Culture Credentials

Hull 2017 hasn’t just given artists and audiences the chance to try something new.

Solicitor Donna Barnett, from Hull’s oldest law firm Rollits, leapt at the opportunity to join the City of Culture team on secondment this year. We sat down with Donna to discuss what it’s been like to get behind the scenes during Hull’s year in the spotlight.

What was the transition like from the corporate legal world, to a creative culture company?

Stepping into a predominantly creative business has not been as different to the legal world as I thought it would be. Both businesses have open plan offices, very friendly and welcoming teams, a busy and bustling workload with a forward-looking approach to business; in many ways, working in a legal world helped the transition to a predominantly creative business.

There are some differences between the two organisations. At Hull 2017, due to the nature of the projects, instead of having external meetings with clients I have internal meetings with producers, who explain the project and provide the details for the agreements that I then go on to draft.

How is your secondment at Hull 2017 relevant to a career in law at Rollits?

Not only have I been able to transfer skills from Rollits into my secondment, I have also gained a depth of experience from Hull 2017 which I will use in my new role as a corporate solicitor at Rollits. I completed my Law degree at the University of Hull and, having fallen in love with the city, it was always my intention to return to Hull, which I did in 2015 to start my training contract with Rollits.

Whilst working at Hull 2017 I also improved my drafting and communication skills. On a daily basis I drafted a variety of commercial agreements which I had not even seen when I first started my secondment. With my focus being corporate law, I had not had much experience in reviewing and drafting commercial agreements – my knowledge and skills have greatly developed in this area throughout my secondment and I will continue to use these in my role as a corporate solicitor.

What have become your personal highlights during your time at Hull 2017?

As I am sure most people in Hull would say, the opening event Made in Hull has been the highlight of the year so far for me. I went to this and a number of other Hull 2017 events before my secondment and it made me feel so proud to live, work and be a part of Hull.

It has also been great to bring family and friends to Hull events and hear them say how great the city is. I think Hull being awarded UK City of Culture has brought people to the city and made them see what it has to offer, which is great for the city not only in 2017 but also for the future.

How would you sum up your experience at Hull 2017?

Working with the Hull 2017 team has been fantastic. The atmosphere is unlike any other working environment I have experienced and it has been such a busy but fun three months. Rollits and Hull 2017 are similar, in the fact that both teams are so welcoming – this has been my favourite thing about working here. Every single person in the company is extremely friendly and I have been made to feel like part of such a dynamic team.

The experience has provided me with an opportunity to understand the effect that my work has; I have had the opportunity to work on a number of commercial agreements for various different events, before witnessing first-hand what my legal drafting has helped to create.

Having had the opportunity to work with an organisation that has had such an impact on the city I feel like I know Hull even better now. It is certainly my intention to stay in Hull.

Rollits are a Hull 2017 City Partner.