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Workaid (getting people into employment) seeks new Trustee – law skills welcomed

The Trustees provide Workaid’s strategic direction and monitor operational performance against the charity’s agreed strategic plan.

Approximately four two-hour Trustee meetings per year with additional meetings and time commitments being required from time to time. This will include oversight of the Statutory Accounts preparation and subsequent AGM.

Statutory Duties:

  • To ensure that the organisation complies with its governing document, charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations
  • To ensure the organisation pursues its objects as defined in its governing document
  • To ensure the organisation uses its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objects
  • To contribute actively to the Board of Trustees role in giving strategic direction to the organisation, setting overall policy, defining goals and setting targets and evaluating performance of the CEO against agreed targets
  • To safeguard the good name and values of the organisation
  • To ensure the effective and efficient administration of the organisation
  • To ensure the financial stability of the organisation
  • To ensure adequate comprehensive insurance is in place to cover all the organisation’s potential liabilities and risks
  • To appoint the CEO and monitor his/her performance

Other Trustee Responsibilities:

In addition to the above statutory duties, each Trustee should use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help Workaid’s Board of Trustees reach sound decisions and ensure the organisation fulfils its objects. This will involve:

  • Attending Board and other Workaid meetings as appropriate
  • Participating in the HR Committee if required
  • Scrutinising Board papers and other communications
  • Leading discussions and providing guidance on new initiatives, particularly in areas where the Trustee has specific skills, knowledge or expertise
  • Abiding by Workaid’s policy and procedures including safeguarding and Equal Opportunities, ensuring these are effectively implemented
  • Acting as a bank signatory on behalf of Workaid when mandated by the Board to do so
  • Participate in activities to promote Workaid to our supporters, customers and the wider public
  • Contribute on other issues and areas of special expertise


What are we looking for?

A Trustee will need to share the aims and values of Workaid, particularly that of helping young people in Africa to become self-supporting by learning vocational skills. In addition, a Trustee will need to commit to the value of the volunteer workforce who are integral to meeting our aims and objectives.

  • An understanding of social justice issues affecting people in Africa and a commitment to addressing these issues
  • Able to commit time to this role
  • Experience of governance is desirable
  • Ability to work as part of a team

More specifically, knowledge of at least one of the skills shown below will be required to provide input and support of our small operational team.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Accounting
  • HR
  • International development within the African context
  • Legal
  • Property Management
  • Volunteering

The Trustees will not only support both volunteers and staff based in Chesham, but will bring experience and knowledge that will help Workaid continue its growth and outreach so that more training can be achieved in our targeted countries in Africa.

WorkMany projects which have benefited with tools report that they have enabled people to gain skills and become self-supporting. This has enabled a level of financial self sufficiency to be achieved, taken the poorest out of poverty and making it possible for their children to attend school.

Please click here for further information.

Autism Employment Charity CareTrade seeks new Trustee – law expertise welcomed

We passionately belief “employment is the biggest single factor that will transform the life of an autistic person.” and seek to create a world that embraces neurodiversity, especially in the workforce. If you share our vision get in touch.

You share our passion for diversity, equity and inclusion. You may have knowledge of or just an interest in autism and you would like to bring about change that will impact our direct beneficiaries and beyond. You like getting involved. Then this could be the opportunity for you.

Acting together, the trustees govern the charity and support the CEO to ensure effective delivery in line with the charity’s objectives as set out in its governing document. You will be expected to attend all Board meetings and to contribute to one committee (Finance & Risk, Development, Education Advisory Panel, Remuneration). The Board meets 5 times a year and each subcommittee between 3 and 8 times a year. These are currently held remotely however we hope to resume some face to face meeting later in the year (in Central London).

In addition many Trustees get involved in our Mock Interview programme for students, 2 or 3 times a year, fundraising and/or advising on a specific aspect of a project.

Trustees are appointed for an initial three-year term with the opportunity to extend for a further three-year period. As a Trustee you will be required to:

  • Act in the best interests of beneficiaries
  • Devote the necessary time and effort to developing a good understanding of CareTrade and its activities, reading papers and undertaking other preparatory work
  • Enthuse the wider world with what CareTrade is about
  • Think innovatively, critically, independently and strategically
  • Contribute effectively within a talented Board
  • Command the respect of fellow Trustees and management
  • Have a willingness to speak your mind and be constructive
  • Demonstrate a consultative, strategic and supportive style


The ideal candidate will have:-

  • good independent judgement, political impartiality and the ability to think creatively in the context of the charity and external environment
  • to be able to balance tact and diplomacy with willingness to challenge and constructively criticise
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • the ability to lead and to respect confidences of colleagues
  • an understanding of autism would be a benefit

The Board currently has skills gaps in diversity, digital marketing, PR, fundraising, property negotiation, SME and law, however we also welcome candidates with expertise and experience outside of these.

CareTrade works with people across London and is committed to equality and diversity and welcomes applications from all sections of the community. Applications from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority candidates are particularly welcome as this group is currently under-represented on the Board.

The experience and skills of Trustees may not be obviously apparent when you look at the work of a particular charity but without the gift of that time, expertise and guidance, few charities make strong progress. Behind every dynamic charity there is a strong board.

CareTrade Trustees are a valued resource and crucial part of the CareTrade journey.  Looking forward we are seeking to broaden the expertise and experience of our Board,  to help to support and grow our staff team and to help CareTrade better meet the challenges and take up the opportunities of the future, so we continue to meet the needs of our beneficiaries and create tangible and long lasting change. Neurodiversity is going to become a priority for all employers.

There is an opportunity to be part of something that not only makes a dramatic difference to individuals we support and their families but to help the charity reach beyond and help effect a wave of change across employers bringing greater equity and diversity.

Please click here for further information.

The National Autistic Society seeks new Trustee with legal expertise

The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for autistic people and one of the country’s major charities, with a turnover of around £95 million. Since 1962, we’ve been transforming lives, changing attitudes and helping to create a society that works for autistic adults and children.

Our head office is in London, and we have national offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and a network of regional offices and volunteer-run branches across the UK. As well as adult services and schools, we run a range of programmes, have dedicated diagnostic services and run specialist helplines. We also work closely with businesses, local authorities and government to help them provide more autism-friendly spaces, deliver better services and improve laws. And we improve public understanding of autism and the difficulties many autistic people face.

Over the last two years, we have achieved much to be proud of – as well as continuing to provide support and guidance to tens of thousands of autistic people and their families through the Covid-19 crisis. We opened a new school and services across the UK, we developed our existing services and launched them online, to continue to support people who’d otherwise have been isolated during the pandemic. We had important policy wins, including on getting more autistic people access to vital blue badges and seeing the first NHS autism diagnosis data published. We have continued to invest in our digital transformation with a new website and new digital care management tools.

This is an exciting and truly transformational time to be part of our charity. Since March 2020, our organisation has had to be extremely agile and adapt in many ways. Our policy work has had to focus on issues thrown up by the pandemic, such as the right for autistic people to stick to routines, including going out of the house more than once. Our services and schools have had to respond to changing regulations and ensure they keep people safe and supported.

At the same time, we are continuing to advocate on longstanding issues such as social care funding, and lobby for what autistic people need to see in the forthcoming autism strategy in England and its equivalent in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We are also growing our branch network – including national online branches – and we have begun work on a new mental health programme combining research, digital guidance and policy influencing.

Looking to the future, we will be developing a new strategy as we head towards our charity’s 60th anniversary in 2022.

We are proud of what we have achieved – but there is always more to be done. As the economic, social, and political landscape changes, our strategy must evolve to reflect changes. We need to ensure we continue to increase our fundraising and commercial activities to deliver the scale of impact required.

Who we are looking for

We are looking for two new trustees to join our board in July to help us navigate the future challenges.

We are keen to ensure our board is diverse in every way and we are committed to ensuring our Trustees reflect our society and our charity and the people we represent and support. We welcome applications from autistic people, their families and carers. To achieve greater diversity, we are actively encouraging applications from people of all backgrounds, regions, as well as first-time Trustees.

We are looking for people who can provide strategic direction, appropriate oversight, scrutiny, challenge, leadership and passion to support our development. We are open to people who have skills and expertise in either general management, risk or compliance, strategy, commercial growth, human resources, legal, finance.

The National Autistic Society Board meets four times with two overnight strategy away days every year. We expect our Trustees to join one sub-committee which also meets three times a year. All our meetings are currently virtual, and, in the future, we expect that we will have a blended mix of face to face and virtual meetings. We expect the time commitment overall to be two-three days per month.


Please click here for further information.


Online learning charity ‘Learning by Heart’ seeks new Trustee – legal expertise welcomed

Learning By Heart provides online tutoring in a range of subjects, in exchange for a ‘pay as you feel’ donation to CAMFED – the Campaign for Female Education.

We are currently looking for a Trustee who is committed to the aims and values of Learning by Heart and who appreciates the benefits in increasing access to education.

Knowledge of one or more of the following areas would be particularly beneficial to us:

  • Education and tutoring
  • Working with young people / safeguarding
  • Fundraising
  • Legal / Contract Law
  • Previous experience working with newly formed charities / social enterprises

Commitment will be up to you, but as a minimum we would require:

  • Attendance at trustee meetings. These are expected to be held every 2 months and take ~2 hours. Meetings will be held remotely using video conferencing
  • Time required to carry out the statutory duties as a trustee
  • Participation in activities to promote LBH to our beneficiaries, funders, teachers, students and the wider community.
  • Review and scrutinise board papers and other communications
  • Contribution to other issues or areas related to your specific expertise

In addition to the above, if you can provide more time, we would welcome your input into our ongoing initiatives relating to growing our user base, safeguarding, fundraising and marketing.

This is an opportunity for someone to join us at the creation stage of Learning by Heart. Your input will help set the foundations and direction of the charity as we start on our journey helping others get access to education.


Please click here for further information.

Homeless charity Spires, in Streatham, seeks new Trustee

Spires are are looking for new trustees for our committed and proactive board and are particularly interested in hearing from candidates with backgrounds in social care, education and probation services.

Spires is an award-winning charity that has been working with homeless and disadvantaged people in Streatham, South London, since 1990.  Working with some of the most isolated and vulnerable in our society, we support over 900 men and women every year.

This is a great opportunity to make a real difference in an organisation that is committed to helping vulnerable people to become active agents of their own lives.

We are entering an exciting period of change for Spires. You will be involved in driving the strategic direction of our organisation, as we continue our provision of services which aim to empower individuals to lead more meaningful and purposeful lives, your input as a trustee is key in ensuring our future sustainability.

Role summary

Our board of trustees works together to ensure Spires’ work is sustainable and accountable by exercising good governance and following all necessary policies and procedures.

In addition to your statutory duties, each trustee should use any specific skills, knowledge or experience they have to help the board of trustees reach sound decisions. This may involve scrutinising board papers, leading discussions, focusing on key issues, providing advice and guidance on new initiatives, or other issues in which the trustee has special expertise.

Person specification

We are looking for individuals with a background in social care, education and probation services as well as the following attributes:

  • A commitment to Spires and its objectives.
  • Good, independent judgement
  • Strategic vision
  • A willingness to speak their mind
  • An understanding of legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship.
  • A willingness to devote the necessary time and effort to their duties as a Trustee
  • An ability to work effectively as a member of a team
  • An ability to think creatively

As an organisation we are particularly keen to ensure that our trustees are fully representative of the community in which we work and at the current time we would warmly welcome applications from people with a diverse range of background, ethnicity, gender, culture and physical ability.


Please click here for further information.

Endangered animal charity The Frozen Ark seeks new Trustee – legal expertise required

The Frozen Ark is a UK based charity whose vision is to conserve the genetic heritage of endangered animals, both wild and domestic species, before they are irretrievably lost. Led by a group of ambitious Trustees, the Frozen Ark seeks to secure this heritage by collecting and conserving genetic material of endangered animals and providing coordination, infrastructure and advice on managing and maintaining these materials through working with UK and international partners.

The Frozen Ark was set up in 2004 and whilst the charity has remained relatively small, operating through donations and grants as well as in-kind backing from partners, it has an expert and well-connected Board of Trustees, part-time staff and committed volunteers. All bring a range of scientific expertise and contacts throughout the sector.

The charity has recently developed a new Business Plan and is implementing this plan to develop itself into a resilient organisation, with the support and goodwill of Trustees, partners and volunteers. To help us achieve our ambitious goals, we are looking for new Trustees in areas currently under-represented to join us for a three-year term, which has the potential to extend for a further two terms.

We are particularly seeking Trustees with expertise in Finance, Business, Legal and IT

Role type Part-time, Volunteer

Term An initial term of three years, with the potential for a further two terms

LocationHome based – must be able to take part in Board meetings. Currently these are held on-line but may on occasion take place in London, Nottingham and Cardiff.


Trustees are responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the Frozen Ark and are ambassadors for the Charity, ensuring that the Ark’s activities conserve the genetic heritage of endangered animals. The Frozen Ark currently has 8 Trustees, who are also Directors.


Please click here for further information.

Membership body for the arts seeks Legal Adviser 2-3 days a week

This role is not suitable for those currently in full time employment.

Legal Advisor – Interim 3 months

A national membership body for the arts are looking for a Legal Adviser to join the team on a temporary basis for a few months whilst they recruit the role on a permanent basis. This is a part time role, and you will need to be able to commit for 2 or 3 days a week.

You will ideally be a qualified or part qualified lawyer with experience working as a legal adviser to charities, either in house or at a law firm.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Draft, review and advise on the preparation of the charities contracts and licenses across its various areas of charitable, commercial and operational activity.
  • Provide pragmatic advice on commercial contracts, gifts and bequests, grants agreements, legacies and other legal matters to internal clients, enabling the organisation to minimise risk and maximise opportunity.
  • Work closely with the charities existing external advisors and where appropriate, appoint, brief and manage other legal advisors.

This role currently works remotely due to current Government COVID-19 Guidelines. This role will be paid on a day rate and is negotiable depending on experience and current market rates for the non-profit sector.


Please click here for further information.

The Charles Dickens Museum seeks new Board Members – legal expertise sought

The object of the charity is to promote, encourage, maintain, improve and advance education of the public in the life and works of Charles Dickens and to establish and maintain the property at 48 Doughty Street in the London Borough of Camden as a Museum to house and preserve all articles having connection with Charles Dickens.

The Charles Dickens Museum is the leading centre for the study, appreciation and enjoyment of Charles Dickens’s life and work. With over 100,000 items comprising furniture, personal effects, paintings, prints, photographs, letters, manuscripts, and rare editions, the collection is significant for its breadth and depth. A temporary exhibition programme enhances and complements the Museum’s permanent displays, and we offer a range of learning and engagement opportunities.

At this time, we are looking for skills and experience in museum management and accreditation, as well as people with legal and finance expertise. We would also welcome applications from people who live or work in the neighbourhood of the Museum (Bloomsbury, Holborn, King’s Cross / St Pancras).

The Charles Dickens Museum recognises the value of diversity and is keen to more closely reflect the wide range of people who visit the Museum. We celebrate the role it plays in the creation of an inclusive workplace culture and thrive on the range of experience and insight diversity brings to our Museum. We want to broaden the diversity of our Board and welcome candidates who can contribute greater diversity of representation and thinking, including Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people, LGBT+ people, people with disabilities and those with experience of socio-economic disadvantage.

Please click here for further information.

Action4Youth seeks new Trustee with legal expertise

Action4Youth is a youth charity providing positive and transformational experiences, activities, programmes and courses which help and inspire young people. It works with young people from all backgrounds and all abilities to make a real difference to their lives through a range of fun and challenging programmes and initiatives.

The charity changes lives and creates better chances for young people by creating opportunities to discover their personal strengths and potential. It is based in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes but reaches young people across the South East of England.

Action4Youth is a leading delivery partner for the National Citizen Service (NCS) and consistently overdelivers in terms of both quality and quantity. Its Inspiration Programme enriches the lives of young people in schools across the area and it runs a mentoring programme for young people particularly in need of positive support. It has a membership of around 100 organisations, offering them a range of essential support and service. The charity also operates the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and its outdoor centre, Caldecotte Xperience in Milton Keynes, creates opportunities for young people to have amazing experiences, building their confidence and self-belief.

Action4Youth aims to support all young people’s growth towards fulfilling and responsible adult lives, developing physical, mental, spiritual, moral and cultural abilities which act as a springboard towards realising dreams, a safety net for those at risk, and a voice of influence – from the young and for the young.


Role specification

All Trustees add energy, purpose and substance to the team. They ensure that Action4Youth complies with its governing document (the Articles of Association), charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations. They contribute actively in giving strategic direction to Action4Youth, setting overall policy, defining goals, setting targets and evaluating performance against those targets, as well as ensuring the financial stability of Action4Youth.

Person specification

Action4Youth is looking to appoint two Trustees. It seeks one Trustee with a financial background who will be able to advise on financial matters and to ensure the proper investment of funds.

The charity is also looking for one other Trustee who will have one of the follow skills:

  • Legal experience – to contribute to the governance of the organisation
  • Education leadership experience – experience leading a primary, secondary, further or higher education institution, for example, as Head Teacher, Principal, Vice-chancellor or equivalent
  • Senior level commercial business experience – to help guide the strategy of the organisation
  • Human resources – ideally senior management HR experience in a commercial or not-for-profit organisation

Action4Youth would particularly like to encourage applications from candidates who live in or close to Buckinghamshire. Above all Action4Youth is looking for someone enthusiastic and passionate about its mission.

Board composition

David Teasdale, Chair
Duncan Oldreive
Milly Soames
Jasprit Chana
Janice Trebble
Darren Williams
Graeme Shankland
David Knox
Julia Hulme
Johnathan Dees
Nigel Field


Action4Youth welcomes applications from everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith or disability. All appointments will be made on merit, following a fair and transparent process. In line with the Equality Act 2010, however, the organisation may employ positive action where diverse candidates can demonstrate their ability to perform the role equally well.

Terms of appointment

This role is unremunerated, but reasonable, pre-agreed travel expenses will be reimbursed. There are four Board meetings (one in Milton Keynes, one in Aylesbury, two virtual) and four Committee meetings (all virtual) per year. The appointment is for a three-year term, which may be renewed twice.


This process is being run in-house by the organisation, who will view 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 successfully 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. Members discovered not respecting this may risk having their membership terminated.


For further information please contact www.nurole.com directly enquiries@nurole.com

The Road Safety Trust seeks new Trustee for its Audit & Risk Committee

The Road Safety Trust is a grant-funding charity committed to making UK roads safer, achieving impact through the funding of practical measures, research, dissemination and education. The trust has awarded £4m in project grants over the last 5 years to improve UK road safety for all users. We are seeking a new Trustee to join the Board and be a member of our Audit & Risk Committee.

Role summary

All Trustees are expected to:

  • promote and develop the Road Safety Trust whilst retaining its core values and aims
  • ensure the Road Safety Trust complies with legislative and regulatory requirements, acts within the framework of its governing documentation and in furtherance of its strategic aims
  • appoint the CEO and ensure appropriate support and supervision for the post holder, and
  • ensure sound management of resources, ensuring that any investment/new activity meets appropriate criteria of organisational aims and objectives.

In addition to the general duties of Trustee Board members, you would be a member of the Audit & Risk Committee which:

  • Oversees the production of the organisation’s annual accounts and recommends them to the Board for approval;
  • Reviews the effectiveness of internal and external auditors and recommends reappointment or change to the RST Board;
  • On behalf of the Board, scrutinises any aspect of the work of the organisation against the criteria of best practice and reports as appropriate.

Meetings tend to be near Euston station in London to enable ease of access for Trustees.

Person description


  • Experience of audit and accounting processes.
  • A sound and practical understanding of strategic risk management.
  • A knowledge and understanding of both charity governance and company law. Ability to work at a strategic level, think creatively and criticise constructively.
  • Good, independent judgement and a willingness to speak your mind.
  • A firm belief in and commitment to the organisation’s purpose.
  • Commitment to Nolan’s seven principles of public life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.
  • An understanding of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship.


  • Substantial experience in a leadership role.
  • A financial qualification.

The Trust is keen to reach, and will welcome, applications from individuals with the necessary skill-sets in under-represented groups as part of its Trustee recruitment.

What’s in it for the volunteer?

You will be undertaking a rewarding and challenging position and joining a committee which plays a pivotal role in ensuring the strong governance of the organisation. New Trustees have a full induction and ongoing learning and development is actively encouraged.

Time commitment

Approximately 8-10 days pa (4 Board Meetings pa plus 3-4 A&RC meetings pa), plus emails/reading time between meetings.

Please click here for further information.

Crown Prosecution Service seeks 2 Non Executive Directors for its Audit & Risk Committee

The Crown Prosecution Service sits at the heart of the criminal justice system in England and Wales, working to protect the public and create a safe society, ensuring the right person is prosecuted for the right offence and offenders brought to justice wherever possible.  Around 6,000 people work for the CPS, across England and Wales in a variety of roles. Almost half our employees are lawyers who are responsible for deciding whether to prosecute cases and represent the Crown in many hearings in the courts.

We are a diverse organisation spread across the country, supported by excellent technology and a highly-committed, professional workforce.  We are a leading voice in transforming the criminal justice system, using our legal expertise and digital capability to make the public safer and build the confidence of our diverse communities.

We are now looking to appoint two Non-Executive Directors to our Audit & Risk Committee, a vital component in our governance structure.  These individuals will support the board and executive by reviewing the comprehensiveness and integrity of our risk provisions across financial processes and controls, the actions and judgement of management, internal audit, anti-fraud and corruption.

Successful candidates will be able to demonstrate a strong affinity for the CPS, its objectives and culture.  They will bring substantial experience of operating at senior level in positions focused on financial, audit, risk and assurance across the public or private sectors.  Alongside this, they will have demonstrable ability to operate strategically as a member of the Audit & Risk Committee, forging strong and collaborative relationships with colleagues across the CPS, and the ability to operate as a critical friend to the executive team.  Successful candidates will also bring strong customer awareness, experience of operating in a transformation environment and a track record of delivery.

This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the development of an ambitious organisation with a committed workforce, that directly impacts every citizen in the country.


Please click here for further information.

Arts charity ‘UK New Artists’ seeks Trustee with legal expertise

UK New Artists is seeking passionate, diverse and dedicated individuals to join our Board of Trustees.

UK New Artists champions the next wave of creativity, supporting collaboration and intercultural dialogue, ensuring a vibrant and diverse creative future for the UK. We develop artists’ practice through cross art form opportunities and celebrate creativity at national & international biennials.

We are seeking individuals, artists or companies who have a strong interest in the arts and see the importance of supporting emerging creative talent for the UK’s economic and cultural health. Our ideal candidate/s will be able to provide direction and support to the board and management team on their specific area of experience. We are also seeking Trustees who will add to and complement the skills and experience of other Board members; who are enthusiastic about and committed to contemporary art, and who are sympathetic to the needs of artists, and whose experience is in (but not exclusively) one or more of the following areas:

  • HR/Legal
  • Fundraising and bid-writing
  • Social engagement
  • Financial management or financial acumen
  • Charity Law and compliance
  • Experience of network and relationships with non arts organisations
  • Internationalism and international working

Please click here for further information.

National Association for People Abused in Childhood seeks new Trustees – law skills sought

We know that abuse in childhood can cause continuing harm to people as they grow up. The abuse suffered years or even decades ago is damaging the lives of millions of adults today. At NAPAC we believe that every individual has the right to leave the impact of childhood abuse behind, grow as a person and enjoy a happier and more fulfilled adult life.

NAPAC is a successful national charity which supports adult survivors of any type of childhood abuse. We do this through
• Providing a range of services which offer direct support to survivors
• Spreading best practice by providing training for professionals who work with survivors
• Working with others to increase the provision and effectiveness of support for survivors
• Standing up for survivors and representing their interests among those who are in a position to help improve their lives


Please click here for further information.

Parents and Carers in the Performing Arts seeks new Trustee – governance experience welcomed

Our mission is to promote best practice employment and support for parents and carers in the performing arts sector by working collaboratively with the industry to develop and implement the PIPA Best Practice Charter and strategies for change, by data collection, research, and lobbying.

We are looking for Trustees who are passionate about their work and can bring new perspectives and diverse lived experience to our team, helping us lead the way in creating more inclusive, family friendly employment practices in Dance, Music, Opera and Theatre.

Trustees are the final decision-makers for the charity. The board’s main job is to set direction and have oversight of what’s going on, offering our co-CEOs strategy, scrutiny, and support. Trustees are unpaid volunteers but we reimburse expenses and ensure no-one is out of pocket from being on the board.

We are particularly interested in hearing from applicants who have experience of:

  • Scaling up an organisation
  • Developing or rolling out a national programme
  • Developing income streams and new services, perhaps including digital and apps.
  • Dance (especially if your experience is not in a building-based company) and/ or Opera;
  • You may be a performer, a creative, or have a technical or managerial role.
  • Working with socially disadvantaged communities
  • Regulatory requirements with regards to data and fundraising

We are also keen to hear from people from a culturally diverse background (including Black, Asian, Dual Heritage and Other Ethnic Groups); D/deaf & Disabled people; people who are from a working class background; and/or who are fathers or male carers.

We warmly welcome applications from those who are new to trustee/ Board work as well as individuals who have a proven track record in governance roles.


Please click here for further information.

Royal Holloway, University of London, seeks co-opted Member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee

Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) is a pioneering university, steeped in history and culture, yet constantly evolving and adapting to the demands of modern higher education.

The university was founded by two social reformers who pioneered the ideal of education and knowledge for all who could benefit. Their vision lives on today. As one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities, Royal Holloway is home to some of the world’s foremost authorities in the sciences, arts, business, economics and law. As teachers and researchers, they change lives, expand minds and help current and future leaders understand power and responsibility. Diversity defines the strength of the College, as it welcomes students and academics who travel from all over the world to study and work at RHUL, ensuring an international and multi-cultural perspective within a close-knit and historic campus.

Royal Holloway is a recognised leader in the provision of higher education in the information security field. As such, it is continually striving to improve what it does, not only in the lecture theatre but also in the way it runs its operations.

Role specification

The Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee is a Sub-committee of the College Council and is responsible for advising and assisting the Council, in respect of the entire assurance and control environment of the institution. It is responsible for keeping under review the effectiveness of the risk management, culture, control and governance arrangements within the College and monitoring the implementation of agreed audit-based recommendations. Additionally, it is in charge of duties related to external and internal auditors.

Within College, the information technology and cyber security domains are fast-moving, with a plan for the further development of a secure, efficient and effective service for students and staff. Therefore, for this appointment, the co-opted member will serve as a sounding board as well as challenging the Chief Technology Officer and advise them on improving the online systems of the College and ensuring data security. They will also provide mentorship and guidance to strengthen the current technology system in place.


Person specification

The Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee (ARCC) is seeking to co-opt an external member who has strategic cyber / information security experience.

The successful candidate will have significant experience at a senior level in a role where they have overseen cyber / information technology, perhaps as CTO or in another senior role. They will be able to provide advice and guidance on the risks and strategy around cyber / information security in the University, and will act as a critical friend to the University’s Chief Information Officer. An up-to-date knowledge of IT governance, data and information security is important. The successful individual could come from any sector, but they will bring a nuanced understanding of IT / cybersecurity and an ability to step back and view the bigger picture.

Candidates should be authentic, collaborative and be able to operate in a high-achieving context. Experience in education is absolutely not necessary, but applicants should bring an interest in and passion for the Higher Education sector, and an understanding of the responsibilities around governance, as they will work closely with the Committee members and senior management of the College. With diversity and inclusivity at the heart of RHUL’s values, it particularly welcomes candidates who will bring diverse experiences and perspectives.

Required for this role

  • Risk acumen in a digital business Experience in a strategic leadership role with oversight of risk and governance specific to the digital environment (e.g. cybersecurity, data protection and technology stack). Candidates should have an up-to-date familiarity with relevant policy and governance frameworks.


RHUL welcomes applications from everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith or disability. As women are currently under-represented on the Board, applications from those candidates would be particularly encouraged. All appointments will be made on merit, following a fair and transparent process. In line with the Equality Act 2010, however, the organisation may employ positive action where diverse candidates can demonstrate their ability to perform the role equally well.

Terms of appointment

This role is unremunerated, and reasonable, pre-agreed domestic travel expenses will be reimbursed. The appointment is for a four year term, which can be renewed once at the discretion of the Board.


This process is being run by Nurole on behalf of 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. Members who do not respect this may risk having their membership terminated.

For further information please contact www.nurole.com directly enquiries@nurole.com

Anti Racism organisation seeks to appoint Volunteer Legal Counsel / Trustee

Would you like to make a difference in the fight against racism? Do you have experience with UK Charities and a legal background? We are creating a global database for statistics on racism. Together we can make a difference.

Racistat is in the process of registering as a Charity and we need help from  a legal professional with experience of drafting a constitution, setting up board of trustees, submitting application to the charities commission. We are looking for someone to work with the on:

  1. setting up of the governance structure of the charity
  2. the appointment of trustees and drafting of related contracts
  3. creating a system of transparently managing intellectual property rights
  4. HR contract verification
  5. to act as general counsel

This role is temporary since it is very early days in the life of Racistat but we have in mind to work with people on a long term basis and become a member of team either as a trustee or a permanent or associate member.

What are we looking for?

Racistat is a charitable organisation with the objective of helping to identify the long standing issue of racial inequality and injustice to ethnic minorities. As part of our solution we will be requesting information from users (observers) that may have some data protection and digital protection regulations issues. For the setup of the solution, we need legal advice along the way to ensure that we are compliant with the current GDPR rules and other International data protection regulations.

What we are looking for is someone who is familiar with international data protection laws and the issues of making data available to law enforcement, government and other related bodies that can use the data we collect to identify incidents of racism. The data will be used strictly for the advancement of anti-prejudice agendas and we also need help in the drafting of our own rules and regulations for use of of data by third parties.

We would like a Legal Advisor that has experience with Data Protection and Digital Rights with excellent analytical, research and writing skills, and be able to work well within a diverse virtual team. At the initial stage we also need an advisor that has experience with setting up a charity in the UK and knowledge of the processes involved with registration of a UK charity.

Legal Advisor Responsibilities:

  • Providing legal and process advice UK charity registration
  • Conducting analysis of international data protection issues related to our solution
  • Drafting of contract for staff, third party contractors and suppliers
  • Providing legal advice on social media data usage
  • Development of terms and conditions for user and partner agreements

Legal Advisor Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Law
  • Experience in data protection and digital rights
  • Coordination of legal analysis of digital rights
  • Effective interpersonal and communication skills
  • Ability to work well within a team and individually

You will be the key person to help the organisation stay compliant with UK and International laws, rules and regulations with regards to Data Protection, Digital Rights and all contractual agreements. Our aim is to identify issues of prejudice particularly with regards to racial injustice. Your contribution will ensure the effective execution of our processes and ensure that we are compliant with a wide range of regulations along the way.

As part of the team you would be the go-to person for all legal issues and, depending on your interest and level of commitment, we are looking for a legal representative on the board of trustees. The legal advisor will be the ideal person to step into this role.

Please click here for further information.

UK Federation for Chinese Professionals seeks Legal Advisor

Are you passionate about tackling injustice and hate crime and being an advocate for change? Are you keen to use your legal skills to ensure the safety and prosperity of the Chinese, Southeast and East Asian communities?

iSEA, the national support centre for Southeast and East Asians in the UK, which was previously developed and spinned out by the UK Federation for Chinese Professionals (UKFCP),was first established in late February 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that severely impacted on the diverse communities and SMEs in the UK. Our mission is to promote a safer community environment for East Asians and Southeast Asians through offering first point of contact and third party support. We are at a crucial stage of development and are looking for talents who are eager to uncover problems, address them, and to make our community a better place to live in.

Legal Advisor (Remote) 

Duties include:

  • Researching and preparing policies and official documents required by the centre
  • Advising on corporate law and employment law matters for our work
  • Reporting to the Chairman
  • Attending meetings

About You

We’re looking for approximately 2-3 legal advisors who will have some of the following experience and skills

  • Background in UK corporate law and/ or background in employment law (3+ years)
  • Excellent communication skills verbally and in writing
  • Team player
  • Interested and motivated to help tackle issues faced by the Asian communities
  • Taking ownership of your work
  • Ability to work independently
  • Access to a laptop/ computer and internet connection

Now looking for volunteers who can speak one of below languages (preferred but not essential):

Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Japanese, Korean, Burmese, Indonesian, Filipino, Tagalog, Khmer, Malay, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese

What are we looking for?

  • We’re looking for approximately 2-3 deputies and team members who will have some of the following experience and skills
  • Background in UK corporate law and/ or background in employment law (3+ years)
  • Excellent communication skills verbally and in writing
  • Team player
  • Taking ownership of your work
  • Ability to work independently
  • Access to a laptop/ computer and internet connection


Now looking for volunteers who can speak one of below languages (preferred but not essential):

Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Japanese, Korean, Burmese, Indonesian, Filipino, Tagalog, Khmer, Malay, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese

Please click here for further information.

New Schools Network seeks Trustee – legal background welcomed

New Schools Network (NSN) is an independent charity improving the life chances of young people by supporting the creation and long-term success of new schools.

An unacceptable number of children fail to reach their potential because they lack access to an excellent education. Too often, a child’s background dictates their destination in life, entrenching inequality and impacting communities for generations to come.

NSN is passionate about ending educational inequality once and for all. We envisage a country where every child has an equal chance to succeed in life, irrespective of their background.

NSN is powered by a dynamic and enthusiastic team, united by a passion for improving life chances for children through education.

Our values

● We take action to generate change.

● We embrace innovation.

● We believe in individual agency.

● We celebrate diversity.

● We commit to continuous improvement.

What we do

NSN finds talented people and organisations, supports them to establish new free schools across the country and, through the Academy Ambassadors Programme, places high calibre business people as non-executive directors on boards of multi-academy trusts.

By offering advice, guidance and support, the charity has been instrumental in helping hundreds of groups of parents, teachers, charities and schools to establish new schools, and has matched over 1,800 non-executive directors to boards of multi-academy trusts. Over the last six years, NSN has expanded its activities to support the 780 or so free schools that are open or have been approved to open. With clear commitment to free school from the Government and over 557 free schools already open and more in the pipeline, this is an exciting time to join NSN.

How we do it

We’re proud of the supportive, fast-paced, nurturing, open, friendly team environment we’ve created at NSN. We’re a purpose-driven organisation, which is looking to grow over the next 18 months.


Our Board of Trustees is currently made up of nine individuals, including a Chair. As a group of experts from across the education, business and charity sectors they provide a guiding hand to the charity to ensure it fulfils its objectives. We are looking for a trustee who shares our values and vision and who is an experienced and qualified accountant to Chair our Audit Committee.

The role is responsible for strategic oversight of the charity and to ensure that it maintains its vision and values.

Key responsibilities

  • Ensure than NSN upholds its mission, vision and values.
  • Ensure NSN complies with its governing document, and all relevant legislation and regulations including charity law and company law.
  • Use any specific knowledge, skills and experience to help the board reach sound decisions.
  • Ensure that NSN maintains proper financial controls and ensure that NSN applies its resources exclusively in pursuance of its objectives.
  • Support the leadership in developing a strategy and maintain strategic leadership: setting policy, defining goals and measuring performance against agreed targets.
  • Support the operational management and ensure accountability of senior leaders of NSN.
  • Review the policies of NSN and monitor the implementation of internal policies to ensure that they are inclusive and uphold NSN values while meeting health and safety standards.
  • Ensure that risk assessments for all aspects of the business are carried out.
  • Maintain effective board performance and ensure effective and efficient administration of the charity including funding, premises and to make sure the organisation is properly insured against all reasonable liabilities.
  • Safeguard the name of NSN and the values of the organisation.
  • Promote NSN and act in the best interests of the charity.

Key skills

Candidates must be able to demonstrate the following traits and attributes:

  • Passion for education and the values of NSN.
  • Support of free schools and academies policy.
  • Outstanding record of professional achievement in their field, with commensurate personal reputation of excellence.
  • A professional accounting qualification and at least ten years’ experience working at a senior level within the profession.
  • A commitment to devote sufficient time, preparation and effort to meet the responsibilities of being a trustee.
  • Strong strategic leadership skills.
  • Appreciation of the nature of risk management at Board level.
  • Driven and self-managing with commercial acumen.
  • Collaborative team player and excellent interpersonal communication.
  • Sound judgement and political sense.

Expertise or experience in any of the following will be an advantage

  • Strong understanding and acceptance of the legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of a trusteeship.
  • A financial or legal background would be an advantage.
  • Experience of similar role as a trustee or non-executive in a similar organisation.
  • Experience at board level within a school or academy trust.
  • NSN welcomes applications from any individual regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith of disability.  We really want to have an appropriate mix of Board members from all sectors and backgrounds.

Details and how to apply


The role of Trustee is unremunerated, except for reasonable expenses.

Time Commitment

Up to five board meetings per year with additional operational meetings and sub-committees as necessary.  Trustees will also be required to attend occasional public or private events, for example fundraising events or board away days.

As a guide we are looking for a commitment of up to one day per month.

Trustees are asked to commit to the role for three years with the possibility of one further term.


At present, board meetings are happening online.

How to apply

To be considered for this role please submit the following:

  • A detailed and up-to-date CV.
  • A supporting statement that addresses the person specification and your reason for applying.
  • Availability of dates for an initial introductory meeting with the Chair and Director.


Please click here for further information.

the3million (organisation representing EU citizens in the UK) seeks new Non-Executive Director – governance experience welcomed

the3million is currently seeking up to three new non-executive directors to strengthen its board and support the work of this passionate organisation as the next few years will bring enormous challenges. It is an exciting time to join us as we are transitioning to becoming a charity. These positions are unpaid.

About the3million

the3million is the leading organisation representing EU citizens in the UK. Our work ranges from monitoring and advocating for correct implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, informing people of their rights, advocating for the integration of EU citizens, promoting a fairer pathway to citizenship, and giving EU citizens a voice in British society to change the narrative on migration. The Young Europeans Network is our youth wing, providing a platform to a group usually overlooked.

We are a grassroots and non-partisan organisation, working with a variety of stakeholders, from MPs to trade unions, NGOs and the media on specific issues affecting our citizens’ rights.

the3million was incorporated as a limited company by guarantee with Companies House in November 2017.

We are planning to become a charity in 2021 and all non-executive directors will be invited to become trustees of the charity.

What does the role involve? 

You will join a small board of committed professionals passionate about helping EU citizens in the UK at this difficult time. All directors work closely with our very dedicated staff team.

We are specifically seeking directors with expertise in the following fields: human resources, charity accounting, charity governance, fundraising and a board secretary.

As a the3million non-executive director, you’ll play a vital role in keeping the organisation on track with its objectives. You will apply your professional experience towards shaping our strategy on fundraising, governance, campaigning and other areas of work.

Who should apply?

Applications are welcome from everyone with the relevant passion and experience. Our board comprises many nationalities and being an affected foreign citizen whose home is in the UK would be an advantage.

Please send your CV along with an accompanying letter explaining your reasons for applying.  For more information, please see the director recruitment pack and person specification below. We highly recommend going through the recruitment pack thoroughly before you start your application.


Please click here for further information.

National Association of Child Contact Centres seeks Company Secretary/Trustee – law experience welcomed

The National Association of Child Contact Centres is seeking a Company Secretary who will provide a range of effective administrative support services to the Chair, the Board of Trustees, and to the CEO.

NACCC is a membership organisation whose centres help around 17000 children a year in their 340 accredited centres. There are two kinds of centres supported centres are a vital part of many communities.  Supervised centres are used for cases where there is a risk of harm. These centres are run by around 4000 volunteer and 1000 employed staff.

At NACCC we are primarily concerned with supporting our members and the existence of clear defined and applied standards in contact centres is critical.  To assist us in reviewing and revising these standards NACCC and our members now have the benefit of an independent Standards Review Panel chaired by a judge.

The role

Total Time Commitment (to include but not limited to):

  • 4 Board meetings per year (March, June, September & December)
  • 1 AMG per year (September/October)
  • Other interim meetings
  • Remuneration: Pro bono. Expenses for travel and subsistence are paid within the policy.

You will:

  • Provide advice to the Board on constitutional and procedural matters
  • Ensure that the Charity complies with relevant legislation and regulations
  • Establish procedures for the sound governance of the Charity and will advise the Chair and Board of Trustees
  • Ensure that meetings of the Board of Trustees run efficiently and effectively, are properly recorded and that Trustees receive appropriate support to fulfil their legal duties
  • Ensure that the procedure for the election and appointment of Trustees/directors is properly carried out and they should assist in the proper induction of trustees/directors, including assessing the specific training needs of each board member
  • Ability to provide comprehensive practical support and guidance to the board as individuals and as a collective
  • Assist in the compilation of board papers and to ensure they comply with the required standards of good governance

The company secretary is primarily responsible for the smooth and efficient running of meetings of the trustee/director board and any committees. The company secretary will work closely with the chair of the board to provide assistance and support.

The company secretary will be closely involved in monitoring the compliance with various legislative and regulatory requirements affecting the Charity and its activities. The company secretary will also assist the chair in ensuring that the board’s decisions are acted upon, and that all decisions made by the board are in accordance with the articles of association, reflect the objects of the Charity.

The company secretary should be responsible for keeping the ‘conscience’ of the Charity, by way of ensuring that the trustees/directors continue to take decisions and act in line with the articles of association, and comply with the relevant legislative and regulatory requirements the charity’s is subject to.

Person description

  • The highest standards of personal integrity and professionalism
  • Experience of charity sector governance requirements
  • Ideally a member (or retired) of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators or alternatively, a degree/significance experience in business, law, accountancy or public administration
  • Ability to build and develop strong, supporting working relationships with a forming Leadership Team, advising and coaching the Leadership Team and Board on all governance
  • Flexibility to attend all Board meetings and respond to emails, at sometimes, short notice (days not hours)

Please click here for further information.

The Portfolio Lawyer – Jonathan Scott: how to have a successful plural life after law

On retiring from his roles as Senior Partner and Executive Chair of Herbert Smith Freehills, Jonathan Scott wanted to take on number of external appointments.  He has sought roles which would be an interesting challenge,  take him out of his comfort zone, enable him to ‘put something back’ and ultimately, have fun in the process.

With some help along the way Jonathan now enjoys a successful plural life. Do watch our conversation with Jonathan who gave us a first hand insight into how he went about realising his plans and just what benefits he feels lawyers can bring to boards.

Women’s Theatre Company Clean Break seeks new Trustee – legal skills sought

Clean Break is a women’s theatre company, founded in 1979 by two women prisoners who believed in the power of theatre to transform lives. Its vision is of a society where women can realise their full potential, free from criminalisation. It pursues this vision by producing ground-breaking theatre which puts women’s voices at its heart and creates lasting change by challenging injustice in and beyond the criminal justice system. Through theatre workshops and projects in prisons and the community which build confidence, resilience and wellbeing, Clean Break transforms the lives of women who have experienced the criminal justice system or have been identified as at risk of entering it.

For over 40 years, Clean Break has been the only women’s theatre company of its kind, and it continues to inspire playwrights and captivate audiences with its ground-breaking plays on the complex theme of women and crime. Clean Break has long sought to break down barriers to entry for women in the arts and across society and is looking at new ways to strengthen its role in creating long-lasting change for women in the UK workforce. It uses theatre to keep the subject of women in prison on the cultural radar, helping to reveal the damage caused by the failures of the criminal justice system. Through its unique work, it raises difficult questions, inspires debate, and helps to effect profound and positive change in the lives of women with experience of the criminal justice system.

Clean Break’s women-only identity is crucial to its rationale. The treatment of women by the criminal justice system is one of the clearest demonstrations that our society is still unequal and that women are judged by different standards to men. Its vision is of a society where women are neither unjustly criminalised nor unnecessarily imprisoned, and it believes that theatre enables women to challenge their oppression by society in general and by the criminal justice system in particular.


Role specification

Trustees are responsible for ensuring the charity delivers its mission to fulfil the objects in its governing document within the resources it has. This is achieved by agreeing strategy together with the other Trustees and senior staff. Clean Break’s objects or purpose is defined as advancing education for the public benefit through the promotion of the arts, with particular but not exclusive reference to imprisonment of women and helping to rehabilitate and re-integrate women ex-prisoners and offenders by promoting and developing the creative, artistic and practical abilities of such persons.

Key duties of Trustees include:

  • Ensuring that Clean Break complies with its governing document (memorandum and articles of association), charity law, company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations
  • Ensuring that Clean Break applies resources (being income, the building and other staff) exclusively in pursuance of achieving the purposes listed above for the benefit of the public
  • Helping to define Clean Break’s goals and ensuring performance is evaluated against agreed targets and safeguarding the good name and values of Clean Break
  • Maintaining the effective and efficient administration of Clean Break, including having appropriate policies and procedures in place and the financial stability of Clean Break
  • Supporting the succession planning, appointment, supervision, support, appraisal and remuneration of the Leadership Team (as joint Chief Executives, this is the Executive Director and two Joint Artistic Directors)

The Trustee will also support Clean Break in setting out its post-Covid shape, and contribute to developing strategy around how the charity will sustainably support women who are its beneficiaries, and continue to tell their stories on stages going forward.

Person specification

Clean Break is looking for new Trustees to join the Board who embody its purpose and mission, who can demonstrate an understanding of the work of the charity and who will be willing to get actively involved in discussions. To ensure it has a range of experience, perspective, and skills within its Board, Clean Break is looking for new Trustees with experience or knowledge in any of the below areas:

  • Financial acumen (finance / fundraising) Candidates should demonstrate strong financial skills and experience to be both a Trustee and a member of the Finance Committee. Although a good understanding of finance is required, alongside the ability to clearly articulate financial information, this could come from a background in any sector. The new Trustee should bring an entrepreneurial perspective, and will provide support on Clean Break’s objectives with regard to converting intangible assets and intellectual property into sustainable revenue streams. An understanding of charity finance or experience of finance management in a charity or arts organisation would be beneficial.
  • Criminal justice sector experience (criminal justice / legal) Clean Break values insight and connection to those with experience of or working in the criminal justice sector, to ensure that its advocacy work remains current and relevant. Candidates could bring a legal background, or have worked in a charity within the criminal justice sector. Clean Break is also open to appointing candidates with a lived experience of criminal justice, and currently has several Trustees with lived experience.
  • Leadership experience in the arts (theatre producing / arts management) As a theatre company, Clean Break would value having a Trustee who can bring experience and provide insight from the professional arts sector. Candidates should demonstrate experience of producing theatre, commissioning new work or arts venue management (this could be from a touring or venue-based perspective), for example producers, general managers, or executive directors in theatre or arts centres.
Clean Break is open to candidates who are seeking their first Trustee position, and is willing to embark on a journey with its Trustees which achieves mutual benefits. Above all, candidates should demonstrate a strong alignment with Clean Break’s values, act as champions for women and feel very connected to the charity’s work.


Desired for this role (candidates should bring one of the following)

    • Financial acumen In-depth experience of working directly with financial issues. Experience could be either in a financial leadership role or in an advisory capacity. Candidates will be able to provide counsel on complex financial matters.


    • Criminal justice sector experience Demonstrate previous experience within the criminal justice sector.


  • Leadership experience in the arts Experience in a leadership role within the professional arts sector, either as an artist or in a management or production role. Candidates should have a good understanding of producing theatre, commissioning new work, or arts venue management (either from a touring or venue-based perspective).

Board composition

Alison Frater, Chair
Tanya Tracey, Deputy Chair
Sabba Akhtar, Chair of the Finance Committee
Alison Jefferis, Chair of the Development Committee
Ellie Kendrick
Deborah Coles
Winsome Pinnock
Sara Forbes
Amanda Richardson
Doreen Foster
Despina Tsatsas
Shaen Gaber


Clean Break welcomes applications from everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith or disability. As Black, Asian and ethnically diverse women, women from lower socio-economic backgrounds and women who identify as deaf or disabled are currently under-represented on the Board, applications from those candidates would be particularly encouraged. All appointments will be made on merit, following a fair and transparent process. In line with the Equality Act 2010, however, the organisation may employ positive action where diverse candidates can demonstrate their ability to perform the role equally well.

Clean Break is open to appointing women with personal experience of the criminal justice system (including those having spent time on remand or as sentenced prisoners, probation clients, and/or women cautioned by the police).


Terms of Appointment

This role is unremunerated, and reasonable travel and childcare expenses will be reimbursed if required. The appointment is for a four-year term, which can be renewed once at the discretion of the Board. Board meetings are typically held in Kentish Town, London and are usually two hours long. Although they are currently held virtually, it is hoped that a blended form of meetings will resume in the future, and Trustees will be expected to attend in person c. two to three times per year. Trustees are also expected to attend events and plays in support of the charity at least four times per year. The successful candidate will be expected to observe at a Board meeting in May 2021 and will take up appointment from July 2021.
For further information please get in touch with nurole.com   enquiries@nurole.com

Zest Theatre (Lincoln) seeks new Trustee – legal skills sought

Zest is an award-winning theatre company creating exhilarating new work for young people.

In light of the pandemic, we are overhauling our work to better meet the needs of young people and make a greater impact on their communities.

Zest is seeking at least three new Trustees to join our board and support the organisation at this exciting time. We encourage applications from all sections of the community and in particular those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

We’re keen to recruit Trustees with experience in any of the following areas:

  • Change management
  • Business development
  • Finance
  • Fundraising
  • HR
  • Legal
  • Safeguarding

Based in Lincoln, Zest creates work for theatres, festivals, outdoor spaces, schools, and digital platforms, with work described as ‘unpretentious’ (The Stage) and ‘invigorating’ (The British Theatre Guide). We actively place young people at the centre of the action and creative process.

Zest reaches 20,000 people a year. Our work has toured to venues and festivals across the length and breadth of the country, including ARC Stockton, ArtsDepot, Barnsley Civic, Bradford Festival, Cast Doncaster, Derby Theatre, Half Moon Theatre, Baltic, Lyric Hammersmith, Northern Stage, TakeOff Festival, The Egg Bath, The Gulbenkian, and York Theatre Royal.

We are passionate about the development of young audiences and the amplification of their voices. Each production is inspired by the needs, lives, and imaginations of those aged under 25. This approach creates work that’s unique, relevant, and engaging – sharing the voice of a generation that too often goes unheard.

Zest is searching for new Trustees who are ready to invest their knowledge to enrich the evolution of the company and the lives of the young people we serve. You might not have an arts background, but you’ll be authentic, transparent, and excited to join a collaborative team focused on the inclusion and amplification of young voices.

Acting as a critical friend to Zest, you would be able to use your experience and specialisms to interrogate our practice, whilst offering contingency and support to our small-but-mighty core team.

Zest Theatre is committed to being an Equal Opportunities Employer. In addition, we are committed to anti-racist practice across our whole organisation. This starts with the representation of our Board. We, therefore, encourage applications from all sections of the community and in particular those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. We are dedicated to reflecting the wider world and pursuing an increasingly more representative practice.


Please click here for further information.

Social Care in Action seeks new Trustee – legal experience welcomed

Social Care in Action is a successful, not-for-profit group of social enterprises in the South of England, delivering care, counselling and health and wellbeing.   We are now in our thirtieth year of working with our local communities and meeting the needs of local people.

As a social enterprise we reinvest any profit back into our services to ensure that we can continue to support people in the areas we serve.

We are seeking to appoint high calibre Trustees and to increase Board diversity to expand and strengthen our Boards to better represent the communities we serve, as well as to help steer the organisation as we refresh our strategic ambitions and enter a new and exciting phase of growth and development.

Experience in any of the following areas would be particularly welcome:

  • Health and Social Care sector – knowledge of policy and regulation e.g. CQC, Safeguarding;
  • Business Development;
  • Legal – HR/employment law, charity law/governance, benevolent funds, GDPR and property;
  • Marketing, media, PR;
  • Networking / stakeholder engagement.

The Boards meet formally a minimum of 5 to 6 times a year (4 Management Board Meetings, 1 AGM, 1 Away Day).  The role is voluntary but reasonable expenses are paid.  Attendance by video conference links will be considered for up to 50% of meetings.


Please click here for further information.

Dance United Yorkshire seeks new Trustee with legal expertise

We seek 2 new Trustees, ideally with the perspectives and influencing potential of legal, financial or commercial expertise, to complement the skill sets of our existing board. The key requirement is an active commitment to DUY’s values and vision.

Dance United Yorkshire’s distinctive mission is to connect the very best of the professional contemporary dance world with marginalised communities (primarily in the Yorkshire region but also beyond). We work with a wide diversity of young people and adults who are culturally disengaged and at risk of social exclusion, using the power of dance to literally transform lives. Our participants include those suffering with poor mental health, young offenders, women prisoners, young people excluded from mainstream education, victims of domestic abuse, refugees, asylum seekers and families living in areas of deprivation. Our radical interventions are recognised and supported by partners and funders representing arts and culture, education, criminal justice and health.

Founded in 2011, Dance United Yorkshire (DUY) is based in Bradford at the Kala Sangam Arts Centre. We have been a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England since 2015 and are also supported by a range of other extraordinary funders and partners. Our work, which entails reaching those who are most difficult to reach, is very challenging but hugely fulfilling. The impact and potential of our interventions is evidenced in these randomly selected but typical quotes:

“There is no doubt in my mind that things would have panned out differently for me if it hadn’t been for dance. Most people who knew me would have predicted a custodial rather than a degree. Through DUY I have had the opportunity to show what can be achieved through hard work and dedication, and how worthwhile it is to stay focused.” Performance Company participant.

“Dance has been a way for women to let go and rebuild themselves without stigma and labelling. The sessions bring women from all different backgrounds together in a safe place…the level of support and work put into the sessions is apparent and long lasting.” Legal Assistant of domestic abuse charity.

“DUY is a key contributor from the creative sector addressing Bradford Council’s strategic priorities of regenerating communities, especially by engaging with vulnerable families and children with multiple complex needs.” Officer of Bradford Council.


Please click here for further information.

Committee on Standards in Public Life seeks Independent Members

The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) advises the Prime Minister on ethical standards across the whole of public life. It monitors and reports on issues relating to arrangements for upholding the standards of conduct of all public office holders.

The Prime Minister is seeking independent members to join the Committee for a five year term.

We are looking for high calibre individuals with a real interest in ethical standards and commitment to the principles of public life, who could make a strong contribution to the important work of this Committee. We are especially keen to encourage applications from a wide range of backgrounds, including the voluntary and private sectors.

These are part-time appointments. Members are expected to commit an average of 2 days a month though this may increase when the Committee is undertaking a review.

Person Specification

All candidates must demonstrate, in their CV and supporting letter, how they meet the following criteria, through their knowledge, skills and experience:

  • Personal integrity and strength of character;
  • Understanding of, and commitment to, the need to maintain the highest standards of public life;
  • The ability to command the confidence of Ministers, Parliament and the public;
  • The ability to examine issues in an objective and analytical way;
  • Ability to work well within a small team; and
  • The ability to contribute to the drafting of reports and other documents.

Applicants should also consider whether their interests, or any other roles they hold, might present a conflict with possible subjects of inquiry.

Additional Information

CSPL is made up of political appointees and independent members. This campaign seeks independent members. Applicants should not be politically active.

Political activity is defined as an individual being employed by a political party, holding significant office in a party, standing as a candidate for a party in an election, having publicly spoken on behalf of a political party or having made significant donations or loans to a party. Significant loans and donations are those of a size which are reported to the Electoral Commission, in line with a central party’s reporting threshold.

You will need to show political impartiality during your time on the Committee and must declare any party political activity you undertake in the period of your appointment.


Please click here for further information.

Advisory Committees on Justices of the Peace seeks Advisory Committee Lay Member for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire

Volunteers are sought to sit as non-magistrate members on the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Advisory Committee.  Successful applicants would be involved in interviewing and selecting prospective new magistrates, amongst other duties.

Person Specification

The successful candidate must possess:-

  • good inter-personal skills;
  • the ability to participate in selection interviews for candidate for the magistracy; good judgement of character and the ability objectively to assess evidence;
  • the ability to communicate effectively; awareness of own prejudices and the ability to set them aside; discretion in handling confidential information; an understanding of or a willingness to acquire an understanding the needs of the benches served by the Committee;
  •  a willingness to talk about the magistracy and to participate in recruitment events;
  • an ability to work as a member of a team; commitment and enthusiasm; and a willingness to undergo prescribed training.

Additional Information

Time Requirements:

Successful applicants must take part in a two-day training session before they can take part in the work of the Committee.

The interview of applicants and the training of newly appointed Committee members will be done online via Microsoft Teams.

Due to COVID 19 the interviews of prospective magistrates are also done online via Microsoft Teams.


Please click here for further information.

Advisory Committees on Justices of the Peace seeks Lay Member (West Midlands and Warks)

Volunteers are sought to sit as non-magistrate members on the West Midlands and Warwickshire Advisory Committee.  Successful applicants would be involved in interviewing and selecting prospective new magistrates, amongst other duties.

Person Specification

The successful candidate must possess: –

  • good inter-personal skills;
  • the ability to participate in selection interviews for candidate for the magistracy; good judgement of character and the ability objectively to assess evidence;
  • the ability to communicate effectively; awareness of own prejudices and the ability to set them aside; discretion in handling confidential information; an understanding of or a willingness to acquire an understanding the needs of the benches served by the Committee;
  • a willingness to talk about the magistracy and to participate in recruitment events;
  • an ability to work as a member of a team; commitment and enthusiasm; and a willingness to undergo prescribed training.


Additional Information

Time requirement:

Successful applicants must take part in a two-day training session before they can take part in the work of the Committee.

The interview of applicants and the training of newly appointed Committee members will be done online via Microsoft Teams.

Due to COVID 19 the interviews of prospective magistrates are also done online via Microsoft Teams.


Please click here for further information.

Slough Children First seeks Non-Executive Director – legal skills welcomed (paid role)

Children’s social care in Slough is on a significant improvement journey. We’ve learned from the past and achieved a great deal since Slough Children’s Services Trust was created in 2015. We’ve moved out of ‘inadequate’ for the first time in many years, but we know there is more still to do.

Our strong ambition is to deliver the very best services for our most vulnerable children, young people and their families. To achieve this, with the support of the Department for Education, we are creating a new organisation – Slough Children First. Wholly-owned by Slough Borough Council, this new organisation will be dedicated to keeping children at the heart of our work whilst we continue our journey to good and beyond.

We are now looking for an exceptional Chair and three Non-Executive Directors to lead the next stage of this journey.

The role

We are looking for three Non-Executive Directors to join the Board. The Board will operate at a strategic level and is the responsible body for the performance, achievement and overall direction of the company.


Who they’re looking for

You will support the Chair and recently appointed Executive team to deliver Slough Children First’s vision and you must bring a passion for addressing the needs of young people and tackling the inequalities facing our society. We are creating a multi-disciplinary Board and are keen to attract a diverse range of individuals with backgrounds in finance, HR, risk, legal, digital engagement and cyber safety.


More information

  • Candidate pack downloadable from the website here
  • Website
  • We welcome all applications, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, social background, religious beliefs, ethnicity or age.
  • To find out more about these roles and  for a confidential conversation contact Nancy Scott or Elise Kanareck on 020 7426 3370 at GatenbySanderson.

How to apply

  • Deadline for applications is 16th April 2021.
  • Timeline: Long listing w/c 26th April. Preliminary interviews w/c 10th May. Short listing w/c 17th May. Final panel w/c 24th May.
  • To apply for this role, please submit the following through the website here:
    (1) up to date copy of your CV
    (2) a Supporting Statement that addresses the criteria set out in the person specification, using examples to demonstrate how you meet the essential requirements. Please provide your home, work, mobile and email contact details and let us know of any dates when you are not available or where you may have difficulty with the indicative timetable.
    (3) You should also provide the names, positions, organisations and contact details for two referees, one of whom should be your current or most recent employer. If you do not wish us to approach your referees without your prior permission, please state this clearly.

Migrant Help seeks new Chair and Trustee – law expertise welcomed

Migrant Help is a national charity offering support, guidance and accommodation to vulnerable migrants across the UK. We exist to support people who are impacted by displacement and exploitation to thrive as individuals and provide services to asylum seekers, refugees and victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

Our vision is for a global society that protects vulnerable migrants, treats them with respect and enables them to reach their full potential.

Our income is c£25m, a large proportion of which comes through statutory funding. We also have a successful social enterprise, Clear Voice, an interpreting and translation service whose profits go back into the charity.

We are looking to augment, grow and diversify our board with a number of trustees who would like to play part in delivering our charitable aims and strategic objectives.

Find out more about us on our website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or our YouTube channel.


What we are looking for

We are looking to augment, grow and diversify our board with a number of trustees who would like to play part in delivering our charitable aims and strategic objectives.

We are looking for:

  • Individuals with expertise in at least one of the following areas:
    – Finance
    – Developing user led organisations
    – Public relations
    – Equality and diversity
    – Impact assessment
    – Safeguarding
    – The law
    – Income generation
    • Two finance skilled trustees to sit on the main Board and the Finance Committee.
    • Individuals who can bring first-hand or indirect experience of being a refugee or migrant into the UK, either recently or in past generations.
    • Someone who would have the time and expertise to transition into the Chair roles for the Board of Trustees and separately for our social enterprise. They need to have additional time available (4-5 hours a week).
    We are ideally looking for individuals with trustee or non-executive experience. We would also welcome individuals with an understanding of public sector commissioning at a national, regional or local level; and experience and/or understanding of the support and care of victims of trafficking.
  • Most importantly, of course, you will have compassion for the challenges facing refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

The posts are subject to an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check and references.


Please click here for further information.

Home-Start Lambeth seeks new Chair

We are looking for a Chair person for our Board of Trustees at Home-Start Lambeth.

Home-Start Lambeth’s aim is to prevent the challenges of poverty, neglect and isolation from compromising children’s ability to thrive. We do this through matching volunteers with vulnerable families with young children in order to provide support through weekly visits and calls. All our volunteers are carefully recruited, selected and trained to support families with a range of problems including: poverty; chronic physical and mental ill-health; homelessness or poor housing. In addition to this core work, we provide volunteer support targeted at domestic abuse survivors. We run the Freedom Programme which supports women avoid abusive relationships. We self-generate all our funding to provide services. We apply for grants, bid for tenders, and are actively exploring other ways in which we can raise funds. We have a team of 6 part-time staff. In addition to our staff, we have a Board of Trustees who bring specialist skills and experience to support the scheme.

In common with many organisations Home-Start Lambeth has had to respond to significant changes due to COVID19. Our volunteers are currently providing online support and we have expanded the ways in which we support families including online baby groups, WhatsApp groups and running our Freedom Programme online. While this has been challenging it also presents us with an opportunity to modernise how we work and provide support

We are currently looking to recruit a Chair for the Board of Trustees. This role includes the following key responsibilities:

· Chair meetings of the trustee board.

· Develop the board and guide it in helping the scheme manager set the strategic direction for the scheme

· Ensure that the Board of Trustees provides due oversight and governance

· Supporting and supervising the scheme manager and acting as a channel of communication between board and staff

The ideal candidate will have previous experience as a trustee and strong leadership skills to support the scheme manager to lead an organisation during a period of considerable change.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone who loves change; is enthusiastic about our mission and the continual development of a vital community organisation.

Home-Start Lambeth is a diverse organisation and we welcome and encourage applications from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

Board meetings take place approximately 7 times a year on Monday evenings at our office in Brixton. There are also strategy setting afternoons which take place twice a year. Currently all meetings are taking place online. In between meetings the commitment is around 2- 3 days a month.

If you have relevant experience, have some time available and would like to join a successful, vibrant team to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable families and children in Lambeth, please send a brief statement outlining your skills and experience.


Please click here for further information.

The Squad Club (learning disability/autism club) in Wimbledon seeks new board members

The Squad is based in Wimbledon and runs Thursday evening clubs for people with learning disabilities and autism. Our club nights are fun-packed and educational and our members enjoy socialising with their friends whilst also trying out new experiences. The charity has much local community support and impact.

The role

The Squad is looking for new board members who are enthusiastic, committed and feel that they can add real value to the organisation. As a Trustee, and member of the Board, you will share collective responsibility for the overall strategic direction, organisational effectiveness and financial accountability in line with The Squad’s objectives.

Our trustees come from diverse backgrounds and meet every 8 weeks to ensure the smooth-running of The Squad.

We are particularly keen to hear from people with backgrounds in Legal and Safeguarding.

As a Trustee of The Squad, the commitment and energy which you contribute will make a direct and tangible difference to the charity and everyone it helps to support. Our club is split into two age groups 14 – 25 years (our Juniors Club) and 25 years+ (our Vets Club).

What are we looking for?

  • A motivated individual who would like to use their professional or other experience to contribute to and develop an ambitious long term growth strategy for a local charity.
  • We ask trustees to dedicate around 8 – 10 hours a month to work supporting the running, strategy, management and governance of The Squad.
  • We particularly welcome applicants based in or around the Wimbledon area, who are able to help The Squad to build connections within the local community and are able to attend and support occasional club nights. However, as board meetings are now conducted via Zoom, location is not as crucial as it once was.
  • Individual contribution varies a lot depending on the person’s skills, expertise and the time they can commit. We ask that trustees get involved with a variety of aspects of The Squad; from financial matters, governance, marketing, fundraising, strategy or line managing staff.
  • The Squad is overseen by a Board of Trustees with a wide set of skills and experience. We draw our strength from having a team of people with a wide range of backgrounds.
  • As our current Board is geographically dispersed, applicants should be comfortable working in a remote team and communicating via Zoom, email and telephone.

Further information

  • Some trustees started as volunteers at the club, later moving on to the board. Others joined The Squad directly as trustees
  • Current trustees have professional skills and experience in law, marketing, IT, finance, HR, and fundraising. The Squad club itself is based in South Wimbledon, however board meetings usually take place in central London, on a weekday evening every 8 weeks.
  • Trustees are not expected to attend clubs on a regular basis, but are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the club programmes and join in with activities 2-3 times a year.

Benefits to joining The Squad as a trustee

  • Contribute to and enable new opportunities and experiences for learning disabled children and adults
  • Broaden your knowledge of how a small charity functions and is governed effectively
  • The potential to be creative and experience the tangible outcomes of your hard work
  • Supporting (sometimes on the front line) a well-respected and highly valued local charity

Recruitment process

If you are shortlisted, you will be asked to provide a CV and have an informal, introductory phone call with a current trustee. You will then be invited to join a club night, where you will meet our club leaders and members of The Squad. Lastly, you will be invited to a panel interview.

Please note: due to the covid-19 pandemic, our clubs are not currently running in person. However, they have moved online. This means our recruitment process is different from normal. However, we are still keen to hear from potential trustees. Interviews will happen over Zoom.


Please click here for further information.

University of Bedfordshire Students Union seeks new board members – legal expertise sought

Beds SU, the student-led charity at the University of Bedfordshire, is seeking experienced, committed external trustees to add to the diversity of its Board. New trustees with Income Generation and/or Business Development, Accounting, Legal and/or IT, digital and marketing experience are sought.

Students at our university embark on life-changing journeys and we seek trustees to help us further students’ interests and improve their lives as students.

Beds SU is the representative body for all students at the University of Bedfordshire. We represent an incredibly diverse student body, with students from all backgrounds and from across the globe at multiple campuses across the UK, and we empower students to achieve their full potential.

Bedfordshire is a university where students’ journeys resource them to make deep changes to their lives, raise aspirations and open opportunities. Serving as a trustee can be an incredibly valuable way of making a contribution to wider society, not least the Bedfordshire student body.

You’ll join Beds SU at an exciting time as we launch our new strategic plan. As trustee you will support organisational renewal at a strategic level, and bring your seasoned expertise and experience to achieving the charity’s objectives.

The Board would benefit from a diversity of backgrounds, both in person and in profession. We would benefit from new trustees who bring commercial and/or business experience (e.g. sales, planning etc.); financial, legal and/or marketing experience would also be beneficial. In particular, we welcome applications from those from Black, Asian and an ethnic minority backgrounds as well as women, as they are under-represented within the Union at this level.

Beds SU trustees ordinarily meet four times per year; and trustees are asked to attend up to 2 further training or ‘away’ days. Trustees receive induction and the Board is supported by staff. Reasonable expenses are paid.


Please click here for further information.

Dance Woking seeks new Trustee – legal experience sought

Dance Woking, is looking for committed individuals who can bring their expertise to this vibrant and versatile dance development organisation to provide strategic support and enthusiastic advocacy.

Dance Woking is an innovative dance organisation which provides high quality opportunities to watch, perform and take part in dance, providing new experiences that we hope inspire artists, audiences, participants and communities. We champion and celebrate dance as a socially and culturally relevant force through an annual programme of events that resonate with our audiences.

Our mission: To encourage, empower and inspire all to participate in creative experiences to transform communities through dance.being transparent with your audience.

Dance Woking aims to be an outstanding contributor to the arts, culture and sport in Woking and the South East of England, with a regional and national reputation in its support and development of dance.

Dance Woking Philosophy: We believe the arts touch every aspect of our lives; they offer people a means of expression; promote creativity, knowledge and understanding and stimulate ideas and imagination. We strive to offer opportunities for people in Woking, Surrey and beyond to experience fantastic dance in Woking. We want our work to provide enjoyment, surprise, and revelation. Our work can be fun and frivolous, or, offer insight into the human condition and the world in which we live. Dance can be participatory, social or performed for an audience. Dance expresses ideas and emotions and can be pursued in linear or abstract forms. Dance has a powerful effect on people’s lives – the physical, emotional, mental and social benefits of dance are proven. Dance can help people to lead healthier lifestyles.

It’s an exciting time for Dance Woking as we develop and create a new strategic direction and we are looking for new trustees to support and challenge the organisation.   We are seeking candidates with experience in health, financial management, business and commercial, IT, legal and HR and particularly welcome candidates from a range of backgrounds to help to progress our aim to become a fully inclusive and diverse organisation.

Please click here for further information.

Andrea Coomber Director of Justice: how law, and lawyers, can be a vehicle for change

Andrea Coomber, the Director of Justice, gave an excellent overview of the role of Justice in addressing societal concerns and of the value of the justice system as a public good. She also looked at how lawyers might themselves practically contribute to the challenge of ensuring that the justice system is effective, particularly at a time when public confidence has been shaken in areas such as racial inequality and gender based violence.
She concluded with some valuable insights into remote working based on her experience of working as Director of Justice from Australia in recent months.
Watch Andrea in discussion with one of BCKR’s directors, Guy Beringer, below.

Age UK Hillingdon, Harrow & Brent seeks new Trustee with property law expertise

This is an exciting opportunity to join the Board of Age UK Hillingdon, Harrow & Brent and make a real difference to services for the older people in the local community.

Age UK Hillingdon Harrow and Brent is a dynamic and forward-thinking charity supporting the older residents of West London. We provide a wide range of services all of which aim to support and improve the health and wellbeing of older people, empowering and promoting independence and choice. We are passionate about realising our mission to make later life better in Hillingdon, Harrow and Brent which is reflected in our ambitious strategy for growth.

At this important point in our journey, we seek to appoint two new Trustees who can bring different perspectives to our Board and help Age UK Hillingdon, Harrow and Brent achieve its plans for growth and build on the passion within the community for our work. We welcome candidates from a wide range of professional backgrounds; commercial and business expertise and expertise in all areas of fundraising, social enterprise, NHS commissioning, transformation &integration, property law and digital strategy and communication, are some of the skills which are particularly relevant at this stage of our strategy implementation.

We want to be more representative of the communities we serve and hence seek to become more diverse as a Board, which is reflected in the person specification you will find in the candidate pack. As with our current Trustees, our preference is for those who live in or have knowledge of the local area or who have a keen passion for, or professional experience related to our cause.


Please click here for further information.

The Woodland Centre Trust – Camp Mohawk in Berkshire – seeks new Trustee

We are looking for people to join our board of Trustees. For this opening we are looking for SEN experience.  People with a passion for making change, who bring sound governance experience and specific skills and / or networks within our key areas of focus.

About Camp Mohawk

Our vision is for children and young people with special needs arising from physical or developmental disability to receive the support necessary to realise their full potential as valued individuals, with their disability being openly understood, accepted and provided for without prejudice or judgement. Camp Mohawk is a multi-functional day centre for children with special needs and their families, set in 5 acres of beautiful countryside, just outside Wargrave, Berkshire. Throughout the year the centre provides a range of activities, facilities, and natural space to encourage children with a variety of special needs to play, socialise and learn in a secure and caring environment.

What are we looking for?

Time commitment

• Attend quarterly board meetings.

• Provide guidance on issues in which the trustee has special expertise;

• Contribute advice and support on an ad-hoc basis.

The role is voluntary and is not accompanied by any financial remuneration.

References will be collected prior to appointment. A DBS check and completion of relevant training (including safeguarding training) may be required.


Please click here for further information.

The Shaw Trust (employment charity) seeks new Trustees

Shaw Trust believes in the right of every person in the United Kingdom to live a decent and dignified life through good employment. We are a not-for-profit social enterprise that seeks to improve life chances for employment for people who face social and economic challenges, or who may also be disabled or have complex needs. Today we are a charity that remains committed to employment as the core pathway to a better life. However we recognise that access to good employment is critically dependent on what happens in people’s formative years and the opportunities they then have.

The Board of Trustees holds ultimate accountability for the affairs of Shaw Trust. Its job is to ensure that it is solvent, well-run, and delivers the charitable outcomes for the benefit of the public for which it has been set up. With a strong, capable and highly experienced executive team in place, we are looking for trustees whose experience further reinforces the Board’s role in creating strategy, anticipating risk, introducing new ideas, overseeing change and growth, and providing critical support and stretch to the CEO and his team.

Trustees routinely:

  • contribute to the setting and shaping of strategic direction;
  • contribute to good governance including financial stewardship, stability and sustainability;
  • offer valuable resource in terms of supporting, questioning and holding to account the Executive, and engaging in particular projects from time to time;
  • call on their personal and professional networks and contacts in support of the Trust’s activities and reputation, and act as ambassador;
  • ensure that the organisation complies with its governing document, charity and company law and any other relevant legislation or regulations;
  • ensure that the organisation pursues its objects as defined in the governing documents, safeguard its good name and value and protect its resources.



Please click here for a link to the full candidate brief and application information.

Christian Aid seeks new Trustee

At Christian Aid, we believe that poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of dignity, freedom and hope, of power over their lives. Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty – and we believe that vision can become a reality.

Created by British and Irish churches in 1945, and owned by our 41 sponsoring churches, Christian Aid provides urgent, practical and effective assistance where need is great, tackling the effects of poverty as well as its root cause. Our work is based on our fundamental identification with the aspirations and rights of the poor and the oppressed. We act in situations of suffering and injustice because we believe that they violate God’s standards, and devalue us all.

Christian Aid operates through an incorporated charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales and with Companies House. There are various subsidiary and connected charities which support us.

The Role

The Board of Trustees is responsible for setting the strategy and policy framework of Christian Aid, determining direction and goals; protecting and promoting the identity and values of the charity; and fulfilling our statutory responsibilities.

It collectively holds the Chief Executive and other directors (senior management) accountable, providing constructive challenge where necessary, reporting to the Sponsoring Churches at the Annual General Meeting and promoting Christian Aid externally.

The Board delegates certain functions to sub-committees of trustees;

  • The Board Governance and Nominations Committee is responsible for nominating new trustees for election to members (the sponsoring churches) at the annual general meeting, and for reviewing the performance of the board.  It also ensures that the board has effective work processes.
  • The Audit and Risk Committee reviews reports from external and internal auditors, commissions special investigations and advises the Board on risk management.
  • The Finance, Fundraising and Investment Committee reviews the annual plans and budget, investment in and performance of fundraising, key financial policies, pension funding and the performance of Christian Aid’s investment managers.
  • The Human Resources Governance and Strategy Committee advises on human resources policies to ensure that they are aligned with our values and objectives, and helps inform our global people strategy.
  • The Remuneration Committee reviews the principles governing pay and benefits at Christian Aid.  It also makes recommendations to the board on the remuneration of the Chief Executive.

As a trustee, you will be expected to serve on at least one of the above-mentioned sub-committees.

About You

Board members are expected to be active Christians so as to help lead, direct and develop Christian Aid as the Churches’ agency for international development and poverty eradication.  Christian Aid values diversity in its Board and welcomes people from all sections of the Christian community.

As a trustee, you will be appointed for an initial four year term, and are eligible to be re-appointed for further terms of office, limited to a maximum of eight consecutive years.

We are open to expressions of interest from persons available to join the Board either in the second half of 2021 or from 2022 onwards.


Please click here for further information.

Autism and Learning Disability organisation in Wimbledon seeks new Trustee with Legal Expertise

The The Squad ClubSquad is based in Wimbledon and runs Thursday evening clubs for people with learning disabilities and autism. Our club nights are fun-packed and educational and our members enjoy socialising with their friends whilst also trying out new experiences. The charity has much local community support and impact.

The role

The Squad is looking for new board members who are enthusiastic, committed and feel that they can add real value to the organisation. As a Trustee, and member of the Board, you will share collective responsibility for the overall strategic direction, organisational effectiveness and financial accountability in line with The Squad’s objectives.

Our trustees come from diverse backgrounds and meet every 8 weeks to ensure the smooth-running of The Squad.

We are particularly keen to hear from people with backgrounds in Legal and Safeguarding.

As a Trustee of The Squad, the commitment and energy which you contribute will make a direct and tangible difference to the charity and everyone it helps to support. Our club is split into two age groups 14 – 25 years (our Juniors Club) and 25 years+ (our Vets Club).

What are we looking for?

  • A motivated individual who would like to use their professional or other experience to contribute to and develop an ambitious long term growth strategy for a local charity.
  • We ask trustees to dedicate around 8 – 10 hours a month to work supporting the running, strategy, management and governance of The Squad.
  • We particularly welcome applicants based in or around the Wimbledon area, who are able to help The Squad to build connections within the local community and are able to attend and support occasional club nights. However, as board meetings are now conducted via Zoom, location is not as crucial as it once was.
  • Individual contribution varies a lot depending on the person’s skills, expertise and the time they can commit. We ask that trustees get involved with a variety of aspects of The Squad; from financial matters, governance, marketing, fundraising, strategy or line managing staff.
  • The Squad is overseen by a Board of Trustees with a wide set of skills and experience. We draw our strength from having a team of people with a wide range of backgrounds.
  • As our current Board is geographically dispersed, applicants should be comfortable working in a remote team and communicating via Zoom, email and telephone.

Further information

  • Some trustees started as volunteers at the club, later moving on to the board. Others joined The Squad directly as trustees
  • Current trustees have professional skills and experience in law, marketing, IT, finance, HR, and fundraising. The Squad club itself is based in South Wimbledon, however board meetings usually take place in central London, on a weekday evening every 8 weeks.
  • Trustees are not expected to attend clubs on a regular basis, but are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the club programmes and join in with activities 2-3 times a year.

Benefits to joining The Squad as a trustee

  • Contribute to and enable new opportunities and experiences for learning disabled children and adults
  • Broaden your knowledge of how a small charity functions and is governed effectively
  • The potential to be creative and experience the tangible outcomes of your hard work
  • Supporting (sometimes on the front line) a well-respected and highly valued local charity

Recruitment process

If you are shortlisted, you will be asked to provide a CV and have an informal, introductory phone call with a current trustee. You will then be invited to join a club night, where you will meet our club leaders and members of The Squad. Lastly, you will be invited to a panel interview.

Please note: due to the covid-19 pandemic, our clubs are not currently running in person. However, they have moved online. This means our recruitment process is different from normal. However, we are still keen to hear from potential trustees. Interviews will happen over Zoom.


Please click here for further information.

The Autism Group in Maidenhead seeks new Chair-designate

Do you have leadership skills and some experience of running or Chairing a committee?
Would you like to join the Board of a highly-valued and well-respected charity in Maidenhead, that works with children and young people from 9 to 25 on the autism spectrum?
About us

The Autism Group is committed to supporting and enhancing the lives of young people on the spectrum, their parents and carers. We provide special interest clubs, workshops and parent support services, some of these managing to continue during the pandemic via Zoom and in virtual environments. As well as such support, we offer a variety of training to care workers, social workers, teaching assistants and similar roles, in all sectors.

Our Board of four trustees has been well-served by our Chair, who has been a trustee since our inception, as well as Chair since 2017, and is now stepping down. Other trustees have extensive experience, which will support our new Chair-designate.

Our turnover in 2019/20 increased to £71.5k, despite having to rapidly then change our face-to-face delivery.

The role

We are looking for a new trustee to eventually take on the role of Chair, to lead the Board and the charity alongside our existing trustees, assisted by our Charity Manager and other employees. Our expectation is for you to spend three to six months in this ‘designate’ role, to enable you to ascertain if it’s right for you and right for our organisation, to learn how we operate and how you can lead us.

If you have skills and abilities in cooperatively chairing a committee, maybe experience of charity (or corporate) governance, we’d welcome you, although similar experience and transferable skills are as important; we’ll give you support and training as necessary.
This opportunity will become a chance to work with staff and trustees to continue to grow TAG for the future, beyond the pandemic limitations. You don’t need experience of working with children and young people on the autism spectrum, but you must have empathy and a willingness to do so.

We also want to expand the diversity of our Board, in all aspects.

We are a charity not a business, but we want you to help us apply good business principles in governing our organisation.  We welcome potential trustees with ideas and expertise from a variety of backgrounds.

The focus of a trustee role is strategic and you don’t need to be directly involved in the organisation’s operations on a day-to-day basis, although we ask that you are occasionally available to visit our clubs when that becomes possible again. The Chair will take on the support & supervision of the Charity Manager in regular meetings.

We ask for about ten hours per month as Chair-designate, rising to approx. fifteen hours per month upon appointment as Chair: this includes induction & training, all meetings, correspondence, communication, etc. This is a voluntary role and reasonable travel expenses may be claimed.

Full induction to our charity is provided, plus specialist support as a trustee including access to external training. You do not necessarily need prior experience of charity trusteeship, as support from other trustees and from our Charity Manager is always available.

What do you get as a volunteer trustee with our organisation?

Some of these you will gain as Chair-designate, some as eventual Chair:

  • An opportunity to exercise and grow your cooperative leadership skills, possibly in a different environment or context
  • A chance to augment your experience of charities
  • A chance to implement strategic change for the organisation
  • An opportunity to work alongside other committed trustees
  • The personal reward of giving back to the community
  • High-quality induction training from us and other charity-support organisations

What do we get?

  • Your skills, knowledge and leadership experience
  • Your abilities to help our Board and charity grow in line with our strategic plans
  • Enhancement to our overall governance and the Board of Trustees; improvement in our charity governance and operational growth
  • Your participation in our collective decision-making, contributing to all areas of our charity work
  • Your enthusiasm

What do our beneficiaries get?

  • The ability to continue our support for children and young people on the autism spectrum, as well as provide information and support for parents, carers and professionals
  • A well-governed charity, sustainable for the future
  • A forward-looking and agile organisation, with a well-informed and well-managed Board of trustees

Please click here for further information.

The Cleft Lip and Palate Association seeks Legal Trustee

The Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the charity, developing the CLAPA’s aims, objectives and goals in accordance with the governing document, legal and regulatory guidelines.

CLAPA is the only national charity supporting people and families affected by cleft lip and/or palate in the UK. Our vision is of a society where everyone affected by cleft feels supported, connected and empowered to take control wherever they are on their cleft journey.

Role Description:

The Board is looking for a new Trustee who is aligned to the ethos of the charity and would enjoy the opportunity to contribute their expertise to provide robust and dynamic governance to ensure we achieve our ambitions and remain financially solvent. We would like to enhance our Trustee Board with legal expertise from either a barrister or a solicitor.

In the role of Trustee, you will help inspire, set and maintain the charity’s vision, mission and values, as well as develop the strategy, and ensure compliance and accountability for finances, legal and governmental obligations. Previous experience in a Trustee role is not essential as a full induction will be provided.

Taking on the role of a Trustee is a significant undertaking. An appropriate time commitment will be required for the preparatory work required in between meetings as well as attendance at the meetings.


Please click here for further information.

Headhunter Jan Hall: Be your own best advocate

Jan was until recently one of the leading headhunters for Chair, Board and senior executive roles at major corporates and is now running a consultancy for senior NEDs and management. Jan’s session gave many insights (based on her executive and NED career – which started at the age of 27) into:

  • how headhunters work and how to make them your messenger,
  • how to keep in touch with them,
  • avoiding being desperate, grumpy or arrogant, and
  • why we should not take rejection personally.

She has also recently published Changing Gear, on how best to approach life after a full-on career.

One point was of particular note – when researching this book, Jan realised that, when compared to others, we lawyers spend too little time treating ourselves and our next career stage as a project and, therefore, invest too little in ourselves when working out our next steps and securing the next stage of our careers. BCKR and its various offerings offer you a good way to make this key investment.

Do watch the webinar below to hear Jan’s take on the transition to portfolio life.

New School Canterbury seeks new Trustee with legal expertise

We are looking for trustees at our pioneering new school founded in 2018. It is located on an idyllic site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, surrounded by a bio-dynamic farm, 10 minutes south of Canterbury.

​We are looking for new Trustees to join our Board. We are a new school supported by a wide range of educational experts aiming be at the forefront of education whilst be rooted in community.

To complement the skills of our existing Board would ideally like to attract Trustees with knowledge of one or more of the following:

  • ​​Business Development / Strategy
  • Financial Planning
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing
  • Legal Expertise
  • Human Resources
  • Waldorf Education

The Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees meets regularly on a voluntary basis to shape, discuss and consider the vision, progress and welfare of the school. Their main roles of responsibility are to:

  • Ensure clarity of Vision and Ethos and that our Values Framework underpins policy and practice within the school
  • Lead on Budget approval
  • Create robust accountability for the Teachers, Management Team and Working Group
  • Ensure that the school is compliant with all its legal and contractual requirements.

​Trustees meet formally twice a term on zoom, so location is not a barrier, but we sometimes meet informally more often during this early stage of the school’s life.

Please click here for further information.

Charity supporting Russian speaking/SEND families in UK seeks Trustee with law expertise

Hand to Hold is looking for committed individuals willing to use their expertise and skills to help us deliver an ambitious strategy and vision to help every Russian-speaking family with children with SEND in the UK which needs our support.

Our charitable initiative was created in September 2020 following a chain of tragic events during the lockdown.. The purpose of our prospective charitable organisation is the relief of Russian-speaking families in need in the UK by reason of ill health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage as a result of their children or young adult with special education needs and disabilities. We have developed a number of programmes to fulfil the purpose, including psychological support, socialisation and integration support, physical, and legal support.

We’re getting ready for registration with Charity Commission as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation and looking for volunteers helping us to fulfil our charitable strategy and purpose. If you would like to help the Russian Speaking families with children with SEND, we would be delighted to welcome you in our team of volunteers.

We are looking for candidates with the following experience:

  • A senior leader in a charity/non-profit, with direct experience of fundraising and delivering fundraising programmes.
  • Clinical Psychology, working directly with or responsible for services that support parents with children and young people with SEND.
  • Public Relations in Third Sector.
  • We are looking for individuals with a diversity of vision and ambition, excellent communication and governance skills.


5+ years experience in either:

  • Third sector;
  • Governance;
  • Law,
  • Clinical Psychology.


1-3 days per quarter.


Please click here for further information.

Rebecca Gudgeon on ESG and Corporate Reputation

Rebecca Gudgeon, a partner in the communications firm Hudson Sandler, has extensive experience as an adviser on organisation risk and reputation issues. She leads HS Sustain (the ESG practice of Hudson Sandler) and is one of the leading advisers in the ESG sector.

Rebecca’s talk (and the subsequent conversation) covered the impact of the rapidly developing ESG sector, the broad scope of ESG requirements and the knowledge which non-executive board members of an organisation (including not for profit boards) now need to have to operate effectively as NEDs.  The areas covered by the discussion included:
  • ESG and the development of strategy (including the role of the UN SDGs)
  • the stakeholders affected by ESG strategy and operations
  • the cross disciplinary impact of ESG
  • measurement and the role of ESG rating agencies
  • the role of the Board in looking at ESG requirements
  • the interplay between long-term strategy and shorter term decision-making (including executive remuneration) and reporting
  • becoming familiar with ESG requirements
  • how to deal with ESG ‘dinosaurs’ on a board.

Click below to watch back the webinar.

The Platform Cricket Programme seeks to appoint new Trustees – Corporate Governance expertise welcomed

The Platform Cricket Programme is an exciting initiative aimed at supporting more young people from deprived and BAME backgrounds in London to develop in and through cricket.

We create new “Pop Up” youth cricket clubs in areas where there is currently little to no provision and we work directly with schools to recruit new participants. These activities are set-up to remove as many of the known barriers to voluntary participation as possible but importantly they also feature opportunities for young people to positively replace and address the reasons why they may otherwise fall into poor health, antisocial behaviour and crime in later years.

The community-based activities aim to incubate young peoples’ interest in the game, and develop their skills adequately so that transition into an established, mainstream cricket club becomes more likely from 11 years old and upwards.

By the end of 2020-21 we are scheduled to have worked with c.300 Primary Schools as part of 30 Platform Cricket Hubs across 14 inner London Boroughs.


The charity that sits behind the Platform Cricket Programme is the Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation (THYSF).


Over 500 wards in London feature populations with either 25%+ children from disadvantaged backgrounds or 50%+ BAME backgrounds, yet only 0.03% of children in central London could take up cricket now, even if they wished to.

That’s why we know that the Platform Cricket programme has huge potential – both in bringing greater equality and diversity into cricket and supporting personal and social development for children in London.

We are seeking 1-3 new trustees that can support our charity through an exciting period of rebuilding and change, which will equip it to effectively address our objectives.

The Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the Foundation, and developing the organisation’s aims, objectives, and goals in accordance with the governing document, legal requirements, and regulatory guidelines.

We need candidates who:

  • Demonstrate sound integrity and critical thinking skills
  • Work well as part of a team and are good communicators
  • Possess an energy and enthusiasm that can drive the charity towards fulfilling its potential
  • Have some experience of corporate governance (although previous experience as a trustee is not necessary)
  • Have a passion for at least two of the charity’s three focusses: Disadvantaged children & young people, London, and Sport

It would also be desirable for candidates to:

  • Have some experience of the charitable/third sector
  • Hold a broad understanding of schools/education in the UK
  • Have a working knowledge of cricket in the UK

Amongst the trustees we are seeking to recruit, we are specifically looking for at least one candidate with a financial/accountancy background who can support the charity’s finance sub-committee.

Our charity is committed to the safeguarding of young people and as such all successful applicants will be expected to either hold or undergo an Enhanced DBS Check.


Please click here for further information.

CALIA (Borderline Personality Disorder support) seeks new Trustee

CALIAWe are seeking highly-skilled, passionate and fully-committed individuals for our initial board of Trustees.

The role of Trustee is highly rewarding.  The Board of Trustees are responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of CALIA, developing its aims, objectives and goals in accordance with its constitution, legal requirements and regulatory guidelines.

It is collectively responsible for promoting the success of the charity by directing and supervising the charity’s affairs. Its role is to provide leadership within a framework of prudent and effective controls which enable risk to be assessed and managed.

Role Description

More specifically, the role of a Trustee is to:

  • Attend trustee board and committee meetings;
  • Contribute actively to the board’s work and decision-making;
  • Decide policies affecting CALIA’s staff and volunteers;
  • Oversee CALIA activities, including risk management and management of the charity’s resources;
  • Contribute to setting CALIA strategic direction and priorities;
  • Make sure that CALIA pursues its charitable objectives;
  • Support and encourage volunteers, the executive team and their staff in their roles, whilst constructively challenging their advice and decisions;
  • Represent CALIA internally and externally.

Person Specification

You should be able to demonstrate and provide evidence of the criteria listed below;

  • A commitment to CALIA’s aims and objectives, and a proactive interest in and enthusiasm for shaping the future of the organisation;
  • Demonstrable experience from a personal, professional or community background with understanding of Borderline Personality Disorder;
  • A willingness to give your time and effort to prepare for and attend trustee and other relevant meetings;
  • Good independent judgement and the ability to challenge ideas constructively;
  • An ability to think creatively and strategically;
  • An understanding and acceptance of legal duties, responsibilities and liabilities of trusteeship and the roles of boards;
  • The ability to represent CALIA internally or externally and a willingness to build and use networks on behalf of CALIA;
  • An ability to work effectively as a member of a team while contributing an independent perspective;
  • A commitment to our vision;
  • Strong communication skills and the ability to analyse and interpret information;
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusion;

Time Commitment

Trustees commit around 8-10 hours per month plus:

  • Quarterly trustee meetings;
  • Annual general meeting;
  • Other meetings as needed;
  • Executive support where needed.

Trustees serve for one year, with the possibility to renew after their first term.

Additional Information

This role is carried out remotely, and no travel will be required. As such no financial remuneration is offered.

You must not act as a trustee if you:

  • Have an unspent conviction for an offence involving dishonesty or deception (such as fraud)
  • Are bankrupt or have entered into a formal arrangement (e.g. an individual voluntary arrangement) with a creditor
  • Have been removed as a company director or charity trustee because of wrongdoing
  • Have been disqualified from being a company director
  • Are subject to an order made under section 429(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986
  • Have previously been removed as a trustee by the Charity Commission, the Scottish charity regulator or the High Court due to misconduct or mismanagement
  • Have been removed from management or control of anybody under section 34(5)(e) of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (or earlier legislation)
  • Anyone who has previously been barred by the Independent Safeguarding Authority from working with children or vulnerable adults cannot take on a role that would give them access to those people.

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds. We do not discriminate on the basis of disability, race, colour, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, veteran status or other category protected by law. 


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.


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.

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.

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.