Our President

Our President


Written By: Philip Turton
Edition: December 2020

Dear Colleague,

We come to the end of a most difficult year, in which the current circumstances show no real sign of abating soon.  As I write Nottinghamshire continues to be placed in tier 3 of the government’s Covid-19 restrictions; the prime minister is counselling “a merry little Christmas” for all of us and, realistically, it is unlikely that we will see much by way of change during the early months of 2021.  I have said before that I expect to become the first President of Nottinghamshire Law Society in its 145-year history not to be physically present at a single event during his year of office.  I acknowledge immediately that those that know me well will say quickly that my absence from any sort of party is usually a blessing.

What lies ahead is properly the province of my January message, fuelled by the optimism of the new year and written at a time when we look forward with enthusiasm to the green shoots of spring and the promise of a year unfolding before us.  Nonetheless, it is fair to reflect on the resilience of our community, as demonstrated during the months which have passed since March 2020.  Many of us were hit hard by the first lockdown.  My Chambers saw a swift steep fall in the number of instructions received; my junior colleagues, highly reliant on Court work, found they were at home with little work; the Courts were not sitting, generally, at all; clients were unable to walk through our doors.  As for many business, in different spheres, the position was one which threatened great hardship.  As we reach the end of the year, no one could say that matters have normalised, but there has been a recovery.  The Courts opened again in April and May.  Hearings took place by telephone.  Hybrid trials were instigated and have worked reasonably; the wider community has adjusted, and a semblance of normal life has returned – clients are making contact again.  Those of my junior colleagues who were not getting into Court have found that, again, they are doing so.  The work has returned, if not quite to pre-Covid limits, at least towards it.  Whilst this will not be true for everyone, we have all seen a recovery in the second half of the year, notwithstanding a second lockdown and the introduction of the government’s tiered system of risk.

Nottinghamshire Law Society, on your behalf, adapted quickly.  We relocated, moving to premises that better suit our function in a post-Covid world.  The training seminars we hold have continued but we have moved them online and they continue to be well subscribed.

 

The Past Presidents’ Lunch took place via Zoom in December with a very good attendance.  Each Past President made their own lunch and provided their own drinks, but the conversation ran on for several hours and late into the afternoon. 

John Pearce was on excellent form, as were Deborah Hutchinson, Christine Doughty, John Appleby and others. 

Jason Waghorne was introduced to their number and enjoyed his first Past President’s lunch as a Past President.  Next time he will be there in person (as will I). 

The support of the Past Presidents of this Society is a real source of comfort and strength to those that follow in their wake. 

We held our Christmas Drinks & Awards Party last week too, again remotely.  The Society’s Awards for Solicitor of the Year, Barrister of the Year, Young Solicitor of the Year, Practice Manager of the Year, Contribution to the Community and Lifetime Achievement were announced.  

See elsewhere in this Bulletin for details of all these winners.  Ordinarily this would occur at the Annual Dinner, which could not take place in April, so this was a good substitute.  

It was a convivial and lively evening, overseen and organised by our wonderful administrator, Michelle, who arranged the Awards Film which was shown featuring this President and the last.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to His Honour Judge RF Owen QC.  Robert retired in 2020 after 10 years as a Circuit Judge, which followed 14 years as a Silk at the very top of his game and 19 years as the most industrious junior I have ever encountered.  Always unflinching in the clarity and honesty of his advice, whether to clients or friends, Robert was the very example of what it means to be a lawyer in our age: resilient, reliable, courageous, industrious and adaptable.  As an example to those of us looking at these difficult times and wondering where they may lead, there is probably no better example to follow but more importantly the Bench loses a great Judge, of incisive mind, who unfailingly read his papers and who could be relied upon to have mastered the finer detail of every case that appeared before him.  It was a privilege to announce him as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award in his retirement year.

 

Things have been difficult therefore, but I hope you feel that your Society has responded and moved with the times.  Certainly, we are looking forward with enthusiasm and good reason now.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  A new vaccine is on its way; spring will soon be visible; by this time next year it is fair to reason that we will be back to normality.  Let me therefore wish each of you, notwithstanding our current straightened circumstances, the very best of Christmases and to invite you, with me, to look forward to a bright and successful future in 2021.

 

Merry Christmas everybody.

Yours as ever,

Philip 

Philip Turton

President 2020-2021