Jane is Head of Trusts & Charities at Barrett & Co and is also President of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Law Society for 2019-2021. In this article, she describes both her work and the things that get her up in the morning.
I qualified as a solicitor in 2000, when Tony Blair was the Prime Minister and we were in the midst of the war in Iraq. It all seems like a distant dream now.
I have spent all my time since qualifying in the area of Private Client and charity law work. As someone who enjoys the academic, technical side of the law, one of the high points of my time with Barrett & Co came early on, when I was branded “The Geek” – amongst the highest accolades in my view.
In 2018, I qualified as a Trusts & Estates Practitioner (TEP), and I am also very proud to have been a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly since May 2017.
Back in 2012, I was privileged to be invited to co-author the 3rd Edition of “Charities as Beneficiaries”, published by the Private Client Section and the Institute of Legacy Management, practical guidance on issues arising from the drawing up wills, the administration of estates, will trusts and taxation where a person wishes to benefit a charity.
Part of my work at Barrett & Co involves providing a wide range of legal advice to the World Transplant Games Federation, a global organisation that celebrates successful organ transplantation and the gift of life through its Summer and Winter World Transplant Games. England won the bid to host the Summer Games in 2019, and these took place at Gateshead International Stadium. I attended the Games for the entire week and it was both inspiring and humbling to see competing athletes of all ages. The stories that these individuals told, of their journeys to get them to the point of being able to participate in the Games, were harrowing at times but always hugely inspirational.
In May 2018, I became a Dementia Friends Champion, which is part of the Dementia Friends scheme organised by The Alzheimer’s Society. I have absolutely loved delivering Information Sessions to make more Dementia Friends in our local area.
If you are interested in becoming a Dementia Friend, please do get in touch. A Dementia Friend is someone who learns about dementia so that can help their community. Too many people affected by dementia feel that society fails to understand the condition they live with, and this has been particularly true during the coronavirus crisis. Dementia Friends help by raising awareness and understanding so that people living with dementia can continue to live in the way they want.
I also enjoy working with Mencap, both locally and nationally. I have been advising parents who have children with birth injuries and children with learning disabilities for some time and it presents unique challenges, both legally and for the families themselves.
On a personal level, I am trustee of The Law Society Charity and Child Evangelism Fellowship of Britain. I am also currently the chair of the board of trustees of Smile International so my spare time is kept busy.
In November 2019, I represented The Law Society Charity at the 2019 PILnet Global Forum in Singapore which was an incredible experience. In addition, my work with Smile International has involved two trips to Uganda to visit the charity’s projects there, as well as trips to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. It is one of the things I will miss in 2020 is the inability to travel abroad and participate in these amazing projects.
Working as a charity lawyer is varied and challenging, and after a day’s work I feel good about being a small part of the fantastic things that our clients are achieving in this sector.
Charity law is a wonderfully diverse and eclectic area. Charities and social enterprises cover the whole spectrum of human interest and endeavour. They interest those whose passions range from the arts and culture to religion, from the environment to international development, from human rights to sport, from animal welfare to empowering widows and orphans.
For me, a charity lawyer needs to have genuine passion and interest in the voluntary sector, where businesses are seeking to do more than simply generate profit. This give us the empathy required for successful and enduring client relationships. One of the aspects of working in this area that I enjoy most is the opportunity to meet wonderfully interesting and stimulating clients – many of whom have taken a leap of faith and imagination to put into place their particular vision of a better and more just society. It is a privilege to help them to achieve their goals.
Get in Touch
Jane Whitfield can meet with you to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps. This would normally take place in our office in Reading, Berkshire. During the coronavirus situation, however, all of our meetings are currently being carried out either by telephone or by video link.
If you would like to meet with Jane, please telephone the office so that an appointment can be made for you. If you would like to take up our offer of a one-hour £95 fixed fee meeting, please click for more details.
Jane is a Solicitor specialising in Private Client matters. Jane is a qualified Trusts & Estate Practitioner with STEP (Society of Trusts & Estates Practitioners) and a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, as well as being a Dementia Friends Champion. Jane is also President of the Berks, Bucks & Oxfordshire Law Society.