David Pickup runs through a selection of legal-themed books that could serve as stocking-fillers.

Stephen Gold


Part autobiography and part guide for unrepresented litigants, this is so full of useful information that it will be of great value to advisers as well as clients. It covers costs, how to get legal help, limitation and judgments and enforcement. The section on estates and wills includes advice on death-bed gifts and how to avoid them. (The gift, not the death-bed.) There is plenty on various consumer law issues, relationships including pre-nups and a ‘no-sex agreement’. There must be some clients who would want that!

The author’s career included acting for the Kray brothers and the mystery of what happened to Ronnie Kray’s ‘missing’ brain. The £20 price tag for a book of more than 500 pages is great value.

Three Cases that Shook the Law

Ronald Bartle

Publisher: Waterside Press


Nothing concentrates the mind like a hanging, so they say. This book tells the story of three trials which resulted in the death penalty for the unfortunate defendant. The first is not well known, the tale of Edith Thompson in 1922 who was involved in a tragic lovers’ triangle. The second dates from 1945 and is about William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) who broadcast propaganda for the Nazis in the second world war.

He became a source of merriment rather than fear but was executed for treason. The last is Timothy Evans who is probably unknown to many but his address of 10 Rillington Place and the identity of the main prosecution witness, Reginald Christie, is. Written by Ronald Bartle, who was deputy chief stipendiary magistrate for Inner London, it is told with a lawyer’s analysis. Well worth the modest price.

Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories

Thomas Grant QC

Publisher: John Murray


Now 101, Jeremy Hutchinson has had an amazing career in the law. Starting in the post-war years he rapidly rose to defend some of the most notorious cases. This book has sex, spying, and politics and covers all the changes in society from the Cold War to the ‘permissive society’. He was professionally involved with Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Profumo and Mary Whitehouse. Jeremy Hutchinson was a reluctant historian and the book is written by his friend and fellow lawyer.

A Short Book of Bad Judges

Publisher: Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing


Solicitors are allowed a wry smile at this marvellous, but surprisingly short book. (Possibly some of us have names we could add?) It is a very good read – perhaps in the privacy of your office and not in the waiting room of a court. Solicitors all experience judges who, while maybe not bad, could not put in the category of good. It is surprising most of the judges featured in this book are from the 20th century and only two from earlier. Examples include a judge who handed a barrister a note in the absence of the jury but in the presence of the defendant headed ‘the six Ps’ which read ‘Prior Planning Prevents P**s Poor Performance’. Charming.

Daniel, My Son: A Father’s Powerful Account of His Son’s Cancer Journey

David Thomas

Publisher: Splendid Books Limited


This is an immensely moving account of a very gifted young man who was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 17. It is the story of his life, not only the loss of it but all he achieved despite the diagnosis, told by his lawyer father. Daniel comes across as a normal young man with a bewildered family trying and succeeding to do their best for him. One wonders how anyone copes with all of this, but this is a strikingly positive book.

Both Sides of the Bench

Barrington Black

Publisher: Waterside Press


A boyhood visit to Leeds assizes led the author to choose his future profession. ‘Can anyone go in and watch?’ he asked the doorman. He was hooked. I wonder if members of our profession could achieve so much now as he did in his career? A willingness to do criminal cases just involved giving your name to the court. How many legal aid practitioners can afford a Bentley or any car at all now? How times have changed!

Court and Bowled: Tales of Cricket and the Law

Publisher: Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing


This entertaining book is an interesting collection of stories and cases involving cricket as it interacts with various laws. Fans of the game will be familiar with a lot of the cases referred to.

Confessions of an Un-Common Attorney

Reginald Hine

This was a best seller when it was published in 1945 and it remains highly readable. Hine’s first love was history and literature. He spent most of his career at one of the oldest, if not the oldest, firms in England and this book describes high street practice in the 1940s and the mixed bag of country characters he had as clients. The original printing of his book had to be scrapped because of a defamation case. Hine’s career came to a sad and tragic end in 1949. The book is out of print but can be bought for under £100 second-hand; it ought to be compulsory reading for anyone entering the law.