Obiter is headed, in spirit anyway, to the perspiring dreams of the University of Cambridge and its second oldest college, Clare (b. 1326). Clare has long been a contributor to the legal profession, reflected in its choice of master. The late Bob Hepple, Nelson Mandela’s lawyer in first trial for sedition was one. The incumbent, ‘Tony’, Baron Grabiner of Aldwych QC, was appointed in 2014.
Grabiner won’t, though, be serving a second term, an email to alumnae announces brusquely. He will stand down in 2021, making the renowned commercial silk and Labour peer the shortest serving master of Clare since Thomas Paske in the 17th century.
Fortunately, Tony seemed to heed the old advice ‘don’t give up the day job’, and retained his practice at One Essex Court. Cases since he took up at Clare, according to the website, include being instructed by Terra Firma, in relation to the private equity fund’s multi-billion pound claim against Citi arising out of the takeover of EMI. His current practice merits fulsome writeups in Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500.
However there was some controversy over Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia and its pension commitments (Tony was non-executive chair of Arcadia’s board when he took the post at Clare).
To the future then.
Rather democratically, Clare will advertise the coming vacancy in the Guardian. And what a term it’s set to be for the lucky candidate. Clare Fellow Dr Fred Parker points out: ‘The next Master will lead Clare as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of women undergraduates at the college in 2022, and the 700th anniversary in 2026 of the college’s foundation. It will be an exciting and memorable time in Clare’s history.’
What, though, if a lawyer doesn’t get the job? Well, readers worried about the quotient of lawyers heading Oxford and Cambridge colleges can relax. It’s one-in, one-out, with Dinah Rose QC taking up to post of president of Magdalen College, Oxford, this September.