Michael Cranston, co-founder and former head of litigation at Warner Cranston, died on 6 October at his home in France. He had suffered from motor neurone disease for the past three years, but bore the limitations it imposed on him with great humour and fortitude.
Described by many as a complete one-off, Michael was not a conventional solicitor. Brought up in the East End, he left school at 15 with just one O-level in art and found a job as an office boy in a firm of solicitors.
He took to the law like a duck to water, qualifying as a legal executive. In his thirties, and with a wife and children to support, Michael qualified as a solicitor. He went on to become an eminent litigator, co-founding Warner Cranston in 1979 and designing its stylish riverside offices at Pickfords Wharf.
He headed the litigation team and acted for banks, airlines, oil and gas companies, the government of Dubai, Baker Hughes and many multinationals. The firm merged with Reed Smith LLP in January 2001 – 14 Warner Cranston partners became partners at Reed Smith.
Throughout his illness Michael was devotedly nursed by his wife, Sara Robinson, the co-founder of innovative family law firm the Family Law Partnership (now Family Law in Partnership). They married on her 40th birthday after she had conducted his divorce and recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. Together they created beautiful homes in the Vaucluse, London and Devon.
They also travelled extensively, often in the camper van of which they were both so fond. A true movie buff and jazz addict, Michael would have loved the celebration of his life which Sara and friends created in the distinctive modern crematorium at Avignon on 14 October.
The family would greatly appreciate any donations in Michael’s memory being sent to The Motor Neurone Disease Association.