Phyllis Townsend

Phyllis Townsend

Baker & McKenzie Services Limited


Phyllis Townsend is Partner in the Wealth Management practice in London, Chair of the EMEA Wealth Management Steering Committee and a member of the Firm's Global Wealth Management Steering Committee. Phyllis works with clients on a broad range of wealth management matters, including those with a particular focus on investment structuring. Phyllis is listed in Chambers HNW Guide, including as a "Foreign expert in Middle East-wide", Legal 500 and Legal Week's "Private Client Global Elite - Ones to Watch". Phyllis is a member of the Founding Committee of Thought Leaders 4 Private Client Next Gen Wealth. Phyllis joined in 2012 from Rothschild Wealth Management & Trust where she was legal counsel in London and Zurich.

Practice Focus

Phyllis' main practice is advising trustees, family offices and high-net worth individuals on cross-border tax, asset protection and investment structures, including via trust and family office structures. Phyllis often advises on pre-UK arrival planning and provides ongoing advice to UK resident non-UK domiciled individuals and families with connections to the US, Europe and Middle East. Phyllis has experience in tax investigations. Phyllis also advises financial institutions on regulatory and compliance issues and in relation to their wealth management offering.

Representative Legal Matters

  • Advised a client based in the Middle East on high-value acquisitions, a complex restructuring of private and investment assets and exchange of information/disclosure requirements.
  • Advised clients on establishing a family office in the UK, both structured as a company and LLP, and addressing the specific tax, reporting, transfer pricing and regulatory requirements applicable in each case, as well as ancillary requirements, including employment agreements and management incentives.
  • Advised a client on establishing a private trust company structure and family offices for US and global investments.
  • Advised both trustees and beneficiaries on restructurings of complex contentious trust structures, which own operating businesses, investment portfolios and other assets including real estate.
  • Represented a client in a large tax investigation by a foreign tax authority, including advice around the enforceability of foreign judgments.
  • Represented a client, jointly with US colleagues, in relation to becoming UK tax compliant under the Worldwide Disclosure Facility, including advice on the application of the UK-US double tax treaty.
  • Providing ongoing advice on the application of UK anti-avoidance legislation, restructuring and structures for investment in "protected trusts", including the application of business investment relief for investment in the UK.
  • Providing VAT and structuring advice in relation to superyachts, aircraft, cars and artwork, for private and commercial use, and as investment assets.
  • Advising various clients in detail on changes to the taxation of UK residential real estate and structures for UK residential real estate, and also advising on structures for the acquisition of global real estate acquisitions.
  • Advised an international private bank on their wealth management offering.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP)
  • Law Society of England & Wales


  • England & Wales~United Kingdom (2010)


  • BPP Law School, London (Legal Practice Course) (2008)
  • University College London (LLB) (2007)
  • University of Paris II (Panthéon-Assas) (Masters I in Business Law) (2007)
  • University of Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne) (Bachelor in European and International Law) (2006)


  • English
  • French
  • German


  • Co-editor, Baker McKenzie Private Wealth Newsletter

  • Author, "Overview of alternative personal taxation regimes in the UK, Italy and Switzerland," Baker McKenzie Private Wealth Newsletter, July 2021

  • Author, "UK Freeports," Baker McKenzie Private Wealth Newsletter, July 2021 

  • Feature, "How to avoid conflict in family wealth planning," ePrivateClient, December 2020 

  • Feature, "Everything you need to know about Children's Trusts," Tatler, September 2020

  • Feature, "Cultural Transition," STEP Journal, April 2019