Hampshire Incorporated Law Society
The first meeting was held in Southampton and Mr W Renny practising in Portsmouth was elected as the first President. The first members came mostly from the cities of Portsmouth, Southampton, and Winchester, and the towns of Aldershot, Fareham, Alton, Basingstoke, Lymington, and others. They were all men as women had not at that time entered the profession. In those days at their early meetings they discussed matters such as how to set up the society, what sort of matters they would discuss, and matters which were being considered by the national body.
The Sex Disqualification Act 1919 which gave women the vote also allowed them to enter professions such as the Law and Medicine, but women were slow to enter and the first recorded woman member was Miss I Dible of Southampton who joined in 1926 but sadly died in 1934. Miss Doris Wadeson of Portsmouth was another early member in 1930 and she died in 1967. Even in the 1950's and 60's there were very few, but two of the society's existing retired members, Mary Griffin of Southampton joined in 1962 and Anne Ashton in 1955 when she was the first woman solicitor in Winchester. In the 1970's the number started to escalate, and now a large percentage of those in the society are women. It was not, however until 1998 that Jennifer Gaze, then practising in Basingstoke became the first lady President of the Society.
In the 112 years of the Society's existence it has had to develop to work with many changes as the Law is not a static thing, and modes of transport, communication,even court procedures have changed dramatically. Indeed many of the magistrates courts where our early fathers practised may now no longer exist. One feature of the modern profession is the emphasis on continuing education and the society makes it its business to ensure that a good range of courses at affordable prices are available to its members.
The Society has two elected members on the Council of the Law Society, currently Mr Andrew Caplen, and Mr Razi Shah who represents North Hampshire and Berkshire. It is a matter of pride that on its 100th anniversary the national President of the Law Society was Mr Philip Ely a former Secretary and President of the Society, and there was a historic dinner in Portsmouth Guildhall preceded by the Band of the Royal Marines Beating Retreat in the presence of Philip Ely, National President of the Law Society, Councillor Syd Rapson, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and the Lord Chancellor, then Lord Mackay of Clashfern.
As it continues its work into the twenty-first century the Hampshire Law Society will seek to serve the public and the profession with the highest possible standards.