Twenty years after John Major sought to open up the honours system by introducing ‘people’s honours’, the twice-yearly hand-out of gongs is as predictable as ever. Look at the new year crop, especially when it comes to the legal world.

As far as Obiter can tell, only one solicitor from the grubby commercial world made the grade. But David Wootton (pictured), knighted for ‘for services to legal business, charity and the City of London’, isn’t your typical high street practitioner – he’s a partner at magic circle firm Allen & Overy, and last year’s lord mayor of London to boot.

As usual, colleagues on the public payroll seem to do better. Isabel Letwin, director, legal services at the Department of Health, received a CBE for legal services to government (though some suggested she deserved it equally for being married to Cabinet Office minister Oliver).

Meanwhile on the upper slopes of the Ministry of Justice, Ursula Brennan, permanent secretary, becomes dame commander of the Order of the Bath. This accolade is about as high as you can go in the home civil service, which raises the question of what she will get if she succeeds in her task of seeing through the next round of spending cuts.

Finally, colleagues in the personal injury sector will join with Obiter in congratulating one recipient: Timothy Breedon, chairman of the Association of British Insurers picks up a CBE for services to the insurance industry.

Didn’t he do well.