SA Law in the community: Our 2023 highlights

Valuing community and respecting individuality is a natural part of SA Law’s culture.
Sun 18th Dec 2022

Community is never far from our thoughts at SA Law. It starts with our internal community – talented and caring people with a diverse mix of skills, backgrounds, ethnicities, and perspectives that enable us to be a modern and forward-thinking law firm.

Our external communities benefit from that mindset too. It provides plenty of opportunities to find common ground and build strong partnerships, so it’s not surprising that we get involved in such a wide range of community activities.

Month by month, here is a recap of what the SA Law team got up to in 2023…

Watch our 2023 highlights video

JANUARY

Getting the year off to a magical start, in January we joined our good friends at Viatris, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, and many local businesses to launch the Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards 2023. This marked the start of our third year as Joint Headline Sponsor (our second partnering with Viatris) for the awards, and we could tell from the energy in the room that it was going to be a good one.

Our Wellbeing Team were keen to get us off to a good start too. Their update on wellbeing actions and activities from 2022 also contained plans for 2023, and a reminder of some of the key policies and resources the firm provides to help our team members to support themselves and each other in all aspects of health and wellbeing.

We welcomed in the year of the rabbit at Lunar New Year by learning about typical family celebrations on this day in the UK and beyond.

FEBRUARY

SA Law’s Wellbeing Team introduced us to the Herts Healthy Workplace platform, giving everyone in the team a personal account to access resources and signposts to support services across some of the main health and wellbeing areas.

St Albans’ Pancake Festival is a fun annual event organised by Home-Start Hertfordshire, to raise funds for their work with local families. Sponsoring this event is always a lot of fun for us, but this year was extra special as our team made it to the semi-final! In the end, we lost graciously, and our congratulations went to Lumin Wealth for winning the running race and to Wagada Digital for being first in the walking race. Well done to our team of racers Molly HartGita PatelSheila McEnteeEmily MorrisonSuba GnanasampanthanSonal ParekhAlia Javid and Kelly Pike.

At the hugely helpful ‘Entering is winning’ workshop hosted by Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, we were delighted to meet over 70 hopeful entrants for the Inspiring Hertfordshire Awards 2023. The workshop helps aspiring entrants to hone their entry-writing skills, giving them the best chance of becoming a finalist and, ultimately, a winner!.

SA Law team members John MooreGary DungerKiran AsfarSabina Cassata and Joanna Scamman enjoyed supporting our client, Kids in Action, at their Quiz Night. A little embarrassingly, we won the gift voucher that we had donated as a raffle prize! Joanna swiftly re-donated it to the charity so they could use it to buy toys and equipment for the children with special needs that they support.

Kiran BeeharrySimon WalshGita Patel and Emily Morrison were delighted to chat to students at the Loreto College Careers Fair. They helped Year 9 students to explore what a career in the law might look like for them, and answered questions from Year 11s on job applications, interviews and employability skills.

MARCH

To kick-off our fundraising efforts towards our pledge of £1,000 for the Dunstable-based charity Kids in Action, we held a bake sale in the office, making a very respectable £92 towards our total.

‘Embrace Equity’ proved to be the perfect theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023, opening the door for some of our male colleagues to join us at the St Albans Chamber IWD networking lunch, which SA Law has been proud to sponsor every year since the event’s introduction. Over 100 attendees from the St Albans business community attended to share what ‘embracing equity’ meant to them, making for some uplifting discussions around the table and a lively panel session.

Back at the office, for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2023 we combined our commitment to equality and diversity with our support for the health and wellbeing of our team members. Everyone at SA Law was encouraged to pop on their trainers and get some fresh air as they listened to the inspirational Walk for Women’s podcast from CARE International UK.

We marked the start of Ramadan, reminding colleagues of its importance to Muslims in the firm and in our wider community. In particular, we shared some ideas to help us to be mindful of those fasting during the month of Ramadan.

Lambing Weekend at Oaklands College is a fun day out for all the family and we were pleased to be their principal sponsor again this year. As well as being a great community event, it is a wonderful opportunity for the Oaklands agricultural students to show off some of the skills they have learned, and to demonstrate modern farming practices.

APRIL

We joined NatWest Bank and a host of local businesses for an inter-company ten pin bowling tournament at Hollywood Bowl in Watford. Each of the participating companies made a charitable donation to support charitable causes across the region. Making up SA Law’s two teams were Julie TrustramSheila McEnteeGemma CosnettLiz TillyerSimon Walsh and Chris Cook.

MAY

We had the pleasure of attending Watford Football Club’s @watfordfcofficial End of Season Awards event as the Club’s Official Legal Partner.

Mental Health Awareness Week (MHA) 2023 began with some top tips for promoting good mental health from our trained mental health first aiders XYZ, an update on the resources available to support employees, and a rundown of upcoming MHA activities.

Our annual Wellbeing Walking Challenge, is a fun way to get active and enjoy raising money for charity throughout the month of May. As our three walking teams clocked up the miles, the firm made donations to two charities - Kids in Action, based in Dunstable, Hertfordshire, which supports kids and young adults with disabilities and special needs; and national charity, Pancreatic Cancer UK which provides ongoing support and essential research into pancreatic cancer.

Taking place over the final bank holiday in May, we were proud to sponsor the Hertfordshire County Show, and to demonstrate our support by displaying our banners around the show ring. One of the region’s flagship community events, it was attended by over 35,000 visitors, stall holders, demonstrators, and eventers.

JUNE

At the beginning of June, we were proud to announce that Claire BrookSimran GuptaOsman GakouGita Patel and Saira Parveen had been promoted to Associate Solicitors. It’s a great pleasure to see our colleagues grow and develop in the firm and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.

June is Pride Month in the UK - a celebration of LGBTQ+ visibility, life, and history to continue the fight for equality and to challenge prejudice. We shared some ideas for events, movies, and documentaries that team members could enjoy whilst learning more about LGBTQ+ history and perspectives.

We chose to hold our Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 activities a little later than most this year, to enable as many of the SA Law team as possible to participate. Our Wellbeing Team hosted at least two activities each day to promote mental wellbeing through healthy eating, physical activity, and wellbeing-boosting conversations. At the end of the week, to help us wind-down from all the excitement, every member of the team was offered a seated neck and shoulder massage by a local masseuse – ahhh, so relaxing.

This year, the St Albans Half Marathon, which we proudly sponsor, took place at the end of our week of mental health awareness activities. Racers of all ages and abilities took part in a range of challenges including walking, running, and wheelchair half-marathons, 5k events, and a 1.5-mile fun run. SA Law’s sponsorship helps fund this great community event which raises money for local charities. This year over 10,000 participants set off on their challenges from St Albans’ Verulamium Park, and we were delighted that the SA Law team won a £250 donation to our chosen charity, Kids in Action.

In the mesmerising and magical setting of Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter Studios, we celebrated the achievements of businesses and charitable organisations across Hertfordshire at the Inspiring Herts Awards 2023. As Joint Headline Sponsor, alongside Viatris, we were delighted to present the most prestigious award of the night to Goods for Good. As well as their awards and certificates from Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, every winner also received a dedication of 10 trees from SA Law, planted in Ukraine, to support climate action and the regeneration of the country.

We enjoyed seeing the SA Law logo on the Hemel Aces Under 13 Girls Football team kit, marking the start of a two-year sponsorship agreement with the team.

Our summer Women’s Networking event explored the DIVA exhibition at the V&A Museum, a celebration of the power and creativity of iconic female performers. The links to commercial contracts and employment practices that wove through the exhibition were of particular interest to our colleagues who lead the post-exhibition conversation about gender parity. 

JULY

Demonstrating our commitment to balancing people, planet, and profit, our updated environmental commitment statement, policy, and strategy were launched. The process started with a review of our environmental impact and has involved extensive research, staff surveys, training, collaborations with other local businesses on the same journey, and the formation of SA Law’s Green Team to help us stay on track with our strategic environmental goals.

July also saw the start of our two-year kit sponsorship of St Albans City Youth Football Club Under 11 Girls Victoria team. Our thanks to Commercial Director, Steve Mann, for the framed team shirt sporting the SA logo.

Our staff Summer Social, put the garden at Gladstone Place to good use. Organised by SA Law’s Social Committee, which is made up of representatives from across the firm, we enjoyed summer drinks, jumbo garden games and take-away fish and chips from our favourite St Albans local, before going back into the office to rev up the karaoke machine.

As part of a programme of charitable giving, SA Law donated £800 to Home-Start Hertfordshire towards its work helping parents who are struggling with physical and mental health problems to nurture their children.

The SA Law Wellbeing Team offered staff an introduction to mindfulness led by the Mindfulness in Law Group.

AUGUST

We were over the moon to achieve the Lexcel accreditation for the fifteenth year in a row in August. Lexcel is an independent endorsement of the quality of SA Law’s client care, legal compliance, and its management of the firm. In particular, SA Law was commended for its people management approach, with the firm’s wellbeing policies and initiatives far exceeding the Lexcel standard’s expectations.

August also marked the start of a new year of sponsorship for Watford Football Club, and the continuation of our exclusive official legal partner status with the club.

Keeping with the football theme, we were delighted to continue our two-year sponsorship of a particularly special St Albans start-up, Rangers Victoria Youth Under 9s Boys and Girls team. The coaches focus on inclusion, wellbeing, and fun (three of our favourite things), and the players learn football, social, and other skills along the way.

SEPTEMBER

SA Law achieved the Level 1 Herts Healthy Workplace Accreditation. We had some great feedback from the submission review panel who told us that they were very impressed with what SA Law has achieved and its dedication to making health and wellbeing an integral part of our organisation.

Rosh Hashanah, which means head of the year in Hebrew is celebrated as the Jewish New Year. We marked its importance to the Jewish community by sharing some thoughts on its meaning and its rituals with the SA Law team.

Goods for Good, winner of the Inspiring Business of the Year 2023 award, gave us a very thought-provoking and engaging presentation on their mission to connect organisations with surplus stock to give away with communities in need. We’re looking forward to getting more involved with them in 2024!

St Albans Food & Drink Festival is a week-long celebration of the contribution everyone in the hospitality industry makes to the local community and economy, and SA Law was thrilled to sponsor it again this year. Organised by St Albans Council, the festival encourages people from every walk of life and community group to come together to share their food and drink passions.

At the finale to festival week, the ultimate celebration of all things food and drink takes place on St Peter’s Street. SA Law was excited to host the Cookery Stage again. It is always a great opportunity to see talented local chefs in action and taste some of the best food St Albans has to offer, all for free!

However, festival week starts with a celebration of the hospitality industry in our area with the St Albans Food & Drinks Awards, where talented businesses nominated by local residents are recognised for their outstanding contributions. This year Megan Kerr of SA Law’s Marketing team was delighted to present the Best Café award to The Potting Shed, Sandridge. Read more about the award winners here.

OCTOBER

October is Black History Month in the UK, and it is a time for us all to pause, reflect, learn, and to broaden our understanding and challenge our knowledge and beliefs about black history and culture. The theme for 2023 was ‘Saluting our Sisters’, highlighting the crucial role that black women have played in shaping history, inspiring change, and building communities. We chose to focus on the stories of black women in the law, sharing articles, books, and podcasts to deepen our understanding of their impact and challenge our thinking.

World Mental Health Day is on 10 October each year, and it was the perfect opportunity for our Wellbeing Team to remind everyone in the SA Law team of the many types of help, support, and resources SA Law provides to support our mental wellbeing. They also shared some great new tools, training courses, and services that we can use ourselves or signpost to clients, friends, and family as needed.

Committed to enabling everyone in the firm to have an open conversation and to 'breaking the taboo' around the impact of the menopause, our Wellbeing Team saw World Menopause Day as a great opportunity to re-share the firm’s Menstruation to Menopause Support policy, remind staff of the support and resources available, and to announce some upcoming training to facilitate positive conversations around menopause.

October is also the month when the legal directories (Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500) announce the culmination of their annual research to discover the best lawyers and law firms in the UK. We were pleased and proud to receive such wonderful feedback from clients, contacts and other legal professionals alongside great rankings in the regional league tables. You can read more about the results here.

We welcomed Laura Lewis of Culture Chameleon as a guest speaker at our autumn HR Forum. Laura explained how culture can be a business game changer and the importance of HR teams as influencers of culture. Chris Cook, Head of Employment Law at SA Law, also gave a ‘ones to watch’ legal update, highlighting upcoming changes that HR professionals will need to navigate with care. For invitations to our 2024 event programme sign up to our mailing list here, or visit the events page on salaw.com.

NOVEMBER

We were pleased to sponsor the Berkhamsted Fireworks event again this year. Organised by the Berkhamsted Rotary Club and held in the grounds of the cricket club, it is a popular community event for the whole town.

SA Law also sponsored the Fleetville Junior School Fireworks event, helping the local St Albans school to create a fun event for local families and raise funds for school activities.

Diwali, a five-day festival of lights, is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world, and for some also coincides with harvest and new year celebrations. It embraces many universal themes such as joy, forgiveness, and knowledge, so we shared some ideas with our team about how they could learn more about or join in with the festivities.

International Men’s Day is held in more than 60 countries across the globe. It aims to make a positive difference to the wellbeing of men, improve gender relations, highlight male role models, promote positive expressions of masculinity, and allow men to talk about personal issues. Sharing some scary statistics on men’s health alongside some very helpful webinars, guides and other resources, the SA Law Wellbeing team encouraged us to engage with the health and wellbeing challenges men face in modern society.

Huge thanks to Janice Poon & Mahima Sikandari for representing SA Law and sharing their experience and careers advice at the University of Hertfordshire Law School Career Fair. It was fantastic to engage and connect with so many talented students, all keen to embark on their professional journeys! Details of all career opportunities at SA Law can be found here.

Against the backdrop of the festive lights on St Peter’s Street, our First Fizz event for clients and friends of the firm was great fun for hosts and guests alike. Our chosen venue, the St Albans Museum + Gallery, never disappoints, and with wonderful food and drink supplied by independent caterers, Leafi, and The Pudding Stop, it was also a celebration of the thriving hospitality industry we have in Hertfordshire. See photos by local photographer Sally Masson here.

As the principal sponsor for the Harpenden Christmas Carnival, we were delighted to join 20,000 people who joined in the ‘homemade magic’ themed festivities. Victoria Thomson, Gill Garrett, Liz Tillyer and Marilyn Bell joined local clubs and community organisations in the parade and Marilyn Bell had the honour of helping to switch the Christmas lights on.

DECEMBER

December just wouldn’t be the same without the woolly wonders that top local post boxes each year. The St Albans Postbox Toppers team of knitters and postbox decorators dressed 80 postboxes sponsored by SA Law and many other local businesses to raise £25,000 of funds to support this year's nominated charities - Mind Hertfordshire Network and Cancer Hair Care. Since its inception, this initiative has raised over £125,000 for Hertfordshire charities and we are very proud to have supported the Toppers Team in their amazing achievement.

Julie Dennis, a Menopause Coach and Trainer, joined us to facilitate a menopause awareness session designed to raise awareness and create positive conversations around menopause for anyone in the SA Law team who wanted to come along. This was the first of a series of training sessions which aim to support team members affected by symptoms of menopause and to normalise conversations about its impact.

Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, reminds Jews of a time when they won a battle to practise their religion freely, and commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. We marked the eight-day festival by sharing information in the celebrations and rituals that commonly take place at this time.

We sponsored the Fleetville Infant School Christmas Fair, helping them to raise funds for school projects and host a fun-filled event for their local community.

Getting into the spirit of giving, we contributed to the St Albans and District Foodbank Reverse Advent Calendar, helping to provide three days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to local people who are referred to the foodbank.

What a year that was! Looking forward to doing it all again in 2024.

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