My first day in court’ by Marilyn Stowe brought back so many memories.

As a newly qualified solicitor in 1956, the senior partner in my firm sent me to the magistrates’ court in Chester-le-Street to prosecute on behalf of the police (I believe it was a driving case). As one of only three women solicitors in the north-east, I was greeted with amazement/suspicion/and probably horror by those in the court. The case proved a disaster – culminating in the witnesses failing to recognise the accused who was standing in the dock. The case was dismissed and I fled, feeling a complete fool, with my tail between my legs.

The next day, a senior solicitor in Gateshead – Tom Magnay – who had been in court watching this sorry performance, wrote to me saying that I had made a very good job of an impossible case, that I was not to be discouraged and would make a very good advocate in the future.

The point in my writing this is to show how much a short letter of encouragement from a senior lawyer can mean to an aspiring, struggling newcomer to the law. Over 60 years later I have never forgotten the words in his letter and am still practising.

Lalage L Swinburne, Lambert, Taylor & Gregory, Corbridge, Northumberland