Notes from our minutes.
I have secured access to our minute books and from time to time hope to share some of the more interesting moments from the past.As a taster I have picked items of concern from our earliest records involving mischief from accountants and items from the Second World War showing how the role of women [“girls”] has changed.
Our first AGM was on 14th December 1886 and a formal affair. It was followed by much more exciting events in 1887 when a Special General Meeting was called on 18th May; “to discuss the questions of persons not being solicitors entering and conducting cases for others in the County Court and other inferior courts of record and to move resolutions and take such steps as may be considered advisable to prohibit such practices” What could possibly be going on?
A proposal was tabled and passed after discussion; “That the practice of allowing personal styling themselves accountants and all other persons not being solicitors to issue summonses for and appear in support of cases on behalf of others in the County Court, is contrary to the spirit and provisions of the County Courts Act, the Solicitors Act, and a contravention of the Stamp Act and proceedings be taken on behalf of the society against all such persons for the purpose of prohibiting such practices”.
We were vigilant; On 29th August 1887 the Secretary reported a conversation as to the alleged habit of certain accountants, to practice as Solicitors in the Borough Court of Record and of five sets of papers, said to be drawn by non-qualified persons. It was eventually resolved that the facts before the committee were ‘‘not sufficient to justify proceedings being taken” The story continues in later episodes! Seventy years later the committee was wrestling with the logistics of running a solicitors practice in wartime; This from the annual report November 1941; “The Honourable secretary has been advised of a method of copying by photographic means documents etc so as to keep a record in case of damage by enemy action.
The method is suitable for ledger accounts also and has been approved by the Law Society “ Documents however must be dictated typed and filed and the workforce responsible for these vital tasks was at risk of being taken away to other wartime duties; “Solicitors clerks and Military Service. Registration for Industrial Purposes. The Ministry of Labour has advised that whenever female clocks are fully occupied in solicitors offices they will not be taken from such employment”.
The Committee were not easily reassured; November 1942; Consideration of “Female clerks and war service” The Law Society’s statement was considered and the secretary instructed to write there was some dissatisfaction with the arrangements made and for further and more detailed information as to the question of deferment for older girls and younger girls and for further particulars as to what was a “pivotal position”.
When the pressures of fending off the current Ministry of Justice become too stressful I will again retreat into these minutes and hope to bring more nuggets to view.