Phyllis Townsend

Phyllis Townsend

Baker & McKenzie Services Limited


Phyllis Townsend is partner in the Wealth Management practice in London and the EMEA Wealth Management practice group lead. Phyllis works with clients on a broad range of wealth management matters, with a focus on investment structuring. Phyllis is ranked Up and Coming for "Private Wealth Law", Band 2 for “Family Offices and Funds Structuring” and as a "Foreign expert in Middle East-wide" in Chambers HNW Guide, Next Generation Partner for "Private Client (Personal Tax, Trusts and Probate)" in Legal 500 and is listed in Legal Week's "Private Client Global Elite - Ones to Watch". Phyllis joined in 2012 from Rothschild Wealth Management & Trust where she was legal counsel in London and Zurich.

She is also a member of the Firm’s global Alternative Capital team that provides best-in-class investment solutions for family offices, founders, sovereign wealth, and other sources of private capital.

Practice Focus

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

Representative Legal Matters

  • Advising a client with family members in the Middle East, UK and US on the establishment of a Jersey private fund with offices in the UK and Dubai (DIFC) for investment of the liquidity generated by the family business (a conglomerate).

  • Advising clients in the Middle East on high-value acquisitions (typically USD 100m+) and a (re)structure of private, investment and operating assets (including a US hotel, to which a co-investor is being introduced).

  • Advising a client based in the Middle East on establishing a private trust company structure and family offices for US and global investments.

  • Advising 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.

  • Advising both trustees and beneficiaries on restructurings of complex contentious trust structures, which own operating businesses, investment portfolios and other assets (including UK real estate), often involving offshore court processes and discussions with HMRC in relation to the UK tax implications of the restructuring.

  • Advising the family office and “protected trusts” of a UK resident non-UK domiciled individual on high value (USD 1bn+) investments, including the application of UK anti-avoidance legislation, restructuring and structures for investment, divestment and upstreaming and down-streaming of funds.

  • Representing 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.

  • Representing a client in a large tax investigation by a foreign tax authority, including advice around the enforceability of foreign judgments.

  • Providing VAT and structuring advice in relation to superyachts, aircraft, cars and artwork, for private and commercial use, as well as investment assets, in the Middle East, Europe and the US.

  • Advising various clients in detail on changes to the taxation of and structures for UK residential real estate, and structures for the acquisition of global real estate acquisitions.

  • Advising 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

Contributing author, “Trust Taxation and Private Client Planning”, (5th edition) by Emma Chamberlain, Sweet & Maxwell, April 2024

Author, “A global minimum tax rate for the ultra-wealthy: likely any time soon?”, Baker McKenzie Private Wealth Newsletter, December 2023

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