As part of The Lawyer’s 20th anniversary celebrations, here’s the second instalment of the legal profession’s Hall of Fame
The criteria: qualified lawyers who have been pioneers, either in the law or in the practice of it. Some choices will be controversial; others will be pleasingly obvious.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC
The godfather of human rights legislation in the UK and one of the architects of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 has achieved much during his long career. Thirty years ago Anthony Lester was arguing that the European Convention on Human Rights should be incorporated into national law. For years this was seen as absurd, but through persistence and reasoned arguments – including two private members’ bills – Lester won.
Allan Levy QC
By the time of his death in 2004, Allan Levy had become the best-known lawyer working in children’s law. He took silk in 1989 and in 1993 became head of chambers at 17 Bedford Row. His leading cases were manifold, but one of his biggest achievements was the elimination of corporal punishment of children by third parties in this country. He was also chairman of the Staffordshire Pindown Child Care Inquiry in 1990 and chairman of the Intercountry Adoption Lawyers’ Association from 1991 to 1995.
One of the longest-serving managing partners outside London – and one of the very few female managing partners outside the City – Jane Lister actually started at the firm as a termporary secretary before taking over what was Foot & Bowden in 1997. Since then she has led the firm (now Foot Anstey) through a series of mergers and consolidations into becoming a player in the South West. She has become a role model not just for senior women outside London, but also for steady law firm leadership during a time of huge consolidation.
Lesley Macdonagh became the first female managing partner of a top 10 City firm when she was elected to the post in 1995. She led the firm through its biggest-ever international expansion – underlining the fact that global ambition was not just the province of the magic circle. The fact that Lovells now has a rather better percentage of female partners than many of its peer firms’ may have something to do with Macdonagh’s visibility.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern
The first non-English Lord Chancellor, and the last Lord Chancellor appointed on legal, rather than political, merit. By the time of his retirement in 1997, James Mackay had become one of the longest-serving Lord Chancellors, spending 10 years at the helm. His greatest achievement was to challenge restrictive practices in the legal profession. He introduced the Courts and Legal Services Act, laying the foundations of the modern legal profession. Solicitor-advocates were created and the bar’s monopoly on audience rights was gone – forcing it to reinvent itself as a more user-friendly profession.
Rosalind Mackworth holds the record as the country’s longest-serving female solicitor. She qualified in 1956, along with only five other women, and despite having no particular encouragement, and certainly no female role models, she went on to set up a boutique commercial and private client firm in 1983, Mackworth Rowland. Now in her 80th year, she still practises three days a week.
Michael Mansfield QC
A silk with a CV like no other, Michael Mansfield was called to the bar in 1967, established Tooks Chambers in 1984 and has represented defendants in some of the most controversial UK legal cases ever. He has had an influence on criminal justice like no other barrister’s, and his caseload includes acting for the Birmingham Six, the Orgreave miners, ‘cot death’ mother Angela Cannings, the family of Stephen Lawrence (both in the private prosecution for murder and the public inquiry), the families of victims at the ongoing Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Londonderry and London and the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.
One of the most effective claimant lawyers in product liability and personal injury (PI) cases, Geraldine McCool was an outspoken advocate in the 1990s in her role as chair of the Young Solicitors Group. At her firm MPH Solicitors, she has specialised in advising soldiers and Iraq widows claiming against the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and her work is a catalogue of key PI cases, acting for victims and families involved in the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster and Lockerbie in 1988, the British Midland crash at Kegworth in 1989, the MoD Borneo jungle expedition in 1994 and the World Trade Centre bombing in 2001.
David McIntosh is a former senior partner at Davies Arnold Porter who became president of the Law Society in 2001, replacing Kamlesh Bahl after several years of severe turbulence at the society. He is currently chair of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund and was the best-known defendant insurance solicitor of his generation at a time when group PI claims kicked off. McIntosh was also one of the pioneers of transparency in billing in the early 1990s; at the time his idea of a client’s charter was seen as a radical approach and it was one of the first conscious moves towards client relationship management in this country.
The son of a Russian-born South London rabbi, Victor Mishcon set up as a high street solicitor in 1937. That firm became Mishcon de Reya; and Mishcon himself advised a huge variety of clients, including Ruth Ellis, Jeffrey Archer and Diana Princess of Wales. Mishcon rose to become an influential figure in the Labour Party and was intimately involved in the peace talks held between Israel and Jordan in the late 1980s during his tenure as Labour’s chief spokesman on home affairs. Mishcon died in 2006.
Nicholas Mostyn QC
The advocate of his generation and unbeatable on his feet, Nicholas Mostyn played the lead role in almost all of the major divorce cases of recent years, including Miller, Parlour and Sorrell, mostly for the wives – although Paul McCartney has prudently instructed him. No other matrimonial specialist has shaped family law quite like him.
Michael Napier has been one of the most consistent champions of pro bono, and his pedigree in claimant PI litigation, particularly multiparty claims, is impeccable. His work has variously helped secure meaningful tribunal rights for detained mental patients, the establishment of specialist PI and clinical negligence panels as well as equal pension rights.
Sir David Napley
By the time Sir David Napley died in 1993, aged 79, he was one of the best-known criminal solicitors in the UK, particularly after being involved in the successful defence of Jeremy Thorpe. His experience of miscarriage of justice cases led to his campaigning for an independent tribunal to deal with such cases – a body that was eventually set up some 14 years later as the Criminal Cases Review Commission. In a similar vein, he also played a large role in the formation of the British Academy of Forensic Sciences.
Lord Justice Neuberger
Perhaps David Neuberger’s can-do attitude was spawned by his three years at NM Rothschild before reading for the bar; certainly, his ascent from bar to bench to the Court of Appeal, and then the House of Lords, is one of the quickest on record. His appointment in 2007 aged 58 made him the youngest Law Lord ever. His report this year on widening access to the bar is a milestone in the debate over reform of entry.
Few law firms have grown so much in the past two decades as the firm that bears Simon Olswang’s name. Olswang opened in 1981 as an entertainment boutique with special interests in film and advertising work. The first law firm with an advertising industry aesthetic, Olswang has almost become part of the City establishment – but it still retains an outsider’s flair.
Linda Packard chaired the first Law Society working party on women’s careers in the law in 1988. The report was a milestone, revealing that women were leaving the profession in droves and highlighting how few women were reaching partnership. The report recommended that employers offer career break schemes, part-time work, tax relief for childcare and refresher courses. At the time the proposals were rejected by many of the elite firms. Nowadays these options are the norm.
The godfather of modern PI lawyering, Rodger Pannone rose to prominence working on the Lockerbie and Piper Alpha cases. He set up a joint venture with Irwin Mitchell to specialise in group claims and became a mentor to an entire generation of PI lawyers. While president of the Law Society, Pannone insisted on adapting the equal opportunities agenda to include sexual orientation – highly controversial at the time.
In the wake of the failure of the Bank of England (BoE) to detect the fraud behind the collapse at BCCI, former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Peter Peddie became the first adviser to the governors and established the bank’s legal unit when he joined it in 1992. His achievements have also been geopolitical: his crucial role for BoE was in unfreezing Iranian assets in 1981, which unlocked the hostage crisis soon after the fall of the Shah and the accession of Khomeini.
Eileen Pembridge is a champion of legal aid and of legal aid lawyers. Her role in the 1995 Law Society presidential election brought her to wider notice when she protested at one lawyer’s candidature, revealing he was a known sexual harasser and that the issue of sexual harassment had been swept under the carpet by the society, which was only paying lip service to women’s rights in the workplace. It took another six years for a woman to become Law Society president, but her actions forced the society to hold the first contested election in its history. For her pains she was dubbed by society president Martin Mears “the most dangerous feminist in England”.
The world’s leading authority on conflict rules and the most influential voice bar none on this area, Clifford Chance general counsel and executive partner Chris Perrin was also the first general counsel within a major UK law firm. His work with the Law Society was instrumental in reforming the conflicts regime. Furthermore, while Clifford Chance litigation head in the 1990s, his decision to set up a team to negotiate deals with clerks on barristers’ fees was a major impetus for better client service at the bar.
Is there life after Slaughter and May? Michael Pescod proves it. One of the firm’s leading M&A lights in the 1990s (he acted for Glaxo Wellcome on its merger with SmithKline Beecham and represented Unilever on its $20.3bn (£13.8bn) October takeover of Bestfoods), Pescod was unsuccessful in his bid to become senior partner, but he reinvented himself as an M&A banker at Gleachers (now Tricorn Partners) in 2001. Several senior M&A lawyers name Pescod as their mentor.
Nick Phillips has been in the spotlight for years, from his time presiding over the Maxwell and Barlow Clowes trials to the Pinochet appeal and the BSE inquiry. But with his work as Master of the Rolls and chairman of the Civil Justice Council, Phillips has played a masterly game of keeping everyone talking about fixed recoverable costs and fixed success fees. As Lord Chief Justice, Phillips has been a forceful voice for the judiciary over the creation of the Ministry of Justice.
Gareth Pierce is possibly the most effective civil liberties lawyer in the country, and she is certainly the most media-shy. She has represented a number of high-profile defendants throughout her career, including the Birmingham Six in 1991, the Guildford Four in 1989 and battered wife Sara Thornton. More recently she represented suspects in the Forest Gate anti-terror raid and the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.
A solicitor who trained with Richards Butler before leaving to try his luck at recruitment, Gareth Quarry’s career is emblematic of the rise of recruiters within the law. Quarry Dougall was, with Joe Macrae of Hays ZMB, the dominant force in legal recruitment in the 1990s, and engineered many of the big partner moves in that decade.
The doyen of fraud work, Monty Raphael has been involved in virtually every major case of the 1980s and 1990s, when white-collar crime came to be recognised as a major legal discipline. His eminence in anti-money laundering matters has given birth to a new generation of leading specialists at his firm Peters & Peters.
Before Nigel Knowles, there was Paul Rhodes. An insolvency lawyer from Leeds, Rhodes’ ferocity and drive catapulted Dibb Lupton Broomhead (now DLA Piper) into the consciousness of every commercial lawyer in the early 1990s. He oversaw the merger with London insolvency boutique William Prior & Co in 1991 and was one of the first managing partners to embrace lateral hiring, building the London office into prominence. Rhodes was also the first managing partner in commercial law to proclaim publicly that law was simply a business like any other.
Sir Michael Sachs
In 1993 Michael Sachs became the first solicitor to sit on the High Court bench. A former partner at local commercial firm Slater Heelis (now part of Cobbetts), he handled general crime, family and PI work. In 1977 he became a deputy circuit judge and in 1980 a recorder. Four years later he joined the Northern Circuit and was a Law Society Council member from 1979 to 1984. Sachs was involved in setting up the duty solicitor scheme and in negotiations on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. He died in 2003.
One of the great names in M&A, Anthony Salz was instrumental in powering Freshfields on to the top rung for corporate work in the late 1980s. A legendary dealmaker of effortless grace, he achieved cult status after he emerged unscathed from Guinness’s bid to buy United Distillers. In the celebrated fraud trial that followed, he became a key prosecution witness.
Professor Nigel Savage
The man who transformed legal education still sees himself as an outsider. Nigel Savage took Nottingham Law School to the top of the tree and then entirely revitalised the College of Law. Not only did he win back the confidence of the City with bespoke LPC courses, but he made history when the college became the first privately run postgraduate law school to be granted degree-awarding powers.
The greatest celebrity lawyer of the decade, Keith Schilling is the undisputed king of libel and privacy. Schilling has had a hand in virtually all the major libel cases of the past two decades, from advising Private Eye in its litigation with Sonia Sutcliffe to the landmark privacy case for Naomi Campbell against the Daily Mirror. He has also been a pivotal figure in the debate over disclosure in the courts in the Civil Practice Rules.
Patricia Scotland QC
Patricia Scotland is a founding member and former head of 1 Gray’s Inn Square. She made history in 1995 as the first black female QC and the youngest-ever QC at 35. Scotland became the Home Office Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform in June 2003, was spokesperson for what was then the Department of Trade and Industry in the Lords and is now Attorney General.
Nowadays everyone has woken up to the power of private equity, but in the late 1980s it was by no means a hot ticket; rather, it was seen as a slightly grubby industry. Ian Sellars bravely decided to focus entirely on private equity (or venture capital, as it was then known) and persuaded his firm Clifford Chance that this was a gamble worth taking – despite the fact that no fees might be forthcoming for some time. The gamble paid off. Clifford Chance’s pre-eminence in private equity has created an example every other City firm has tried to emulate. Sellars left Clifford Chance for Schroder Ventures (now Permira) in 1993.
Roger Smith was articled at Allen & Overy (A&O) but soon moved into community and human rights law, with a career spanning law centres, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Legal Action Group, and now Justice, where he is a director. A forceful advocate for access to justice.
For 25 years Clive Stafford-Smith has devoted his career to death row prisoners in the US. He set up the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Centre in 1993 to serve prisoners and in 1999 founded human rights charity and pressure group Reprieve, which now acts for those facing the death penalty across the world. He has also represented two Britons held in Guantanamo Bay.
Jonathan Sumption QC
The head of Brick Court Chambers has become a legend at the bar for his formidable intellect and he enjoys the ear of the bench like virtually no other silk of the past two decades. His astonishing reputation is echoed by his fees, which have made him one of the two million-plus club. The establishment’s choice, he has acted for the Government and even the Royal Family on a variety of cases. If this were not enough, he is also an acclaimed medieval historian with a specialism in the Hundred Years War.
Susskind is the foremost commentator on IT in the legal profession, having been one of the few lawyers to spot the impact of technology on working practices and professional structures. Some of his predictions – particularly on the commoditisation of legal expertise – have come true. Others – notably that technical legal publishers would become as powerful as law firms – have not. But his position as a thought leader on technology and the law, and his role as adviser to the judiciary on IT issues, have made him one of most visible legal academics in the country.
Jan Tomalin is one of the most powerful lawyers in the media business, becoming legal head at Channel 4 in 1992. She has been a leading voice on the subject of Ofcom and media regulation and her role advising the broadcaster on revolutionary programmes such as Big Brother, Brass Eye and Derren Brown has set a template for broadcast lawyering that is both muscular and creative.
John Wadham has been an outspoken voice in civil rights ever since he became director of Liberty in 1999, which he transformed into an articulate and media-savvy pressure group. Key moments in his career include representing MI5 agent David Shayler, who was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act for leaking documents to The Mail on Sunday. He is now the deputy director of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
An in-house pioneer in the insurance industry, Rosemary Whitfield-Jones singlehandedly introduced the panel concept into the sector in the mid-1990s when she was general counsel at GAN (now Groupama). The insurance industry gratefully embraced the idea – so much so that panels have changed the economics of the entire industry.
The foremost restructuring lawyer of his generation, Andrew Wilkinson first made his name at Clifford Chance and arrived at US firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft in 1997. Until Wilkinson, European restructurings were dominated by the senior lender constituency and the consensual London Approach. The combative stance adopted by Wilkinson for his bondholder clients – particularly when he torpedoed the Barings settlement in the late 1990s – paved the way for the rise of activist investors in workouts and changed the restructuring landscape forever. This year Wilkinson moved to Goldman Sachs.
Sir Max Williams
Sir Max Williams was the undisputed genius behind the legal profession’s own big bang – the merger of Clifford-Turner and Coward Chance to create Clifford Chance. Although plenty of people from both firms worked hard to implement the merger, it was Williams who articulated the vision of the deal both internally and externally. The fact that Clifford Chance caught the imagination of the market was down to Williams – as was the fact that the new firm was able to cohere so effectively from day one.
Tony Williams was managing partner of Clifford Chance in the second half of the last decade, but he did himself proud with Andersen Legal in the UK from 1999 to 2001. He gave the accountancy-tied firm City credentials, but his real achievement was in a crisis. When Andersen’s associated law firm was collapsing after Enron, Williams spent his last remaining months trying to find new homes for his lawyers – all the while with the threat of the Enron litigation over his head and having been abandoned by the Andersen UK management. Williams was one of the few to emerge from the debacle with any credit. Since then he has had a highly influential role behind the scenes as a management consultant to law firms.
An acknowledged guru in banking law, Philip Wood is a former head of banking at A&O, current visiting professor at Oxford, Queen Mary College and London School of Economics and the author of magisterial research on financial law. Seen as a practitioners’ academic, Wood’s commitment to education was underlined when he became head of education at A&O, and he was one of the first lawyers to recommend the use of technology in legal training.
Fiona Woolf was crucial in representing the Law Society in lobbying over two huge developments for the legal profession: the Legal Services Bill and the international negotiations around the potential liberalisation of the Indian legal market. A noted project practitioner at CMS Cameron McKenna for years, Woolf’s intelligent and measured approach has gone a long way towards rehabilitating the Law Society in the eyes of the City.
Lord Woolf went to the bench in 1979 and became Master of the Rolls in 1996. His report on access to justice in the mid-1990s heralded sweeping reforms of the civil courts. Judges would have to take an active role in case management and the emphasis was on settlement, mediation and reducing costs. Many hold the review as being responsible for changing the enitre litigation landscape.
To read the first instalment of The Lawyer’s Hall of Fame (A to K), click here.
THE CRITERIA: qualified lawyers (which unfortunately rules out influential figures such as Sir David Clementi and Alan Hodgart) who have been pioneers, either in the law or in the practice of it. Some choices will be controversial; others will be pleasingly obvious.
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