The idea for the formation of local Law Societies in the Greater London area first germinated in 1958 and towards the end of that year, after discussions with the President and the General Secretary of the Law Society, Mr John Phillips of Messrs Phillips & Phillips of Harrow called a meeting of solicitors practicing in Harrow, Wembley, Willesden and Ealing with the object of forming a Local Law Society to cover those areas with possible additions in Middlesex.
On 28 January 1959 the first (formation) meeting of the then Central Middlesex Law Society took place at The Century Hotel, Forty Lane Wembley. Special guests at the meeting included the President of the Law Society, Sir Sydney Littlewood and Lady Littlewood, the Secretary of the Law Society Sir Thomas Lund C.B.E. and Mr H Horsfall Turner, the Under-Secretary. After an address by Sir Sydney Littlewood on the subject of “The Local Law Society”,the Central Middlesex Law Society was duly formed and its Rules formally adopted.
The first President of the Society was Mr Reginald Garrod of Harrow with Mr Will Gillham of Willesden as Honorary Secretary and Mr Reginald G Phillips of Harrow as Honorary Treasurer. Two Vice-Presidents, Mr J Anthony S Nicholls and Mr Ronald Politeyan were elected and twelve Committee members, namely Messrs John E Aylett; Harold Benjamin; John C Christie; Hugh C Fraser; Kenneth Goodacre; Derrick L Grove; John R Hodder; H H Kenwood; Eric G Marshall; David H Pritchard; Roy Machin Smith and D Bentley Taylor O.B.E.
The area of the newly formed Society comprised the Boroughs and Urban Districts of: Acton, Brentford, Chiswick, Ealing, Harrow, Ruislip-Northwood, Uxbridge, Wembley and Willesden, and extra-territorially, the Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square, Westminster SW1 to permit solicitors on the staff of the Middlesex County Council to qualify for membership of the Society. The Solicitors’ Journal in its issue of May 22nd 1959 gave an account of the “Central Middlesex Law Society – Its Formation” and how some 80 to 100 practising solicitors in Middlesex attended a splendid formation meeting and dinner on that foggy night at the end of January.
At each Annual General Meeting since its formation the Society has elected its President and officers for the forthcoming year and since Reginald Garrod the following members have served as President of the Society:-
JAS Nicholls, RC Politeyan, J Aylett, K Goodacre, HJB Cockshutt, W Gillham, L Lane Heardman, D Grove, LA Darke, C Beety, Mrs LE Vickers, H Hodge, EGB Taylor, AAM Wheatley, AH Kurtz, MJS Doran, HB Matthissen, G Parkinson, HHJ R D Connor, A Bates, JJ Copeman-Hill, DB Kennett-Brown, SB Hammett, Miss FA Shakespear, HHJ PE Copley, AM Harvey, HR Hodge, GR Stephenson, BS Regler, WJC Berry, AS Atchison, LM Oliver, SW Booth, DDP Debidin, REJ Hansom, EH Lock, Mrs A Taylor, Mrs N Desor, Ms M Hutchinson, M Guyer, RS Drepaul, A Sriharan, Ms M Fernandes, A Darlington, S Chhokar, Ms M Crowley, Prof M Davies, S Hobbs, Mrs R Sriharan, Mrs S Scott Hunt, D Webb, G Kharaud.
The first Committee meeting of the Society was held at “The Constellation”, South Harrow and four Sub-Committees were formed namely Conveyancing and Rules; Costs and Scale; Meetings and Social; and Public Relations and General Purposes. These Sub-Committee titles no doubt reflected the pressing matters of the day. Over the years, changing circumstances have necessitated changes in the subjects which warranted a specialist sub-committee and by 1980 the subjects allocated were Contentious Business, Non Contentious Business, General and Professional Purposes and Social. At the present time one of the important matters allocated to a Sub-Committee is Training.
The first committee of the Society decided that it must have a Bulletin for periodical distribution to members. This was to be known as “The Bill of Middlesex” – a title which has stood the test of time. By May 1959, the Society had a membership of 137 full members and 6 associate members, within a year the membership had risen to 212. In June 1967, with a membership of 439, the society made representations to the Law Society that the Society should be represented on the Council of the Law Society. Our previous Council Member, Robert Sayer became President of the Law Society in 2000-01.
From its inception the Society has held dinner meetings at which members have been able to entertain members of other professions such as the Bar and those involved in Financial Services and the Police Service. The first Annual Dinner Dance was held at the Savoy. The principal guests on that occasion included His Honour Judge H C Leon (Henry Cecil of “Brothers-in Law” fame). The dinner has been held annually since that time and many distinguished guests including Lord Denning, the Lord Chancellor and a Chancellor of the Exchequer have been present.
Towards the end of the first year the Society learned that its example was being followed by the formation of other local law societies in the Greater London area. A Society was formed for North Middlesex and solicitors practising in South Middlesex expressed an interest in joining the Central Middlesex Society. At a General Meeting in December 1959 it was decided to extend the boundaries of the Society to include the whole of South Middlesex, so that the enlarged area comprised the whole of the County of Middlesex on the west side of the Edgware Road. The name of the Society was thereupon altered to “Central & South Middlesex Law Society”.
At an early date the Society recognised the importance of encouraging legal Education and Training. In 1960 a Prize Fund was established for the purpose of the award from time to time of a prize to an articled clerk, articled with a firm in the Society’s area. This fund was greatly strengthened by the generous donations of members to the Lane Heardman memorial fund which was established in 1981. The reports submitted at annual general meetings show that Training for the Professional has received detailed consideration over the years with the organisation of seminars and lectures. The present day programme of courses for continuing education reflects the continuing efforts of the Society in the field of professional education.