A dignitary interviewed on the radio the other day was asked what had been the most important factor in his life – the answer was luck. Looking back on a long legal career, I realise how vital this was.

I was lucky after National Service, knowing virtually nothing about the law, to be taken on as an assistant in a friendly, indulgent firm ready to excuse my multiple slip-ups and mistakes, learning on the job.

Four years later, I had the good fortune to be advertising for a partnership at the same time as a Wiltshire firm was looking for someone to fill a slot. This led to 35 years of happy partnership.

In 1984, I was headhunted for Deputy Registrar and had the good fortune to be trained by registrar John Frenkel in Bristol – tough but fair.

Three years later I had the great good fortune to intercept a letter heading for a namesake intending to apply for a recordership. There followed 15 hairy but enjoyable years on the bench.

Finally, I was lucky to retire from the fray at the right time and enjoy 13 years of involvement as a virtual consultant, still appreciated by my firm without the responsibility of partnership.

Things could have turned out very differently, and I am sure many in the profession would echo these sentiments. Good luck to all in 2018.

John Greenwood

Chippenham, Wilts