International law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has provided pro bono services to help ensure the world's first museum dedicated to the vagina was able to find a new home.
London's Vagina Museum, which was forced to shut its doors in February after its property guardianship ended, has now reopened in a larger location on Bethnal Green's Poyser Street after WBD secured the lease to the new property.
The museum, which works to reduce the stigma and instead celebrate gynaecological anatomy, will now be able to house exhibitions across three gallery spaces, alongside a café and space for workshops and performances.
A 15-person strong WBD team spread across the firm's London and Newcastle offices worked to finalise the deal, ensuring the lease was completed within a tight turnaround following the granting of planning permission.
WBD associate Nazmin Akthar said:
"We are all thrilled that this deal was able to complete smoothly and we have been able to help the Vagina Museum and ensure this critically important cultural spot can continue operations.
This project was one where a lot of the team was passionate to get involved with and give back through pro bono work as well as develop their own skills further in a wider range of legal tasks, but most importantly we were able to assist the museum in a swift reopening through a focused negotiation and quick turnaround.
It was brilliant to work with a dedicated team on this deal which also included a number of interesting complexities required to ensure the client could safely operate out of the new premises, and we look forward to visiting the museum in its new home."
WBD's team for the deal was split into several smaller groups to ensure a wide spread of skills and areas could be covered, with associate Nazmin Akthar, paralegal Kate Hanson and solicitor Kristie Cole dealing with the title due diligence elements.
Associate Emily Gascoyne-Richards led on the negotiation and agreement of the lease with support from solicitor Emma Bond, while legal director Sarah White and solicitors Dana Cook and Jessica Rose assisted on planning, and solicitor Sophia Di Xiao provided guidance regarding with SDLT requirements.
Solicitor Carol Daley worked alongside partner and WBD's head of charities Emma Moody to provide advice on the charitable aspects of the deal, with trainee solicitor Tess Dupont, personal assistant Emma Brown, solicitor apprentice Abigail Langstaff, and Ghazhal Noory – who was on secondment with WBD at the time – helping finalise the deal and providing admin assistance.
Zoe Williams, head of communications and fundraising at the Vagina Museum, said:
"We couldn't have reopened without the help from Womble Bond Dickinson. As a charity, we have very limited financial resources at our disposal, and wouldn't have known where to start. Thanks to the kind and practical pro bono support we received, we reopened last week, and almost 1000 people have already visited."
WBD is heavily involved in a responsible business programme across the UK and beyond, supporting charities, community projects and local initiatives, of which pro bono work plays a key role.
For more information about WBD's approach to responsible business, read our latest report here.