BWB is a commercial law firm advising a wide range of commercial, statutory, charity and social enterprises. We are recognised in major legal directories, Legal 500 and Chambers UK, in the following specialist areas:

  • Charity & Social Enterprise Law
  • Competition Law
  • Corporate / Commercial
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Education Law
  • Employment
  • Environment
  • Film & Television
  • Health & Social Care
  • Immigration
  • Insolvency
  • Intellectual Property
  • IT & Information Law
  • Private Client
  • Property
  • Public & Administrative Law
  • Sports Law
  • Theatre & Arts
  • Trade Associations

Yet while we cover an ever increasing area of individual, institutional and corporate endeavours, we still make sure that we are able to provide our clients with a personal professional service based on long continuity of staff and mutually rewarding relationships.

We recognise that law is a business where people matter most of all and we ensure that clients know the person who is working for them. We are still small enough to be able to do this, but large enough to be able to provide the full range of services which our clients need.

The International Dimension

We were co-founders in 1971 of The Parlex Group of European lawyers, which now consists of a network of over 20 law firms throughout Western Europe. We have always had a policy of welcoming foreign law students and lawyers as observers. The Parlex Group was registered as the first EEIG in Britain and is its oldest such group

Our History and Growth

Bates Wells & Braithwaite, London was set up by Andrew Phillips on the 1st January 1970. It is one of only a handful of new firms established in the City since then. Today the London office has grown to 30 Partners, some 80 Solicitors and 8 Trainee Solicitors plus a full complement of back-up staff.

BWB was founded over 100 years ago in Sudbury, Suffolk.

Starting the London office from scratch enabled us to shape the practice to suit our interests and strengths. When we started we saw an opening for a firm attuned to the business client who wanted a personal service - but a firm which also could act for charities, institutions and individuals. Over the years, we have maintained that mix as we have grown steadily from two individuals to our current level of nearly 190 people.

We have grown consistently over the year, even through the recent economic downturn.

Our Clients

BWB is first and foremost a city commercial law firm who need to recruit the best commercial lawyers of the future.

We also have a unique client base and that attracts many very able lawyers to BWB. We are at the cutting edge of law and aim to give clients practical solutions. That can be challenging as can the breadth of legal work trainees will undertake.

40% of our billing is to charities and 20% to other not-for-profit clients. 20% is for commercial organisations and 20% to private clients (mainly employment and immigration). We act for 314 of the top 3000 charities - 70% more than any other firm.

However, many of those organisations would not describe themselves primarily as charities; rather they are a theatre, a university or a trade association. Most come to BWB for our ability to provide them with practical commercial advice within the context of complex commercial and charitable structures.

See our latest Annual Report for details of recent BWB activity and clients.

Our Ethos

BWB was founded on certain strong beliefs about how we should go about our work which we call our ethos.

Our purpose is to do worthwhile work to the best of our ability for clients we respect as commercial lawyers, recognising that we do so in a highly competitive environment. We will, at all times, seek to value everyone in the firm and strive to provide secure and enjoyable employment, preserving a balance between work and home.

We will encourage a diverse and open culture which fosters innovation, together with trust and loyalty amongst all within the firm and with clients. All this we undertake in the context of making a reasonable living and always with a commitment to justice and the public interest