Perhaps because this was the first DASLS Awards Ceremony or maybe just because, I had no idea that I might receive any award when I reluctantly donned my father’s venerable dinner jacket on 3rd March. Not my preferred attire.
We’d had a very good meal and were delighted when the firm won a well-deserved award for its involvement in the community.
I knew as it happened that I had been entered as a candidate for Solicitor of the Year and for that purpose had worked with Penny Scott on a rather embarrassingly flattering account of my life in the law. I had been advised that I had not been short-listed for that and had not been surprised that there were more deserving candidates. I had been invited by Cartridges Law and was there to have a good meal with my colleagues which was a great pleasure.
So when the final award of the evening was described (one that was not on the programme so far as I remember) I was only listening with one ear. The firm at which I did my articles was mentioned and then a stint at Stepney Green Law Centre in London where I had been happily seconded.
I realized with a mixture of pleasure and anxiety that this was me they were talking about. The embarrassing but much appreciated account was reproduced but my name was saved for the end of the introduction- a very nice touch as it held the surprise of the identity of this mysterious winner till the very end- although my colleagues at our table gradually recognised things they knew were from my past.
Then on the way to the platform a kind person whispered to me: the President (of the national Law Society) will speak first and then you can say a few words. How kind I thought! A little daunting, but I did what a chap does and had a go.
I was touched and extremely grateful to Cartridges Law, particularly to Penny Scott who put me forward albeit for a different award, to DASLS for a wonderful evening and for the award itself, to the Judging Panel who decided to make the award to me and to the presenters Joshua Rozenberg, our national President Jonathan Smithers and Will Michelmore the President of DASLS.
I signed my articles in 1973 and was admitted in 1975. The certificate is signed by Lord Denning then the Master of the Rolls.
Practice of the law has changed enormously since then, largely for the better I think although the abolition of most of the Legal Aid System is a challenge for all who care about access to justice and democracy.
I continue to enjoy the role of solicitor and to believe that we like general practitioners in medicine have to be at the heart of a healthy legal system. I am having trouble accepting that computer systems can replace either solicitors or courts and firmly believe that people facing serious problems want to talk to a knowledgeable and empathetic person face to face to find and work towards solutions to those problems. That’s what we solicitors strive to be and to do.