A Life in the Day of a Country Lawyer
A Brief Study of Solicitoritis in Strathaven from 1816-2016
Solicitoritis: a disease rare in the general population but prevalent among the legal profession. Symptoms include an obsession with detail, a tendency to over-analyse and an often uncontrollable urge to start every sentence with “What if…?”. Solicitoritis is not contagious but sufferers should avoid discussions with other lawyers as this often exacerbates the condition.
I had the pleasure, last Thursday, of meeting up with Willie Park, Jim Copeland, Keith Jackson and Bob Flynn, all four of them my former Gebbie & Wilson partners, all now retired. Here they all are, along with the current G & W partners (Russell Paterson and me). My former partners all appear relaxed and carefree – unlike Russell and me who are, perhaps, a little haggard looking. Retirement is clearly an effective antidote to Solicitoritis!
Turning back the clock to 1983, here are our four retirees – 34 years younger but looking somewhat more strained – Solicitoritis written all over their faces! Apart from that, Willie and Jim look little different now than they did then. The same can’t, in all honestly, be said of Keith and Bob: the dashing young bucks of yesteryear have joined Willie and Jim as the distinguished elder statesmen of today. Having said that – unfairly in my opinion but I’m going to tell you anyway – one of our current staff reckons the 1980’s Mr. Flynn looks like a Freddie Mercury tribute act!
The occasion of last Thursday’s reunion was a talk given to today’s Gebbie & Wilsonians by Willie Park, our Senior Partner for much of the second half of the 20th century. Here is how I introduced my former employer, mentor and partner, now my good friend, to my 21st century G & W colleagues:-
Welcome everyone to what may well be the largest ever gathering in one room at one time of the GEBBIE & WILSON CLAN.
There was a time – not so long ago – when it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind to seek to introduce Mr. William W. Park to a Gebbie & Wilson audience. Such an introduction would have been so unnecessary as to be absurd … In my eyes – and, I am sure, in those of his esteemed former partners here present – Willie Park was, is and always will be synonymous with Gebbie & Wilson. But time marches on and it occurred to me recently that apart from me, all of our current team of lawyers and most of our current staff joined Gebbie & Wilson after – and in many cases long after – Mr. Park’s retirement as Senior Partner in 1997. So hopefully today will allow Mr. Park and his 21 Century firm – all you newbies – to become better acquainted.
Any institution – whether it be Scotland the nation, Hamilton Accies the football team or Gebbie & Wilson, the law firm – only exists in the collective imagination of its people. And, I think it is so important – that our collective imagination – of what makes 21st Century Gebbie & Wilson special – is informed by the history and tradition of our firm.
There is no-one better qualified – to help us with that – than Willie Park.
Willie is the embodiment of so much of what makes our firm special:-
A strong sense of history and tradition,
Of practising the law as a profession and upholding the highest standards of that profession,
Of doing the job properly – taking pride in that certainly – but more accurately, I think, just not having it in him to do the job other than properly.
Of service to our clients and our community
And ultimately of simply being fair, honourable and kind.
And so it is my great pleasure to introduce Mr. Willie Park.
Willie’s theme was the history of Gebbie & Wilson, the people who have shaped it and the changes they have witnessed and been a part of over the 200 years since a 23 year old William Gebbie travelled on horseback from Glasgow to begin a new life as a country lawyer, setting up his own firm here in Strathaven. Confident as he was in his own abilities, even the young Mr. Gebbie could hardly have predicted that the firm which bears his name would still be practising, still thriving and now entering its third century as Strathaven’s Solicitors. To travel on that journey from mail coach to email and from quill pen to biro to this blog, you can read Willie Park’s fascinating history of Gebbie & Wilson on our website at www.gebbiewilson.co.uk/about-us/our-history/
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