their board roles.  Being a good lawyer is almost a ‘given’. Do watch the webinar to find out more about this potentially exciting and enriching area.

If you email us here, we will be happy to put any of our members in touch with Peerpoint if they wish to consider consultancy.

Susie Cummings from Nurole: Simplifying the headhunting process

We were joined by Susie Cummings from Nurole who talked us through the process they adopt when charged with finding candidates to fill board roles, citing many lawyers along the way who have successfully attained their board roles this way. Nurole actively encourages boards to hire ‘first timers’, indeed around half their appointees are taking on their first role. Do watch the webinar to see Susie’s enthusiasm for this successful, thriving business model.

If you would like to get in touch with Nurole, Susie and her team will be pleased to hear from BCKR members. Please email them enquiries@nurole.com to find out more.



Malcolm Sparkes and Cyber-Security: “it is the business of the board to manage risk”

This week we were very fortunate to welcome Malcolm Sparkes and his colleague Dr Susanna Berry from security consultancy firm Blacksmiths, to discuss how the Non-Executive Director can be best placed to help minimise risk and ensure their firm is secure.

Given the increasing number of cyber-attacks on firms large and small, the webinar is worth watching. We consider subjects ranging from security within large institutions to whether there is risk working from home on your own laptop! Malcolm also let us have a list of the top 10 security questions non-executive directors may like to raise, as during the webinar he reminded us that ‘it is the business of the board to manage risk’.


Webinar with Nigel Boardman: taking on external roles ‘makes you a better advisor’

BCKR welcomed portfolio lawyer Nigel Boardman to talk us through his journey from partner at Slaughter & May to where he is now, holding an interesting and diverse portfolio of non-executive roles.

If you are starting to consider taking on roles, it’s worth listening to what Nigel has to say about lawyers sitting on boards and just how much taking on roles can benefit your clients, benefit your employer, and ultimately, you. As Nigel himself says, taking on roles “adds humanity to your life and work… anyone who’s qualified as a lawyer has a lot to offer.”


Webinar with John Schonert: Headhunting is not a dark art! A different approach to finding the right NED

We were delighted to welcome John Schonert from executive search firm Williams Schone this week. He put BCKR director, Elizabeth Holden, on one of her boards, so is ideally placed to guide our members when looking for their first portfolio role. We hope you will find John’s approach to placing Non-Executive Directors both engaging and refreshing.

If you wish to take up John’s offer of an initial discussion please let us know here and we’ll put you in touch.



Webinar with Nick Alcock from G3: The World Post Covid

We recently welcomed Nick Alcock, former investment banker and intelligence officer, now CEO of the G3, one of the leading international business intelligence firms advising a range of companies, investors and law firms on issues across the business world.

Click the video link below to hear Nick’s take on how the world may look in the future.





Webinar with Nick Aitchison: One-to-One guidance during the Pandemic

BCKR’s Nick Aitchison talked us through the tailored service we are offering during the pandemic and beyond. Elizabeth Holden, Guy Beringer and Tim Clark gave us their useful insight too in how they were able to go about securing their their first NED roles. Click the on the webinar below to find out more.




Martin Jones: The Parole Board and Lawyers make a perfect fit

BCKR recently welcomed Martin Jones to host a Breakfast Event. Martin has been Chief Executive of The Parole Board for nearly five years and has worked in the justice system for 27 years. His current role has been  the most challenging and also the most rewarding. Members can access the presentation Martin gave here.


What does the Parole Board do?

It is similar to a court – a body that, independent of the Government, makes decisions regarding  whether to order the release of prisoners; it also conditions under which such a release should be made.

There are around 270 members of the Parole Board, making these decisions. Last year the Parole Board released 3,600 people but also decided a further 10,000 needed to remain in prison for the protection of the public. The Board has a 99% success rate; success is defined as the number of people released who go on to commit a serious offence thereafter ( they don’t, for example,  count someone who has spent 30 years in prison, who is then released but is caught shoplifting. Their sole focus in law is the risk to public.

Looking back to when the Parole Board was created in 1967, it had just 17 members and was purely an advisory body – advising the Home Secretary who made the final decision. Leaving the final release decision to politicians, who might be influenced by other factors than solely risk, was not ideal. That is why the Home Secretary’s powers over release have been gradually taken away and now the decisions rest solely within the justice system.

Fifty years ago, there were no parole hearings at all and decisions were made based on a paper-based review. About 25 years ago the courts decided that in the interest of fairness, the prisoners should be entitled to a court hearing to decide their suitability for release. The number of hearings this year is at an all-time high – 8400 hearings, a 590% increase to 15 years ago.


Why does the Parole Board matter?

These are independent decisions based on risk and on evidence.  The Board considers  the evidence and makes the decision based on fairness and the evidence; decisions are not influenced by whether or not someone is going to like/dislike the decision.

It is also about ensuring that we only lawfully keep in prison those that pose significant risk to the public. If necessary, that means some will be in prison for the rest of their lives, and the Board doesn’t  shirk from that. But it is also about providing hope for those who reform and change, and who can show there is a low risk of reoffending.

Ultimately it is about understanding and reducing risk, as well as managing  risk when someone is released back into their community. That is where licensing can be very powerful.  At any one time there are about 1000 people currently on license in the community – with tags on their ankles to track their location.  This acts as a deterrent, but also is a reassurance to victims.  Exclusion zones can be set and there can also be residence and other conditions, setting limits around where they can live, who they can’t  contact i.e. victims or people you originally committed the offence with.


What the Parole Board does

Last year 64,000 people were released from prison. Of these, under 3,000 were released by the Parole Board.  95% are automatically released by virtue of the law with only the more serious offenders being referred to the parole board.  Contrary to popular belief, the Parole Board are not there just to’ let people out’…. the parole system provides a lawful way of keeping people in prison if they are considered to be a continued risk to the public.


Who joins the Parole Board?

As a public body it is important that it reflects the community it serves – diversity is ever more important.  However, the types of people that generally sit on the boards are from the following backgrounds:

  • Judges or magistrates
  • People from a legal background
  • Psychologists and Psychiatrists
  • Justice system background
  • Probation experience or
  • Retired prison governors

There is usually a panel of 3 people, sitting in the prison, with the prisoner on the other side of the table, hearing from the probation officers, prison staff, psychologists and others about what has happened to that prisoner since they’ve been in prison.  Getting an understanding of the way their risk has changed and what their behaviour is like since being in custody.

One major issue is keeping up with the case load. When Martin arrived at the Parole Board in 2015 there was typically a 15 months wait for a hearing, so many of these prisoners would be considered safe to be released but were  being kept in prison merely because of the inability of the system to cope. – and as a result the Parole Board was paying out about £1million per year in prisoner compensation claims.

Increasing transparency has been a major issue since 2018.  Until the law was changed in 2018, a victim could be refused release  without any explanation as to why.  The law then changed to allow the Parole Board to provide summaries of the decision-making process to the victims. The prisoner also gets a separate report detailing why a decision has been made. If it is felt that the decision is unfair the new system allows for the decision to be reconsidered. So far there have been 130 applications and 17 have those have been successful.  In the majority of cases it is the prisoner asking for reconsideration – not the victims.  All these decisions are now being published.


Victims – What are they entitled to?

  • Updates on prisoners progress in custody
  • Can summit a victim personal statement about the impact the offence has had on their life and can read it at the parole hearing if they wish.  Very important that the board is not influenced at all by representations made by the victims.  The decision is made based on the evidence.
  • To be made aware of license decisions, where the prisoner will reside
  • They can write to the Secretary of State for reconsideration
  • Notification of a prisoner’s release

The healing process of the victim is very difficult, and the  Parole Board is sensitive to that.  They do take into account non-contact and inclusion zones.  They have been working with the charity Why Me about the value of restorative justice.  Sometimes this kind of intervention can be the thing that triggers a prisoner to reform.

The Board also deals with about 20-30 terrorism cases each year. For these cases there are is a small group of members cleared at the high security levels to deal with those cases including those high in the judiciary.  There is specialised training to members regarding the specific aspects of risk which are rather different for radicalised prisoners .  Psychological evidence becomes much more important and you need to ask a different set of questions around that.




What insights does it give you into the prison system generally?

Prison conditions are very difficult at times. The levels of prison staffing has directly impacted on the levels of violence in prisons.  Being in prison is also damaging to your health.


What is the criteria for risk?

There is a statutory risk test.  They have to be satisfied that the prisoner is no longer going to be a risk to the public.  You have to go with weighted evidence.  Closer to the civil burden than the reasonable doubt.


What is the process and timescale?

A case will be referred to the Parole Board automatically by the Secretary of State for Justice when the minimum term expires, and the prisoner becomes eligible for parole.  He will disclose a body of papers including all relevant reports to a single member of the board who will do a triage assessment of the case.  They are essentially looking for 3 things:

  1. Is it possible to release the prisoner based on the papers?  That’s quite unusual.
  2. Have you got all the information you need – are there any gaps?
  3. Do you turn down the prisoner based on the papers?  For example did they assault a prisoner officer three  weeks ago … thereby rendering  a parole hearing pointless?

Once the Members are satisfied  they have enough background, the case can be directed to a parole hearing.  Normally it takes about six months from initial referral to the oral hearing.

After the hearing the Chairman will write a report and 14 days later a decision will be given.

There will be anywhere between 1 and 3 members sitting on a panel, depending on the seriousness of the case.


What makes a good member?

It is essentially  the ability to assess information (which can be up to 1000 pages of evidence) and taking on board that evidence to conduct an effective independent assessment and being quite laser-like to reach the  ten or so questions that need to be asked to make a sound decision. Ultimately we need people who can make decisions.  In the past criminal justice experience was generally required but that is not the case anymore.  A lot of the panel chairs are senior people from varied backgrounds –including numerous  Lawyers– who have the ability to assimilate the evidence and have a commitment to fairness, putting aside any personal prejudices (for instance, regarding sex offenders – indeed about 40% of the work relates to sex offenders).


Do you fit members to the attributes of a particular case?

  • Yes – if there are mental health issues they would look to appoint a psychologist to the review. Typically a psychiatrist would be deployed in terrorism cases, etc.
  • In some instances the complexity of the case might require having a judge or lawyer to be on the panel.


What is the selection process?

It is quite a popular job.  The Board recently had 1200 applications for 100 jobs. There are regular 12 week rolling recruitment campaigns.  You can write to the Parole Board and express an interest so that when the next competition opens you can ‘throw your hat into the ring’.

Candidates, via their CVs, need to be able to demonstrate, against a set of examples, that they have gained the requisite set of skills.

The CVs are sifted and then the process goes straight to interview.  During the last process, they conducted about 150 interviews and there was a 70% success rate in securing  the required number of appointments.  The time commitment is about 100 days per year.  Members are paid on a daily rate and can earn around £40,000-£50,000 p.a.

A residential training course and process is provided, which includes:

  • Legal training
  • The identification of a mentor
  • Training on effective questioning – for example how do you question vulnerable prisoners who  feel unable to speak for themselves?
  • Sitting as a co-panellist
  • After 3 months experience, sitting  on your own.  Then after a year it is possible to progress to becoming  a panel Chair.


Is there a postcode lottery with regards to availability of services in the community upon release?

Ultimately the burden falls to the local authority. The Parole Board’s role is solely to make a decision based on risk, which is not based on the availability of services.


Is there an appraisal process?

Yes, members are subject to appraisal.  This covers the decisions made, it entails practical observations, reviews any complaints made etc.


Sir Mike Rake: having a legal mind on the board can mean the right questions are asked

We recently welcomed Sir Mike Rake to come and share with us his experience of heading boards and the positive role lawyers can play on them.

Mike Rake has very wide Board and leadership experience, as the former head of KPMG and since as a Chairman and NED of many organisations, including public companies (including BT plc) in the UK and US, the NHS (Gt Ormond Street Hospital), the CBI etc.

Mike sees the key challenges for boards as follows: constructively addressing the key issues facing the organisation;  defining and adhering to the organisation’s culture and values; understanding and mentoring  the key senior executives;  succession planning; and ensuring good governance and compliance.

It is vital for the Board to stand back and look at the bigger picture.  A clear strategic framework is important, not least as there are CEOs who are strategic but not operational and those who are operationally strong but can’t see the big picture.  Meanwhile, Boards must know enough about what is coming through on the operational point of view.

The role of the board is one of huge responsibility but also very interesting and challenging. Ultimately, it is all about people. For example, sometimes boards have to work with a strong, aggressively confident  CEO with little or no financial background who may be trying to push things forward; in such situations, the Board must be alert. Board members must bring a complex balance of professional experience, constructive challenge, advice and encouragement. Obviously, integrity of reporting is essential. Boards must also have close constructive dialogue with their auditors, and the role of the big accounting firm is very important.

The role of the Chair is to ensure there is a balance of tone and constant, constructive challenge. The UK’s board system is generally a good one compared to the US system, where the combination of CEO and Chair roles can be problematic and lacking in challenge.

The composition of the board is important, bringing different perspectives but with the ability to work constructively together. Too big a board is as bad as no board – and the same goes for the information provided to the board –  i.e. too much data flowing is as bad as no information! It really is unreasonable to expect a non-exec to understand an enormous level of detail when, realistically they maybe only involved (in the NFP sector particularly) with an organisation 4 – 6 times a year.

It is important that the board is diverse in terms of age, gender, social and educational background and professional and international experience, in order to achieve the board’s objectives.  The UK has made a start in the right direction, for example with the 30% Club but headhunters can be a big problem here. They tend to introduce Chairs to people they already know of, to make you feel comfortable. Boards would be improved by widening the net and board diversity has the capacity to have a real impact on success. With a smaller board you do need to work quite hard to find the right people, who can bring the experience and skills you need.

The NEDs’ role is often to ‘ask the stupid question’  –  incidentally there is no such thing as a stupid question! The Chair needs to create the right environment where that is acceptable. The UK approach to boards has been effective, particularly with more private sessions with the Chair outside the boardroom.  It allows the Chair to get feedback and often to become aware of what is going on behind the scenes.

Compared to the accountants, who often successfully move from accountancy to business roles, lawyers tend not to do as well in making a similar transition. Often, doubts exist about lawyers’ financial literacy.  HR directors can also find it difficult to get onto boards for similar reasons. Lawyers are seen more as ‘compliance officers’ and so, unfortunately, lawyers on boards are not common nor are they much in demand. Is it because the legal profession is not seen as being commercial enough, too specialised?

How do you go about building a profile outside the legal profession? The Not for Profit world is more fertile ground for lawyers.  Ironically, though many Chairs think they don’t need a lawyer on their boards because they already have in-house advice, or they can buy it in – many of the biggest mistakes have been by my in-house legal departments not reporting issues to the top management. And if there was a senior legal person on the board then the right questions might be asked.


Q & A

At what point does a Chair’s opinion ‘enter the room’?  

You have to be disciplined. In large organisations, the Chair tends to be there frequently, and so gets more in-depth exposure to the major issues of the organisation.  But NEDs won’t have access to the same degree of information. You need to manage by example.  These are complex issues and not everyone has the same level of understanding.

In Board discussions, for the Chair it is a question of drawing out the pros and cons during the discussion, and though it can be tempting to push to a conclusion, it is important to encourage those NEDs who may not feel they have much to say on the topic in question to give their views. And many non-executives will add value outside the board room, given the opportunity.


If head hunters are prone to putting forward well-known, conventional candidates as NEDs, how does one get through the impenetrable headhunter wall? 

Ideally, Chairs need to get together as a group and lobby the head hunters to broaden the backgrounds of their network of people.


Miranda Leung: Former lawyer with a portfolio of satisfying roles

We recently welcomed Portfolio Lawyer, Miranda Leung, to BCKR.

Miranda left Slaughter and May three years ago after 26 years with the firm.  She had spent four years in Hong Kong in that time but the rest in London as a finance lawyer.

Miranda decided to leave Slaughters when her mother became unwell and she returned to Hong Kong to be closer to her family.  She had no other plans.  She just knew she didn’t want to do part time law and ultimately wanted to remain in London.  She did have an interest in interior design and signed up for a course in London but as it turned out, she soon realised that she didn’t have the patience to deal with interior design clients and learning all the relevant software programmes etc, so decided to keep this interest as a hobby.

Her portfolio career developed by chance.   Her first trustee role with China Literature Ltd (a subsidiary of Tencent whom she used to act for) came about when the Chair, who she also knew through a transaction, heard she was retiring invited her to a drink and the process went on from there.  China Literature only started up 7 years ago but is now the largest e-book seller with a revenue of $11 billion, with 11 million books, accounting for 84% of the best-selling literature in China.  Miranda sits on their Audit and Risk and RemCo Committees.  Her main role is as an Independent Non-Executive Director.  The Independents’ role is to police transactions between the parent company and the listed company and frame policies and procedures that allow day to day transactions to take place according to known terms.  As a lawyer, she was probably better placed to think about the details than many and she probably goes about it with rather more rigour than some. The role has allowed her to understand better the ins and outs of running a business in China and has given her a lot of board experience on the regulatory side.

Miranda then got a role in London with the Commodities Trading Company, an investment arm of China Construction Bank, a large trader on the London Metal Exchange.   They were specifically looking for a lawyer to be a member of their board as it is a joint venture and following the r=governance rules matters.  She was chosen because of her experience as a Financial Services lawyer and it probably helped that she also speaks pretty good Mandarin.    CTC offers a very different role from her e-publishing one, as they were in the early stages of building their clientele, along with all their financially regulated systems.  They needed policies and procedures to be designed for board and regulator approval.  This role gave Miranda good hand on exposure to boards within the London financial services arena.  It requires her to have an understanding of the management team’s frustrations in having to deal with GDPR, the FRA, PRA etc.  They all come to life in this business.

These roles illustrate quite how much lawyers need to understand within a business to be good non-execs – how to get operational systems right, and how to evidence proper controls and checks across all departments of the business on a day to day basis.  Being in tune as to how changes in personnel can affect the business is also critical, as well as how they have to integrate group policies dictated from China that may not fit squarely with the business at all.

Miranda’s third role is with the Cambodian children’s charity Starfish.  Although the economic situation in Cambodia is improving, 40% still earn less than $2 a day.  The charity picks up kids from the slums who have no education.

  • They run catch-up programmes until state school will take them.
  • They provide them with extra curricula lessons to help them get better jobs, including English lessons, IT skills and soft skills as most of these children have no adults who have ever had a job to help them.
  • They also help with vocational training.
  • They also operate a large football outreach programme, involving about 3500 kids receiving weekly coaching, 40% of whom are girls

The role came about knowing someone on the board.  Miranda felt that the organisation was small enough to feel like a family but had a board with trustees with lots of different skills. Having teamed up with a large Hong Kong school – they are large enough to be able to make a real difference.

So, in conclusion, each role is satisfying in different ways.

Her Linked-In profile has been important in making connections.  A new role with Aviva has emerged this way on their With Profits committee.  Previous clients are a good source and people who know you in different industries.

Tim Ingram: Lawyers can be the very best Non-Executives

Contrary to what Chairs may think, people who have been lawyers are very well suited to being non-executives.

Tim was a banker for many years, then ran an investment company, but he’s also been on the board of 15 listed companies over the last 30 years, as an exec, non-exec, chairman and SID.  The very best non-exec he’s ever observed was a lawyer, from Linklaters, Charles Allen-Jones.

It is important for potential non-executives to understand what a board does.  To be clear they don’t originate strategy or run the company.  This is management’s role.  Big decisions always come from management.  Boards have to approve them, and it is extremely unusual for a board to reject them, and if they do, it is normally the route to the exit door for the executive.  This is not because boards have no real role.  Instead it is because plenty of discussions will have been held on a particular topic inside and outside the boardroom before important decisions are finally taken.  So, it is not problematic when a board simply agrees a proposal or modifies it only very slightly.

Non-execs are there to keep company and management out of trouble.  They oversee it and make sure it doesn’t do the wrong things.

When boards are being composed, generally you need one director with suitable finance experience and someone else with deep industry experience in the same area as the company.  But there is room for more industry experience than this.  It is important that non-execs can act constructively and cohesively.  No one wants to encourage dysfunction.

The role of the chairman is to work very closely with the CEO so that the chair is sufficiently briefed about any major decisions that have to be taken and is confident that the other non-execs will approve the CEO’s proposals.  If a decision were to be turned down at the board, then that would also be seen as the chair’s failure.

If you don’t like the idea of being a NED then don’t do it.  But if you do like the idea then you should absolutely go for it as Tim reiterated that he thinks lawyers make very good NEDs for the following reasons (Tim’s 7 points):

  1. Every legal firm is a capitalist business – not a political or government entity. You understand what business is about and operate daily in the commercial world.
  2. How a board works is through constructive challenge of management in a non-confrontational way. That’s exactly how you challenge and advise your clients.  It is in lawyers’ DNA.

One example – a major FTSE 250 company with 2 new non-execs.  One lawyer and one former CEO.  The CEO could not adapt to the constructive, rather than dictatorial, style of the board.  The lawyer succeeded Tim Ingram as SID as she was really good. Keeping management on the straight and narrow is an art, and she knew how to do it.

  1. Lawyers are there to see the company avoids mistakes. Lawyers spend their time clearing up mistakes and organising things to avoid mistakes.  People from an executive world do not see their job as avoiding mistakes, but rather as making things happen.  Very different.
  2. Board papers. They can run to 1000 pages.  A lawyer can grasp key points quickly.  Management often don’t have this skill.  Often a non-exec has to rely on management telling him what’s important but useful.
  3. Industry knowledge. The chair will want sector knowledge and many lawyers have a legal specialism with detailed knowledge of the company’s arena.  Though legal knowledge itself isn’t so often useful, there are times when it is.  For instance, at UK Wind,  Tim frequently does new share issues.  It is not unhelpful to have a lawyer on the board who can assure the others that what the bankers etc are offering is ‘quite normal’ and ‘okay’.
  4. Corporate governance is increasingly important. It’s all about keeping companies out of trouble. It’s second nature to someone with a legal background.  It’s much harder to grasp for other first time non-execs.
  5. If you follow a NED career you might be on several boards in completely different arenas.  It can be quite strange for someone who’s only ever worked in one area, but this doesn’t faze a lawyer who most likely will have dealt with lots of different businesses at the same time in their day job.

Diversity in the board room can be aided by having a lawyer there, a legal mind and background.  Diversity is much more than gender.


How do non-execs get appointed?


Not simply by knowing people anymore.  When a new non-exec is being recruited [for a listed company] it MUST be done through a headhunter.  You need to proactively go to headhunters – don’t be reticent – they need the raw material and they don’t generally go on desktop research, just from their own lists.  Get on those lists.  The chair gives the headhunter a list of the type of things he/she wants.  The headhunter produces a longlist, which may include a lawyer, and will then chat through each potential candidate with the chair and what they can bring to the role.  So, if you can get the “Tim’s 7 points” across to the headhunter when you meet them, the headhunter is more able to relay to those competencies to the chair.  You need to keep going back to the headhunters and repeating that process.  That’s the same for every individual, not just lawyers.  You have to put yourself in the headhunter’s mind.

The younger a headhunter, the more likely they are to be more worldly and able to see the lawyer’s strengths.  It helps if you can get an introduction.

The longlist has to be people that the headhunter believes will want to be put forward – so if they don’t know you are currently looking they won’t put you on a longlist.

As a charity non-exec, remember that the people you are overseeing have very different motivations from the people you see on the corporate side.  E.g. a charity CEO has been known to ask for a salary cut.  But apart from that, there are remarkably few differences in the way they operate.  The 7 features are equally applicable.  They still need your expertise and they still need a strategy.  A charity is a form of business,  it can’t go on making deficits if it is to serve its purpose.  There has to be a certain commerciality to how it is run, which may be lost on former civil servants or politicians.

The average life of a former CE on a board can be short.  Lawyers are rarely tapped on the shoulder, once on the board.


The CV

It is important to get Tim’s 7 points across.  You need to underplay and hardly mention the pure legal experience – it’s hardly worth anything.  It’s the ability to get the point across in a constructive manner that will count.

It is important as a chairman to have SOMEONE on the board who scan reads all the 1000 pages of the board papers.  It is a useful skill.  Especially for regulated businesses.

One success of Tim’s was getting the PRA to change their views on whether all non-execs should have satisfactory knowledge of the banking and financial environment – he pointed out the need for diverse views to avoid group think.

An audit chair is unlikely to be a lawyer.  A specific need for business experience is unlikely to be met by a lawyer.  The downside could be that lawyers don’t understand the business at all – services businesses are easier for lawyers than e.g. a car business.  But you can overcome this by your own experiences.

Chair of Rem Com – lawyers well suited to that role.  The key role of that committee is to ensure there is fair division of spoils between owners and management, with lots of advice from Rem consultants.  Quite a lot results in changes to the employment contracts.  Chair of Rem has to do that work.  There is now a lot more scrutiny of executive pay in the charity sector too.

The SID has one duty.  To make sure the relationship between the chairman and chief executive works well.  If another non-exec has a concern, then they should have a word with the SID to raise the issue.

If you do decide to pursue a NED career,  don’t expect it to happen straightway.  Keep at it.  Every six months or so, do the rounds of headhunters again.  Keep yourself in their minds.  Educate them on everything lawyers can bring to a board which business executives cannot.


Moni Mannings: Portfolio Life During and After Law – a BCKR Success Story

Moni sees her career has having two halves.  The first half being a traditional legal career, starting in the banking department at Clifford Chance, followed by 6 years as a partner at Simmonds and Simmonds and then to Dewy Ballantine where she was their first UK partner hire.  In 2000 she left to set up the banking department of Olswang and within a year was asked to head up their main corporate department, which delivered half the firm’s revenue and came with a seat on the board.  The financial crisis followed swiftly thereafter, and she had to restructure her department which meant a 15% cost reduction i.e. people.  Over the next 13 years of her management career, as a law firm board member, she was part of a team that implemented 3 changes of CEO, 4 acquisitions and 2 further rounds of redundancy.  It was all about running things and being involved in a business.

Finally, in 2016, after 30 years Moni decided to leave law altogether.  She was lucky to be invited to become COO of Aistemos, a data analytics start-up for which she had zero experience.  She stayed there for two year and then launched fully into the second half of her career in the non-executive arena.

The transition

The transition came about with a lot networking. A bit of luck too, and a bit of planning, but mostly networking!  The most important decision Moni made was to start her plural non-exec life while still at Olswang.  It genuinely benefits both the firm and the individual.

In 2011 she took on two not for profit roles, one as a non-exec at the SRA and one as a trustee on a small charity board.  The SRA role was particularly helpful going forward, since the SRA and her committee had a strong executive team so she had to learn to be non-executive.  After that, she could demonstrate that she had non-executive experience when it came to her board CV.  Smaller charities, with no executives, do not offer that evidence.

In 2014 Moni took on her first commercial non-exec role with Polypipe at time of its IPO and was asked to chair the RemCo, having no experience of industry or Rem.


How Moni built her portfolio in those 3 years

  • Motivation: she spent time thinking about why she wanted this new career and for Moni, after 30 years as a lawyer, she just wanted to work differently, to get closer to business, not further away. Think hard as you will be asked, and you need to be able to answer with authenticity.  How you come across matters so spend time working it out.  She was still a partner at Olswang, and she believes that worked in her favour as there tends to be bias/prejudice against you if you are not in role.
  • Networking: she joined a number of different networks; they will not necessarily give you a job, but they do expand your circle of contacts. Reach out further; FT NED Club; Winmark, WoB and the Professional Boards Forum; and genuinely and relentlessly follow up every contact and opportunity.  Ask for advice and when you do so, often comes an opportunity. People are open with their time and it is important to let them know who you are, what you’re good at, and that you are looking and available; the process works such that headhunters etc regularly contact people they’ve met for recommendations of who to approach for roles.  This keeps you live with the headhunters.
  • Getting help writing her board CV: it is very different from writing an executive CV. Moni attended a Board CV masterclass from WoB (BCKR also runs CV workshops). The value is that it teaches you the whole way of viewing your executive career using language that resonates with boards.  It is not just the bit of paper at the end.  You need to look at your career through the NED lens  (e.g. partnership promotion panel = nominations committee; in-role impact = oversaw 3 CEO changes).   (Moni has provided her original CV template which BCKR can forward on request.)
  • Headhunters: it is really important that they know who you are, which is easier said than done. The best way is to be introduced by one of their clients.  But be aware – they are not career advisers.  Treat any ‘chat’ as a pre-interview – so prepare well and be able to answer the following questions:
    • Why do you want to be a NED?
    • What did you deliver?
    • What were the challenges you were asked to deliver on?
    • Why do you think you’d be a good non-exec?

You have to do all of the above consistently – always keeping your network warm.  It is very hard to get airtime with the headhunters.  You need to feed them with nuggets they can use to sell you.  Think about how you present yourself – in the same way you think about a pitch for business.


What do boards and chairs look for in NEDs (apart from sector experience)?

Commercial acumen; financial literacy; being able to articulate thoughts in business language; an ability to view things through a wider lens.

Lawyers thrive on complexity and ambiguity; they have a knowledge and understanding of risk; they have the personality trait of courage to challenge constructively; they have intellectual flexibility to think laterally beyond their own expertise.  It is your broader business experience that will help you thrive.  Articulating your understanding/experience of dramatic changes in market conditions; internal changes; your responsibility for P&L etc can be useful in speaking the language of the board room.

Unfortunately, headhunters want to put people in boxes.  You have to give them a box to put you in, but then be broader than that in what you show them you can offer.  Boards do not like single skills.

But things are improving. There are not enough people in the board room who think like lawyers, absorbing complexity and finding a route through it.


How did you get your first roles?

SRA: Moni was approached by a headhunter and on this occasion, she was ready to say yes.

Polypipe: She had joined the Professional Boards Forum and had followed up with various coffess with those she met.  This meant she had been chatting to one of the chairs.  She went on a long list as a result this conversation – a year later.  A headhunter phoned her to enquire about the role and Moni later learned that that chair, Alan Thompson, had asked for her to go on the list.  Despite having no experience at all she got the role.  Alan, by now Chair of Polypipe, later said that he wanted someone unfamiliar and smart who knew the rules and would be good for their RemCom.  He already had plenty of people who knew the business.

It was easier to get the next role once she had Polypipe.  Moni had been telling people she was looking for a charity role in children, social care, social mobility and that is when the role at Barnardo’s came along.  There was much more complexity in this institution than in Polypipe, a £350 million charity with 8,000 staff and 22,000 volunteers.  Despite it being a volunteer role, Moni sees this as akin to a corporate non-executive role in terms of responsibility, challenge and fulfilment.

Other roles have come about through assiduous contact with headhunters – continuously updating them on changes in her career.

Cranfield: Her role here came through BCKR! BCKR’s first direct approach for a non-exec role.  It is an unusual university which has helped in other roles – being able to talk about relationships with other industries.


How do you characterise the bias against lawyers?

The stereotype is that lawyers are uncommercial; essentially narrow; pedantic; can be hired by the hour so not needed.  This part is changing with the focus now on diversity which includes backgrounds and mindset so there’s more opportunity to push the ‘think differently’ concept as part of the diversity debate.


Are not for profit roles important in the non-exec journey?

Yes, especially when there is an executive team, so you are learning the non-executive way – ‘nose is in, fingers out’ .  People are buying you as a non-executive person. They want to know what you are interested in, why type of person you are.  All roles you take on demonstrate this.


Is there value on the FT Non-exec course?

It shows commitment to the path you want to take and may fill in knowledge gaps.  Moni has not done the course, but nonetheless sought to fill-in the gaps in the areas she felt she lacked knowledge by other means, e.g. the PWC course on Accounting principles for non-execs.  Doing the FT course doesn’t in itself help you achieve the role, but may be good for your confidence.


How do you respond to headhunter’s sigh as you tell them you are a lawyer? 

Inhabit your own board CV so you can defend your approach to the non-exec world; the emphasis needs to be within yourself; review what you’ve done through a different lens.  Do not lead with your legal attributes.


Did you have a coach?

Not one person, but she genuinely sought advice and still asks for outside input for many.


How did you get the role with the data analytics company?

An ex colleague and former partner said “Come and join me”, and she was leaving the law anyway. Moni said yes in part out of insecurity and because of seeing it as the furthest thing from being a lawyer.  It turns out that being COO is doing everything that the CEO and CFO don’t want to do.  You fail all the time and take regular decisions on what’s ‘good enough’.  It certainly  gets rid of the idea that you have to have the absolutely right answer.  Those two years were much more valuable than doing any of the courses.  She left because she got the Barnardo’s role.


Now that you are looking to refresh your board roles – what matters to you? 

The people who are on the board, culture and values; keeping her portfolio broad.  It is important now that there is a career path in what she is doing so opportunities to be SID or chairing a committee will play a part in her choices.  Women predominantly get their chairs from within, so she’s aware of that.  Social purpose matters more now than it did before; will she make a valuable contribution to society?



Richard Meddings: Network, broaden your business knowledge and get up to speed on issues facing businesses today

We recently welcomed hugely experienced Chairman Richard Meddings to BCKR.


Board dynamics

Richard began by stressing that anyone hoping to join a board (particularly in the commercial sector) should realise the amount of the work that’s done outside the boardroom. One of Richard’s early boardroom mistakes was to underestimate the importance of the informal interaction, both between the board members themselves and also between the executive team and members of the board. It is easy to assume that you just turn up for the meetings, when actually it is an area of significant communication and ‘social dynamic’.


How are boards built?

As a Chair, you obviously have to tick certain boxes when appointing NEDs, such as appointing the chairs of Audit, Remuneration and (particularly in Financial Services) Risk. And you need to have some back-up in place, do some succession planning. In addition to the formal board committees, some boards now have new sub-committees, for example for Strategy and for Tech.  Tech is fast becoming a new type of board sub-committee; however the challenge is that the current available experience and focus tends to be on Cyber risk – but the board’s focus on technical issues needs to be broader than that. The Senior Independent Director (SID) is also a very important role, a form ‘consiglieri’ or trusted adviser to the Chair and other board members.

For lawyers, this is a difficult area to break into, as the Chair generally feels that legal advice can be bought in as and when needed and that the CEO has his/her General Counsel anyway. So, to overcome that hurdle you need to demonstrate different, broader skills. Boards are not composed of people because of their specific executive skills, they need to be able to advise the business as a whole. So when making your case, DON’T lead with your Legal experience!

And remember that an effective Chair is always looking at the dynamics of the board and is in constant contact with the board-level head hunters, so, looking ahead, make yourself known to the head hunters.


Do you really want to do this?

The regulatory pressures are very demanding these days, particularly in Financial Services. Being on a FS board can be a very intense regime; you have to expect difficult days ahead.  Financial Services is a highly complex area and produces large quantities of very detailed reports; boards are expected by the Regulator to understand the micro detail.

So why would you do it?  After all you don’t get paid very much.

One of the main reasons that people are motivated to join a board is a wish to remain ‘relevant’ after completing an executive career which will have had momentum and intellectual stimulation. Being able to continue to learn new things is also a very important motivation.

In many ways, being on the boards of smaller companies is more interesting and is often an easier place for NEDs to contribute in terms of actually running a business, rather than focusing more on regulatory and compliance issues.

Richard feels he was lucky in that his first external board role was at 3i plc, at a time when he was Finance Director at Standard Chartered plc.  The bank felt it was very important for their main board executives to get non-executive experience, partly in order to gain an understanding of what it is like for the NEDs ‘on the other side of the table’ and 3i provided that very well.

You learn pretty quickly that there is limited opportunity in the boardroom for asking questions.  You might have the chance to make around six comments during a meeting. What is important is that the NEDs don’t try to use the board meeting to ‘to crowd’ the executives on the board. NEDs should bring a current general commercial perspective, not just rely on their particular past functional executive experience.


Networking and visibility

Your first board appointment gets you into the general NEDs network. Head hunters host frequent lunches and receptions for board members. The earlier you start the better; cultivate senior external contacts and learn from them. This is just as important if you are targeting non-commercial roles (Not-for Profit, Government boards etc) – by the way Government NED roles are really interesting!

For all would-be NEDs, you need to be known and seen – and you need to be able to display broad commercial knowledge and judgement. Law firms tend to lack this kind of profile so you need to think hard about how you can get into these networks.

As a profession you lag behind in the self-promotion stakes – particularly compared to Investment Bankers. They have greater success that Lawyers in getting onto boards but probably less to contribute once they are there. But they are more adept at showing they understand the dynamics of companies and sectors, which is very important.


Other points

What do you think of Not for Profit board experience when building your own boards?

They tend to be less managed but potentially provide good experience and often there are NEDs/Trustees from the commercial sector on these boards. For example Teach First has a very interesting mix of different skill sets on their board. Government boards seem open to  lawyers coming onto their boards, and the work is very interesting.


Head hunters

Go to meet head hunters (unfortunately they are very powerful and some are incredibly lazy, particularly about thinking out of the box)).  You need to stay at the top of their pile.  Don’t present yourself as a lawyer but as someone who runs an international business.

You need to provide other reference points. Provide some ‘soft referees’, people who can talk about your judgement and range of experience and how you manage people issues. Though board diversity is a big topic with the head hunters, there doesn’t seem to be much  real desire for diversity of career background.


What do you think Private Equity companies seek from their NEDs?

They are deep into the financials – NEDs have to be right up to speed. Relevant sector knowledge is important and so is an ongoing focus on the actual performance of the company..



Network….and broaden your business knowledge and be up to date on issues such as diversity, environment and climate change.

Generally, as a profession, lawyers and law firms generally really need to raise their profiles. ’Have a view’ and be able to engage on non-legal business issues  Bankers always have an issue they can talk to companies and directors about.

Your first role is important – but don’t think you have to get a role on a FTSE listed company board. You get many more interesting roles as NEDs at the smaller cap end and in non-listed companies, where you can get closer to the actual running of the business, as well as in the Not for Profit sector.

Simon Page: NEDs – Can you become a sparring partner, trusted advisor and a good listener?

After 10 years in the Foreign Office, Simon moved to Egon Zehnder to become one of the five lead consultants – private partnership, lockstep, to allow them to cover a very broad range of work at the firm, and in the board practice.  Works across PLC type non-execs, government related roles and charities.

What types of roles are out there?

The broad landscape falls into 3 sectors:

  • Private sector: FTSE, 250, 350, AIM etc, private companies and start-ups, and private equity boards (a consumer of decent talent in the private sector board space)
  • Public sector:
    • central government departments (not the same as plc boards, as for many years NEDs historically felt like spare parts – but were more recently revamped by Lord Brown of BP who was appointed to be head NED at the Cabinet Office to increase their profile. This has made a huge difference to the use and effectiveness of government NEDs and greatly increased interest in the roles.
    • Non-departmental public bodies – there is a huge range. Managed in the same way as public appointments.
    • NHS operates separately from central government, but on broadly similar rules to public sector
  • Third sector: Charities, think tanks, academic works (schools to universities), housing associations

How appointments are made in practice

Private sector: FTSE 100 appointments used to be friends of the chair – but there has been a sea-change in last 15 years.  Now, 80% of major appointments ‘go through’ the headhunter process, at least to some extent.  Further down the FTSE it’s more likely to be through word of mouth and personal connection though Harvey Nash does an awful lot of smaller listed companies.  They have in common that they are rarely advertised in the media.

Public sector:  MUST be advertised to maintain the perception of fairness, and increasing diversity.  That’s the official government line.  The Public Appointments website is well run and lists all roles available at any one time.

Third sector: will often advertise via The Guardian online or on their own website.  There is partial transparency in the process but these roles are rarely advertised in paper.

Process is then the same for all, with the nominations committee narrowing down to four or five candidates for interviews and then one or two, who will meet the chief executive.

The nature of the involvement of CEO is interesting.  They should not have the final say as it is not meant to be their appointment, but as a chair has to work together with the CEO, when appointing a Chair, candidates will often meet the CEO and the CEO can be very influential.  In charities it is even more important to be independent.  The process often finishes with a confirmatory meeting with a larger group of executives and non-execs to allow candidates to meet broader base of the board.

There is an increasing tendency for appointments to be made by panel interview process, which Simon disagrees with.  The behaviour of panel members becomes very formal, with lists of questions, each allocated to individual panel members, but presented to candidates as unconnected sets of questions asked by separate people.  This favours a candidate who has fluent, shallows answers to a lot of questions rather than deep answers to a few.

The typical approach of a PLC is to meet candidates individually or two on one, which works out better with more interview time, different views, an ability to follow up and compare notes afterwards which Simon believes allows a fair comparison.  But despite his urging, he doesn’t believe the government process will change.

What are they looking for?

Fundamentally NEDs are there to be a good sparring partner for the CEO and the executive team, so most of the interview should be about how the candidates will react with other board members and bring their knowledge and experience in a good way.  They are looking for members who behave like a trusted adviser, not a content expert.  More often qualitative than a skills based interview.  Listening skills are strongly sought after.

Massively and rightly, boards in all these sectors are looking for diversity.  Egon Zehnder clients and others are treating this as a fundamental aim.  The UK has made a pretty good improvement in gender balance of some boards, by coercion and encouragement, without need for quotas, but is still very strongly looking to improve diversity which places white males at a disadvantage.  In UK the focus is still mostly about gender, in the US ethnicity is now equally important but LGBT and other elements don’t get a look in.

Lawyers and board roles:

We don’t have the appointment of lawyers as the norm – unlike US and European companies.  It’s not been the practice.  Partly because of UK board’s unitary structure.  The pattern for the executives is to match the career of the executives with the non-execs – man-marking.  Some UK lawyers have moved onto UK boards very successfully.  The skills that need to be deployed are; risk, which adds a lot of value; lawyers (and bankers) make a really strong contribution on strategy; the perception of what other stakeholders will think of decisions; and their network.

Base case reduces the number of lawyers – the existing board members can understand better the career of a finance director.  Lawyers risk being seen as too narrow.

How to go about getting a role?

It is important to go through a process of self-reflection before embarking on the search for a portfolio career.

  • What is your real level of interest? Lots of board roles are admin and not particularly interesting, ‘governancy’ heavy. Think about whether it’s really something you’d enjoy.
  • What time commitment can you offer? 50 days pa for FTSE companies, more for the big banks, and generally 15 days a year for any small role and not all can be done in the evenings.

The Shrek group of headhunters (Spencer Stuart, Heidricks, Russell Reynolds, Egon Zehnder and Korn Ferry) consist of the main players in the board practice area.

For the FTSE 250 – Hanson Green and a few others

For charities – Saxton Bampfylde, Odgers and Perret Laver

Other ways to enhance you personal brand are through networking, thought pieces or speaking at conferences. All go to raising your profile.  Getting a board mentor can be useful.

Developing a portfolio takes two or three years at least, as even the processes themselves can take a long time in the public sector.  So be patient.  And remember it is much easier to get on a board than to get off one.


How does one get on Egon Zehnder’s radar when looking for a role?

The London office has 50 consultants, 8 of whom form the board practice.  They have a central group of researchers who assist.  The practice meetings work as a clearinghouse for ideas but the rigour comes from the researchers.

As a minimum, upload your CV etc onto their portal.  It is always useful to be able to meet one of the consultants directly and personal introductions work very well.

NuRole and WoB are effective in advancing the cause of diversity.  However the big firms have had to develop lists of quality senior female candidates.

The PE recruitment process:

PE does like to run it their way, with their own views.   Formal arrangements exist with people who can become their chairs of acquired companies. They are not unsophisticated in this, with a reasonably sized stable of candidates; but at the lower level they are using headhunters, as they don’t have enough candidates known to the PE houses. EBRD has its own network for potential NED candidates.

How to you prepare your CV?

Fine tuning of the wording of a CV probably won’t move the dial very much.  Key facts speak for themselves in a digestible form. Don’t bother with the introductory paragraph.  What headhunters need to see are the numbers of people you’ve managed, scale of budget, revenue etc.  It is hard for lawyers but look for ways to make some statements that give an idea of scale, types of people you influence.

You have to overcome the prejudices and negative perceptions that lawyers are too technical, detailed or challenging.  Early type board positions, which are not easy to do but fairly accessible to obtain, help humanise the candidate, such as chair of school governors, charity board experience etc.

Sandeep Katwala: Top tips from a lawyer with a varied, fulfilling portfolio

Sandeep lives the BCKR mission.  He even introduced Tim to the Water Aid board (in fact interviewed him!) when WA was so enlightened that there were 3 lawyers on their board.

Sandeep headed the EMEA practice at Linklaters but retired 4 years ago after 25 years at the firm.  He took on WaterAid while still at Linklaters, and on leaving, built his portfolio.  He now Chairs Octavia (a West London housing association) and BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees),  and the Mowgli Foundation mentoring people from the middle east and he is also a Trustee of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s’ Charity.

Sandeep started with a Law degree, intending to be a barrister but soon realised that wasn’t for him.  He instead wanted to travel internationally so joined NatWest’s international team as a banker – in six years he got as far as Leeds – but while there did an MBA, then knew he wanted to get back to law.  He became a trainee at Linklaters, qualifying into capital markets, where he spent the next 25 years. He sees his career at Linklaters in 3 buckets – the client side – doing the work; growing businesses – he built Indian and African businesses for Linklaters;  and management – he was on the Executive Committee for 5 years and looked after the EMEA region for firm.  However, most just see the first bit.  For a non-executive life, the other two bits are even more useful.  He decided to stop at 55 and prior to that, spent time working out what to do next.  He chose the not for profit sector out of a sense of wanting to put something back (to make up for taking a lot out!).    There are two types of roles in the not for profit sector,  hands on operational or governance.  He knew that the operational side wouldn’t allow him to fit in all the other things he wanted to do, so the non-executive piece was for him.

He had been introduced to WaterAid by a colleague while still at Links. Once on the WaterAid board he was quickly introduced to two other roles, which came through an introduction from WaterAid’s former chief executive, to BID and Octavia (a quasi-commercial as well as charity role), having been approached for all sorts or roles from fin tech start-ups to investing in Iran.

The impression of the charity world as woolly sweaters and sandals is not right – his experience is that the governance is very strong and often of a higher quality than his former clients.  The other common perspective is that his board members would be of poorer quality than on commercial boards.  However, Sandeep has found that, particularly in the larger organisations, the calibre of the people has been high and their systems better due to great resources.

Octavia is a West London Housing Association with a £2.5bn housing value which includes care schemes and social housing, property management and development.  They have been put through their paces by S&P for fund raising.  The role is a mix of social enterprise and commercial.  As chair he has to be careful what he says, because what he says happens.  They have recently had to deal with crisis management in relation to the Grenfell reaction.  It’s something new to apply his old skills to, with a variety that includes walkabouts where he gets to meet residents; to large scale property development; to deciding if they should be putting the rents up (at 40% of market).  There is a lot of challenge and it is broader than a more traditional charity role.

BID is a tiny law firm which provides pro bono legal advice to immigrants stuck in the legal system.


Lawyers on Boards

The larger not for profits are increasingly seeing the value of having lawyers on their boards.  You will see some posts advertised as wanting legal skills.  It is more challenging when looking for a chair role or applying for a role that doesn’t specify a need for legal expertise.  There is still a perception among executive teams that lawyers are negative; this carries over to the headhunters.  Lawyers don’t sell themselves very well.  He still sees lawyers’ CVs for board roles which are simply a deal list – use the other buckets of your experience, promote the other sides. On LinkedIn ‘retired lawyer’ is not good for the algorithms. Lawyers can help themselves by highlighting how you manage and build teams and reference your commercial side.

Developing the relationship with the headhunters can be very helpful.  The more people they have in their pool the better their long lists can look like.  Headhunters tend to call people in their pool to get recommendations for alternative candidates and this builds relationships. Word of mouth works well too.   Other resources for roles are Guardian adverts; Charity Jobs; LinkedIn; Nurole.


The Interview process:

It’s very competitive! You’d be amazed – some candidates will analyse every statement made by the company or the interviewing panel ahead of the interview.  Don’t underestimate the competition just because it is not for profit.


The Portfolio piece:

It is worth being selective and focused on what you are after.  Perhaps focus on a particular sector – but not exclusively.  Keep an open mind. Housing for instance is a £60bn sector.  Be bold.  Don’t just look at what instantly appeals.

Be clear about your purpose.  It is important to hone in on what you’re after.  Sandeep distilled it down to simply wanting to do something that makes a difference to people’s lives.


Time commitment:

People are generally respective of your diary, so you can book and go to the theatre.  But dates can be fixed 12 months+ in advance.  Roles he’s had have been challenging and varied – he’s listened to an 80 year old on the Portobello Road asking why their ceiling had not been properly repaired, been involved in the Charlie Guard situation at GoSH and appointed new chief execs.  It’s kept him alive and buzzing!

Chair vs trustee.  The role of a chair is lots more time intensive; you are more involved in strategy and there is a chance to make a real difference.  For instance, he persuaded Octavia to build 1,000 more homes as part of their strategy.



How were you first approached for the role at WaterAid?

Sandeep wanted to do something different outside the firm.  He started asking round.  Wanted something international and in development, and the advert was pointed out by the company secretary at Linklaters.  He applied and got the role.

How can you be sure you’re not being seen as a cheap source of legal advice?

The smaller charities will see you as ‘the lawyer on the board’ and you will be asked to do a bit; but generally make it clear that you are not there to give legal advice, you are there to participate fully on the board; but your legal mindset will be useful and you’d be daft not to use that skill sometimes.

Finding some sense of purpose is quite difficult.

Sandeep was once asked to think about what he’d want written on his tombstone.  What would you be proud of? You need a big idea and work off that.  Sandeep’s central theme was making a difference.  Work on the basis that you will have another career.  Plan and create the opportunities; and make a difference for people’s lives.  For instance, for the first time last year Sandeep spent 6 days volunteering at Crisis at Christmas, serving breakfast, washing dishes and meeting and talking to people from very different backgrounds.

How do you gauge the time commitment?

Work out what percentage of your time you want to be allocated to the  ‘family’, ‘entertainment’ and ‘work’ buckets.  When applying for a role double the amount of time they are asking for.

Should you worry about your liability as a board member?

You’re not held to a higher standard simply because you are a lawyer.  All directors have the same liability and the board members you will come across are generally very professional.  Do your due diligence.  Talk to ex board members.  You need to get on with the board members and you will need to trust them so it can be useful to think about how they would work in a crisis.

There’s a steep learning curve for everybody joining a board, and it’s probably about a year before you’re up and running to make a real commitment, but don’t worry about that either since it is the same for everyone.  Sandeep feels that 6 years is the maximum length of time to stay on a board.  Selfishly he enjoys the fun of learning a new area and he wants to keep doing that.  It keeps you fresh.  But also, particularly in the role of Chair, you can harm an organisation if you hang around for too long.





Anita Hoffmann: Creating your Second Career

Anita is Swedish, and a chemical engineer by training – she had to be an engineer to get into industry at all in Sweden.  But how is she now a headhunter and coach in London? She took opportunities that were offered – and planned where she wanted to go.

After 18 years in the chemical industry, she was stuck. If she was going to get on in that industry, she would be doing more of the same – but she asked herself “How good am I really? Let me change into something else and I’ll find out”.  Without the support of the company and network she’d been in for years, could she re-invent herself?

She had been in the chemical practice at Accenture just pre the Andersen’s split, she’d been in the Deloitte consulting arm for the oil industry just pre the world oil crisis – she had big ticket names and big industry moments under her belt but now she wanted suddenly to be a professional services person.

Anita took a year off – she had done how things work as an engineer, then how business works at Deloittes, but realised that she cared more about how people work.  She was talking to leading headhunter Heidrick & Struggles while looking for her next move, when they offered her partnership at their own firm – she took it, and suddenly she was a people person.  She then combined her current interests with her past experience by starting their renewable energy practice.  This was not at all popular at H&S until it started making a lot of money for them!

Anita left H&S at the end of 2010 and had a further year off through illness.  But then had to decide what to do next.  Did she need one more good company t-shirt? Decided no.  Could she do it on her own – how tricky could it be to bring in 5 searches to earn the same as doing 35 for H&S?

Since then, Anita has combined her headhunting practice, and other activities with research conducted through Cranfield on the intersection of longevity and careers.  She also works with the Institute of Business Ethics and coaches refugee academics to find work.

But to her research and new book: Purpose & Impact: How Executives are Creating Meaningful Second Careers.  This looks at a key point of change in professional careers – the mid 50s – people often don’t want to do the same thing for the next for 25/30 years, but don’t want to do nothing either.  This is universal and a huge topic.  Anita found and interviewed 92 executives from around the world, who had already changed careers successfully – 46 of these agreed to be named in the book and have their stories told.

So what’s the meaning of this human journey? She discovered it is the same everywhere around the world – pupil, householder, forest dweller (learn wisdom), then wisdom sharer.

Once there was a business with a purpose, which happened to create profit – then gradually the profit motive came to the top.  People want to go back to finding and living their purpose.  Don’t feel a failure if you don’t feel you have it right, if you don’t know your purpose – don’t feel pressured – it will come.

Can you have impact – yes, but not alone – don’t take that responsibility on by yourself – that’s too much pressure.  In the last couple of years there have been good examples where different sectors have worked together to a common goal – businesses, NGOs and governments and social enterprises.  They have come together to tackle areas such as the social economy around fast fashion – eg new areas at the intersection of all the sectors where at the outset, there are no answers and no specialists. THAT’s where you can position yourself – but they have to know you exist – and you have to keep track of what is happening out there, and who do you need to know to get in on the act.  It can take time to figure it out.

Do you need to adopt the approach in stages? The stages of a human being do come in stages, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat each stage as a different type of life – you can keep the breadth and development all the way through – job crafting!

The Start up of You – by Reid Hoffman, co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn, and author Ben Casnocha – says that every stage of your career should be data tested regularly.  You use this data to adapt what you are doing to develop your career in the way you choose.

All her successful transitioned executives found something they were really passionate about, found a benefit from taking it on to the company they were already working for, as well as the community as well as themselves, and then went about changing their existing work-place to accommodate their passion. The real pattern to emerge from all the studies was that they nearly all started Career 2 during Career 1.

First case: Deputy CEO at Schlumberger, wanted a 5 year exit plan for himself.  In the meantime he was president of Africa at Schlumberger – he wanted to make an impact for the company, building its network and brand so he started the Schlumberger Foundation.  He was president of that Foundation, investigating problems and giving women scholarships to succeed, then became  president of sustainability and gave the women small loans – what was good for the company, was good for the community and ultimately for himself as he built his knowledge and reputation in the development arena.

Second case: Richard Gillies was high up in M&S procurement.  He ended up signing payment authorisations for thousands of pounds worth of power.  He asked himself why are we doing it this way? Why not get green electricity? He went and did some work on it, and M&S went 100% renewable energy which changed M&S first and others followed.  Richard himself had moved from procurement into sustainability.  A transformed career.  The move will always need a business case for the firm as well as for himself – and in this particular case, the change took just 5% of Richard’s time and made plenty of money for the company, great PR and changed his personal profile.

So ask yourself “What has my career today given me to prepare me for my next role?”.  Don’t think you need to jump off a cliff – it is a continuum.

Career and identity is one part.  A good financial runway is another part.  Money lasts a lot longer than you think if you prepare for it.  If you pace yourself, and practice living on a significantly smaller sum, you will have a better idea of what you need to have financially before you take a significant pay cut, if that’s what is to follow.  This gives you the confidence to take the cut in the first place, and gives you more of a cushion if things go wrong.

Working at career transformation requires:

  • Self-knowledge
  • A new network – dynamic and diverse – you can’t change things radically only talking to your existing circle
  • Openness

Networking is meeting and contacting other people who are interested in solving the same things as you are – it then becomes pleasurable and not intimidating.  All are happy to share common interests over a cup of coffee – ask for advice, it is within everybody’s gift to give – don’t ask for a job.

Don’t be shy – start with old colleagues, what’s the worst that can happen? Old colleagues, peers at university etc will be willing to act as the network starter, even if you haven’t seen them for years.

Process: ending the current role is an unknown zone.  It can be uncomfortable if you don’t know what you’re looking for but it’s a lot easier if you’ve already tried some of it while in your current job – whether as part of or alongside that job.

Anita believes there are several questions to cover in considering career change.
What are you good at?
What are you interested in?

Take time, it’s not always obvious – start to narrow it down by meeting people to help you gradually learn about what’s out there and about yourself.  Networking is an adventure which is so much fun – it’s part of giving – the people you meet will introduce you to others and it becomes much more comfortable.  Networking allows you to meet confident kind people who do genuinely want to help you.

Think too about what you really do not want to do.

Headhunters – these are not career coaches.  They are working on behalf of clients to fill roles in accordance with a spec.  Headhunters are not there to figure out what you should do next.  They can be helpful in understanding the process and explain the role but they can’t help you change career – you have to produce the evidence of that yourself.

Headhunters hire based on the last 5 years on a CV – it is all about perception of risk – the headhunters can push the boundary only so far – but that explains the tricky task of getting the first role.  In talking to the big ones, you have to know what you want, and give them three good reasons for why you should have it.  Headhunters speak to 2000 senior people a year so they forget you.  Research assistants speak to even more.  The assessment written at first meeting will go into a system and cannot be changed – it’s the start of your record.  Learning and practicing matters.

Headhunters ask themselves who do we know who can do this job – who’s in the database who can do this job.  The assessment from the database has to be recognisable as you to remind people who have met you who you are – it needs to be a human thing when they present to a client.  Your very first contact with the headhunter should say, in the preview, in the very opening of the email, the one good reason why they should talk to you.

Be kind to yourself – be open to the ideas for your own future that are bubbling away and put steps in place to follow through with them.  Start now!

Steve Williams: lists the reasons why having a lawyer on the board is an “irresistible argument to pursue”

We recently welcomed Steve Williams (ex-Slaughter and May and former GC at Unilever) to talk to BCKR members.

Steve was sitting at his desk at ICI when the call came through from Spencer Stuart about a possible move to Unilever.  He got the job, and then began a long run in making Spencer Stuart money.

Search firms make money out of us; by moving us they generate a fee; the more they move and place you, the better for them; the more they can bug you for knowledge, the better for them; he became their creature.  He was used by them, regularly asked about rising stars in Unilever and always gave helpful replies … X would be a shoe-in for the right kind of place etc.  Steve became a trusted source for them to call on.  Finally, one day he was asked what he thought about being a NED himself.  He said to himself ‘How hard can that be? Yes! I would like to try it.’ A few weeks later Spencer Stuart came back with the possibility of the NED role at Bunzl.

Tony Habgood was the Bunzl CEO at the time, then chairman – he said to Steve, ‘I don’t know you so that’s a good start’.  Tony was not into the old boy network thing.  This helped.  Secondly the company was very largely a US corporation with a US chairman, an open-minded chairman open to having a lawyer on the board.  This was not seen as weird to them (unlike for UK companies. Then… and too often now).  This helped too.  Steve had started his non-executive career.

Michael Perry was chairman of Unilever at the time and epitomised the alternative view – he said ‘Why on earth would they want you?’.  This is the question we all have to face since chairmen believe they can buy what we offer by the hour.  We have to make it clear that we have a broader reality, a certain cynicism that avoids group think, an ability to order facts, a mindset that’s almost unique to our profession.  Why should the accountants have turned the board room into their own private garden? We need to fight back with a great crusade.

A number of things makes the lawyer in the board room an irresistible argument to pursue.

Key to this is diversity of THOUGHT – too often diversity is only considered in a binary numerical fashion – How many women? How many ethnic minorities?  It is more than due time that the order, analysis and logic that lawyers can bring is valued as adding to that diversity piece.

Moral compass – we all know that companies have often rightly lost the trust of the public – there is a great challenge ahead to rebuild that trust.  The better lawyers will provide this compass – the seemliness of things can be better identified by the better lawyers.

Moral relativity – decisions get harder, issues are no longer black and white – the colours have run somewhat – who would you rather have holding your hand as a chairman – the person who has spent their time balancing these things all through their career or the accountant or HR director or marketing director?  The lawyer should win through on this debate.

If the lawyer comes with the right kind of spirit, understanding and commitment – it is time for that lawyer.

Admittedly not all lawyers will be suited, so this is the case for the defence.

Lawyers have an unfair reputation for being uncommercial. For many years, lawyers have been exporting a wonderful legal profession; we do have business acumen; there is no need to learn anything more on this front; BUT we do need to work on the lawyers’ reputation in this area.

Risk aversion/negativity – probably true to some extent, BUT boost this up, it avoids lawyers succumbing to the risk of group-think, of being swept along by collective enthusiasm.  Actually taking on that role of being the challenger is important on the board and it’s a role that boards need.  Do not, however, be held back by a lawyer’s fear that everything you say is weighed like a legal opinion, and with the benefit of hindsight you’ll be found wanting.  That’s simply not the case – it’s just business decisions.  People can disagree and both be right.


Tips to Avoid the Prejudices

Skill up! To break this glass ceiling, we have to persuade people that we are three dimensional.  Some measure of evidence that we understand how things work and how boards operate is key.  Why not cut our teeth on some boards pro bono – make yourself noticed and known, to assuage one obvious line of concern.

Downplay the lawyering – up-play the enthusiasm.  Those skills and strengths already identified are real but don’t major on them – first and foremost you need to believe you can be a good NED and you must actually want to do it.  You need to show an interest in the actual business process of the company – be willing to put on their uniform not the uniform of a lawyer.

Give emotional commitment.


How to Get to Talk to the Chairman

This is where the real issue lies for appointments to corporate boards.  How are you going to get on lists with a sense of credibility – with a star by your name before you start?  This has to involve a good intervention of the headhunter.

Headhunters don’t make much money out of placing a NED (they get £35/40k for placing a FTSE NED), yet without the headhunters’ blessing and insurance policy the appointment won’t happen as the company will get worried that they won’t pass the ‘proper process’ tests.  Old boy network not enough.  So you need to get close to one or more headhunters, but remember that you are not their client – so help them.

Start the process early – don’t wait till you’ve stopped practising law – it’s not going to be top of your list, nor a key priority for much of your time in law – but make it happen, push push push, think about how to skill up and push it higher up the priority list.

Moving from private practice into industry was half a step towards Steve achieving a NED career – he thinks it changed the definition of how companies saw him, completely regardless of whether he did in fact change.  He also saw more of the board room first hand, through simply observing the Unilever board in action.

Being a GC of a large corporation helped him get over the issue of credibility a lot, without the risk of being seen to have too narrow a focus.

We can all broaden our focus – this is critical – companies want a general breadth of corporate knowledge and intensity – a very narrow field will make you unattractive unless that expertise happens to be wanted.

Steve believes in the gifted amateur in the board room.  He is not in favour of upskilling the gaps in the executive by using non-executive experience.

You want to really enjoy making your opinion felt, getting noticed by taking the odd risk, don’t let two minutes pass without saying something – but believe what you say!

Make a decision as to whether you really want to be a NED.  Is it simply a soft option for you, an ego trip, a gentle end to a career, or do you really want to do it, and why?  You need to have an intellectual commitment to that case, don’t do it otherwise – you’ll be seen through and won’t enjoy it.  Lawyers all start with one foot behind the line, and we’re not automatically wanted – so instead prove them wrong, make the charge and make a difference.



Should we pick a sector?

Tony Hapgood told Steve that consumers were what Steve would feel in his gut as a result of his Unilever experience, so consumer businesses would work for him.  But too simplistic.   He thinks you should broadly go by whether you feel an affinity for the business.

His own experience – speciality chemicals, consumer, paper mills, transport – consisted of very different sectors.  As he gets older, his willingness to speak his mind is more indulged and that’s not sector specific.

The emotional commitment you have to the business process is more important than understanding the business process itself – do you have a belief in what the company does?  If not, don’t take the role.


Dos and don’ts in interviews for lawyers?

He’s never insisted that a lawyer be on a list, he’s never interviewed a lawyer, no practising lawyer had made it onto the long shot list – so sadly he’s little to offer on that front.  He knows that’s disappointing.


Do boards really welcome a challenger?

Steve doesn’t like the idea of disputes and disagreements being held outside the boardroom – but this is a deeply unfashionable view and he believes the warts-and-all should be in the minutes and dealt with openly in the board room.  The tendency to group think is troubling and more likely to occur if disputes are dealt with outside the boardroom.   Better to have people more honest and open, with more directors resigning without great hoo haa.  But despite Steve believing this is the right way to go, he acknowledges that this would require a significant change in the style of most board rooms and chairmen.

Is the ‘challenger’ the right pitch for day one? Be true to yourself, don’t pretend you’re a lapdog.  If the chairman doesn’t want you on this basis, don’t take the job.


Where do you see the values piece at the moment?

There is a strong possibility that lawyers can pursue promotion of the values piece, which is definitely outside the accountants’ space, and which should permeate through all companies top to bottom, genuinely.  This should become a strong addition to the board room and one that we lawyers can easily contribute to.  Bringing the companies back to putting this at the heart of what they do, right in the board room and changing the culture of an organisation top to bottom will be hugely valuable and lawyer can play a big part.



Need to push for more diversity of thought – lawyers can definitely do that.


Sandrine Roseberg: Find out how you, as a lawyer, can “add value” to a board

Starting out as a lawyer, Sandrine Roseberg moved to Asia for her husband’s work but didn’t want to be a lawyer there.  So, just after the Asian financial crisis she became a headhunter, replacing expats with locals.

The statistics on lawyers on boards are not great.  There are just 26 lawyers on the FTSE 350 boards.  Most of these trained as lawyers and then shifted into different roles.  Only 8 practiced law to a significant extent before getting a board seat.  In investigating these lawyers further, there seems to be a clear link between the geographic presence or sector of the company concerned and the lawyer’s experience.

Speaking to chairmen about lawyers their approach seems pragmatic.  With boards being pretty small (6 to 10 members) the chair will look for breadth of expertise.  They want a full contribution from their members.  They do want specialists BUT ones who can contribute more generally on M&A, strategy, HR development etc.  Lawyers are not seen that way – negotiators, risk assessors, yes, but not business leaders.  44% of the company secretaries to the FTSE 100 are also their GCs.  The proportion is 40% for the FTSE 250.  All these companies therefore have legal knowledge at their board meetings.  The perception remains that lawyers are too much into the detail.

In the US the position is different, but even there the percentage of directors who do not have CEO experience is going down.


What makes a good board today?

  • A good chair
  • Diversity of views, to some extent (Chairs are regularly reminded that ‘group think’ is not good)
  • Gender and ethnic diversity currently more important as easier to measure
  • Chairs are just starting to say that they want their board to come from anywhere, but often this approach simply doesn’t work since board members have to speak the same language
  • International expertise still valued
  • Technology and digital understanding highly sought after

There will be change in the FTSE 100/250 Chair population, as the vast majority are 65+ at the moment and many will need to rotate off the board within 3 years – 9 years is now the maximum for Chairs.

There is a big push by shareholders to ensure that Chairs aren’t over-boarded.  5 points max.  One for a NED role, 2 for a chair.  You can’t chair more than 2 boards.

The chairs of tomorrow will be current executive board members, often group CEOs who’ve left their executive career in their late 50s e.g. Patrick Thomas of Johnson Matthey.

Since the Volkswagen problems, risk management has to be part of the board strategy.  It used to be just a list to update at the Audit Committee, with Financial Services businesses giving it greatest focus, but now industrial businesses are at risk and might look towards lawyers to help in that area.


The process

Generally, a Chair will come and tell Sandrine what they need.  What is important is how the headhunter approaches their search.  JCA never put a candidate on a list without having a recommendation from people who have worked with them first.  Headhunters need to learn about a candidate’s working style, are they broad in their experience and will they adjust.  JCA, and now Heidricks, will always try to speak to 2 or 3 individuals before a candidate gets on a list.

Networking is very important as there is a lot of sourcing in the initial process.  You may be on a longlist without realising it.

Then the headhunter will discuss the long list with the Chair to see whom he wants to approach.  Then selected candidates will meet the headhunter and then the client and after that formal referencing takes place, with individual referees identified by the candidate.


How do you get on the list?

It depends on the brief.

  • Is the chair is looking for sector experience?
  • Is he willing to include advisers or only operators?

If the list can include ‘advisers’, the headhunter will approach firms which are known specialists in that area, then they will talk to their sources.  Sources are typically those with plenty of board experience themselves.

When a chair comes to the headhunter asking for candidates they discover whether they are more open to diversity.  A chair generally wants a list of people they don’t know and who might have a different approach.  Heidricks have pledged to promote diversity by having a 50/50 longlist (i.e. 50% white male and 50% everything else!).  80% of their non-exec work this year was requested to be women only.


Is any distinction made between lawyers and GCs?

A chair looks for a candidate who he/she will appoint for a minimum of 6 years – the concern is that they can always buy in legal advice if needed, so if you have no managerial or sector specific experience as a lawyer you have a hard battle to prove that you can offer the requisite breadth.  A GC coming from a corporate environment is perceived to have better corporate experience, simply a better understanding of how a company works.

If you are coming from professional services and aren’t ticking any diversity box, you will need to do a good sales job of your skills to get on that list.  The kind of skills they will be looking for are:

  • Change agents
  • Strong cultural agenda
  • Technology
  • Transformation – IPO or lots of big acquisition integration – important for the future of a business
  • Other board experience
  • People management is important

Being the highly intellectual lawyer who is living in a bubble doesn’t play well and can be intimidating.


Can you validate your credentials through working on a not for profit board?

Not for profit boards can be very time consuming.  Some are well run and organised and have great boards.  However, stay away from the ones that look to you to transform their boards.  You will end up being their lawyer and they may be looking for monetary support too.

A strong chair in a not for profit can however, give you the right experience.  Having a couple of well-connected board members can also really help from a referencing point of view.  You then get the chair to lead your conversation.  You need to really believe in the cause and, of course,  make sure you do your due diligence.


How do you rebrand yourself after a life in the law?

You need to be able to demonstrate your translatable skills.  You need to highlight examples of the right skills and speak the corporate language that resonates with business leaders.  Don’t hesitate to give these examples to headhunters.

The practice of talking to people is important.  Rehearse what is relevant.  You need to be more than a very good specialist.


The CV

  • Your CV has to say “This is an experienced board member”, “This is where I add value”, and it’s all backed up by years of experience in a law firm
  • Cover what you’ve done and how it can transpose into a board context
  • When you meet a headhunter, make it clear how you behave
  • The new generation of chairs is going to be far more interested in how you behave than what you’ve done and needs you to be interested in the business.  They can then develop you as a board member.


What do you look for in a candidate?

  • The balance between listening and challenging
  • Confidence not arrogance
  • Energy and enthusiasm
  • Not just a box ticker – people who genuinely believe they can bring something to the board and have the personality to go with it.


Due diligence.

What are the warning signs to look out for?

  • The chair. Try to imagine working with the chair during a crisis on a sunny Sunday afternoon.  The chair can make your life a delight or a misery.
  • Talk to people who have been exposed to that business. Culture is hugely important.  It needs to be the right fit.
  • Diversity of experience – social diversity is a nut not yet cracked


Does your CV open doors or not?

It needs to show the progression of your career and be substantive enough that a headhunter could write their own report on you from it.

The real key is to be open about who you are as a person.


Marie Gabriel: Lawyers as NEDs in the NHS

BCKR was fortunate to be joined recently by Marie Gabriel who chairs the East London NHS Foundation Trust. Below is a paper which Marie prepared for our breakfast session with useful information and links on what you need to think about if applying for an NHS role.  Marie has also generously offered to have a chat with any members who are exploring NHS roles, along with looking at your CV and even putting you through a mock interview. She has a list of typical questions asked at interview which, if you are planning to proceed with an application, we can forward on request.



Lawyers as NEDs in the NHS

To be honest lawyers don’t usually jump out in the list of skills that a Board requires but you do have lots of transferable skills that are valued on those boards

  • Generally, its about ability to understand complex information, to analyse and find themes and gaps
  • It’s also about good decision making skills, understanding of risk,
  • It may be about the specifics of your work, regulation management, estates, contracting, criminal justice, fraud, partnerships, human resources
  • You may have experience of large complex organisations or even smaller ones where you have helped to run the business side, make sure you get involved in the business side of things.

Research in 2013 by Cornell University in the US suggested that a legal board presence correlated with performance. According to the study — Lawyers and Fools: Lawyer-Directors in Public Corporations — having a lawyer in the boardroom increased the value of non-financial companies by an average of 9.55% in the study period between 2000 and 2009.

But you will need Board experience e.g. as NED at a charity or at local school and also knowledge of the field you are interested in.  So, become involved in local health charities and go along to some public NHS meetings so you can test what is wanted and how NEDs operate.

You will need to review your CV emphasising what NHS organisations want and how you will add value. Behaviours and personal values are just as Connected to this develop your personal and professional networks, find someone who is involved as a NED and let them know you want to become one.

Being a NED is a chance to make use of a life-time of experience for the benefit of some of the most vulnerable people in your society. You can and will have a major impact, not only on the effectiveness of the organisation but also on people’s lives.


The NHS Explained – Core Organisations and Their Roles

Non NED Organisations

The Secretary of State for Health

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility for the work of the Department of Health (DH). DH provides strategic leadership for public health, the NHS and social care in England.


The Department of Health (DH)

The DH is responsible for strategic leadership and funding for both health and social care in England. The DH is a ministerial department, supported by 23 agencies and public bodies.

Although these are non NED organisations there are some bodies that report into the Minister/DH such as the Blood and Transport and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel that do require NEDs. As national bodies you would defintely need previous NED experience


Organisations which have Non-Executive Directors

NHS England and NHS Improvement NHSE&I

These two organisations have come together with a joint staff team but separate Boards. NHS England is an independent body, at arm’s length to the government. The main role is to set the priorities and direction of the NHS and to improve health and care outcomes for people in England. NHS Improvement – that regulates the providers of services, such as local hospitals, mental health trusts and community health , ensuring that they are well run, viable organisations. However both organisations have separate Boards as they is how they were established

The key strategic document is the NHS Ten Year Plan, a must read as it provides the background information you need to become a NED. https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/

NHS E&I do have NEDs but you would have had to have a high profile national or international career and previous NED experience


Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)

CCGs are borough based, clinically led statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of healthcare services for their local area. CCG members include GPs and other clinicians, such as nurses and consultants. They are responsible for about 60% of the NHS budget, commission most secondary care services, and play a part in the commissioning of GP services. The secondary care services commissioned by CCGs are:

CCGs can commission any service provider that meets NHS standards and costs. These can be NHS hospitals, social enterprises, charities or private sector providers. However, they must be assured of the quality of services they commission, taking into account both National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) data about service providers.

NICE and the CQC also have NEDs

CCGs have NEDs but they call them Lay Members. More recently GPs have been forming federations of practices as providers of services. These also tend to be borough based and some do or will require lay members.



Responsibility for regulating particular aspects of care is now shared across a number of different bodies, such as:

All of these regulatory bodies have NEDs or in the case of Councils they are often call Independent Members. A track record of governance experience is required.



In delivering services you have primary and secondary care. Primary care is usually the first point of contact for most people and includes GPs, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists.

Secondary care services are hospital and community health services and includes planned hospital care at acute hospitals, e.g. operations, accident and emergency, mental health series, community services, such as district nursing, health visitors and rehabilitative care.  There are also ambulances Trust that cover a region.

Providers are divided into Foundation Trusts and non-Foundation Trusts. Foundation Trusts have more freedom because they have shown that they are of a high quality and financially viable. They are supposed to be self-standing and self-governing but increasingly are seeing more involvement from regulators. They have a Council of Governors drawn from their local community through election or appointment and hold the Board to account through the NEDs. As such they are responsible for appointing NEDs.

All the secondary care services have Boards and require NEDs. Previous NED experience and a successful career is needed. Foundation Trusts run their own recruitment processes, usually through headhunters whilst non Foundation Trusts recruit through NHS Improvement.


Key Current Issues for the NHS 

  • Ageing population, increased demand for services, specific conditions on the increase e.g. Diabetes which often linked to life style factors and increased public expectations about access and quality, For example, the Nuffield Foundation estimate that we will need another 17,000 hospital beds by 2022 and that’s just beds.
  • Workforce, not enough for current needs, with a 10% increase in nursing vacancies last year plus the requirements of the NHS Long Term Plan. In February 2018, there was a reported 100,000 vacancies. (The workforce comprises of approximately 1.5 million staff.) Compounded by Brexit and new ways of working required by integrated care models will mean retraining. For example there has been a 96% drop in the number of EU nurses registering to work in the UK. Specific problems with nursing, GPs and some consultant speciality. E.g. child and adolescent psychiatrists.
  • Money – huge deficits overall. The NHS net predicted deficit for the 2018/19 financial year is £519m with a budget of approximately £2.14bn
  • Requirement to work in different ways through Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships. These are good as they are seeking to address regional needs, reducing health inequalities, improving integrated care and access and improve outcomes. However some areas are really struggling to work together or to achieve the transformation needed given population needs and financial problems
  • Austerity, particularly the reduction of local authority budgets which has impacted on social care and therefore on things like discharging people.
  • Need to better implement digital health
  • Need to ensure effective relationships for regional Sustainable and Transformation Partnerships, that have no legal status but are responsible for improving health outcomes and health services along with the viability of health organisations in their areas.


NED Recruitment

The Process

Although you will either be recruited by head hunters or the organisation themselves all NED (or lay member or independent member) roles should be advertised and go for an equal and fair process.

The recruitment process will consist of the following:

  • An application form or CV with covering letter
  • Sometimes a long listing interview
  • A stakeholder event
  • A final interview panel
    • For NHS Improvement it will be a panel consisting of one of their regional executives and a NED or two from other NHS Trusts.
    • For Foundation Trusts this will be members of their Council of Governors
    • For other organisations the panel will vary but should always have an independent member.


The recruitment process will also be looking for people with

  • Experience and understanding of governance, either as a NED somewhere else or through charity or other public sector work. A useful, although out of date document on the expectations of NEDs and the Boards they sit on is the NHS Healthy Board which can be found at: https://www.leadershipacademy.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/NHSLeadership-HealthyNHSBoard-2013.pdf
  • Commitment to the NHS and the Nolan Principles for Public Life
  • An understanding of the needs and aspirations of their local community in general but specifically in relation to health
  • Senior executive experience within their career, preferably at Board level
  • Specific skills that they need on their Board, e.g. organisation development, HR, finance, estate management, community development etc.


Useful places to look for vacancies:


The first is specifically NHS the second is for all public appointments.



I would suggest contacting their health team and say you are looking for a NED role



  • Sunday Times
  • The Guardian


Going Through the Process – Hints and Tips

Application Form

  • Keep it succinct, whether it’s an application or CV with covering letter
  • Ensure, if it’s a CV with covering letter, that you do draw out key ways in which you address the person specification. Do this both in the covering letter, constructing it as a supporting statement, and within the summary of your successes within your career history.
  • If it’s an application form specifically address the areas of the person specification with examples of success. Also send a short covering note, via email or letter highlighting no more than 4 or 5 points
  • Use action focussed and strategic words. For example: I have a proven track record of organisational transformation. At Defo I led the merger of 7 organisations resulting in savings of £5m, increased customer satisfaction from 72 to 98% and increased staff satisfaction post-merger from 54 to 92%.
  • Show that you are committed to their Trust and their organisation, you are not just looking for a NED role anywhere
  • Research so you can add some relevant material, for example I understand that you are in merger discussions with Luton, my experience of mergers and organisational development will……
  • Read it through and read it through again



General Tips

  • Illustrate a commitment to quality of services for patients and to listening to patients and staff where appropriate within your answers
  • Clinical leadership and understanding of the local scene and national policy is always important
  • Research the organisation and the areas within which it provides services so that your answers are relevant, read their strategic documents, recent Board papers and form a view that you can add to an answer. Good places for looking at key policy issues are the websites of NHS Providers and NHS Confederation.
  • Be strategic rather than operational, you with the Board set the direction and then supporting and assuring yourself that others are delivering the strategy and performance
  • Be yourself and be engaging so proactive your interview responses in front of the mirror or better still organise a mock interview
  • Only ask questions at the end if you really have questions to ask



Caroline Carter: a BCKR ‘graduate’ – a portfolio lawyer with a goldmine of tips, advice and experience

Caroline considers herself as a graduate of the school of BCKR.  She has not followed a traditional path.  After 30 years in the City, 18 years of which were as head of Ashurst’s Employment and Remuneration practice, she chose to launch herself into her second career by taking a ‘gap year’. Much against her colleagues’ advice – she started with a completely clear diary. “There is nothing like the gift of time!”

Caroline felt her skill set lent itself to board roles as she had:

  • witnessed plenty of board room bust ups
  • sat on the opposite side to the table as an advisor – not answerable to the shareholder
  • always enjoyed networking outside Ashurst to build her client base

She joined Network for Knowledge early on, which had been established for women in retail banking and finance.  She eventually joined their board and helped to build their mentoring relationships; it was a very good platform to get great speakers. Through that she met Professor Elisabeth Kelan who really encouraged Caroline to get a role in academia. One day Elisabeth called Caroline when a role came up at Cranfield University.

Caroline was very nervous about entering this very academic arena as it seemed inhabited only by postgraduate students.  It was a very competitive process, but they were looking for someone whose approach was to put people issues at the forefront of debates and decisions. Caroline got the role.  It was daunting being the newbie, particularly as she was the only member of the board lacking some kind of academic or other accolade.

But Caroline threw herself into the role by watching and listening and taking up every opportunity to learn more outside the boardroom.  Cranfield has offered amazing opportunities to do different things and to build a different life e.g. exposure to global business leaders, meeting a huge variety of different people – from Cressida Dick to the Spice Girls – and learning about areas completely outside her general experience.

This has included flying in a prototype plane and attending many interesting lectures.  Caroline is reading up on as many topics as possible.  Her enthusiasm to get very involved has led to more opportunities on the Cranfield board and she is now going to become Chair of the RemCom, which will give her an opportunity to shape and make changes to the constitution.

This role has given Caroline the best platform to look at the next chapter of her life.  She quickly realised that education was a passion, she has always enjoyed working with young people, and seeing them succeed – an aspect of her role at Ashurst that she really enjoyed.

Having herself come from a modest background where she was the first generation of her family to attend university, Caroline started to look at organisations involved in social mobilisation. She came across the Brilliant Club which helps to identify bright kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and schools to gain entry into top universities.  When the role was advertised Caroline wrote an impassioned cover letter but stated that she was unavailable on the date of the interview.  The Brilliant Club were so bowled over by her cover letter that they gave her a different role on an adjunct project, looking for gifted young people.  When a role came up again on the board, Caroline applied and became a trustee.  She is now hoping that she can help scale up the organisation. It has been hugely rewarding.

Caroline has recently taken on a governorship at an aspiring girls’ school that had (before she joined) managed to get eight girls work experience at Ashurst.

Her focus is now on gaining a commercial role, and her long-term goal is chairing a university.


How do you get your portfolio going?

Caroline had not applied for a job in 25 years.  It is very different from pitching new business to a client.   The key is translating your skills into business language on your CV.  Using the right words is key – particularly as AI conducts the first round of many searches nowadays. In her case she particularly stressed the following:

  • Strategic input
  • Empowering others to achieve
  • Delegation
  • Transformational change

In portfolio life you need to be the enabler.  Change the way you describe yourself and your skills.  It certainly isn’t about your illustrious list of deals.

The covering letter should be as personal as possible, detailing specifically how you can help the organisation – they haven’t got time for you to be on a massive learning curve.  Caroline feels much more responsible for making it all work. And you’ll be surprised at the impact you can have. Also, make sure you meet key people within the organisation early on and think about the impact you will have. Once you’re there, be nosey – listen but don’t meddle. ‘Nose in …. fingers out!’

Bring an independent mind to the table.  You will become the trusted adviser very quickly. And remember the outside world doesn’t understand the legal world.  Lawyers are seen as service providers not business makers. You will need to earn your credentials again.

Caroline feels it was helpful to focus on unpaid, not for profit type roles initially – it was a conscious choice.  And she has been very lucky to have people championing her. For instance, Georgina Harvey (a former BCKR speaker) has made introductions to headhunters for her.



  • Really assess the area you would like to want to be, in whether it is in the NHS, Social Housing or perhaps a government role
  • Be prepared for the different approaches to interview e.g. psychometric testing is very common now, or the very rigid approach to government role interviews
  • Consider making a direct approach to an organization you are interested in.
  • Take care of yourself!
  • Build your network
  • Treat people with dignity
  • Emotional intelligence is vital
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the stupid question
  • Make yourself attractive to inter-generational businesses.  It is said that in the future, seven generations will be working alongside each other.


Is there anything in particular you lacked in your skill set when you joined your first board?

The jargon used in academia is intimidating at the beginning.  It did feel like a very different and unknown world but by throwing herself into it head first it didn’t take long to get up to speed.  Skilled lawyers have that experience in spades.


What was it about your cover letter to the Brilliant Club that made it stand out? 

She included pertinent things about herself as a person and how she felt she could help to develop the organization. Her letter was authentic.  She mentioned the road she had not taken when she was asked by her father, who was gravely ill, to give up her offer to do a PhD and to get a proper job instead.  So, she went to Law school!




Peter Bennett-Jones: every board should have legal expertise

BCKR recently welcomed Peter Bennett-Jones to share with us his board-life experience and, in his view, what attributes are needed make up an effective board.

Peter’s day job is, as he describes it, as a showbiz hack – an agent and programme maker.

However, his engagement with the not-for-profit world has been the most enjoyable and life affirming aspect of his career.  He has used and adapted the contacts he has made, and their influence, to broader purposes.  His experience has covered three main areas; the arts, education and international development.


The Arts

The National Theatre – where he chaired its production board.  NT Live was started to help pay artists more and to get theatre to a wider audience.  But its popularity made it a huge commercial success story with revenues greater than £1m pa.

Peter did a short stint on the Oxford Playhouse board and on the RADA board.  In both cases the business people and actors gave their boards a particular flavour.  He has since joined the board of the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres which had serious funding problems.

Funding is a common theme and continual challenge for all arts organisations, particularly since the decrease in Arts Council funding – even the NT’s public funding has reduced from around 38% to 15%, with no public funding at all going to regional theatres.  Regional theatres are cash strapped and it is very hard to get corporate funding.  The boards are often made up of people who have been there too long.  There is often turbulence around succession, when the old guard are not sophisticated at handling over the baton.

Despite its great heritage, the Liverpool Everyman board needed more rigour. The need to devise a rescue plan attracted applications from high calibre individuals who wanted to join the board – having something specific to focus on can attract talent. The theatre has a stronger board now.  It is often the case that when things are going wrong the board comes into its own.

There are also frequently problems around succession in arts organisations and lawyers can play a significant role in this area.



He was a governor at Rugby School for 6-7 years.  Even there, funding was the theme.  Peter ran the bursary scheme which raised £20m to fund bursaries for children who would benefit from boarding school but who otherwise wouldn’t have access to places.  There was a very dynamic head at Rugby who persuaded McKinnsey to take the programme nationally under the brand SpringBoard Foundation.

The current debates in education, funding aside, are private versus state, the curriculum itself and the degree of intervention from the Secretary of State.  Plus safeguarding.  As within the International Development arena, safeguarding in education is a hot topic.   The level of accountability and scrutiny in this area has, in Peter’s view, become disproportionate.  Current heads are regularly hauled over the coals for actions 20 years ago.

The Charity Commission, which is responsible for overseeing 160,000+ charities, is not well-led, has poor staff, a lot of whom are watching their backs.  This leads to reactive and intrusive challenge across the whole charity sector and that explains the over emphasis on safeguarding at the moment.  Remember, as a trustee you have the same accountability as a director in a plc but with no financial reward, fewer resources to assist and a lot of finger pointing.



Comic Relief.  Having been mates with the screenwriter Richard Curtis since the 70’s, together they decided to use Richard’s success and their resulting persuasive powers to ask the BBC to give them a platform to support relief.  Comic Relief’s success was in infiltrating the international consciousness of a generation and bringing greater awareness of the problems.  It was fascinating.  The board was incredible, all working for a common purpose.

Blair, Brown and Cameron were very supportive of the charity over the years, but the culture has changed under the May government.


Save the Children.  Having been the Chair, he stepped away earlier this.  Oxfam, Help for Heroes, Kids Company and Save the Children are all going through it.  These organisations need to work effectively but who do you get to people these boards when the finger pointing for politically correct themes is so prevalent? The need for strong leaders to get involved has never been greater – but this sits alongside an ever growing disincentive to undertake these roles due to the ever increasing scrutiny, accountability and misrepresentation you expose yourself too when sitting on a board such as these.  It is often the beneficiaries of the charities, those whom the regulators and authorities think they are protecting by their actions, who ultimately suffer from clamp downs.

Mistakes are made and people do behave badly. Lessons need to be learned and organisations allowed to move on.

In his view a board should always have two skills represented:

  1. To have a legally qualified person. Having that sound legal training and advice around the board table.  The lawyer will often come into play in a crisis.  There are many issues where extremely sound and well articulated judgement is required.  Lawyers can do this, in spades.
  2. HR expertise is also a much-needed skill set to have on your board.



Boards have a fundamental role in delivering charity objectives such as:

  • Strategic planning
  • Fire fighting
  • Working with management
  • Succession


There is a delicate balance of relationship between the board and the management team.  After being on the board of Comic Relief for 15 years, Peter did a short course at Harvard and they showed that on the whole, management manipulate 80% of the business of the board.  As a member of the board you need to reverse that, and it is very hard to do. As a non-executive board member, you need to make sure you aren’t outwitted by the management.

BUT it is worthwhile! Sitting on these boards has been a hugely rewarding balancing act between commercial and public interest.  You need to see things from the bottom up as well as top down.



On the whole they are an expensive undertaking for charities.  Candidates do need to make sure they are on the radar of the few important players.

If you do take on a role you need to give your time willingly, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.

The balance is the reward:

  • Getting under the carpet of UK social issues
  • Engaging with other institutions in partnership
  • Range of issues are very different from those you see in private practice

However, the environment for charities has changed.  Now there are sections of press and government ready to criticise.  There is an additional emphasis on governance and safeguarding as there is more awareness of the issues.

You can, as a lawyer, make a significant contribution.

Due diligence is key before you take on a role.  Look at historic accounts, meet the Chief Executive and or Chair and current trustees, to get an understanding of issues being faced.


How do you go about getting a role on an arts board if you have no previous experience?

Demonstrate engagement.  Just approach the organisation.  These are volunteer jobs and you will be adding great value.

Georgina Harvey & Matt Higgins: Exploring Remuneration Committees

BCKR was pleased to welcome Georgina Harvey and Matt Higgins recently, who shared with us their experience of Remuneration Committees.

Matt and Georgina are seeing a lot of each other at the moment as they are in the midst of a couple of weeks when all their RemCo work comes together. The flow of the Committee work is definitely not as it used to be.  It is much more time consuming and involved.  Long consultations with shareholders, explanatory letters, ten-page summaries at the end, 20+ meetings with shareholders in between, 20-30 pages on remuneration for the annual report, plus the need to look forward and backwards on all senior remuneration, for both the exec directors and the rest of the senior team, as well as keeping abreast of where the remainder of the works force sits.  This is the most challenging couple of weeks in the cycle.

Matt and Georgina took the members through their helpful slides, which can be found here.  The remainder of these notes do not cover the full presentation but focus on the extra bits of engaging narrative they provided.


A successful committee

More than for any other committee, relationships are key on RemCo. You can’t set rem in a bubble.  You need lots of engagement with management, but the relationship has to stay very professional to make it easier to deliver news they do not want to hear.  Big Yellow was unusual in having to drag the management to being paid well enough.  Normally it is very much the other way around. Much will have been heard and discussed outside the committee room.

Ensuring you have a mix of backgrounds on the committee is important – sector experience, audit chair, HR experience (but you need to understand the bias of all involved – including the HR team).


Who does a Rem Consultant advise?

Management, the RemCo, the HR rewards team? The reporting line should be to the RemCo Chair but there is a need for the consultant to understand the management perspective too. An advisor shouldn’t meet with the executive team without running it by the Chair first.

An adviser might have a good perspective on shareholder sentiment.  Their input can be very helpful in developing new approaches to e.g.: LTI or bonus structures.  It really helps to have that outside perspective, since the consultant will already know how others are approaching the issues, both corporates and shareholders.

The Chair has to deliver difficult messages and sometimes they are received better when delivered by the adviser not the Chair.


An effective Chair

There are plenty of stakeholders to consider in the rem space.  Careful handling of board, management, shareholders, and shareholder bodies [ISS, IA and PIRC] all of whom require different timings and approaches.

Consultations over changes to rem structure take at least three months.  Georgina’s preference is to approach shareholders with what you’re looking for, from the off, and row back if needed.  Some still choose to go in asking for too much to have ground to ‘give’.

A letter will go out to shareholders a few months ahead of the AGM outlining proposals for imminent changes to the rem policy, rem structure and levels. The letter announces that the company is opening a consultation, detailing when and how the Committee would like to hear from them.  This could be sent to as many as 20-30 different bodies.  The process of seeking shareholders’ views may be through meetings, calls, emails – all are possible, generally at the choice of the shareholder.  Often the shareholders themselves will be opposed to each other’s viewpoint e.g. TSR measures for Rem loved by some, hated by others. (Total shareholder return – Dividends plus capital increase).

The Chair needs to be tough, principled and brave enough to do the right thing.  They need to be prepared to listen and also to compromise, taking on the views of the shareholders.  This is where the preparation outside the boardroom is vital, having papers prepped well in advance of the meeting.

Georgina’s natural approach is to have a consultation, listen to feedback, report back to the RemCo then produce a wrap-up letter which will explain any opposing views and why and what any proposed compromise might be.  All then understand the rationale.

Things to consider include alignment with strategy, risk appetite, absolute levels of pay, the general environment, benchmarks and, even after all that, how strong a level of shareholder support the board requires.  Some companies are content with a simple pass, with 51% of the vote, others seek less friction and require over 80%.


Areas of tension

Rem can feel like a hostile environment, with shareholders and the press against you, with the latter basing their views on truth or misinformation.  This scrutiny can sometimes make it hard for the RemCo to make a decision that is right for the business. You need a mature executive team, which has a long-term approach to keeping shareholders happy.  Sometimes the management are behind the curve in feeling how the market views executive pay generally and therefore their own rewards.

Target setting – Any adjustments to the Rem structure will require a shared understanding from the outset of why changes are being proposed, and how best to achieve the objectives. For instance, it is important to create an LTIP which aligns with shareholder experience – dividend and capital increases will have to sit comfortably against the chief exec’s pay.

It’s getting tougher!



Harvey Higgins Presentation Feb 2019

Patrick Reihill: Insights from the Whitehall & Industry Group – lawyers and public sector roles

BCKR recently welcomed Patrick Reihill from the Whitehall & Industry Group to share his experiences of public sector role recruitment. A copy of Patrick’s presentation can be found here.


What do law firms get out of their WIG membership?

Most use it for the events WIG put on, to get a better understanding of policies coming through and the inner workings of government and also for their leadership programmes.


What is the normal recruitment process for a public sector role?

WIG will go through a very thorough briefing process with the client and challenge them about the type of individual they are looking for and from that, draw up a brief.

The role will then be advertised for 4-6 weeks and also be brought to the attention of their existing network.  BCKR does review the WIG advertisements in compiling their lists.

Then they will draw up a shortlist.  WIG won’t meet the candidates face to face before the shortlisting stage.  That’s when the more detailed bullet points come in – the value added skills that differentiate between candidates.  It is important at this point for candidates to give as much as possible for the headhunter to hang their hat on. The covering letter is often more elaborative than the CV.

Next is the interview stage.  Fairness is always at the top of the panel’s mind, so the same questions will be asked of all candidates and there is no deviation from the script.  It can appear to be quite a forensic overly formalistic process.  There will not be an opportunity for supplementary questions.  It is important to have an understanding of how government and Whitehall operates.  Make sure you keep your answers short.  Overwhelm yourself with examples of how you fit the job competencies detailed in the job description.


What due diligence?

  • How does the minister/permanent secretary see NEDs working in his/her department (WIG can always help you here)?
  • Do you know any of the current NEDs who are stepping down or previous NEDs? Have a cup of coffee with them – anything to get a steer on what the panel are really looking for.
  • If you get the opportunity for a ‘fireside chat’ (which would only occur after an initial interview) this would be the opportunity to meet with key sponsors, and a chance for a more informal discussion where you must sell yourself. This is not to be taken casually.  It is certainly not to be taken as an indication that you have the job.


Why would you put yourself through this?

The intellectual challenge and the opportunity to give something back.

The political involvement can add a fundamentally interesting element to life.

It is usually the work above and beyond the boardroom that is really interesting.

It will require extra time but and can be very rewarding and complimentary to your other activities.

The other thing to take into account is that there are lots of roles in the WIG arena so statistically you have a better chance of getting one than in the straight commercial sectors.

You will also meet a lot of interesting people serving on these boards, which in turn increases your network for the future.

Don’t give in if you get rejected.  The more roles you go for the more you will pick up about the process.


Addressing your weaknesses.

There is an industry perception that law firms don’t know how to run a business.  This is the lawyer’s fault. It is up to you to re-write your CV with headlines around your commercial experience giving tangible examples of your translatable skills.  Get rid of your list of deals. For example:

  • Commercial income that you have been instrumental in increasing
  • The size of teams you have led
  • Business decisions you have been involved in


How do you go about developing your CV?

  • Make sure it is role specific.
  • Seek help – WIG is always willing to give advice.
  • Lay it out in a straightforward way illustrating your business skill-set with real successes/outcomes.



They are a challenge.  Headhunters are undeniably client focused and they are frankly not trained to advise candidates.  You need to do as much of their job as possible.   Things to think about:

  • Be focused personally – what are your interests, skills and breadth of experience?
  • Use your network – clients, mutual connections.
  • Consider getting a mentor.
  • Go digital – make sure you are on LinkedIn.
  • Think about all the prejudices lawyers have to overcome and tackle them head on.
  • Start early but don’t just jump in without due consideration.
  • Ensure involvement in your organisation. Be a champion within your own firm.
  • Think about charity trusteeship as early as you can.

Larissa Joy: Lawyers test, challenge and bring skills that are incredibly valuable to the boardroom

We recently welcomed Portfolio Lawyer, Larissa Joy, to share the interesting turns her professional life has taken with our BCKR members. Larissa is somewhat of an evangelist for a plural career. She has taken a number of varied paths during her entire career and continues to do so in the further development of her portfolio.

Larissa’s first holiday job was as a tour leader with Saga, which when she looks back on it, taught her a great deal.  She ran into trouble when, leading sixty American passengers, the Danube had completely dried up and the tour was conducted by land in coaches. She went on to lead Saga’s first 50 day round the world tour.  Difficult as the Danube experience was in the days of no mobile phones, she realised early the value of putting oneself into new and testing situations as an instructive experience.

Larissa trained as a lawyer at Theodore Goddard.  Her next move was in-house at IMG where she combined the role of lawyer and working on music, sport and television deals, combining her interests in the media and music, one of the factors that had led her to train with Theodore Goddard.  Next, she moved into advertising – joining a 90-strong firm that was looking to sell the business.  They needed a lawyer to help them with preparing the business for sale and also with setting up new offices in Europe. They sold successfully to a holding company and merged the agency with an exciting network of agencies, where Larissa picked up a great deal of experience about mergers in people businesses. After several years in the combined business, she followed the Chairman to the Ogilvy group, where she was in charge of assessing potential new businesses for acquisition. She went on to become Vice Chairman of WPP’s Ogilvy Group UK.

From there, Larissa joined Weber Shandwick as their UK COO, just after a merger and having performed that role successfully, was asked to take on a European leadership role.  She was then headhunted into the world of Private Equity – in the emerging markets field – joining Actis as a Partner and COO.  Her experience of managing change, managing people businesses and mergers and acquisitions were relevant to her new role. She was soon doing business in emerging economies such as India and Africa.  It taught her a huge amount, not least how to achieve success in different cultural environments and she learnt about partnership.

After the birth of her third child she came to the conclusion that she needed more control of her time. That was when the role as Chair of the House of Illustration came along, and alongside some consultancy work in professional services, other portfolio roles followed after that.  Her NED and Chair roles now consist of:

  • NED at Charles Russell Speechlys
  • NED at Saxton Bampfylde
  • NED at L&Q
  • NED at Helpforce which works to develop the future of volunteering in the NHS
  • Chair of The Foundling Museum
  • Chair of SBT. This is a consortium of Clifford Chance, Bain, EY, Permira, Thomson Reuters and others who collaborate to invest in growing high-potential social enterprises.

Larissa’s approach has broadly been to be predisposed to say “yes” when asked to have a chat about the potential opportunities that come her way, however unusual the role might sound initially.

Due diligence:  Though it is obviously vital that you take the time to look at the previous financial history and to review the Board and take soundings in the market about an organisation, it is also important to talk to people within the organisation you are thinking of joining. It is also important also to bear in mind that due diligence tends to be about looking backwards at what has happened and sometimes things can, and do, take a different course. For example, Larissa joined an organisation as Senior Independent Director in the early part of her portfolio career where the reason for bringing on board new NEDs was because, following a change in leadership, there was a desire to improve governance and viability ratings and to assess future strategic options. She accepted the role, having significant confidence in the Chair and the individuals she met, knowing the whole picture and found the challenge of being on the Board throughout the turnaround very interesting and satisfying and learned a great deal. Larissa stresses that the one to one time you spend with your colleagues (on both the executive and the non-executive side) is very important.


What perceptions of lawyers on boards have you encountered? 

A question Larissa has been asked several times is along the lines of:  “I see you are a lawyer by training – are you going to be the type of Board member that always points out the risks?” Larissa stresses that lawyers are so valuable for the efficacy of good governance of an organisation.  They test, they challenge, and they offer an alternative perspective. They bring skills that are incredibly valuable as part of a cognitively diverse boardroom.



She believes that the best firms can be a huge help and she has always tried to be helpful to them in their searches, suggesting names and giving advice when they are conducting a search.  It is a good way to start a relationship.  Ask for their advice and try to meet with as many as possible to build relationships.  Head-hunters are an important part of your route to market, as well as your networks.


Highlights and pitfalls of portfolio life

Larissa loves the opportunities to make connections between the different organisations where she is an NED or Chair, where that makes sense and does not create any conflict. It is very important to ensure that time is not filled up to allow some room for when NEDs are called on to deal with an unexpected situation, when inevitably more time is required.


When developing your portfolio career, did you have a structured plan or did you keep an open mind and see where things led?

Larissa remembers going to see search firms when she was thinking of leaving Private Equity and saying, “this is my experience – what can you offer me?”  But at the time she was not certain about which direction she wanted to take. She now realises that can make it tricky for the search firms to help! She learned to keep an incredibly open mind.  She stresses the need to think carefully about your network and who people you know who rate you might be willing to introduce you to.  Think strategically about people you know on boards or about your particular sector. It is hard to find the time to network – but even use social occasions to make connections and help other people because in the end it all comes full circle and things are increasingly interconnected.


How do you assess the time a role will require?

For an organisation that is less used to having NEDs, you will probably need to complete a year’s cycle to get an idea of the time commitment required.  You may be pulled into a ‘task and finish’ situations but it is important that you don’t get pulled into the executive side of things and remain independent.  The role of the Chair is often a greater demand on one’s time.


Do you find there is much difference working in the Not-for-Profit sector as opposed to your commercial roles?

On the surface, if well-run, there is almost no difference.  Governance is important in both. But difficult or unexpected situations will occur. Not for Profit can be quite full on in terms of revenue and fundraising.

A good Chair will ensure proper debate. Diversity of thought and challenge is good and should be celebrated. Equally, it is important that risks and major issues are robustly aired. Operating in a regulated environment brings its own challenges and having a Regulator helps to underpin a good discipline to be vigilant about governance and compliance.


Is it important to have a balance between Not for Profit and commercial roles?

Larissa finds it exciting to have both and to bring the two together. Networks built in the Not for Profit world have been invaluable in building her portfolio and also very rewarding.


Do you turn down many roles?

She is often contacted about things and she will always take the time to suggest other people to help in the search, but at the moment she has a full portfolio so tends to signpost people in other directions.


Why would you want to have a lawyer on your board?

A partner in a law firm for example understands cashflow, how to market, run a team, good governance, compliance, contracts, and will have successfully built relationships and trust.  They are likely to have sector expertise, the ability to recognise when to red-flag an issue.

When these skills are part of what a person does day to day they can sometimes underplay them – these are such valuable skills for an organisation – in and outside the boardroom.

Discussion under Chatham House rules

Maria da Cunha: Prioritise your area of expertise and do what interests you

On graduating from the LSE Maria started her career as a competition lawyer at Hogan Lovells. She moved in-house to Lloyds Bank when her two children were toddlers.  Her next move was to British Airways as a competition lawyer where she soon went on to become Head of Legal.  She took on a variety of different roles whilst still being GC, in Government and International Affairs, Economic regulation and then for the last 8 years she became Head of Human Resources and Industrial Relations. She combined this with 8 years on the BA management board.

Then, having spent 15 years in the same industry, she thought she needed more breadth and about 4 years ago Maria started to look for NED roles.


How Maria went about getting her first role it

  • Maria started by making a list of businesses she was interested in and a list of those she didn’t want to do. You are committing a considerable amount of time to these types of roles – make sure it’s something that interests you.
  • Then she assessed what value she could add to these businesses (excluding her legal skills) which she felt would be in the following areas:
    • Transformation change and disruption
    • Media and coms/crisis management experience
    • Regulatory and international experience
    • Government interaction

Forget your list of deals.  Think more about your areas of expertise whether it is digital, cyber, sector specific …. This is what you should include in your CV.

You need to put the leg-work in.  Use your network.  Talk to Chairs/SIDs and other NEDs.  Get the support of your boss and colleagues.

Be aware of the time commitment.  Whilst still working at BA, Maria spent many a weekend reading the board pack etc.

The first board Maria was appointed to was at De La Rue (the security company which prints currency and passports and has contracts with many different countries.) She felt the skills she brought to the board room were:

  • International experience
  • Transformation
  • Constructive challenge
  • Team work


A year later Maria took on a second role for a not-for-profit organisation in the social care sector, for people with learning difficulties, which was very different but where she could really make a difference.

Very different skills are needed when working in the charity sector rather than the commercial sector.  Charities need real hard business experience and can require you to be much more hands on and therefore charity board roles can be more time consuming.  The skills needed around the board table itself and in relation to governance are not very different, but it is the work behind the scenes where things can differ significantly.  Much more time is required coaching young trustees or sitting on other committees, talking to the CEO or HR directors, all of whom are likely to have less experience and resources than you are used to in the corporate and City world.  You don’t get the same level of support from the company secretary either.  There also tend to be fewer meetings which can make it harder to keep across what is going on.  From a people perspective those working in the charity sector are generally very enthusiastic but less commercially aware.


Things to consider when presenting yourself to others when launching yourself into the NED world

Maria asked herself what the pillars were that defined her as a person, such as teamwork, collaborative influencing, communication, all vital skills on a board which are bread and butter to any lawyer.  Most lawyers will have people management experience through managing a practice area, developing talent, appraisals, building and making teams coalesce quickly or bridging between different teams etc.


Do you have any particular sector experience?  For instance, international experience is useful for companies growing and expanding overseas.  Think about the kinds of clients you are involved with.  Governance experience is vital.  Compliance. Do not though focus on that alone as boards will also have their General Counsel and external lawyers to seek legal advice from.


Deconstruct your practice.  Be clear about the areas you want to avoid as well as those you enjoy but don’t rule out too much.  You just need to be interested enough in the business to commit 3 years to it.


Was it hard to convince the Chair at De La Rue that your experience was relevant?

It was actually the headhunter that Maria had to convince.  That can be quite hard as they have a tendency not to think particularly creatively.  She tried to think about the boxes they would put her in and then how she could persuade them to the contrary.

She made a list of all the executive search firms and got in touch with and saw all.  Out of a long list there were about 2-3 firms who actually understood her and remain in touch to this day – still sending through stuff.


Headhunters are probably the biggest obstacle to overcome in this process, so you need to make it easy for them.  Point out the obvious.

  • Tell them what sectors you are interested in.
  • Lawyers are well disposed to get to grips with a new business, with a natural curiosity and an ability to absorb the data quickly. Remind them of this.
  • Illustrate your commerciality. There is a consensus that lawyers sit on the fence and don’t take a view.  Persuade them that you can make judgements on the best path to take.  Find examples of where you have taken calculated risks.


Are there any courses, seminars etc that Maria found useful?

It is important to be comfortable reading the accounts and financials, particularly if you find yourself on an audit committee.  Keep yourself up-to-date.

Places to check are the Institute of Directors, PwC who run a series of workshops targeted at NEDs. Fidelio Executive Search also runs a programme for prospective NEDs.


Being on a board gives you a more rounded view.  You get to see things from a different perspective, from the investment point of view. There can be a lot of cross fertilisation which helps a lot in the executive job. Being an adviser has actually helped her.


Lawyers’ soft skills are all there, building consensus, advising vs challenging.


Have there been any surprises being a director?

Being the recipient of paperwork makes you much more appreciative of the role a company secretary plays.


A really important lesson to understand in any non-executive role, is that you do have to plough through a lot of guff to get to the nub of the problem, particularly at the beginning.  Keep digging and trust your instincts.  It has been interesting to observe that with a balanced board working in unison, you make better decisions and you can learn a lot from that.


What has your greatest learning curve been?

Probably dealing with activist shareholders and keeping the investor base happy.  Hadn’t appreciated how complex a problem that would be.

Steven Sussman & James Godrich: company accounts – how to look at the numbers

Before hearing James Godrich on the key things to look for in a company’s accounts, BCKR members heard from Steven Sussman.  The second part of the talk is not summarised here, although the slides accompanying these notes provide a good reminder for members of what they heard and will hopefully provide a useful teach-in for those unable to join us.

Steven is CEO of our regular host, JM Finn and members heard his thoughts on what to consider when looking at NED positions and what the regulated firms he’s been involved with have sought from their own NEDs.  Steven provided a colourful and salutary reminder of the associated risks.

What to consider when applying for NED roles:

  • Regulated firms – as a NED you are at risk so you need to consider whether it’s worth it – your assets and reputation may be called to account
  • Time v money – it is not just about showing up to 4 board meetings per year. Much more is required.  There are often committee meetings as well (and non-executives will generally be expected to sit on at least one other committee) and to do a good job, a lot of preparation is required (including reading 50-100 pages ahead of each meeting for even the smallest of committees – much more for the main board meetings).  You need to really consider the time commitment
  • Money v risk – is the risk you’re taking worth the money you will get paid?
  • Learning – Do you know the industry? You need to get up to speed with the firm and the industry so there might be a lot to learn up front.
  • The financial state of firm – remember to look at this area of a firm when you consider a NED role e.g. how cash rich are they / are they profitable / is it a credible business?

As a NED you are responsible to the shareholders so you need to be able to be objective.

Boards don’t look specifically for bankers or lawyers, they want someone who can add value and credibility, ask the right questions, probe. Be professional. Bring contacts. Do you have financial skills as an extra resource that can be useful. Can you introduce clients. Can you give advice/ insight, add a fresh objective view.

And with that, he passed the baton to James Godrich. James’ Powerpoint slides can be found here.

Rachel Hubbard: “Start early, start small”

We recently welcomed Rachel Hubbard, currently leading the Social Impact sector at Saxton Bampfylde, to BCKR.

Saxton Bampfylde is now 32 years old, with the founder, Stephen Bampfylde, still involved.  They have always been focused on the non-profit world, charities and NGOs. Rachel leads the social impact sector.

Different headhunting firms operate different processes and for the candidate and headhunter this process can feel different depending on the type of organisation involved. Saxton Bampfylde does not operate through the ‘little black book’, or by relying on their database.  Their research-heavy model is very different.  They start with a clean bit of paper every time, talking to as many as 120 people for a non-executive search (150 for executive roles), asking the people they can think of who might be interested.  They can also create a mind map. That’s not to say they don’t use feedback from previous searches, or their database, but that is not the main focus. Probably one third to half would be people they haven’t spoken to before as they do try to challenge the brief.   A lot of roles need a lot of advocacy by the headhunter.  Especially the Chair roles currently.

She could fill her life with cups of coffee with potential candidates, but they don’t pay – headhunters need to work efficiently.  To get your first role, don’t look to the search firms – find someone who can introduce you to an organisation.  Can you do voluntary work, or consultancy for an organisation? Start early, start small.  Be seen to be have thought about the voluntary sector before claiming to be able to offer much to them.

Search firms have to win the work like any business.  Their marketing focus is on potential business, not candidates.  They need to look for their clients, and attract them, finding outwhat motivates them, what interests them, who they know, in order to build that trusted adviser status.  She sees this relationship building as similar to the role of a lawyer winning clients.  Become knowledgeable, listen and then come back and advise. When dealing with headhunters remember this.  Once you’ve established yourself, remind them who you are, making it simple and concise, and don’t expect a cup of coffee.

The briefing process from the client is very important in any search.  They don’t often hear “We want a lawyer”, unless the organisation has historically had a lawyer on their board, when repeat lawyers are often valued.

They generally operate to a 12 week process.

Skills audits: before the board makes an appointment they will do a skills audit to work out what they want on the board as a whole, and what they’re missing.  This exercise often makes clients very clear on what they’re after, so the simple database search won’t get the headhunter very far, as it’s the combination of skills that the client will be looking for.  Often, therefore, the headhunter is already trying to amass two or three separate skills into the pot, and it’s unlikely to be law.

Real interest isn’t enough, often something has to resonate. For example, for a homeless children’s charity or a charity for children in care, being “interested in children” is not enough, whatever the professional day job.  It requires something else in the candidate’s life – have they had real life experience of adoption, living in care etc? See if there are ways that make your application stand out.

Start early and do things on a voluntary basis to build experience but also credibility.

One highly sought-after skill: income generation relevant to that organisation. Can you make them more connected with major donors? Do you have experience of winning grants, or giving/winning large contracts akin to those of the organisation? Can you extend their network? etc.  All these could bring money into the organisation.

Another useful skill: can you offer consumer insight – marketing generally, HR, or legal experience – in their sector? Knowledge of stakeholders in that organisation is highly prized.

Who is the competition?

People who can write an application which speaks to the client.  A great CV and a letter that conveys understanding of the motivation for the organisation. If the CV alone shows the candidate is not competent, she often gives up, but clients often focus as much on the letter.

She’s astonished that even when 150 people write applications for chairing a huge charity, often captains of industry, their applications are poor, they convey no evidence for why the organisation should choose the individual.   You must explain “Why on earth they should choose me?” and provide evidence. Get someone else to read the CV and letter first – many clearly don’t.


Lawyers – can you write a CV which is not prose or discursive, and instead looks like a business CV which demonstrates your management experience? It’s a good idea to bring it alive with numbers – this is very important.  Ensure your CV is no longer than 2 pages.

To be a convincing non-executive trustee, you must demonstrate on paper and in any meetings that you are someone who is comfortable with ambiguity, realising that decisions are often made for the broader social good and which are counter to your sense of logic. The organisation may act against your own better judgement, so it is vital you appreciate the varied motivations of those around the table.  It can be emotionally charged.  You have to be up for this and ready for bold decisions being made without all the data or evidence necessarily always there.  This can be challenging for those with careers based on evidence and facts.

People choose people.  It’s a privilege to be chosen as a trusted adviser, or trustee – there needs to be an affinity, since much unpaid time will be spent with that individual over a number of years.  Arrive with a low ego and show empathy.

What’s your USP? Provide evidence that volunteering is something you do.

Make it easy for people to contact you. Do you really want to work in the non-profit sector? Are you up for the challenges this can bring?  These organisations can come at the world from a very different place.  Despite this, diversity of viewpoint and, essentially, collaboration are hugely valued.

The stakeholders’ viewpoint can be the one that has the final say in a decision.  Ultimately a charity must focus on their mission.  A good lawyer trustee may be good at remembering to bring a discussion back to these first principles.

Skills audit: Will not include lawyers! But it will include governance… not commenting on the minutes, but trying to bring proportion to the whole area in the press spot light at the moment.  Need to think where you will fit in.  The governance of charities is getting closer and closer to corporate position.  The instincts of the lawyer to question things is still good. The questions you can raise about the what-ifs, asking about the consequences of a decision being made, clarity around how decisions will fall.

Are there templates for a skills audit?

Yes. Charity commission website provides them. Will vary by type of organisation.  Grant giving body will look very different from housing association, NGO etc.  To some extent they mirror the executive skills of the organisation.

What makes a good cover letter?

Opening paragraph, where it says in a nutshell why what you do is remarkable and why you can add value. Show you’re  keen and excited and that it’s not all about you.

Are there differences in process etc. between paid and unpaid roles?

Not really, but a commercial organisation can have a simple more streamlined process with fewer involved.  Very few other differences.

Would you expect a panel interview?

Yes, four to five panel members.  Don’t presume anything.  Do your research.  What will be will be.  Panels don’t necessarily know each other, have gathered quickly in advance, but may well ask really tough questions addressing really tough issues.  Don’t be fazed.

Charities also consider whether there are stakeholder groups accessible who can join in the interviewing too.  If so, this will often be used and their views will be very important.  The insights from that group are often aligned with the more analytical process of the trustees

Interviews: Don’t talk at people.  Don’t knock them flat.  Get on and have a well argued intellectual debate and critically, come up with consensus. Most organisations are sceptical about those who’ve had no exposure to the non-profit sector but think they can nonetheless waltz in and make an impact.  Start early.

Starting points:  Samaritans volunteering.  Reading sessions in a school.  Giving time to sector.  School governor.  Mentoring and outreach programmes for clients. Talk giving.  When boards can see that you’ve taken the time despite busy careers etc. it shows real interest.

Good CVs? Pages of prose are really unhelpful.  Hard if you haven’t got much beyond legal work.  Therefore, make it look like a business CV.  Clear statement of your organisation and roles.  Bullet points, not paragraphs, two pages max, keep numbers in it, bring forward the volunteering side, don’t hide it away e.g. leadership role in your church etc. The bits of your day job that people don’t realise are important.

Letter: Spell client right! Tone is critical, often there’s too much “I”, not enough heart.  Need a story that builds empathy.

Interview coming up… how do you get a sense of the organisation before interview? What interaction can you hope for?  Many will build in a conversation with a decision maker to allow you to ask questions etc.  Do ask for this if not offered.  Remember the individual decision maker will also be making judgements at that meeting.  As for auditors etc. wait until the right late stage of the process. By short-list time it’s often about fit rather than the not skill set, hopefully, if the headhunter has done their job well.  This is even more important in a non-profit than a commercial organisation.

The pool of candidates is probably not as strong if no headhunter has been involved in the process, and the pool is harder to get into if you are not in the right network.

SaxBam’s appointments lately have been comprised of 53% women, 38% bme, but the diversity afforded by the socio-economic background is also critical … Much harder to see from the CV itself.  Life experience is able to add something very different which a board may value.

Lots of digital skills required at the moment in searches.  It’s easier to attract those individuals as they don’t dwell on their personal accountability.  But the operational end of delivering services is much harder.

Charles Randell: “The best way to get NED roles is through relentless networking”

We recently welcomed Charles Randell, currently Chair of the FCA, to BCKR.  Charles joined Slaughter and May in 1980 and stayed for 33 years, despite various efforts to ‘escape’.  He interviewed widely for other jobs before becoming a partner, but concluded they were equally as ‘bad’.  So, he took partnership but set himself a target to leave by the age of 50.  On approaching 50, he accepted a job chairing a government owned business which was in the process of being privatised but he had a change of heart over the weekend and pulled out.  This decision set him back quite some way on future jobs in the public sector!

He was still at Slaughters when the financial crisis hit.  By the end of the crisis period, he had nothing left in the tank for transactional client work – particularly pitching to clients and the ensuing rejections. But he did know many more people in government and the Bank of England. One of these rang to encourage Charles to apply for a non-executive position on the Prudential Regulation Committee at the Bank which was to be his cornerstone commitment, and he finally handed in his notice at Slaughters.  There had been hope of him remaining as a partner while fulfilling the Bank’s role but, at his first meeting at the Bank of England, there were so many conflicts that he realised he had no choice but to leave.

At around the same time, he joined the Department of Energy and Climate change board, which again came about through personal contacts gained through his work.  He ended up Chairing the Audit and Risk Committee there too.

In his experience he has found that visiting head hunters was universally a disappointing experience. Despite that, he still did the rounds with them all.

It is well known that Chairs don’t actively seek to have lawyers on their boards, for the reasons we all know too well.  He still gets asked if he has any comments to make on the minutes!


Reflections on the role of a NED

  • The job of a NED can be quite lonely and certainly an enormous contrast to being at a law firm where you can have useful conversations about issues with colleagues on a casual basis. It is difficult to find the right level of engagement, so you are not isolated from what matters in the everyday workings of the organisation you are working for.  The dangers lie in not being able to walk about and find out what’s going on.
  • The Bank of England was initially very structured and difficult to penetrate – though it is becoming more relaxed.
  • Good governance is key. There is the Code but, in his experience, good governance is incredibly rare.  In a financial services firm, the tell-tale signs are:
    • Chief Executive dominance
    • Culture of high executive pay
    • An imbalance of material information between the executive and non-executive teams
    • A chronic lack of succession planning by powerful Chief Executives.

The PRA does have a watch list of financial services firms and plenty are on it.

With this in mind, the most critical thing in looking for a NED position is to have/choose the right NED colleagues.  If you are not the Chair, it is obviously much harder to change the culture of the board and organisation.  NEDs are most effective when working persistently to raise issues with the executive – as a group.  Be dogged in a constructive and helpful way.

Freedom to poke about and a good quality exchange of information with the executive are essential.  If you are not getting that, something is wrong with the culture of the organisation.


Risks of being a NED

Compared to the unlimited liability you undertake as a lawyer, the risks are minimal.

Yes, there is a risk of public humiliation if things go wrong.  Personally, Charles doesn’t think the risk is so great.

Financial services are no worse than many other industries and at least they are highly regulated so you have the comfort that others are also doing the checks.

The key risks relate to there being a lack of diversity of thought amongst the board.  If you are just reacting to stuff being fed to you rather than delving into the underlying issues perhaps you aren’t giving it the mental space that is required.  You need to maintain a freshness of approach.

Charles has found it useful to look at the agenda and identify the issues before reading through the board pack.

He has found being the Chair of an organisation much more intensive.  The workload is considerable and the challenge as chair is to ensure that the right things get to the top of the agenda – focusing on the core objectives. This is not always easy.




How did you find the public appointment process?

It is formalised and less open.  If the process doesn’t produce the right candidate, they will ring up the right candidate and suggest they apply.  You need to assume that those making the appointment have an agenda.

There is undoubtedly more bureaucracy around the process in the public sector.

The approach of ministerial boards go either way.  The willingness of the Secretary of State to engage with the board and use it as an advisory body varies enormously.  Departmental boards are a very mixed bags.  Your best bet is to ask around before joining a board.  They can be very dependent on the minister (as Chair) – from full engagement to not turning up at all.

Non-departmental public bodies/Quangos are much more settled environments as they are not subject to the vagaries of reshuffles etc.


What signs should you look out for recommended to the when applying for senior public appointments?

Each post will have two candidates recommended to the minister so that he/she always has a choice. The key is in the integrity of the selection panel.  Ministerial add-ins do happen but don’t necessarily get far.


How do you break from the issues of the day as board Chair and get time to add the right things to the agenda?

It is a job you never finish.  It is usually more a question of getting stuff off the agenda.  Often on government bodies it is part of the reward structure for people to present papers to the board.  These things appear on the agenda months in advance.  The struggle is to get control of the agenda and to fill it from the top down.


When you look at when you left Slaughter and May did you get the timing right?

Charles thinks he lucked out.  If you look at the triggers enabling him to be able to find a job, it came down to random chance and the result of happy coincidences, chance conversations and luck. You have to make your own luck by working your contacts.

Like many lawyers he does not enjoy self promotion.  He is happiest with pen in hand.  A lot of lawyers think they don’t have a network.  You have to start with the people you know through work and personal contacts and then just plug away making new connections with every cup of coffee you have.  It does get easier as you go through the process as you realise what you need to get out of the conversations.  If you lack that persistence, then you probably aren’t cut out to be a good NED anyway.


When it comes to risk – as a NED – how do you know what you don’t know?

When he joined the Bank of England, he took about 6 months to learn what it was all about.

In 2-3 years your insight will be better informed.  You will pick up areas which you think should be on the agenda.  If you are fobbed off – don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to ask the dumb question and have the strength of your convictions.  For instance, with Carillion, the board papers would have said one thing, but the reality was different.  If the executive team aren’t providing the board with the right information, how can a NED be expected to know what’s missing.

You won’t catch everything. If you want total control, being a NED is not for you.  You can though, keep an eye on areas that might typically show up problems:

  • Sales incentives
  • Accounting anomalies
  • Divergence between cash and P&L


Ask the basic questions. Do the best you can.

Suzanna Taverne: play to your sectoral strengths and develop your network

Suzanna started her career as an investment banker at SG Warburg after which she moved into Finance and Strategy Director roles at Saatchi and Saatchi and then at Pearson.  Her next move was in to the public sector when she took on the role of Managing Director of the British Museum, overseeing the Millennium Great Court project.  This in turn led to a role at Imperial College, in what was effectively a COO role.

At the end of that phase she decided she didn’t want to work only in the public sector, so she decided to embark on a portfolio career which she hoped would offer an opportunity to use her not-for-profit, commercial and public sector experience. In doing so, she was clear that it was important to pursue only organisations that had a clear sense of values.

She made a plan to take on up to five positions – two or three commercial roles (her ‘earning engine’), one in the public sector and up to two not-for-profit roles.  There were endless opportunities in the not-for-profit sector, but the commercial roles were harder to come by.  She hoped that her previous board experience was a strength but realised that head hunters like to target candidates with a strong functional or sectorial skill set.  With her mixed career experience, she didn’t necessarily tick all the head hunter boxes.

Her portfolio went on to include:

Nationwide Building Society where she was on the Board during the Financial Crisis

  • NED at Ford Credit Europe. The issues surrounding Brexit have been particularly challenging
  • Serving on the board of the BBC Trust
  • Chairing the board at Marie Stopes International and also serving on the board of Age UK.


What has she learned about NED life?

Her first NED role (with Gingerbread, the charity for one-parent families) coincided with a huge professionalisation of the not-for-profit world.  In that sector there

is now much greater clarity on the level of commitment and professionalism required; on how NEDs are recruited and on Board evaluation

Suzanna stressed that the key is to work out your strengths, what you enjoy doing and to check that the purpose and values of the organisations you work with are in line with your own. It is also essential to have a good working relationship with the Chair.

Suzanna found it important not to spread yourself around too thinly, and that it helped her to have an ‘anchor’ role (2-3 days per week).  She has really enjoyed taking on Chair roles, which allows you to help shape an organisation.

As a trustee, playing to your strengths is important.  You need to work out what you can specifically contribute.  Be strategic.  Your conversations with other board members outside the board room are equally as important to the meetings themselves.  It is also important to work out how your sectoral experience can help.


How to get the role

Networking is essential.

All the things you gain from your full-time job you need to replace in your portfolio life.  It wasn’t obvious to Suzanna where you got your personal development from.  This is taken for granted in the day job.

  • The portfolio life can be a lonely business and you need to approach it in a deliberate way.  Suzanna took to reading the papers much more seriously to keep abreast current affairs and the business world.
  • Surround yourself with people whose brains you can pick and talk things over with, such as recent events in companies etc.  Don’t be afraid to put forward a hypothesis and see how others react.  You will learn through that experience.
  • Be purposeful with your diary planning.
  • Lack of infrastructure can be challenging i.e. arranging your own travel, managing your diary and the lack of IT support.
  • Think about what your network can do for you.  They are most likely to be the source of your next job.  Every interaction is of value to both sides.

When it comes to lawyers Suzanna admits to a degree of prejudice –

  • Comparative lack of practical experience
  • Lawyers have spent their whole professional life as an adviser not as principal
  • Lawyers are employed to consider risks and provide for them which is very different from the role of a board member, where decisions have to be made in a short period of time

Saying that – Suzanna worked under former lawyer Geoffrey Howe – where he steered Nationwide through the financial crisis incredibly skilfully.  He was a steady and rational person who didn’t crumble under the immense stress.

Overall, lawyers embarking on a portfolio life need to play to their sectoral strengths, develop their network and get good hard experience thinking as principals.



When you left Warburgs you decided you would prefer to be a principal rather than an advisor.  Why? 

I was more interested in how deals were developed than the actual transaction.  However, Warburgs provided an invaluable experience of the inner workings of the board room and an understanding that good governance is key.  Being part of a professional services team for a while is a great training ground for later corporate life.


How do you get started on the NED journey?

Suzanna became a trustee at Gingerbread quite early on but had had no other board role; after a while she was asked to become the Chair.  Later she left Imperial College with no role to go to and began her portfolio career from a standing start.  Her previous experience at Gingerbread was very important in her thinking.  It helped her to do (though not to get) her first NED position.

She got started by using her existing network and stresses that a network is really only an idea until you develop it.

You can’t embark on this journey without firstly putting in the leg work and secondly having the passion to do it.  Every job has to work on its own terms but doesn’t have to be your ‘dream’ job.  Nobody will hire you as chair without solid experience.


What is your view on headhunters?

They are a necessary evil but ancillary to your network.  Remember that head hunters work for their client so limit your expectations of them.  Work out which head hunters work in the area you’d like to work in.  You will learn a lot from the questions they ask you.


What does a lawyer have to do/say to convince you that they are not just an adviser?

She would want to see that you are able to contribute to the big strategic questions being faced by the organisation.  Your covering letter should allude to an aspect of the business of that particular organisation.  Can you be illustrate that you can help the organisation achieve its strategic goals? You really need to provide some sort of evidence that you have succeeded in doing this in other roles. For all NEDs it is about being able to articulate relevant leadership, commercial and strategic skills – so for Lawyers, contextualising your experience to non-lawyers is vital.


How do you judge an organisation that you are about to get involved with?

Talk to as many people as possible.  Current and past board members – just as if you were taking out references.  And do remember that organisations always put forward their best case when recruiting NEDs. So, finding the ‘fault lines’ can take some digging.


Sir Nicholas Young: Lawyers know how to ask the right challenging questions – a much-needed skill in a Trustee

We recently welcomed Sir Nicholas Young to BCKR where he shared his thoughts with us. He began with some facts about the voluntary sector.

It is a huge sector with 170,000 charities in the UK with a combined total income of £45 billion per year.  Add in housing associations, private schools the total yearly income reaches £73 billion compared to, for instance, the car industry (£71 billion) or the farming industry (£5 billion).


Of the proper established charities about:

  • 45% of their income comes from the public/individual donations
  • 30% comes from central and local government in the form of contracts/fees for services provided.
  • 25% comes from trusts, investments, lottery funding etc.


Charities are hugely diverse in their make-up.

  • 34% have an income of less than £10k per year
  • Only 2000 have an income over £40,000
  • Just 40 have an income over £1million


As a sector they employ 765,000 staff most of whom are part-time.  This represents 3% of the total UK workforce.  There are 14 million charity volunteers in the UK who volunteer at least once a month.

Nick started his career as an M&A lawyer at Freshfields.  After 5 years, he took time out and went back-packing with his wife. On their return they left London and moved to East Anglia where he joined a small legal firm but a had nagging feeling that his interests didn’t really lie in making big businesses even bigger.

Sue Ryder was a local charity to him, with nursing homes in the UK, 50 homes in Eastern Europe.  Nick contacted their head office and ended out being put straight through to Sue Ryder herself.  The next day he went to meet Sue and she spent ½ a day with him talking about her life.  She was in the SOE and had worked with survivors of the concentration camps.  After their meeting, they established a relationship and eventually she persuaded him to quit the law and join her organisation.

He stayed for 5 years at Sue Ryder Homes, but it was the organisation was the ‘founder’s child’ and that meant that many of the ideas Nick had for putting the organisation on the right legal footing were met with resistance.  A complex relationship to manage.

He left and went to the Red Cross which at the time was an organisation which had lost its way.  The management and trustees had fallen out.  The organisation had undergone huge changes after the war with the introduction of the NHS. In the following 40-50 years they got involved in a variety of different things.  Essentially it was organised like 93 separate county charities.  Nick was brought in to run ‘the UK’, but given its structure, it took a while to modernise.   With his legal hat on, looking for a way to collapse the structuring,  he realised that the trustees were unaware of their personal liability in their roles and when Nick wrote to them to highlight this fact it made a lot of trustees sit up and think and subsequently leave.  Restructuring was underway!

After 5-6 years with the Red Cross he left to join Macmillan Cancer Support as their Chief Executive.  This was a wonderful, slightly happy go lucky, organisation.  They had very dedicated volunteers who raised lots of money.  The relationship with government became very interesting.   A little before Tony Blair was elected, Nick had a meeting with Chris Smith (shadow Health Secretary) and Harriet Harman.  He sold them the idea that they needed a strategy to counteract the post code lottery in relation to cancer care services.  During that meeting Harriet realised that this could be a great mandate for their manifesto and when they came to power, there was a transformation of cancer services. Macmillan was then able to work closely with government on a strategic level.  Which was very interesting.

After 6-7 years Nick went back to the Red Cross as their Chief Executive running the UK and overseas.  At the time they had a deficit of £14 million so needed a restructuring.  He only stepped down from that role quite recently.



The governance of charities is becoming increasingly important issue due to the public’s waning trust in charities in general.  This concerns particularly the charities’ relationship with donors and potential donors, and, since the Oxfam crisis, with ensuring the safety of beneficiaries.  That crisis has been a huge wake-up call for charities, heightened by the fact that The Charity Commission’s role is now that of the regulator rather than there simply to support charities.  This leaves a lot riding on charity trustees, who now have a big responsibility for people who are part-time volunteers.  For large charities in particular, it is a weighty responsibility, and trustee boards have found it difficult to get to grips with the public scrutiny.

So, there is a real need for better trustees and a better relationship between trustees and the management.


What makes a good trustee?

  • Passion and enthusiasm
  • Relevant expertise and experience
  • An ability to ‘bring it to the table’. To challenge management.  To ask the right question.
  • Time commitment. Charities will always want more time they have asked you for.
  • To have the ability to strike the right balance between support and challenge. There should be a creative tension between management and trustees.

In big charities it is an oversight role.  In small charities you need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do a bit of everything.

Working with volunteers is a challenge.  You can’t manage them in the same way you manage staff in the private sector.  It requires patience and understanding.  It is important to understand that the staff are there to support the volunteers and channel the volunteers’ passion constructively.


Lawyers – why do relatively few trustee boards have lawyers on them?

One great skill a lawyer has is the ability to get to find out what the real problem is.  To ask the right challenging question.  There is much need for these skills on trustee boards and Nick is always keen to encourage other lawyers to join the sector.  It will offer you the chance to feel good about ‘giving back’ and also to have fun.

  • There are lots of recruitment consultants to help you get charity roles e.g. Saxton Bampfylde, Spencer Stuart and Odgers being the main ones.
  • The key is to do something that really interests you. Make sure the organisation supports its trustees
  • Be clear about what you are taking on in terms of time commitment


How difficult is it to sit on the board of a charity verses a listed company?

The gulf is not so huge between the two.  There are greater differences between a sitting on the board of a small or large charity.  There is a gap in the support for charities, left by the Charity Commission’s role now being that of regulator rather than to support.


Is the lack of lawyers on boards a problem sitting at the desk of the headhunters?

When Nick went to see a charity headhunter they questioned why he would want to leave the law!  Lawyers are still perceived as one dimensional “we don’t need a lawyer now”.  Lawyers need to get better at marketing their business skills:

  • A good understanding of how organisations are structured and work.
  • A general understanding of law is incredibly valuable to a board.
  • A commitment to doing things the proper way.


Are there too many charities in the sector?  How should the problem be addressed?

As an example – there are 700 charities with the world ‘cancer’ in their title.  There isn’t an obvious answer how the government can stop people wanting to help other people.  It is hard to halt the passion of volunteers.  There is an absence of collaboration.   Perhaps this is an issue lawyers could push to the forefront.


Are there sectors where there is more need for trustees to join their boards?

Organisations do struggle to get trustees in the ‘un-sexy’ sectors such as mental health, prisons and crime, refugees and INGOs, partly due to reputational exposure.


Where should you start your search?

  • Define which sector interests you.
  • Go to a headhunter that specialise in charity trusteeships
  • Research a charity you are interested in and then approach the Chief Executive or Chair. You’d be surprised how welcome these types of approaches can be.

Will Dawkins: Tactics for getting that board role – Get skilled-up, widen your horizons and prepare

This week we welcomed Will Dawkins, Head of Board Practice at Spencer Stuart to BCKR to share his thoughts with us.


The current situation

The current situation for lawyers on FTSE 100 boards has neither significantly changed nor improved over the last 5 years.  There are currently 12 NEDs who come from a true professional lawyer background on FTSE 100 boards.  In the US it is more like 50% of companies who have a lawyer on their board.

The reality of the FTSE 100 market is that there are probably only 780 positions available at any one time and 1% of those will be open to lawyers.

A typical board will have the following NED seats to fill:

  • 2 executives (these will be people who have managed a large business)
  • 1 SID
  • Chair of Audit (a CFO or Audit person)
  • Chair of Remco (someone who has lived with REM e.g. a former CEO or perhaps someone from an HR background)
  • 2 seats will go to the next REM and Audit chairs
  • This leaves 2 potential seats for newbies – one of which could of course be a lawyer.

In general terms in the UK, a board’s role is about strategy and ensuring its implementation and challenging management on their business decisions.  There is therefore an emphasis on the possession of business skills.

A very typical question a headhunter will ask a prospective candidate is “tell me a story about how you coped with an alien situation?”

  • Do you have the ability to deal with complex scenarios?
  • Are you able to make big decisions based on limited information?

There is therefore considerable benefit in looking at roles in other organisations.  Other options might be:

  • Regulatory agencies
  • Government departments
  • Trade organisations
  • NHS trusts
  • School governorships
  • Major charities

The organisations are interesting and really need people like you.


What are the pros and cons of inviting a lawyer onto your board?

The Pros

  • In relation to quoted companies there is an increasing emphasis on diversity and not just in gender and race but the desire to have diverse insight, personal characteristics and thought around the board table.
  • In this highly regulatory environment, the agenda is often focused on compliance and regulatory matters. Lawyers are well placed to add value on these complex issues.
  • The ability to read board papers and drill down through the detail to come up with 3 important questions is second nature to a lawyer.
  • A commitment to accuracy is useful in the boardroom and reassuring.
  • Morality – need people who are able to make the right call.
  • Business-minded – law firms are one of the most successful business sectors. Lawyers broad exposure and perspective on business should help. But you need to be able to present yourself as good business people through your role as a lawyer.
  • Managing ego.
  • Complexity – your ability to deal with complex financial structures.
  • Commoditisation: the experience of addressing the business



  • They don’t need a lawyer on the board for legal advice.
  • You have the wrong skill-set. A lack of business background to challenge the CEO.  A lawyer is happier advising than making decisions.
  • You are too precise in your thinking.
  • Your perceived lack of commercial acumen – for example, not being good with numbers.



  • Skill-up
  • Adjust your expectations – don’t restrict yourself to PLCs
  • Preparation


Skilling Up

At the long-list stage you will be ranked against other business people so try to build evidence of your business acumen.

  • Build experience through work in the charity sector
  • Learn the language of business
  • Look at your weaknesses in business and train up.
    • Management training
    • MBA
    • Advanced Management Programmes are run by most business schools
    • Spencer Stuart also runs a 3-day (invitation only) board role-play course

It will show that you are serious; it will take you outside your sphere of experience, increase your network and make you a better interviewee.



Take a look at the full range of options.  Don’t restrict yourself to PLCs.



Before you go to a meeting with anyone – research them for example in BoardEx.  Check their connections.


How to promote yourself with the headhunters?

Headhunters are looking for people for their jobs – not looking to contact people for roles which may appear.  Your CV should state plainly near the top what you are looking for, which makes it easier for the headhunter to make a match.

If you want a coffee/meeting with a headhunter give them a reason to talk to you.

  • You may have your eye on a particular board.
  • You may have an introduction from someone who the headhunter won’t want to offend.
  • You may have an introduction from a client or senior adviser. Cold calling doesn’t really work. The headhunter will only think about you passively through a cold call approach.  They are only proactive for their clients.  They are reactive for potential candidates.
  • Identify a particular sector you are interested in, so you reach the right person within the headhunting firm. The Board Practice should be your first point of call not the Legal Practice.
  • Find a link within the firm through your contacts. The leading firms in the corporate sector are:
    • Russell Reynolds
    • Heidrick & Struggles
    • Spencer Stuart
    • Lygon Group
    • Korn Ferry
  • In the not-for-profit sector, it is easier to become aware of roles as they have to be publicly advertised. The main firm in this sector is Odgers and Berndtson (who deal with two thirds of the public-sector roles).


What will make you liked or not?

If you can evidence that you’ve thought carefully about what you want and who might be interested in you.


Government appointments

Government departments are a very different option from a PLC.  There is less focus on strategy and more on operational efficiency and effective delivery.  It can be very challenging.  Their boards are typically made up of academics, business people, lawyers and accountants.  They do have to advertise their roles and they have to demonstrate that all candidates are given exactly the same process.  However, it can often be a two-pronged approach, with sought-after candidates being asked to apply.

If you don’t receive a call from the headhunter in advance of your interview it will be indicative of the interest in you.


You will be interviewed by a panel, where all candidates are asked exactly the same questions.  However, it is an accessible world for a lawyer.

The downsides are that ministers have often chosen their preferred candidate and so, if possible, you should try and find out (discretely) whether there is a preferred candidate.


What kind of remuneration can be expected of these different roles?

  • FTSE 100 companies pay approximately £70k for a NED role – unlimited personal liability.
  • A public NED role will pay somewhere between £10-20k
  • A charity role £0


Do concerns around liability affect people taking on these roles?

To a degree, especially in the financial services sector, companies and most (major) charities have D&O policies but you should recognise that reputational liability is a greater risk than legal and financial liability.

Kirsty Watt and Gavin Robert: Lawyers are highly sought-after at multi-academy trusts

We recently welcomed Kirsty Watt from Academy Ambassadors and Gavin Robert, former Linklaters partner, to BCKR to discuss academy trusts and how lawyers make a good fit for their boards.

NED roles for BCKR members are being offered through Academy Ambassadors who came to speak to the group today, together with Gavin Robert – a BCKR member who found a NED role with England’s largest primary academy trust through the AA – BCKR relationship.

Lawyers are particularly sought after for the boards of multi-academy trusts for their ability to provide scrutiny and challenge. Academy Ambassadors provides a free, bespoke service matching business people and professionals with multi-academy trusts looking to strengthen their boards. Since 2013, the not-for-profit programme funded by the Department for Education has introduced over 900 business people and professionals to trust boards.

The NED role at an academy trust has impact and makes a significant contribution to improving education and life chances. As multi-academy trusts (MATs) grow and develop they face significant challenges and the skills and experience of lawyers can help these trusts and their pupils to succeed.

Academy Trusts have expanded massively over the last 5 years, which has not been without its own challenges.  Academy Ambassadors came into the picture at the beginning of this expansion when it became obvious that these new organisations needed the backing of a strong board.

A school usually converts to an academy when the Department for Education asks for a school to be taken out of local authority control.

  • If a school fails Ofsted inspection and goes into special measures.
  • A school is doing well but wants to convert.

Is there ever hostility when a school decides to convert?  It varies.  Some parents are hostile to the idea.  It is a question of doing the right thing for the locality.  The need is for organisations that can raise standards in a short time and Academies have been successful in doing that.

The usual route to becoming an academy is either:

  • A business sponsor taking over a school (usually a failing school)
  • A strong head who is asked to get involved in other schools (which is the most common model) – with a structure where one corporate body oversees a number of schools.

Obviously, it can be a big leap from being a primary school teacher to becoming Chief Executive of an organisation with a budget of £10-200 million.  Academy Ambassadors come in to help match people who want to make a contribution on a pro bono basis to support these teachers by joining multi academy trust boards.

The educational environment is stimulating and has plenty of governance challenges, in particular, a number of growing Academies need to establish an independent corporate body/central board to oversee the local school governing bodies.

Gavin was introduced to Academy Ambassadors following a BCKR breakfast and was interested in having a mixed portfolio which included the voluntary sector.

He joined REAch2, which is one of the largest primary multi academy trusts, with 58 schools.  It is the largest primary-only academy and covers the UK up to the midlands.  Reach4 and Reach South cover Yorkshire and the South Coast.

The challenge with primary school Academies is that they are made up of many more smaller schools.  REAch2 has an income of £100 million and a staff of 4000.

It was established by Sir Steve Lancashire who developed a scalable system, with central services to keep pace with the rate of expansion.  It is all funded through grants per pupil – though extra funding is received for converting a school to an academy.   The board are not involved in any external fundraising.  The bare facts are that increased occupancy equals more income.  Academy schools all come from the state system.

Gavin’s first role for REAch2 was to join one of their Regional Boards.  There are 4 regions with 15 schools in each region.  There is also a central trust board.  This is quite a governance-heavy model.

On the Regional Board Gavin stepped up to be Chair of the Education Committee.  It was a fast learning curve, particularly learning to disseminate educational data.  As a competition lawyer, Gavin didn’t feel particularly well versed in Corporate Governance.  But the Committee consisted of two head teachers and one governor who were experienced in education which helped.   The focus was mainly on strategy, direction and also risk and audit.

He later moved to the Trust Board where he became Deputy Chair.  They formed a Rem Com and he sits on that too. The statutory accounts, which are published, are heavily scrutinised.  Executive pay is a very hot topic as is gender pay gap.   Education has the 2nd/3rd worst gender gap.

Now Gavin is also on a Governance Steering committee set up to examine the governance model, allowing greater power for the Regional Boards.  He has found the regional board level to be very interesting – in particular, the detailed discussions about improving local schools.

The heads teachers report to the Regional Director who has a team of 4-5 assistant directors who go into help turn schools around.


What are the advantages of an Academy Trust role?

It is very clearly a NED role (not a governor role).  Multi academy trust boards are definitely corporate roles.

Do schools in these large trusts still have local governing bodies?  Yes – they are a mix of parent and non-parent trustees.  They play a governing/supervisory role in relation to their individual schools, but they cannot, for example, hire or fire a head teacher.  They tend to oversee the following areas:

  • Disciplinary and performance issues
  • Parent/staff surveys
  • Holding the Head teacher to account
  • Curriculum – the local offering to pupils

They are not involved in the strategy of the trust.

Resources are shared across schools – which is really the most valuable asset of the MATs.  For example, a good leader from one school will share best practice in failing schools.

Financially, MAT boards focus on the reserves policy.  Finance for the MATs is received through ‘top-slice’.  Each school in the trust receives money directly on a per pupil basis and the trust will take a percentage off the top.  The role of a trust includes:

  • Educational performance
  • Creating capacity
  • Challenging schools on resources
  • Top slice policy


If you are looking to take on a role what should you look for?

  • Think about the nature of the challenge you want
  • 5% of trusts are in a turn-around scenario
  • A match has a lot to do with geography and time available. Anticipate 5-6 hours a month but realistically it will be 8 hours.  Gavin does 4 days per term.  Initially you need to get up to speed with a lot of jargon
  • Your decision will most likely come down to how you think you will get on with the other members of the board.

Gavin has found it to be a manageable and very rewarding role.  You learn an enormous amount from fellow trustees and it is a very good intro to NED roles.

If you are interested in pursuing a role with an Academy Trust, BCKR members can have a one-to-one conversation with an experienced adviser at Academy Ambassadors to help match them to a role. The locations where roles are currently available for lawyers are: Bexley, Leicestershire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton, Barnsley, Sheffield, Rotherham and Liverpool. However, further roles are coming on-line this month in London, the South-east, South-West as well as northern regions. By registering your interest now, you will be informed of these roles when they are available.


Further information is available here and BCKR’s contact is kirstywatt@newschoolsnetwork.org who you can email to express interest.


Lord Falconer: The nerdiest of lawyers can make a decision without reading all the papers or having all the boxes ticked

This week we were delighted to welcome Lord Charles Falconer to BCKR.

Looking back Charlie’s experience as a lawyer could seem quite depressing.  Between the ages of 22-45 he was the nerdiest commercial barrister. He had concluded that success was brought about by serious hard work and always being on top of things – mostly on top of reading the papers.  But now – after broadening his career with a stint in politics – he can look back and see how completely absorbed in the day job he was and that there actually other approaches to success beyond being the best-read person in the room.

Having made silk at 40, he was appointed to the post of Solicitor General at 45 (this had no relation to the fact that he used to share a room with the PM at school).  Charlie had come to believe that lawyers were the cleverest, most hard-working individuals out there but he was disabused of the opinion during his time as Solicitor General.  As a politician, the ability to think strategically and to connect with other people was equally as important as being across the facts.  He learned that lawyers aren’t very good at that. You sometimes have to make decisions without knowing absolutely everything.  He felt a bit at sea to begin with.

He moved from the SG role to being in charge of the Millennium Dome.  Pretty disastrous for him.  He was then moved to the Department of Housing which was a liberation.  This gave him experience of a job outside of the law, with few papers to read, where the aim was fundamentally to help as many people without means as possible to get housing.  This required developing relations in and out of politics to secure the necessary help.  It is true to say that he became completely obsessed with housing.

After a year however, lawyers in politics were in short supply and he was moved to the post of Criminal Justice lawyer for the Home Office.

When Charlie left the world of politics he really wanted to continue working in housing.  By that time housing associations were the biggest sector building affordable housing, local authorities having been deprived of the ability to build after Thatcher introduced the ‘right to buy’.  Housing associations have their beginnings in charities or religious organisations and most range from small and local to huge associations worth billions with strong covenants relying on large numbers of tenants receiving housing benefit.

Charlie chaired Amicus Horizon for 9 years and found it to be an incredibly worthwhile experience.  When he joined, the board was mainly populated with resident trustees but over the years they expanded numbers.  More independent professionals including accountants and people from HR backgrounds.  When he joined, at the start , they were actually in supervision due to a range of bad decisions that included:

  • Bad maintenance contracts
  • Health and safety issues
  • Fraud and corruption

Between 2008-2017 Amicus merged, came out of supervision and built more houses than any other association in London.

Housing associations are keen to get high calibre professionals on their boards and lawyers’ skills are a good match.  You get a much better understanding of the issues at a board table if there is a broad range of people, especially if you include those whom you might not come into contact with otherwise.   You do need to be able to think strategically and it can be time consuming when you are firefighting.  But housing (or the lack thereof) is an incredibly important aspect of social justice.  If the issues aren’t addressed the UK may find itself in a similar situation as the US where communities are polarised – the extremely wealthy living in one area, next to those living in poverty.  A two-tier city like Los Angeles.  It is a massive social problem.  But because of that, sitting on a housing association board gives you much needed insight in to a world that would otherwise pass you by.

Lawyers aren’t thought to bring much to the table.  Can fall into two categories

  1. Big rhetoricians
  2. Read all the papers

In between are people who are able to deal with others, and to come to a conclusion about a problem without dotting every ‘i’.

Lawyers are reluctant leaders.  Happy to dominate and control but ultimately shuffle the actual decision onto the client.


There is a balance somewhere between outrage and detail.



Ultimately his full engagement with a topic made him more willing to offer his views on issues, to form a view then provide the support for that view (where the reading remains useful), and always followed by leadership.  As Solicitor General he had to engage in public policy issues as a lawyer – he was not particularly well liked by lawyers or politicians at that time, and he was particularly struck by the ability of non-lawyers to make good strategic decisions drawing on insights rather than by reading all the facts and figures first.  Despite his political career he will always be perceived as a lawyer.  There were people who questioned the decision to have a lawyer as Chair Amicus Horizon – even though he had been Minister for Housing!  So – there are definitely hurdles to overcome.


What motivated you to go into politics?

Charlies absolutely loved the commercial bar but he had always engaged in politics and after the Labour landslide, when the role of Solicitor General came up he thought that it would be a two-year job and then he’d go back to being a barrister.  He didn’t go into politics because he’d had enough of the law.  He measures real success as gaining the approval of judges and lawyers …. He is still waiting for that!


In Housing Associations now, there is a tremendous tension between the profit making machine and developing enough affordable homes.  How do you Housing Associations best deal with this tension? 

Between 2010-2015 the government was pressing hard on Housing Associations to use their assets to make more money e.g.  building 3 large houses in Mayfair and using the profit from those to build 30,000 affordable homes.   A political issue – having assets which you should sweat for greater good.  But housing is very dependent on grants, regulation and goodwill from government.  The politics has changed as government has become aware that they need to put more grants.  Simplistically more government money will equal more houses.


What are the warning signs to look out for if you are thinking of joining a Housing Association board?

  1. Strange movements of cash in the accounts
  2. Resident complaints
  3. Contractor manipulation


How do they recruit NEDs?

  1. Headhunters – Saxton Bampfylde and Odgers
  2. Inside Housing Magazine


There is no shortage of vacancies for these roles and in the next 18 months there will probably be a number of Housing Associations refreshing their boards as terms reach their end.  If you make an approach to a local association they may suggest you start on a committee first and then transfer you on to the board


The most important thing is that you need to be engaged and represent and stand for the values of the organisation.

Josyane Gold: Networking, focus and persistence – the key to attaining your first role

We recently welcomed Josyane Gold, retired lawyer, to BCKR to share her thoughts with us.

Zygos appointed Josyane to the board of Electra Private Equity, a FTSE 250 investment trust, 5 years ago, after retiring from her 25-year career as a corporate partner at S J Berwin.  At that time there was no structure or support for senior partners thinking about life after the law, so she felt she had to be very strategic about her transition, particularly once she’d decided to go down the route of looking for non-executive roles.

She spoke to her managing partner about this transition, explaining that it would take time to find the first roles but that if she succeeded, it would be positive for the firm and would reflect well on the practice.  She negotiated a phased departure over 3 years, reducing her equity accordingly and then moving to a consultancy role at 3 days per week.

Josyane felt she needed the time to draw a line under her legal career.  She suggested a financial package to the managing partner that included access to a senior coach or career adviser of her choice (at the firm’s cost) for 18 months.  She felt this was necessary, so she could learn more about the world outside law since she had been so heavily focused on her legal career, and she didn’t really know what her skills were beyond the legal ones.

Josyane began the process of looking for her first role by examining her goals, skills and what really mattered to her.  The consultant helped her recognise and understand her skills and how they were transferable and also helped with creating a new CV.

Networking was where it started.  She had lots of introductions from people who had gone through the process of retiring, or joining the non-executive world.  She began meeting with headhunters and looked at roles in listed and unlisted companies.  She didn’t really know where she was heading.  Without fail, the headhunters told her that they NEVER received a mandate for lawyers – which was rather deflating.  Though saying that – her first role did come through a recruiter.

Critically Josyane’s recommendation is that you focus on your own network.  She had coffees left right and centre with clients, letting them know that she was looking, making connections all the time.  Your first role will inevitably come directly or indirectly from your connections.

She attended seminars, joined the FT NED club and took relevant courses.

She spent time on her on-line profile, creating a website and up-dating her Linked-In profile.

After a few months, she received a call from a headhunter regarding the role at Electra, who were looking to recruit a non-exec (to replace a retiring board member) with someone with a legal background!  Josyane felt comfortable in that sector and coincidentally the retiring director was an old client who had come to see Josyane 6 years prior regarding taking on the role herself at Electra.  There is no doubt – for the first time in her career – that diversity worked in her favour for this appointment.

For Josyane it was a perfect starting point.  She undertook plenty of due diligence, got up to speed on corporate governance and got straight down to a full induction process.  There were 6 board members, all fully independent non-execs.  The role of the board was to choose and supervise the fund manager.  A wholly non-executive structure, which works to a point but when something crops up, it all falls apart a bit.

Josyane was engaged for 20 days a year including the AGM and strategy day.  The board was diverse in terms of men and women and skills.  There was an excellent dynamic and they built constructive relationships with the manager.  Josyane learned a lot from her fellow board members.  It probably took 3 years to feel confident in that role but thereafter, she felt she had properly made the shift from the role of an adviser to that of principal.

She wasn’t initially clear where she could contribute.  It took time to find her feet and understand that she had something to say.  The process was accelerated by the arrival of an ‘activist’ board member.  It was a fascinating, if time consuming, period but it proved that she did have something to bring to the table.  During that process she saw the best and worst of listed boards.  Ultimately the activist took control of the board and most of the previous board members resigned.

After leaving Electra Josyane joined the board of advisers for Palamon, where she is highly involved with the investment team.  She has built up an ambassadorial role with Palamon.

She is also mentoring several former clients and doing some charity work alongside.


  • Seek assistance at the start of your transition to help you with re-packaging yourself.
  • Work your own network.
  • Start thinking about this step early.
  • Focus on an industry sector where you have experience – all options are open after your first role.
  • If serious about building a portfolio – take on other roles during your first role – don’t wait.
  • Undertake careful due diligence before taking on your first role – but it won’t tell you everything.
  • Continue learning and networking through seminars etc.
  • Persevere – it is a satisfying and challenging route to take post law.



When you joined Electra did it operate in the way you expected?

The first thing that hit her was that so much is financial.  Looking at performance, running through valuations (not her background).  Others around the board table were better equipped.  It took a while to recognise that this was not a problem.

She thought she’d be required to be a funds specialist but that wasn’t really the case.  She was put on the Management Engagement committee which was all about building relationships managers and this really spoke to her skills.

Taking time to understand the dynamics of the board and what other members had to add was important in recognising her own skills.

All your preparation can only take you so far.  The rest you learn on the job.  On the whole as a lawyer, you don’t get to see the decisions being made, so you are not there seeing the full panoply of things the board are discussing.

Josyane was lucky to have a very supportive Chairman who took her aside once and said she was doing a good job but that she didn’t look like she was enjoying it (which was probably true).  At that point she gave herself permission to do so.


Were there skills that you had never been required to use as a lawyer that you have since had to learn?

She was attracted by the notion of being a principal rather than adviser.  That was the main change.  During one verification process at Electra, Allen & Overy were up all night working on the verification notes.  Josyane went to bed and just had to sign the papers in the morning.  That really brought home to her that she was now in a different role.

It is good to get out of your comfort zone.  Comfort can mean coasting.  You learn quickly on the job.  It is scary but suddenly you realise from a business perspective that you understand so much more about how a business runs.  You never lose the fear that things will go wrong – but that is what keeps the adrenalin pumping.  Don’t shy away from the numbers.

Lawyers haven’t helped themselves by not building their profiles whilst in full time practice – so take more time to prove themselves.


How is being a lawyer informing your contribution around the board table?

  • Analytical skills – the ability to assimilate and articulate
  • Breadth of contact and industry knowledge
  • Risk




Karen Brown: “Why would you want a lawyer on your charity board? Why wouldn’t you?”

We recently welcomed Karen Brown to BCKR to share her thoughts with us.

When asked the question why would you want a lawyer on your charity board, Karen’s response would be – why wouldn’t you? Maybe the better question might be “why would a lawyer want to be on a charity board”?

Things have changed dramatically in the last 5 years. There has been a huge shift in governance with the external environment requiring much more formal governance procedure to be in place. Some charities are still adjusting to this.

How lawyers would be viewed on boards depends very much on the lawyer. Boards are there to help create an environment where the organisation can take risks but achieve its mission safely.

Enabling lawyers were the ones Karen liked when she was working in broadcasting. The prejudices against lawyers are well known – that they have a tick-box mind-set, aversion to risks etc. – but Karen is yet to come across one of those. Lawyers’ experience is all about dealing with messes and they are able to bring:

  • Good analytical skills
  • All round abilities
  • The right questions to ask
  • Values that match the organisation
  • Strategic brain

They are people who know how to flex, roll up their sleeves, advise at times and insist at other times.

We overlook the point that lawyers have a far broader experience than they are generally credited with, managing large businesses dealing with many of the same issues as other organisations. Issues around law and fundraising are under-resourced in terms of legal support within charities so it can be very useful to have a lawyer on your board.

How does selection work?

Some charities only use search agencies for Chair recruitment. But the principles are the same whether the search for trustees is being done through an agency or by the organisation itself – so building your networks is the first task.

Usually, the board will go through a standard skills audit and look for the experience that is lacking. Look at the diversity of the existing board in terms of all protected characteristics e.g. gender, BAME, also where you live, socio economic mix, age etc and mode of thinking (lateral, creative, strategic).

Achieving the optimum board skills can be a difficult balance to strike. Very often, recruiting organisations can be blind to the breadth an individual can offer. So it is up to you – the applicant – to demonstrate that.

Expect to prep hard. Quite often a potential trustee gets turned away only to be appointed at a later date. It is important to understand the reasoning behind a board’s decision not to take you on. Get to know the organisation better, if appropriate, and apply again.

Another route to board appointment is to do other volunteering for the organisation such as supporting the legal department, being on a sub-committee or doing a piece of work for the organisation.

How do you decide if the organisation is right for you?

Think about what your interests are.

  • Do you like large or small organisations?
  • What drives you? You need passion for the organisation. Think hard about whether you are prepared to be up at night worrying for them.
  • Do your due diligence – think about what might go wrong.

Due diligence – how do you start the process?

  • Ask questions.
  • What does the organisation say about itself?
  • What do others say about the organisation?
  • What are the main issues facing the organisation?
  • Insist on talking to the company secretary.
  • Check regulatory record.
  • Check fundraising practices.
  • Spot check e.g. Is their website compliant?

The most important thing is to have an understanding of the organisation’s culture. Talk to other trustees (including outgoing trustees) though choose carefully. Meet the Chair and CE.

How do you diagnose the functionality of the board?

  • Ask questions and listen out for ‘weasel words’.
  • Look at annual governance review.
  • If you are offered the role but feel that you need more information, you can say yes subject to further due diligence.
  • The risk is usually not so much what is known (but perhaps not disclosed) but the information which should have been known but isn’t.
  • It may be useful to talk to the Finance Officer too.

Lawyers on boards provide mixture of advice and insistence but avoid being an unpaid professional adviser. It has always been the right of trustees to get legal advice paid for. Obviously, a lawyer on a board should not be the provider of that advice (while still giving their views and suggesting sources of advice).

Lawyers on boards should be aware that they will be held to a higher standard in carrying out their role given their professional background.

How do you get the best from board members?

Be clear with each other about requirements and expectations.
Conduct annual reviews. Give feedback.
Understand things from the organisation’s perspective.

There is nothing grand about being the trustee of a charity. Think of yourself as a servant.
It can be incredibly rewarding, working with brilliant people doing extraordinary work.
The important point is never to lose sight of the mission of your organisation.

Have you seen lawyers exploited?

The very nature of being a trustee in the charity sector is in part to be exploited for your experience. When inappropriate, you can say no.

General Discussion

The Charity Commission guidance is very vague. Regulators seem to deliberately leave requirements that way with considerable scope for interpretation. They then, in retrospect, hold you accountable.

Oxfam and others have been working on how law firms can provide help to charities in a pro-bono way. Firms could make a huge contribution to the charity sector not just through being trustees e.g. there might be scope for joint procurement to increase opportunities and reduce costs.

It is very important to have at least one trustee with finance expertise on the board, who understands accounts. Finance is such a crucial aspect of a charity’s success and survival.

If you look at a number of charities in crisis, a common theme is that they are doing good but feel they are above compliance with the rules at the same time. This challenge is not helped by the volume of guidance on the rules by lawyers, accountants and the Charity Commission but without these, charities do not have the know-how to put the rules into practice.

Some suggestions for strengthening governance

– For trustees ideally, there could be a simple core set of guidance – with an online test to be completed before becoming a trustee.
– There should be more reliance on audit and external reviews.
– Trustees shouldn’t be paid – but for larger charities the model could be a supervisory board made up of (unpaid) NEDs responsible for governance and an executive board made up of senior executives responsible for management.
– Charities need to spend more money on governance and resource areas of concern.

A large proportion of the country’s services in social welfare and the education sector are delivered by small charities. The country is increasingly dependent on them.

Challenges facing the charity sector:

  • Charities don’t have the resources for dealing with a media crisis, where there will generally be a long period of being scrutinised by the press.
  • Need to draw a distinction between charities who are also contractors and other service providers.
  • There is a proliferation of ‘any one can have a go’ small organisations, with inherent weaknesses (including approaches to compliance with the rules).
  • With so many different challenges for the sector, the Charity Commission lacks the resources to address the issues.
  • Small charities, with few to no employees at all, are subject to the risk of founder’s syndrome or abuse of the charity.
  • It is easy to characterise organisations as thinking the mission is more important than the meeting the rules. Having said that, some rules are a major impediment to the mission of some charities. For instance, the money laundering/banking rules make getting cash to a disaster zone safely virtually impossible.

Denise Jagger: “Being on a board gives you skills – which can help your law firm”

We recently welcomed Denise Jagger to BCKR, who shared with us her wealth of expertise acquired on her non-executive journey which, rather unusually, began when she was in her 30s.

Top tips:

  • Getting a portfolio takes a long time, so you do have to start early and put in the effort.
  • Do not underestimate the power of your network. Denise found her most interesting roles on her own. Your contacts are important; you can use them for several things, not just getting you introductions to roles but also later on to introduce donors to charities, for example.
  • Do not assume that people will think of you as a candidate, lawyers aren’t good at self-publicising, so you need to let people know that you are looking for non-executive roles.
  • It’s important to start looking for NED roles while you’re still in an executive role and your contacts are in your reach. Before you leave your firm!
  • Educate yourself, using organisations such as BCKR, or taking finance courses for non-accountants, to become financially literate. You have to have a way to overcome that prejudice.
  • Do use a separate CV for non-executive applications. It should be completely different from your legal CV.
  • Don’t rule anything out. Denise used always to say she wouldn’t do financial services, but then got offered a role in insurance and it ended up being one of the most important and interesting things she’d ever done.
  • Get yourself known with the headhunters. Use your contacts to help with introductions.

Skills rather than deals

There is an increased focus on diversity on boards now, so it is getting easier for lawyers (despite still being presented as the ‘wildcard’ on headhunters’ short lists).

Boards never look specifically for lawyers; there is a massively out-dated stereotypical view of lawyers. We don’t need a lawyer; we can buy in that skill/we have a GC already/a lawyer will stop us from doing what we want etc. So it’s important to bring out your skills rather than your deals.

It can be easier for in-house lawyers who have sat on committees and boards, or even for lawyers who have run legal teams or departments. You need to point out your managerial skills in that case. Show your vision and strategic capabilities.

Sector experience can be a benefit, depending on the situation, but not necessarily. Some don’t want their board members to have sector experience because they have it in drones already in their executive team, but there can be situations where it’s appreciated.

Charity trustee role

Get experience early on. For example, start by becoming a charity trustee, get your first role under your belt, and build your experience from there. These can help hugely if you want to move into commercial roles later, because you meet the right people and develop the right skills.
You can learn so much, there are some hugely talented, resourceful, creative, interesting people on these trusts and trustee roles are not that difficult to get in comparison with listed company NED roles.

Denise was once on a museum trust, where she learned lots of useful skills she could use later on. She got it because she was a local. Find something that fits your interests e.g. conservation, riding, education, NHS etc.

Don’t wait for a job notice, just get in touch, write in and offer your skills. In smaller trusts you may be asked to chair a committee, so it’s a great opportunity.

How did she get her first roles?

  • 1st role: While she was in private practice, she did an IPO for a healthcare client. Years later, the client called her up and offered her a board role.
  • 2nd role: Whilst GC at Asda, a friend of a friend met the chair of a building association who needed someone with consumer experience.
  • Next roles: Local museum trust and other smaller industry panels. Started to build out her CV.
  • 1st PLC role: Redrow, the house builder, she got the job following her responsibility at Asda for onboarding subsidiaries. This led to other PLC roles such as Belway, another house builder.

How does she manage her executive and non-executive career simultaneously?

When she joined Asda she already had a role, asked to keep it and they let her. Then she took on additional roles within Asda. It’s harder in private practice but not impossible. Sometimes there can be conflicts of interest, or at least perceptions of them.

Now she’s a 3-day Partner at Eversheds and not a fee earner, which takes off some pressure. It takes a lot of planning and time management.

When she returned to private practice she was able to negotiate and brought her portfolio with her. It’s easier to make the case in point when you’re closer to retirement. It has definitely given her skills, which have helped her firm.

What roles would you decline?

Don’t just take the first role that comes along, as you have to commit to minimum three years. If you can only take on one role whilst you’re working full time, you need to make sure it’s the right role.

You’re doing it for interest, not for money, so pick well.

Meet as many people as you can. Do your due diligence. Insist on seeing the people you think are important. You have to get on with the Chairman and build a relationship.

Is there a danger that you get perceived as ‘non-commercial’ if you have a couple of charity trustee roles?

It’s a catch 22. The danger is there, so be weary. Do take on 1 or 2 charity roles as a way in, you’ll be meeting people on those boards who are perhaps on other commercial boards.

Are boards really looking for governance experience?

The smaller firms certainly are. Even if you’re not a governance specialist, as a lawyer you will intuitively know where to look. You will have a good sense and can get up to speed quickly. You can spot problems that to lawyers are common sense, but perhaps not to a commercial person, and you can come up with quick solutions. So governance is helpful.

Is it getting easier for lawyers to get on boards because of the regulatory environment?

It is becoming more important, so lawyers tick the box. Even if it’s not on the job spec and they’re not specifically looking for it, you should point out where you have an advantage.

How do you get headhunters to take you seriously?

Once you’ve been placed once, they will keep calling you, so you just need to get your foot in the door. Keep plugging at it, and after a while you will move up the pecking order. It’s all part of networking. Keep in touch. Always be helpful to them if they’re looking for names.

The Lawyer: What law firms are doing about retirement assistance – and where they’re failing

By Matt Byrne 6 March 2018, The Lawyer magazine

The idea of offering partner retirement assistance is heartily supported by top law firms. However, the results of our survey reveal that what they actually provide lacks the structure and innovative thinking found at the big accountacy firms.


“To what extent do you think that both firms and partners nearing retirement benefit if the former provides specific retirement-related assistance to the latter?”

While UK law firms continue to face criticism in many quarters for their approach to retirement-related issues, the results of our survey suggest that an overwhelming majority have at least recognised the potential value of providing assistance.

Some 71 per cent of total respondents said they agreed entirely that both firms and partners nearing retirement could benefit if the former provided retirement-related assistance to the latter. Another 18 per cent agreed to an extent, while the remaining 11 per cent were neutral. No respondents said they disagreed with the statement.

What the market says:

Jane Harris, partner, Milestones: More firms are taking retirement-related assistance more seriously than ever before, though they are somewhat behind the accountancy firms when it comes to structured programmes and alumni networks.

Traditionally, law firms have only thought about supporting their partners when there is a problem with performance or behaviour. However, there is now a realisation that it makes sense to be more proactive about this and treat retiring partners well so that they can leave healthy, happy and as ambassadors for the firm.

There is clearly a need for practical support, yet firms are also starting to recognise the value of placing emphasis on emotional wellbeing and providing support that helps to strengthen personal resilience when it comes to retirement.

Tony Williams, principal, Jomati: It is encouraging, at last, to see that firms now recognise they have an issue and that a constructive and proactive approach to retirement is necessary, even if they are hazy as to how to achieve this.”

Anna Ponton, head of legal and professional services, Odgers Berndtson: Ending the relationship between partner and law firm on a sour note or with a sense of lingering disappointment is not good for either party, particularly the law firm. Happy alumni can be useful alumni in terms of promoting the firm’s brand in a general way.

Loyal alumni who move on and get involved in other things will always think of their former firm first if they are asked to give recommendations.


“To what extent do you believe there is a business/marketing opportunity for firms to differentiate themselves by offering specific retirement-related assistance to their partners?”

This question sought to identify specifically whether or not UK firms believe that the provision of retirement-related advice could offer them some sort of commercial advantage. It was designed to assess the extent to which there is the potential for firms to differentiate themselves by offering retirement-related advice.

While the results were less clear-cut than those to Question 1, the overall picture is clear: the majority of respondents say they believe there is an opportunity.

In all, 29 per cent of firms agreed entirely with the statement while another 43 per cent agreed to an extent. Another 18 per cent were neutral, while 11 per cent disagreed to an extent.

What the market says:

Elizabeth Holden, director, BCKR: The benefits of helping retiring partners extends deep into the firm and beyond. Trainees sitting with those retiring, aspiring partners and longstanding clients all watch how the firm treats its partners.

Williams: Leaders apparently recognise that doing the right thing in terms of retirement is also good business whether in terms of better retention, improved engagement, living the firm’s culture or creating ambassadors for the firm rather than detractors.

Ponton: Providing help reflects on the culture of the firm and its standing as a ‘good place to work’. It can be a positive move on the age-related diversity and inclusion front too. But fundamentally this is about treating people with dignity and respect – people who have, let’s remember, devoted much of their life (usually) to one firm.

George Wilkinson, partner, Milestones: The larger accountancy firms and business consultancies have been quick to see the commercial value of putting in place a supportive framework for their partners when it comes to retirement.

What we have seen in the legal sector mirrors these findings in that partners are likely to continue to be active, many will bring new client work back into the firm, others are involved in charities or start-ups, creating potential new income streams. Yet many law firms continue to be slow to react, failing to place sufficient emphasis and focus on this. It takes a senior sponsor to make this work and it should be higher up the HR agenda. Only then can the benefits be realised.


“If you agree, what would you say are the primary opportunities/benefits to the firm of doing this?”

The survey now turns to specifics, asking those firms that agreed with Question 2 to state why they did so and also to detail what they would consider to be the primary opportunities or benefits to a firm of providing retirement-related assistance.

“We agree that there may be a marketing opportunity for firms offering assistance for retirement as it can be a valuable tool for those in the position to take advantage of it,” pointed out one firm.

“However, aside from the marketing opportunity we believe that partners benefit greatly from assistance with preparing their retirement, both in a practical sense and in relation to the psychological side too. It can be a challenging time for people who have dedicated a great proportion of their life to their work. This is particularly true for many of our partners who have not infrequently spent a great deal of their working life, if not all of it, with the firm.

“Partners are more likely to feel comfortable about retirement if they have received assistance from the firm in preparing them for it, meaning they feel positively about it and are more likely to work with the firm to hand over relevant matters, information and contacts, and leave their successors better prepared to take over their clients.”

One firm flagged up the issue of retention as an increasingly important market issue at all levels of seniority due to the increased mobility of lawyers.

“Partners who can see that their eventual transition from partnership will be managed well are more likely to stay; and, when they do leave, to remain positive towards the firm,” said this firm. “It also has a positive impact on morale as senior partners are often highly respected and popular individuals who have played major roles in training the next generation of lawyers.”

Another summed up the benefits neatly: “1) It helps the firm proactively plan succession for key roles, client relationships and skills gaps. By encouraging the partners to prepare for retirement, they are more likely to open up their client relationships to others and develop others in the team. 2) If the firm understands the aspirations and needs of retiring partners they can tailor the support provided and, where appropriate, retain expertise within the business in a non-partner role, eg senior counsel. 3) Partners that retire and leave the business feeling well-supported will remain advocates of the firm and potentially create work referrals from within their network, e.g. from non-executive networks or offer mentoring support to remaining lawyers. 4) It can send a good message to staff if they see a positive exit from the business, and relationships maintained post-retirement.

All of the above, if delivered correctly, should certainly help differentiate a firm in a competitive marketplace. Another firm addresses this point, stating “whilst I do not see the primary aim of retirement-related assistance as creating a business or marketing opportunity, there are benefits in ensuring that partners leaving a firm ‘leave well’ and act as advocates for the firm. This may include creating connections and referrals, consultancy opportunities for the individual within the firm and building a network of individuals who feel a sense of pride in having worked for us during their careers. Any assistance/support provided to partners approaching retirement demonstrates that the firm treats retirement seriously”.

The latter point is echoed by another firm, which states: “It shows they care from the cradle to the grave not just for the new recruits – who will all become old one day.”

Another, even more pithily, sums up the benefits of a firm offering its partners better holistic care: “Everyone is an alumnus eventually.”

What the market says:

Harris: What is clear is that when individual partners feel they have something to move on to they are better at succession planning, clearer about client handover and more transparent with the firm. These behaviours help to reduce all the commercial risks associated with a senior person leaving.

Those who don’t feel supported or part of the wider alumni of the firm will tend to talk negatively about the firm and their experience, which damages the firm’s reputation and can often mean clients go elsewhere as they feel their relationship has also ended when the partner leaves.

Treating people with dignity while acknowledging their contribution makes for a successful, supportive retirement programme. The benefits are many but perhaps the most poignant is the strengthening of the relationship between partner and firm. Giving partners permission to think about their next steps impacts all aspects of their lives, and all the people around them. Ultimately, it is the right thing for the firm to do.


“Specify the most significant initiative/area of assistance your firm has introduced in recent years that was aimed at helping its partners prepare for retirement”

Staying with firm-specific information, we asked firms to tell us about the measures they have in place to help partners prepare for retirement. ‘Coaching’ looms large among the responses, with schemes including one-on-one sessions with an external provider to help partners start thinking about career planning, and coaching ‘for the life change’.

One firm said it offered “dedicated retirement planning”, with additional training on related areas. Several responses suggested that the sense that firms are behind the curve in terms of offering structured retirement assistance to partners is not too wide of the mark.

“Sadly, very little of note,” said one firm, while another said “None, other than making decent profits to enable them to retire.”

This respondent went on to say that their firm was “at the outset” of developing initiatives to support partner retirement.

“Our focus to date has been on having honest conversations with our partners about potential timescales for their retirement,” the firm added. “These conversations allow us to be more proactive around our plans and gives partners a greater sense of confidence that we will work with them to ensure their knowledge and experience is gradually transferred to future leaders.”

One firm argued that succession planning was a two-way process for the clients and lawyers.

“Clients should know of any plans well in advance and I have not come across any evidence of any push from clients for new relationship partners,” added the firm. “As long as a quality service is still being undertaken clients are happy. Firms should recognise this like US firms do, with no compulsory retirement age. Medicals should be provided FOC to protect both sides.”

One UK 200 top 30 firm highlighted its partners’ ability to reduce working days over an agreed period, while another said it held annual lunches with retired partners, who are also invited to all the firm’s partner retirement dinners.

“We provide them with our quarterly news magazine [while] partners are offered support with IT training and assistance,” added the firm. “Coaching as to specific needs is also freely available.”

Only one firm, a large international player, specifically highlighted financial planning advice:

“We use the firm’s private wealth offering and offer an in-house legal allowance to partners to use for financial planning, tax and probate services. Last year we launched an awareness campaign around this benefit to all partners to encourage them to draw down on [it] to establish the essentials they should have in place, whether or not they are nearing retirement. We offer this to all partners including newly promoted partners and lateral hires.”

Another firm seemed much more geared up to assisting partners on retirement-related issues than the norm, at least judging by its response to this question: “We created a collection of documents which are issued to all our partners considering retirement in the next two years.

The documents include a retirement handbook which covers a range of practical advice and support for personal and professional considerations when approaching retirement, and retirement form templates for the partner to complete. The latter detail: the matters on which partners are involved to help the partner conclude them in an organised and methodical way; suggestions of tasks that should be considered ahead of retirement, matter-related and non-matter related; at what stage before retirement the transfer of leadership roles should happen and the way this is undertaken; and the transfer of key relationships to others in the team, training and mentoring responsibilities. In implementing the use of the forms we invite the relevant departmental managing partner, HR and the individual to meet to agree the information that will formulate the pre-retirement plan.”

What the market says:

Ponton: This is a very personal and critical career transition point. Being given a handbook that details what you need to do to hand over clients is frankly rather impersonal and only really benefits the firm. One of the Big Four allows partners in their 50s to attend a group seminar about life after the firm.

Once they have given their year’s notice they get sent a form/handbook that outlines what they have to do to transfer their client relationships. That’s it.

What individuals need and want is somebody to spend a little time with them. There is a tendency to feel ‘scrap-heaped’ the minute you have declared your hand. Suddenly, these partners feel they are ‘yesterday’s people’.

One of the big issues here is timing. Partners leave it far too late to start thinking about life outside the firm, but can you blame them when they see what has happened to their colleagues? This needs to be addressed at an earlier stage and the stigma of talking about and positioning for the future removed.

One suggestion would be to encourage a discussion about life outside the firm for all partners and staff, so it is not always focused on life ‘after’. So, at the point of stepping off they have relevant experience to draw on and can offer referees and a network who have seen them in action beyond being ‘just’ a lawyer.

One-on-one coaching for, say, four sessions can make a huge difference and help partners understand what lies ahead. It helps them identify their strengths and weaknesses, and, quite frankly, just provides some ‘me’ time. A good coach can help them to establish what they want, identify their network and give them the confidence to strike out into the new world. Life in a law firm is extraordinarily cocooned.

In a room of 25 soon-to-retire partners at a recent event I spoke at not a single person was being given any one-to-one help, although all professed to wanting it. They were all at big commercial firms.

Wilkinson: Our experience is that law firms are particularly cautious when it comes to spending money on development, assistance and support for their partners. There is often a difference in opinion and perspective between partners and HR. This, in turn, leads to a difference between what is delivered and what is experienced.

Many firms struggle to get the messaging right, and the content aligned with what is of most value for partners. Having a fresh pair of eyes and an external perspective makes a big difference. This is often not something that can be managed internally by the firm, particularly in the early stages.

Holden: There is much that can be done in this area, often involving extending a partner’s valuable contribution to the firm or increasing the likelihood that their activities during retirement will also benefit the firm.

Our experience over recent years is that firms are definitely improving in this area. The key to a successful retirement is good early planning, made available to all as a matter of course.


“Do you believe there is a benefit to your firm of partners taking non-executive directorship (or other external appointment) roles post-retirement?”

Moving on to non-executive directorships (NEDs) and other external roles, the response to Question 5 which asked whether firms thought there was a benefit to the firm of partners taking these on post-retirement was again overwhelmingly in favour, with 89 per cent of respondents saying they believed there was a benefit to the firm. Just 11 per cent said no.

What the market says:

Holden: It is great to see this level of enthusiasm for post-firm NED roles but, as those embarking on this path know, there is much to be done to bring it about. Being a lawyer, even a very successful partner at a top City firm, does not guarantee you any roles.

Wilkinson: The reality is that for many partners getting the time to focus on NED roles outside the firm is simply not on the agenda. Firms could do more to promote and support this, as clearly there are tangible benefits for both parties. Some firms have an excellent system for sabbaticals and perhaps introducing something similar where time spent working in different sectors or for clients in-house could make all the difference.


“If yes, what is your firm doing to assist these partners to obtain such roles? If no, what do you see as being the biggest barriers/risks to them doing so?”

In the follow-up question, we asked both sides to provide their reasons. One respondent highlighted the issue of reputational risk with any appointment.

“Lawyers are likely to be more natural NEDs for public sector/quango roles and trustee roles,” argued this firm. “Unless partners are familiar with, and can present in, a listed company environment, in a non-legal role, they are likely to be perceived, often unfairly, as being too risk-averse, and too concerned with detail rather than strategy. This means they need to be able to present themselves as businessmen with a legal background rather than the reverse. My firm, recognising the above issues, advises lawyers on how to present themselves appropriately, inter alia by meeting with exemplars. Frequently, the missing element is not knowledge but confidence.”

Another firm admitted that “whilst we can see the benefit likely to be gained by firms from former partners securing NED-type roles, we do not undertake any specific activity to encourage or support former partners in doing so”.

More encouragingly (although in a comment that also seems to confirm the general lack of retirement-related infrastructure for partners across the UK’s largest firms), one firm insisted that it seeks to encourage partners, when appropriate, to leverage its network of clients and other contacts, adding “we are about to establish a more formal alumni network (and would be interested to learn from the experience of others)”.

Another firm, which admits to providing “very little” by way of practical help other than “introductions”, pinpoints and confirms the key issue facing lawyers hoping to secure a lucrative NED role post-retirement: “Often, boards are resistant to having lawyers as NEDs as they are perceived as being not commercial enough and too focused on speciality areas. Compare that to the ‘T-shaped accountant’, with a broad range of experience backed up by deep expertise.”

What the market says:

Williams: For a white, male, private practice lawyer in his mid-50s to expect to walk into FTSE100 NED role immediately on retirement is pretty close to cloud cuckoo land. There are plenty of roles of various sorts available after retirement, but a partner needs time and help to explore these, and to develop a relevant contact base.

Given the pressures of practice it can be hard to make time – or to admit that time should be made – for considering one’s future options, which is why specialist help from outside the firm may help to provide a level of objectivity and confidentiality.”

Harris: There is this strong perception that partners will go on to take up NED-type roles, yet many have no real desire to do this. It comes down to exploring a partner’s identity and how they see themselves.

There is genuine merit and value in exploring the full spectrum of possibilities and opportunities that present themselves. This can be achieved once some of the exploratory work has taken place.

Holden: Lawyers can do much to reposition themselves in this market, but it takes effort on the part of the individual and genuine encouragement on the part of the firm. Too often only lip service is paid to it by management.


“Do you believe there is a benefit to your firm of partners taking non-executive directorship (or other external appointment) roles while still practising?”

The answers to this question were entirely consistent with those to Question 5, with 89 per cent of respondents saying they also believed there was a benefit to the firm of partners having external appointments post-retirement and just 11 per cent saying they disagreed.

What the market says:

Holden: While the response here is encouraging, much more could be done to make it a reality. Many firms talk about the benefit without finding ways of supporting partners to achieve it. Simply permitting these roles is not enough. The firm should actively support partners in developing themselves, their networks and the firm’s brand by taking on such roles.

The interests of individual lawyers and their firms have converged. It has become clear that, in order to survive a challenging professional life, an individual lawyer needs to create a hinterland in which they can happily exist even at times of extreme professional stress. That hinterland can exist in family life, creative art, sport, politics or in many other places. Increasingly, however, it is also coming to exist in the governance of businesses, charities, public agencies and similar organisations.

There are also likely benefits for the firm’s clients – new skills, new insights and unlimited networking opportunities. Put simply, a lawyer who understands clearly how a client thinks and reaches a decision through the experience of being one, sitting on a board, is rather better placed than one who lacks that experience. This advantage is not limited to commercial lawyers, it is applicable to all practitioners.


“How would you describe the firm’s approach to partners holding external appointments (such as non-executive director roles and trusteeships)?”

In this question we wanted to dig deeper into the culture of UK law firms and their philosophy towards NEDs and other external appointments for partners, asking how they would describe their approach to this issue.

It is notable that a large majority, 64 per cent, say they encourage it. And yet the answers to previous questions suggest that this ‘encouragement’ lacks something in terms of practical assistance.

Just 14 per cent admitted that they tolerate it, 7 per cent said they discourage it and 4 per cent prohibit it.

What the market says:

Holden: All too often we find that ‘encouragement’ falls well short of active support, amounting instead simply to a permissive approach with little training or guidance. However, the best firms are changing their programmes.


“Please state why this is your approach”

Asked why they were in favour, most firms reported benefits including gaining wider experience or additional skills and, of course, an extended network of contacts. One firm went further, stating “one of our firm’s values is ‘freedom’ and so we trust our partners to work in a way that complements their commitments outside of work. Wherever possible, we would look for ways to ensure a partner could hold an external appointment and accommodate this as part of their working week”.

On the opposite side, one firm admitted a potential “negative” was that they could be “a distraction from fee-earning”. Another said “the potential for conflicts of interest in our practice areas/localities is huge”. A third was blunt about the risks and equally blunt about the action the firm has taken to protect itself: “In previous years we lost partners to the bench and to employment tribunals. There was the additional factor of time lost to the firm and its clients. We decided that to be an equity partner you had to be fully committed to the firm. This has proved to be correct. We no longer lose equity partners. Anyone who wants to follow other careers has the opportunity to step down from equity to fixed-share partnership.”

What the market says:

Holden: It is clearly disappointing when partners leave a firm earlier than the firm would like, but it is surely more exciting when others stay longer as fee-earners because of a more progressive approach. Personal wellbeing is vital for the successful delivery of professional services. One ingredient of wellbeing is a hinterland that is not simply a retreat, but also a source of inspiration. If you want to be a good lawyer, get a life outside the law.


“Outline any opportunities your firm offers to partners who are looking to scale back their work levels/hours as they approach the end of their career”

For many firms this question touches on one of the most contentious issues relating to the retirement of their senior lawyers, namely when or how (or indeed if) partners can scale back their hours.

Some firms’ responses were precise and detailed in terms of the options they offer. Others’ were equally precise as to what they most definitely do not offer.

“None,” said one firm. “We expect all serving partners to devote the whole of their time to the business. If partners wish to undertake NED-type roles that will demand significant time away from the business, it is highly likely that profit-sharing arrangements will need to be adjusted.”

“Considered on a case-by-case basis they could step down to fixed-share partnership, but as a rule we want full-time, fully committed equity partners, not part-time, not fully committed partners,” said another.

At another firm partners “may reduce their hours by up to 40 per cent for a maximum of three years culminating in retirement”, while at another partners have the ability from the age of 62 to demand reduced hours “and if they choose they can scale back in one go or, for example, drop one working day a week per year”.

What the market says:

Williams: Many partners are reluctant to scale back as this is tantamount to admitting the partner is retiring in one or two years, ie ‘I’m in the departure lounge’.

Why quality talent who just wish to reduce their workload (and income) should feel this is the only option is an indication of a lack of imagination on both sides.

Ponton: A lot of firms allow their partners to be consultants for a year post-retirement. This is quite an expensive way of giving them a soft landing.

Addressing the issues earlier may mean that partners are ready to leave the firm and do something else on their retirement date rather than perhaps feeling like a bit of a spare part.

Read the full article from The Lawyer here.

A Presentation from The Fore Trust: Focusing on smaller charitable organisations

The Bulldog Trust owns and operates The Fore Trust, founded in 2012. They operate out of the stunning Two Temple Place, built by William Waldorf Astor in 1895.

The Fore Trust make grants to small charitable organisations. They are a seed investor in the charity sector, looking for small organisations at the early stages looking for an injection of cash to take them to the next stage.

Funding for first timers is hard. You often don’t get any feedback on failed applications. It is easier for corporate funding to go to larger charities. Not only do they get a pronounced reputational bump but less due diligence is required. Small charities don’t have the network to draw on.

The Fore focus on these small organisations with no more than £1 million turnover.
They provide feedback on all applications to help ensure the same mistakes aren’t made on future applications.
They offer £30k over 1 to 3 years.

They also offer access to a pro bono network. Mid to senior level executives in accounting, law and finance. Matchmaking people who are looking for ways to get involved at a level commensurate with their skills. Offering real strategic assistance.

You can join their mailing list of available trustee and adviser roles by emailing rachel@thefore.org or check their website for current roles.

They hold monthly workshops held in-house on topics such as:

  • Fundraising
  • Law for charities
  • Trustee recruitment strategies

The Fore offer three funding rounds a year. They are led totally by the organisations that apply. They try to be friendly and supportive.

Applicants need to write a 3-page compelling pitch to convince The Fore they are right for funding, including details on how the funds will be transformational, how much they need and over what period and what they will do with it.

They are trying to inspire change within the sector.

The Fore also work with businesses to become funding intermediaries, raising money to give away through grants. Organisations looking to invest CSR funds in a different way. The Fore offer themselves as a partner to do due diligence or perhaps choose which charities to support. It can be an exciting offer to businesses to give something back to their staff. Millennials value the social involvement of the companies they work in very highly.

The Fore position themselves between organisations looking for capital and people with capital looking to spend or invest. 75% of organisations who receive this initial investment go on to find further funding.

The Fore would like to be bigger and their business model is designed for expansion.

The Fore Trust host an annual Winter Exhibition, this year’s subject is Rhythm & Reaction exploring the impact that Jazz had on Britons from 1918. The exhibition is free and runs until 22nd April.

A copy of the presentation given at The Fore can be found here.

“Enthusiasm over aptitude!  If they like you, you are 80% there” Anna Ponton and Stuart Morton – Odgers Berndston

This week we were delighted to welcome Anna Ponton and Stuart Morton from headhunters Odgers Berndston to BCKR to share their thoughts with us.


Law firms are generally not very good at helping their partners and alumni to make the transition to life outside law. Unhappy alumni are not useful alumni; some law firms are beginning to react and ask for advice on how to improve.


How they work

Both Anna and Stuart are lawyers.  They run the Professional Services team at Odgers Berndtson and both sit on the board practice, chaired by Virginia Bottomley.

They understand the challenges that face lawyers who want to take on outside roles and though it isn’t an easy path to take – it is doable – but you do need to work hard at it.

A great example of someone who threw themselves into getting an outside role is Caroline Goodall, who made a concerted effort to get her first role, ending up with a role on the board of the Investment Trust which was a listed role and gave her a great PLC anchor without creating conflict.


How to get noticed

Lawyers don’t recognise how important their network is.  50% of roles will come through your own network – particularly the first one.

You need to spend an afternoon mapping out who can be helpful to you and then you need to get out there.  It is easier to let people know you are looking whilst still in full time practice, when you are still seeing clients etc.

But you need to banish thoughts that asking for a coffee with someone is being a bother.

Raise your profile – speak at events.

When you meet with someone, try to leave the meeting with 2-3 other introductions.

Having more than one entry point into a headhunter is a good idea.  Don’t rely on one contact.

Don’t expect overnight results.

If you are systematic in your approach it can actually be quite energising, you’ll be gaining snippets of information all the time.

Don’t leave home without your business card.

Don’t forget Linked-In.  Keep your profile up-to-date.  Redraft so that you have the right key words and skill sets – search engine optimisation!


What to expect

Headhunters can be likened to a Labrador – cold nose but warm heart.  They are also gatekeepers.

Getting in to see a headhunter can be hard.  One of the best ways is to get an introduction.

When you do get a chance for a cup of coffee make sure you are prepared.  You will probably only get one coffee, so make it count.

You need to have a clear pitch about who you are and what you are looking for.  Don’t expect to be spoon fed by the headhunter.

Choose your headhunter carefully.  Make sure you research what each of the headhunters do. What is their practice area?


How to keep in touch afterwards

Headhunters love inside gossip and knowledge.

A short 2-3 line email every six weeks updating them on where you are, what you have done recently in your search, who you have met – show you are working hard at getting a role.  This will help keep you top of mind.  An email is better than a phone call.

Having more than one contact within a firm will help build up an important picture.  And there is a lot of cross referencing within a headhunting firm and also between firms.  The pool is quite small.


Private sector

Beware the fireside chat.  What you think might be a casual conversation may be masquerading as an interview.  Make sure you are prepared.  Be strategic; if you are meeting a Chairman for coffee make sure you know what you want to get out of it.

Headhunters love to be able to reference you with some big wig.  They like to be able to qualify you so keep them posted on important meetings. Or get an introduction.


Public sector

Respect the process.  It can be quite brutal.  The is a bar and if you don’t reach it there is no nuancing your way through the process.  You have to be ok at everything they are looking for.  Consider what they are looking for and match it paragraph by paragraph in your application.

Much more preparation involved.

  • As an aside they have just placed two partners on The Law Society Board. Despite being advertised on the BCKR website and of course more widely – they had very few applicants.  Why wouldn’t you throw your hat in the ring?  Once you get your first role it is then easier to get the next one.



We are all too familiar with the negative perceptions of lawyers:

  • Not commercial
  • Too detail conscious
  • Not creative thinkers
  • Not risk takers
  • Think tactically not strategically
  • Servant of the board – not on it

The positives are:

  • Intellectual capacity
  • Ability to identify the elephant in the room
  • Highlights important detail
  • Good antenna for risk
  • Diligently reads board papers
  • Suits a regulated environment

There has undoubtedly been a bias for Chairmen to say they have a GC already and don’t need another lawyer. But really, a good NED is someone who asks difficult questions and lawyers are good at unpicking questions.

What you need to find is the right vocabulary for describing your skill set in a non-lawyer context.

Numeracy is another stumbling block for lawyers.  Make sure you can read a balance sheet.


The interview

It’s all about the preparation.

You need to sell yourself and your strengths.  Provide strong anecdotal evidence relevant to the role.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to show enthusiasm (smile – make eye contact – look engaged).  If they like you, you are 80% there.

Make sure you have questions to ask.  Look and act engaged.  Be energetic.


In summary – It is doable, but it is a long slog.  Headhunters are more likely to be helpful to you once you already have a role.  It is your network that is most likely to help you get your first role.


Is there a different set of bias towards a GC/in house lawyer?

As a GC; you are probably better placed because of your exposure and interaction with boards through your day job.  Your ability to see things through the client lens is a place where you can add value.


Your CV

Skill set is more important than deal list.  Headhunters are not interested in your introductory paragraph.  Introductory email or application letter are more important.  From a headhunter’s perspective the CV isn’t the most important aspect of you.  They are more interested in who introduces you, and who your contacts are.  They will use Linked-In so keywords in your profile are important to ensure your profile comes up in searches.


BCKR holds regular CV workshops for lawyers in search of tips for writing or restructuring their CV.


For a copy of Odgers Berndston’s presentation please click here.