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Julian Smith has a vast range of knowledge and experience and is widely recognised as one of the leading experts in the charities field. He advises high profile and wealthy individuals on their private affairs and their philanthropy. He is Private Solicitor to The King and was Private Solicitor to The late Queen between 2019 and September 2022.

Julian is a charity law pioneer and one of the first generation of lawyers to practise exclusively in the field, starting his career as charity law emerged as a defined discipline in the early 1990s and honing his expertise over 25 years with Farrer & Co.

Today, he primarily advises private clients, prestigious universities and colleges, major charities and not-for-profit organisations in the cultural sector, large endowed charities and corporate foundations.

His expertise spans every aspect of charity law and other legal disciplines relevant to the sector including governance, tax, trading, investment, fundraising and mergers. Clients choose him for his technical excellence and extensive knowledge of the field as well as his wide-ranging perspective on the issues affecting the sector.

Julian regularly leads multi-disciplinary teams drawn from across the firm, advising clients on complex matters spanning property, corporate, commercial, intellectual property, and financial issues. He is particularly involved in the charity investment sphere. His clients – many national and international household names  appreciate his realistic approach and focus on practical solutions tied to their broader aims.

Over the years Julian has played a leading role in driving forward policy and best practice in the sector, variously as Chair of the Charity Law Association, as a visiting lecturer at the Cass Business School and as a contributing author to the definitive practitioner guide on charity law, Tudor on Charities.

Julian combines his client practice with his role on the firms' management board, and as a trustee of a number of charities.


Chambers UK 2023

"He has an exceptional grasp of charity law and the ability to translate this into pragmatic advice."

"Julian is a brilliant charity lawyer - he has a phenomenal grasp of the law."

Chambers UK 2022

"He's known as being at the top of his game and has an exceptional knowledge of the whole charities sector."

"He is a wise, experienced and collaborative lawyer."

Legal 500 2022

"Julian Smith has built up a detailed understanding of our organisation over the years specifically on its powers." 

"Julian Smith  – Exceptional depth of subject knowledge with the ability to apply this pragmatically."

Chambers UK 2021

"Massively experienced, very measured and possesses real gravitas when dealing with the Charity Commission."

Legal 500 2021

"Julian Smith provides clear, straightforward advice on complex issues in a way that is easy to understand and to apply."

"Julian Smith is responsive and available at short notice, and I value his counsel. His knowledge of Charity Commission procedures (and the thinking behind them) has been invaluable."

"Julian Smith is an absolute pleasure to work with  – a delight."

Julian is recommended by Chambers & Partners for his work with higher and further education institutions, and with charities, where he is highlighted as a Star Individual. He is also recommended as a leading individual by the Legal 500.

“Julian Smith is widely admired by sources for his ‘phenomenal’ intellect ... One interviewee observes that ‘when presented with a complicated scenario, he takes a few seconds to think and he'll come back with a very clear analysis of the legal issues.’”

Chambers UK 2018

“Julian Smith is one of the most celebrated lawyers in the charity sector, and is best known for advising cultural and educational charities. Sources say: ‘He has encyclopaedic knowledge of charity law, but wears that knowledge lightly. He is an impressive individual.’”

Chambers UK 2017

“He has vast charity law experience and knows his clients very well. He provides a trusted steer when we drift into uncharted legal waters.”

Chambers UK 2017

“An outstanding charity lawyer”

Legal 500 2016

Memberships & Accolades

  • Charity Law Association Standing Tax Committee – member
  • Thomson Reuters Private Client Consultation Board – member
  • Charity Law and Policy Unit Liverpool University – Steering Committee member
  • Charity Law International Research Network  member
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