Champion of the Week
Johanna Brewer, Associate Solicitor at Derbyshire Family Law
My name is Johanna Brewer and I am an Associate Solicitor at a holistic Family Law firm which has 9 offices throughout the country. I am proud to be part of the team at Derbyshire Family Law group (part of the Family Law Group) and I am based at the Chesterfield office, which has great views of the market town including the famous crooked spire and Parish Church.
We offer expert advice in all areas of family law, which includes, but is not limited to, divorce, financial settlements upon divorce, private children contact matters, public children matters (care proceedings), co-habitation agreements, pre-nuptial agreements, separation agreements and domestic violence. The firm also offers a mediation service and country wide telephone advice service.
As we offer advice over the telephone and, with many Court Hearings now being remote, we are able to represent clients from all corners of the country as well as our local Chesterfield clients.
What was the greatest achievement for your business over the past year?
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges throughout the business world. We have faced our own hurdles throughout the last 12 months. Our greatest achievement has been our adaptability to a changing work environment and significantly different work practices. Due to the hard work of all my colleagues, both from home and in the office, when safe restrictions allowed, we have continued to provide our service with great client satisfaction and a significant increase in our work levels.
How would you describe Chesterfield and North Derbyshire, using only three words?
Expanding, developing, accessible.
What are your favourite places to visit in Chesterfield and why?
The canal offers a great place to walk, run and cycle and being an outdoors, sporty person with young children, the canals are greatly enjoyed by my family and me. We also enjoy driving through the city and spotting the crooked spire. There are a number of lovely bars and restaurants to be enjoyed. A firm favourite of the office is the Hunloke Arms.
How is your business becoming more sustainable?
We now operate a paper light business with a plan to move to paper free. Many colleagues are already paper free. All offices recycle and manage waste, water and electricity use.
Why do you love working or doing business in Chesterfield or North Derbyshire?
I reside in Sheffield and find the commute to Chesterfield to be quick, easy and enjoyable. The people I work with are friendly, likeminded people who are passionate about their roles and their town.
How are you supporting young people in your business through apprenticeships, traineeships or work experience and how are young people contributing to the success of your business?
We regularly offer work experience posts. I have had the pleasure of working with two work experience candidates in the last 2 years and hope to do so again in the next 12-18 months. We pride ourselves on training young, passionate candidates through their roles as paralegals and onto trainee solicitors before welcoming them as qualified solicitors. The same can be said for support staff who are well trained and supported and offered opportunities to progress within the firm. Young people are contributing to our business by bringing fresh, young minds, knowledge and ideas to the workplace and a drive and passion to do well and work hard for the firm.
How are you, your business or your team supporting local people?
We support local people with the services we provide. We also support local people with the job roles we offer. As a firm we do a lot of charity events and choose one charity each year to support. We go on to raise money though sponsored walks, cake sales and the like where our friends, families and local people are welcomed and included.
Which upcoming development do you think will have the greatest impact on the town and why?
With the beautiful Peak District being on our doorstep the Peak Gateway, Resort and Campus will have a great impact on the town. It will bring in holiday makers and adventurist whilst also offering a great place for local people to enjoy. Although it is a costly development, the town and local people will benefit financially in the long run with holiday makers and visitors spending in the retail and hospitality field. It will also offer job opportunities.
Closer to the town we have the Waterside Development which aims to be a thriving and successful new part of the town centre offering modern houses and apartments, new employment opportunities in Grade A office accommodation, Shops, cafes and bars and a network of open spaces and a park along a rejuvenated Chesterfield Canal and River Rother. This will be desirable to those who already live in the town especially young people. It will entice them to stay in the town rather than move further afield, especially with the mainline railway station being close by, where you can get to London in under 2 hours. This will also make the town more inviting to businesses, employees and holiday makers wanting to get out of large cities like London.
Both developments will improve the look, feel, community, opportunities, and wealth of the town.