The legal world has changed a bit since 1715, when lawyer Jasper Gibson drafted the last will and testament of the Earl of Derwentwater in blood on his shirt cuff – minutes before his client was beheaded for his part in the Jacobite rising. The north-east firm he founded, Gibson & Co, celebrated its 300th anniversary last week.
Senior partner Tony Gibson (pictured), the ninth generation of his family to practise in the firm, tells Obiter that one of the big changes is the readiness of solicitors to contest disciplinary charges. Gibson was appointed to the disciplinary bench by Lord Denning in 1980. Back then, he said, there were proportionately more cases of fraud than there are now.
‘When I started, there were four cases listed in a day, each [solicitor] would come in and say “I’m sorry, I did it”, and would either get fined or struck off.’
Gibson, who originally planned to sit for three years, will leave the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in April 2017, but the ex-Territorial Army officer has no plans to retire from practice. Obiter was honoured to raise a glass at the Cavalry Club to the next 300 years.