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13 August 2020

Solicitor Charlotte Ebbutt is involved in racing through her firm’s charitable and community activities, including staff volunteering, and as a member of Women in Racing.

Aside from building relationships with our clients here at Royds Withy King, central to our everyday working lives is our relationship with our communities. The firm is a long-time supporter of charitable organisations with a dedicated charities’ strategy. Every two years, staff from Royds Withy King select a charitable beneficiary in each of the main regions where the firm operates. This gives us an opportunity to make a real difference, both in terms of the amount of money raised, as well as the introductions staff can make and other practical support they can offer.

Giving back part of our ethos

Knowing that we have made a difference in a practical way to an individual or a charity is very fulfilling, which is why lawyers and staff across the firm are actively involved in a range of charitable and community-led initiatives. All members of staff are given two paid days a year to help a local charity or community organisation of their choice. We have been pioneering our staff using their workplace skills (IT, video production, career advice) through our #giftexpertise programme.

Between May 2013 to April 2019 we raised a total of £167,000 for 10 charities. During lockdown, we also participated in the 2.6 Challenge, a national campaign aimed at helping charities plug an expected £4bn income shortfall due to the cancellation of events due to coronavirus. Members of staff participated in a range of activities based around the number 2.6 or 26, from skipping to hula hooping, to raise money.

Combining my work and passion

I’ve always had a love for horses and have ridden since I was a child, however I don’t come from a family with any particular involvement or interest in racing. So, my first exposure to ‘racing’ was really at our local point-to-point, however, it was after my first trip to Royal Ascot that I was hooked.

The law is probably not the first profession that you would think of if you’re looking for a career in racing, and indeed I didn’t think it would be possible to combine the two until I discovered the team at Royds Withy King. I’ve been at the firm for almost six years and as specialists in the Thoroughbred industry we cover the full spectrum of racing-related matters, including bloodstock agreements, regulatory and disciplinary work, property work and personal injury litigation. Our clients range from owners, trainers and jockeys, to racing charities and industry bodies.

I primarily focus on commercial agreements, intellectual property and data protection compliance. I also get involved with equestrian-related property matters and disputes within the Rules of Racing. The variety means that it is never boring!

Supporting perception of racing

I’ve been really lucky to have the opportunity to work with and learn from colleagues whose knowledge of racing is second to none. Having good mentors has been integral to enabling me to practice in what would be considered by most people to be a pretty niche area. Most of our work is carried out ‘behind the scenes’, but it still has the ability to make an impact on how the racing industry is perceived – particularly when we are acting for charities or industry bodies. It is also gratifying when matters that you have worked on result in positive changes for the sport as a whole.

One of the benefits of being a lawyer focussed on racing is that the opportunities for business development and networking are rather more interesting than for most of my colleagues in the wider firm. As well as going racing we try to attend the sales in Newmarket, as this provides an excellent opportunity to catch up with numerous clients and contacts in one place.

Women in Racing gets my vote

I am also a member of Women in Racing, an independent organisation set up in 2009 to help develop the profile of women in horse racing and provide mentoring and development opportunities. Being part of this organisation has been a fantastic way for me to meet like-minded individuals from across all corners of the industry and learn not only from their own experiences, but also those of the high calibre speakers and guests at WiR events. It always amazes me just how many ways there are to be involved with the racing both directly and indirectly. For any women involved in racing, or considering getting involved in any guise, I would highly recommend joining.

At the forefront of adaptation

Like many businesses Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way that we operate as a firm, with a move to working from home and the challenges, and new opportunities, that this brings. A key change that we have seen generally is that clients are no longer so concerned if you are based locally to them or not. Our ability to engage with clients remotely has been relatively seamless and has enabled us to continue to support clients throughout the pandemic.

Covid has impacted clients in different ways, with some carrying on almost as normal and others making fundamental changes to how they operate.

Cash flow has been a major issue, so we spent a lot of time, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, reviewing numerous contracts that had previously been consigned to the filing cabinet and advising on rights around termination and variation. For others, the forced suspension of activities has given them the head space to progress projects that had previously been on the back burner due to lack of time.

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