Firm Profile > Debenhams Ottaway > St Albans, England

Debenhams Ottaway

Family: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 1

Debenhams Ottaway advises high-net-worth individuals on complex financial disputes, controversial divorce proceedings involving children and international elements, and pre and postnuptial agreements. The family law team also frequently collaborates with other teams at the firm involved in private wealth services. Practice leader Helen Young represents clients in high-value cases, including international divorce proceedings and issues involving children. Natalie Lester is known for her work on contentious child arrangement disputes. Solicitor Parisa Faridi joined from Kleyman & Co in March 2019.

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Personable, supportive, clear and consistent. They made a difficult matter simple through plain-speaking and a willingness to take the time to work through issues and implications.

Helen Young’s ability to pre-empt situations and guide a path to calmer waters is unique. Her caring, thoughtful yet robust responses gives you that added confidence that every communication has had the scrutiny it deserves. Her depth of knowledge is astounding, her empathy towards a particular situation must not be shadowed by her natural ability to ensure you get the best possible advice at any given time. Helen is acutely aware of the strain separations can have and will always look for a resolution at the earliest opportunity, while still balancing the needs of the client’s wishes.’

Debenhams Ottaway offer unmatched customer service, professionalism and extensive experience. They recruit and retain the top solicitors, associates and staff across the county and from London, enabling them to service demanding and complex clients needs.’

Helen Young has been impeccable with her contact and advice, going above and beyond expectations. She has a wonderfully calming influence and oozes control of the matter at hand. I would recommend Helen without a second thought – she is magnificent.

Fantastic service and strong family team. Helen Young is a intelligent, professional and a lead player in St Albans.’

‘Natalie Lester is a rising star, very knowledgeable, kind, and gets the job done.

Good family solicitors. Constructive to work with to achieve outcome for respective clients. They don’t inflame family law matters by the language/tone of their letters.’

Incredibly knowledgeable, friendly and approachable. They genuinely care and are passionate.

I was very impressed at how this practice worked. When the person dealing with my case was off, there was always someone who was able to help me out and the transitions between those people was seamless. The communication between staff seemed excellent and I was also responded to quickly, efficiently and professionally.’

Natalie Lester was the lawyer assigned to my case. From beginning to end I felt listened to and cared about. She struck, what I would say, a perfect balance between kindness, support and guidance, and professionalism. I felt completely confident in her team. She was always quick to respond, comforting and supportive and not once did I doubt her ability or competence. I would recommend Natalie and would also use her again if needed.’

Personal tax, trusts and probate: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 1

The personal tax, trust, and probate team at Debenhams Ottaway advises high-net-worth clients in  Hertfordshire and London on matters such as inheritance tax and estate planning, probate, the setting up and administration of trusts, and general lifetime planning. In recent years, it has seen an expansion of its client base to include young professionals, local business owners and entrepreneurs. Practice co-head Susan Glenholme specialises in private wealth management, while fellow co-heads Claire Sharp and Nicholas Turner have experience in wills and tax planning. Rachel Hyndman is a key contact.

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Knowledgeable and friendly, with unprecedented professionalism.’

Charities and not-for-profit Tier 2

Debenhams Ottaway advises clients across the South East region on matters including disputes overs wills, commercial property and trusts. Nicholas Turner advises on charity formation, changes to charity structures and other related issues. Ruth Boulton works with clients of all sizes, from individuals to large organisations, while Jonathan Foy focuses on investor portfolio acquisitions. Andrew Yates, who became a partner in 2019, heads the practice's charitable offering for incorporated charities, and advises on M&A and directors’ duties. Claire Sharp specialises in estates, especially complex cases involving a cross-border element.


‘The team provides a good broad range of skills for private clients.’

Key clients

Hubbard Will Trust

Pavyer Trust

City of Expertise

Crohn’s and Colitis Leading

Commercial litigation: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 2

Debenhams Ottaway advises clients on contentious insolvency matters, procedural applications, misfeasance claims, and breach of trust claims. The practice has extended its services to include professional negligence matters and has seen an increase in work in the technology and construction sectors. Juliet Schalker leads the professional negligence area of the practice and has particular expertise in banking litigation, private equity, and contentious insolvency. Commercial litigator Rosie Patterson specialises in IP disputes. Recently promoted senior associate Alex Neale is experienced in M&A and insurance disputes. Senior associate Mairead McErlean joined from Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors LLP in August 2019 and associate Elliot Nathan joined from Dentons in November 2019; former practice head Luke Harrison left to co-found a new firm in London.

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Key clients

Kane Haulage Ltd

Squad Security UK Limited

Fairgate Developments Ltd

Mercer & Hole

Grant Thornton LLP

Griffins Insolvency Practitioners


Pizza Express

Menzies LLP

Pret A Manger

Scheidt & Bachmann

Commercial property: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 2

The commercial property team at Debenhams Ottaway advises businesses on a range of complex and high-profile matters, covering property development, secured lending, property litigation, and diocese-related property and trust matters. The practice has also recently seen an increase in insolvency work. Practice co-leader Ruth Boulton is'responsive', 'pragmatic', and experienced in high-value property matters such as sales and acquisitions, portfolio management, and landlord and tenant work. Practice co-leader Jonathan Foy advises on areas such as high-value lease work and off-shore investor portfolio acquisitions. Senior associate Neil Mercer is also recommended.

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Ruth Boulton can always be relied upon to be pragmatic and commercial in her outlook. She is responsive, personable, and a trusted contact.. Ruth can at times be quite busy, but challenging deadlines are always met without exception.’

Key clients

Market Reach Licensing Services Ltd.

Rapid Electrical Distributors (Watford) Ltd.

Greenwood Estates Ltd.

Seva Care Home Group

Reachprime Ltd.

HF Holidays Ltd.

Europa Components & Equipment plc

Stratton Land Ltd.

Cosmic Securities Ltd.

Fairgate Group Ltd.

Employment: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 2

The St Albans employment team at Debenhams Ottaway advises corporates, family businesses and senior executives on matters such as settlement agreements, restrictive covenants and data theft, and redundancy and restructuring. It also advises independent schools, charities, and care homes across Hertfordshire and North London. Practice leader Louise Attrup specialises in providing legal advice for clients in the healthcare and education sectors, dealing with maters such as restrictive covenants and data theft, particularly in the recruitment sector. Michael Kerrigan specialises in social media issues regarding employment as well as protecting confidential information.

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Debenhams Ottaway is definitely unique. All the lawyers I know and work with there are not only extremely knowledgeable, but enthusiastic and passionate. They clearly love where they work and what they do. There is a positive energy and all-round great culture in the office. They are a close-knit team, not just within the departments but across departments and they assist and learn from each other. They all represent the firm and the legal profession extremely well. They demonstrate knowledge, skill, and excellent social skills, but at the same time, they do this with an incredible human touch. All the lawyers I know there are very genuine, good people and take good care of my clients. It is never just transactional for them.’

Straight away you can tell you would be in good hands with Michael Kerrigan. He is always available to discuss matters and ready to help. He has the ability to make employment law sound extremely exciting and interesting. He helped my partner with an employment situation at short notice, and what stood out to me, is that he was so in touch with her emotions at the time and is assistance was as much psychological as it was legal. He truly understands the stress that can be involved with employment matters and knows how to manage that aspect.’

We use Debenhams Ottaway as our retained solicitors for all our employment-related matters. Over the years they have built up a clear understanding of our business and industry overall, including the challenges we face. This is reflected in the first-class advice and solutions provided to us both from a commercial and costs perspective.’

Key clients

Brooks Street (UK) Ltd.

Corporate and commercial: Beds, Bucks, Herts, Middx Tier 3

Operating out of St Albans, Debenhams Ottaway advises clients across a wide range of sectors, such as healthcare and charities, amongst others, on M&A, shareholder and investment agreements, and share schemes. Working closely with the private wealth team, it has additional experience in wealth planning and disposals for high-net-worth-individuals, as well as corporate and finance transactions. Practice co-head Louise Attrup specialises in restrictive covenants and data theft. Practice co-head and recently promoted partner Andrew Yates has a 'pragmatic approach' and advises charity, banking, and private wealth clients on commercial agreements, acquisitions, and share buy-backs.

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The practice has consistently evidenced its ability to support a wide variety of legal work. The practice has proved its agility and flexibility to provide support for any request we have made, in some cases new territory for us, and the expert advice has been essential. Above all the service from all members of the team has been excellent and more importantly consistent.’

Louise Attrup has always met our need to be able to ensure we are compliant to employment legislation, protecting employees and the business’ rights as applicable within the law. She is open and honest in reviewing any situation. Where this is a segregated employment issue, reviewing the facts and being clear on the rights of all parties and appropriate course of action for a certain set of circumstances. There has not been an occasion where we have posed a need for advice that this hasn’t been readily available. This speaks volumes about her expertise.’

The firm was recommended to us by a UK affiliate as very competent, transparent, and efficient. This was the case. They deliver good work product on time and on budget.’

Key clients

Jeeves Holdings Ltd

Veruth Holdings Ltd

Indigozest Ltd

Europa Components & Equipment plc

Squad Security UK Ltd

Crohn’s & Colitis UK

Personal injury and clinical negligence: claimant Tier 3

At Debenhams Ottaway, the 'very experienced' personal injury practice undertakes work related to occupiers’ liability and public liability claims, work-related accidents and road traffic accidents. The team, which is led by Howard Kent, continues to be instructed on serious injury matters and also handles spinal injury cases.

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‘Howard Kent is a highly experienced lawyer who is loved by all his clients’.

‘Howard Kent is personable, very client-focused and takes a committed approach to all of his cases.’

The team are very experienced in personal injury matters and can easily service all aspects of any claim.’

Debenhams Ottaway is the largest firm in St Albans. It is a multi-service law firm based in Hertfordshire, known for delivering outstanding service and award-winning legal advice to its clients. The firm is proud of its past, progressive in its outlook and unrelenting in its dedication to growth through doing more for its people, its personal and business clients and its communities.

The firm: Debenhams Ottaway has celebrated its 250th anniversary recently. Its long and successful history as a leading adviser to families and individuals is now complemented by its well established commercial team, which works with medium-sized businesses, owner-managed businesses and entrepreneurs, helping them grow and develop.

The firm has a strong and loyal client base, with 99% of clients surveyed saying they would use Debenhams Ottaway again and recommend it to family and friends. Clients include individuals and families, medium-sized businesses, owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs, referrers and other professionals. Debenhams Ottaway regularly works with clients in the charity, healthcare, private wealth, banking, education and recruitment sectors and has dedicated teams working with these industries. Clients are based in Hertfordshire, London and across the rest of the UK, and include AXA PPP Healthcare Limited; Brook Street (UK) Limited; Crohn’s and Colitis UK; Fujitsu General (UK) Co. Limited; Life Opportunities Trust; McNicholas Construction Services Limited; St Albans Diocesan Board of Finance; St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust, St Albans School and Luxottica.

Types of work undertaken: Debenhams Ottaway offers advice on private wealth, family, residential and commercial property, corporate and commercial, employment, litigation and dispute resolution.

Its award-winning private wealth team advises on wills, trusts, inheritance tax planning and probate. It often deals with complex and wealthy estates, including those with foreign assets.

The family team is particularly well known for providing legal advice on high-net-worth and complex financial divorce proceedings and other family/relationship matters.

The corporate and commercial team advises on the entire business lifecycle including acquisitions and disposals, share schemes and corporate finance.

The employment team acts primarily for employers, advising medium-sized businesses, manager-owned businesses and entrepreneurs across the UK. It has particular experience in data theft and restrictive covenants.

The property team works with a wide range of clients throughout the UK, including developers, property investors, major corporations, public bodies, schools, owner occupiers, retailers, landlords, tenants and entrepreneurs.

The litigation team works for high-profile clients and is known for taking on heavyweight litigation against much larger City firms.

The charity team works with charities and not-for-profits, from small trusts to national charities, advising on issues relating to both their legal needs and regulatory frameworks.

The healthcare team helps ensure care homes, doctors, dentists and pharmacists are legally compliant and assists with all legal aspects of the acquisition and disposal of healthcare businesses.

The private wealth team advises high-net-worth families and individuals on the legal aspects of personal wealth management, finding creative legal solutions to protect and manage their wealth now and safeguard it for the future.

The education team helps senior leaders from education institutions with the legal challenges they face in employment, property and planning, business and financial management.

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing partner/ Private client Susan Glenholme
Commercial property Jonathan Foy
Commercial property Ruth Boulton
Employment Louise Attrup
Family Helen Young
Residential conveyancing Nigel Drake
Personal injury Howard Kent
Contentious trusts and probate Michael Henry
Corporate and commercial Andrew Yates
Litigation Juliet Schalker
Photo Name Position Profile
 Louise Attrup  photo Louise Attrup Specialises in employment law, advising employers or employees. Works with a broad…
 Nigel Drake  photo Nigel Drake Head of residential conveyancing at Debenhams Ottaway. Also the senior responsible officer…
 Jonathan Foy  photo Jonathan Foy Joint-head of the commercial property team at Debenhams Ottaway. Jonathan specialises in…
 Susan Glenholme  photo Susan Glenholme Managing partner of the firm and also manages a growing team in…
 Michael Henry photo Michael Henry Michael has experience of a broad range of commercial dispute resolution with…
 Howard Kent  photo Howard Kent Head of the personal injury team. More than 20 years’ experience as a personal…
 Juliet Schalker photo Juliet Schalker Juliet leads the litigation team. With her City expertise and contacts, Juliet…
 Claire Sharp  photo Claire Sharp Manages the private client team. Specialises in probate, trusts, Wills and inheritance…
 Nicholas Turner  photo Nicholas Turner Head of the private client department, advising clients on complicated Wills, trusts…
 Andrew Yates photo Andrew Yates Head of the corporate and commercial team at Debenhams Ottaway. Andrew specialises…
 Helen Young  photo Helen Young Head of the family team at Debenhams Ottaway. Undertakes a wide variety…
Number of UK partners : 10
Number of other UK fee-earners : 50

At Debenhams Ottaway we value the diversity of our employees. To ensure our clients receive the best possible service, we encourage and support difference in our teams so that they can provide an empathetic, innovative and engaging service.

We encourage an inclusive and respectful working environment that seeks out everyone’s contributions driven by their individual and diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

We believe it is important that our staff feel supported. All employees have access to the firm’s Employee Assistant Programme service, where employees can talk to a professional about any personal problems that may impact their work. Our HR team are qualified mental health first aid champions (MHFA). They are not only able to provide support for existing staff who may be having difficulties but also are able to understand the discrimination that those with mental health issues may previously have experienced in recruitment and selection processes. We offer flexible working to our staff and are continually looking for ways to improve our working environment. We are committed to providing our teams with interesting and challenging work whilst encouraging and supporting everyone to find time for rest, relaxation and exercise.

Every year we give our staff the opportunity to complete our diversity questionnaire and the statistical information is published on our website. We strive to keep learning from any feedback we receive so that we can continue to attract and retain the best talent who will deliver the best service to our clients.

Our local community is very important to Debenhams Ottaway and each year everyone at the firm chooses a charity to support for the year. We take part in various activities to help raise funds and awareness for our chosen charities. In 2019, Debenhams Ottaway was recognised in the St Albans Chamber of Commerce Business Awards and won the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) award, which highlights our commitment and strong presence in the local community.

As part of the commitment to our chosen charity, Youth Talk, our corporate, commercial and charity sector teams have provided them with pro bono advice. In addition to this, we offer annual work placements for the students of a local St Albans school and sponsor a primary school in Radlett.

CLIENT: Anonymous
TESTIMONIAL: “If someone asked me to recommend a law firm, I would suggest Debenhams Ottaway.”

CLIENT: Anonymous
TESTIMONIAL: “Debenhams Ottaway was perfect for us. They were always professional, communicative and empathetic, we would definitely use them again.”

CLIENT: Anonymous
TESTIMONIAL: “I was provided with excellent, professional and efficient service at a reasonable fee. I could not fault their service one bit. I will definitely be using Debenhams Ottaway in the future and would highly recommend them any type of legal issue.”

CLIENT: Anonymous
TESTIMONIAL: “Not only did they know how to help us with a slightly complicated Will, they were always friendly and professional and made everything so clear.”

CLIENT: Anonymous
TESTIMONIAL: “Debenhams Ottaway is professional and always provides the best advice”

CLIENT: Anonymous
TESTIMONIAL: “They clearly explained everything to me, and provided a professional and friendly service.”