Work Life Quiz: Denise Nurse, Halebury

Denise Nurse

What was your first ever job?

I stacked shelves in Iceland supermarket and was proud to be quickly promoted to the tills. There my communication skills could be put to best use. I got to know the older folk really well, who like to be at a shop first thing in the morning before the doors open. I learnt the importance of great customer service.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Being rushed to hospital with terrible stomach pains the night of the Christmas party after a particularly busy period of working on corporate deals. The doctors never found a specific problem – it was stress-related, perhaps, or just the thought of a night out with partners… Psychosomatic.

What time do you usually leave the office?

I own and manage Halebury so the office is always with me.

What do you do at weekends?

Yoga, church, family time, which consists of taking my stepchildren to drama, dance, football and go-karting, and then making time for a walk and cooking up something exciting and new with my fiancée in the kitchen.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?

I’m also a TV presenter, being able to do both is perfect. Travel presenting was the best-paid work I’ve ever done.

What is your favourite film?

When Harry Met Sally. Nora Ephron was a fantastic scriptwriter and I love New York and romance.

What was the first record you ever bought?

Seven-inch Frankie by Sister Sledge – bubblegum ’80s pop with a hot pink sleeve.

Who’s your hero and why?

Oprah Winfrey: from not the easiest of starts, she has built a fantastic career, helped thousands of people and is a great businesswoman who cares and provides for her family and friends.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Solving problems and changing lives. Sounds a bit grand but seriously, as a commercial lawyer and entrepreneur I help solve problems for a living, while providing a listening ear, sounding board and general counsel. Helping others get to where they want to be is what I love to do.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Finding the time to do all the things I want to do. We have so many plans and ideas and all of them are possible. You just need to prioritise and be patient.

What’s your biggest work career mistake and what did you learn from it?

As a newly qualified lawyer, I was a little too respectful of the opinions of senior commercial managers, imagining that they knew a lot more than they did. I learned quickly to question everything. If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t, so ask questions.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you have worked on and why? 

As a Sky Sports lawyer, advising on the premiership football contract with the FA was exciting and terrifying.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?

My iPad and a method of charging it. That covers photos, music, reading and writing material, and if there’s 3G I can call home. Genius device.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?

Probably 48 hours or so. The good old days.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?

Halle Berry – seriously.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

Someone with personal hygiene issues.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order)…

I’ve milked a goat. I’ve ridden an ostrich. I’ve wrestled a crocodile.


Name: Denise Nurse

Title: Co-founder and director

Firm: Halebury

Lives: Southampton


1987-94: Ilford Ursuline Convent School

1994-97: LLB, University of Liverpool

1997-98: Law, College of Law, London

Work history:


1998-2000: Trainee, Charles Russell

2000-01: Corporate/commercial associate, Charles Russell

2001-05: Business and legal affairs solicitor, BSkyB

2007-present: Director/solicitor, Halebury


2005-10: Television presenter/reporter, Sky News, Sky One, Sky Travel

2008-present: Television presenter, Escape to the Country, BBC