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Remembering Paul

September 22, 2023


In the world of law, mentors play a pivotal role in shaping the careers and characters of aspiring lawyers. For me, Paul was not just a mentor but also a friend, a partner, and an inspiration. As I reflect on his journey, let me take you through the profound impact he had on my life and the unwavering commitment he demonstrated in upholding the highest standards in the legal profession.

38 years ago, during the summer holidays after my first year of 6th form, I sought to gain work experience in a solicitors’ office, driven by my ambition for a career in law. I contacted every firm listed in the Solihull Yellow Pages. Only two firms responded to my enquiries. The first firm provided me with an unforgettable experience – a visit to the hospital for stitches. It was at the second firm, Wallace Robinson & Morgan, that my life took a transformative turn.

A Life-Altering Encounter

I’d love to say that my first meeting with Paul happened then, but it didn’t. He was away on holiday! However, I was invited back for a second week, and the moment we finally crossed paths, it was evident that we were kindred spirits.

Mentoring that Left a Lasting Mark

The experience at the first firm left me with a physical scar, but my time at the second firm, under Paul’s guidance, left an indelible mark on my career. Paul served as my mentor, not only teaching me legal intricacies but also instilling in me values that would shape my professional journey. He provided me with opportunities, entrusted me with responsibilities, and was always there with unwavering support and his precious time.

Throughout my career, I continually gleaned wisdom from Paul. I observed how he interacted with clients, treating each case as if it were the sole focus on his desk. He was a masterful communicator, effortlessly engaging with a diverse array of clients, whether they were affluent business people, grieving families, couples ascending the property ladder, or first-time buyers. Paul’s ability to navigate the myriad challenges of running a business was remarkable.

Paul believed in his role as a solicitor to be that of an advisor, not just a processor. If he believed a client was overpaying for a property or making an ill-advised business choice, he didn’t hesitate to explain his viewpoint. Even if following his advice meant losing out on a fee, he prioritised honesty and the client’s best interests. Paul saw the bigger picture, knowing that clients would value his integrity, return for future services, and recommend him to family and friends. It’s a testament to his trustworthiness that he often represented not only clients but also their children and grandchildren, as they considered him a reliable and trustworthy advocate.

Even when clients chose to disregard his counsel and proceed against his recommendations, Paul stood firm in his conviction that he had done the right thing. Some of his fondest memories were of clients who, despite their initial resistance, later admitted they wished they had followed his advice.

Upholding Integrity and Independence

Paul vehemently opposed paying referral fees, which he aptly dubbed “bribes.” Whilst they could have generated more business, he recognised the potential conflict of interest. He refused to compromise his independence and integrity by making decisions that favoured maintaining a source of work over the client’s best interests. Paul believed that the client’s welfare should always be the paramount consideration.

Setting High Standards

Paul set high standards for himself and expected no less from his colleagues. He understood that we provide a service to our clients and that upholding our reputation was crucial. Paul’s dedication and leadership drove the success of Wallace Robinson & Morgan, and he took pride in its growth and accomplishments.

Sharing Moments and Shorthand

Most evenings, we’d find ourselves in Paul’s office, discussing the day’s events. Our conversations ranged from legal intricacies to tackling challenging cases or developing our team and the business. In recent years, our discussions included his musings on the shortcomings of various Stoke City managers. Occasionally, we’d reminisce about the lunch breaks we spent leaning out of the first-floor window, trying to shoot rubber bands into the open sunroof of his Ford Sierra parked below. Our bond was so strong that we developed a unique verbal shorthand – terms like “Jimmy,” “The Coventry Compromise,” or “the accountant sitting on the radiator” would be meaningless to anyone else.

Investing in the Future

Paul was a strong advocate for taking on trainee solicitors, nurturing talent within our own ranks. He took immense pride in their success as they qualified and built their careers at the firm. Many young lawyers, and a few not-so-young ones, had the privilege of learning from Paul in his room, absorbing his client-centric approach and efficient work methods.

A Driving Force for Success

Paul played an instrumental role in every aspect of the firm. He drove it forward, ensuring its success. Whether it was recruiting quality staff, overseeing office renovations, or being the catalyst for charitable initiatives, Paul’s commitment was unwavering. He dedicated countless hours at evenings, weekends, and even during his holidays to further the firm’s growth, of which he was immensely proud.

Adapting in Challenging Times

The COVID-19 lockdown posed challenges for us all. Besides our concerns for family and friends, we faced the added pressure of maintaining service to our clients and ensuring the firm’s survival. Paul’s decisive actions not only ensured the firm’s survival but also made it stronger than ever.

A Legacy of Respect and Trust

The outpouring of heartfelt messages to the firm has been overwhelming. They consistently use words and phrases to describe Paul: respect, trust, admiration, professionalism, excellent advice, kindness, intelligence, a great guy, wisdom, conscientiousness, caring, dedication, calm wisdom, and a saviour in property matters. To be regarded in such a manner by countless people speaks volumes about Paul’s character.

A Mentor, Partner, and Friend

For me, Paul was not only a mentor but also a partner and a dear friend. His absence leaves an irreplaceable void, and I will miss him profoundly.

Tim Langford

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