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Choosing a law firm isn’t just about finding one that will get the job done, but how they do it. It’s those which put things like sustainability, community work and social responsibility high on the agenda that can give you real peace of mind. Here’s what Debenhams Ottaway is doing to go that extra mile for its clients and wider community.


Debenhams Ottaway actively encourages all employees to become involved in community projects and to use their legal (or other) skills to help. For example, the law firm has sponsored local sports clubs, and other local events, such as the Radlett Coronation celebrations, a charity cycle ride, the St Albans Gingerbread Trail at Christmas, and the TEDx St Albans event, as well as collecting for St Albans Women’s Refuge for Christmas. Plus, the firm is an active member of both the St Albans and District and Hertfordshire Chambers of Commerce, with Managing Partner, Susan Glenholme, appointed a Director on the Board of the St Albans one recently. So, it’s safe to say, that as a thriving local business itself, Debenhams Ottaway’s involvement in the local community is firmly embedded into its culture.


This law firm’s social impact initiatives both help existing employees grow and support their wellbeing – from diversity and inclusion to improving work life balance for all – to training up young lawyers keen to join the profession. As well as running a health and wellbeing week inspired by Mental Health Day, Debenhams Ottaway has also offered mental health training sessions and trialled a ‘dress for your diary’ initiative so staff can leave the formal wear at home on non-meeting days. It also offers a work placement scheme to local students hoping to get into law, careers guidance at school and university careers fairs and has a partnership with The University of Hertfordshire, which includes an annual vacation scheme for students wanting to go into the legal sector.

Giving Back

Every couple of years, Debenhams Ottaway staff are invited to nominate a local charity for the firm to support and work with. This helps the charity both financially (through fundraising) and non-financially (through awareness and by introducing them to key contacts in the community). Employees choose a smaller charity where they can make a real difference and/or support local culture. The chosen charity for the past few years has been Small Acts of Kindness, which supports elderly and vulnerable people in Hertfordshire by distributing winter bags to keep them warm, food and other essentials, as well as keeping them connected in the community. Additionally, for every Google review Debenhams Ottaway receives, the firm donates £20 to their chosen charity.


Thanks to a well-thought-out environmental policy, Debenhams Ottaway’s environmental impact (and the ways that everyone can help to reduce it) are at the forefront of employees’ minds. That includes ditching single-use plastic water bottles in meeting rooms, using local suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of deliveries, staff having e-business cards instead of physical ones and every team is gifted a plant to grow and nurture in the office! That’s not to mention the firm’s tree planting scheme, where one tree is planted in the UK for every client survey received.

Pro Bono Work

Pro-bono work – providing professional services at no cost – is another way that Debenhams Ottaway makes a commitment to its wider community. This includes employees sitting on the trustee boards and committees of local charities and offering pro-bono legal advice, as well as working with the Hertfordshire Law clinic to give free advice to the local community and supervise law students at the University of Hertfordshire. Debenhams Ottaway’s family and divorce team is on hand at the clinic, to give support and advice on family law that could include separation, divorce or child arrangements. Members of the dispute litigation team also attend the clinic to advise on a range of property issues such as tenancy agreements, which can make a big difference when it comes to reducing financial pressure on individuals who are going through difficulties.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.