Meet David Kirby

“It is not uncommon to think of a lawyer as the person to go to when something goes wrong, but the larger part of my time is more positively focused on making sure that things go right.”


My decision to become a lawyer was made at an early age and motivated by one thing: money. Being young and naïve, I assumed this was the fast-route to happiness, but (mercifully) I was swiftly disappointed. It was at this point that I chose to move into the not-for-profit sector and I haven’t looked back since.

I have been fortunate to see the charity world from a number of perspectives. I started out as a legal adviser at the Charity Commission, working mostly for the Large Charities Division (as it then was). That was followed by six months volunteering in Brazil, after which I joined Samaritans and became Head of Legal and the company secretary. In 2016, I started my own legal practice, targeted specifically at the not-for-profit sector and with the ambition of offering something different: a highly responsive and personal service, affordable fees and a commitment to shared values.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to become part of the Action Planning network, joining a community of consultants with a similar focus and mindset, across a range of disciplines. Throughout this time, I have also held various trustee roles, most recently helping to start a new charity from scratch. This breadth of experience has given me an invaluable insight into different facets of life across our sector.

It is not uncommon to think of a lawyer as the person to go to when something goes wrong – and certainly some of my work does involve helping clients resolve difficult situations. However, the larger part of my time is more positively focused on making sure that things go right. What I most enjoy is working with a client to think creatively and find a solution that enables them to move forward with their plans and achieve their goals. That might involve a restructure or reorganisation, a collaboration with other entities, reviewing and updating governance arrangements, or dealing with the sort of business issues that arise day in, day out.

To give a flavour of my work, some of the matters that I have helped clients with recently include:

  • Obtaining a Charity Commission scheme at very short notice, in connection with a property transaction where a number of charity law requirements had been overlooked

  • Advising on the Equality Act implications of hiring staff subject to an occupational requirement as to their religious beliefs

  • Reviewing a charity’s restricted funds and facilitating the release of those funds to be more effectively used for other purposes

  • Guiding a new peer-to-peer support charity through the registration process, and helping another organisation with similar purposes to set up us a community interest company

  • Working with a number of unincorporated charities to help them make the transition to incorporated status as a CIO or charitable company

  • Advising on and implementing the governance framework for a new ethical membership body for industry

  • Providing advice on the proper interpretation of a charity’s governing document and the implications for the resolution of a trustee dispute

Whether you have a situation that has gone wrong, or a new initiative that needs to go right, I would be delighted to have the chance to talk it through with you and see how I can help.