Obiter cannot be alone in experiencing a minor thrill from the annual permission bestowed by the annual Legal Charities Garden Party to walk past Lincoln’s Inn north lawn’s ‘Please keep off the grass’ sign.
While the photo of Obiter’s Gazette spy team gives the impression of colleagues circling the wagons and opening champagne, be assured that this was an early strategy meeting before working the hallowed turf for gossip. For example, it took a bit of planning to access Edwin Coe’s compound - the only hosting area that protected (or contained?) the firm’s guests with a length of rope. It was worth it, though, to discover why senior partner David Greene had to manage a champagne flute and a pair of crutches (he fell off a ladder, we can reveal).
Meanwhile, Hunters Solicitors left Obiter with a literary riddle. Senior partner Paul Almy believes the firm, when Hunters & Haynes, had a near-cameo in Dickens’ legal masterpiece Bleak House - thinly disguised as ‘Gunters & Gains’. Obiter doesn’t recall and two minutes on Google and a further 20 in Waterstone’s failed to turn up G&G. Can Gazette readers do better?
Survivors from the first legal charities garden party (founded by the City of Westminster and Holborn Law Society in 1968) would have seen a familiar scene at first glance, but as Richard Susskind has since shown lawyers how to turn on a computer, technology was present here too. Even barristers are at it. Obiter was treated not just to the sight of 15 New Bridge Street’s bright and cheerful tie selection but also to a virtual experience: one counsel had pictures of ties that did not make the grade on his smart phone, shown to all interested parties.
Finding out that Obiter-friend, broadcaster and sometime barrister Clive Anderson, is only ‘vice patron’ of SBA The Solicitors’ Charity made us concerned that the Loose Ends presenter’s caché was on the wane. But further research revealed that SBA’s patron ‘number one’ is HM Queen Elizabeth II. Fortunately for Anderson, Her Majesty cannot currently be booked for the industry awards ceremonies and adverts he assures us he still has in the pipeline.
There is less clarity concerning master of the rolls Lord Neuberger’s visible suspicion on being offered a canapé (pictured). The rain stayed off long enough for Obiter to chat to Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg about the right to die. Then it was off to local lawyer watering hole The Seven Stars, on the entirely correct hunch that the party would continue there. All proceeds went to six legal charities - SBA The Solicitors’ Charity, the Barristers Benevolent Association, the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks Benevolent Fund, the United Law Clerks Society, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives Benevolent Fund and LawCare.
The sponsors were Global BPO and Temple Legal, and the garden party was promoted by Melissa Davis of MD Communications. The Gazette was media sponsor.