Interview with... Helen Otty

Paul Maddock, Trainee Solicitor, interviews Associate Helen Otty. We learn more about Helen’s career and why she is so passionate about education.

What was your experience of being in education?

I attended a large comprehensive school on the Wirral and later studied for my law degree at The University of Manchester. I enjoyed school and loved learning – even doing exams. I was lucky to have a number of teachers who gave the impression that they saw teaching as a vocation rather than a job and went out of their way to help pupils that showed a flair for their subject. My favourite lesson was art so I’m not sure how I ended up a lawyer – though litigation frequently requires creative thought. I wasn’t great at sports, the best thing my PE teacher could say about me was that I always remembered my kit.

What does your current role at DWF entail?

I’m an associate in DWF’s Commercial Litigation Team and a member of the Education Sector. This means that I regularly advise education sector clients in relation to contentious issues such as contract disputes, claims brought by students, Equality Act claims, governance issues including whether to exclude students or ban parents from school grounds, intellectual property ownership and defamation claims. I regularly advise education sector clients about reputation management as many have found themselves and their employees to be victims of defamatory attacks online, for example by former staff or students – we advise clients how best to protect their reputation and that of their staff, but also on how to ensure that their own publications don’t attract claims.

What has been the biggest challenge to the sector in the last 12 months?

Higher Education (HE) institutions and colleges have seen a higher demand for training. This has further increased the pressure to carefully manage limited budgets. There is also increased competition as students become savvier and “shop around” for courses. HE institutions really need to think innovatively now about how to attract students.

Where do you see the sector going?

One development for our sector will be further increases in the number of academies and free schools with the aim of creating a more diverse school system, increased standard and choice. These schools will require legal guidance on issues including contractual, employment and governance issues.

Please get in touch with Helen Otty, Associate, Litigation, for more information.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Helen Otty


I am a commercial litigator who regularly advises clients in relation to shareholder disputes, contractual disputes, professional negligence claims and defamation.