Meet the traditional Law Society man on steps — and the garrotted wife

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By Judge John Hack on

Weird rituals were enacted at yesterday’s annual meeting of the body that represents solicitors


The 190-year old Law Society — the body that represents solicitors in England and Wales — is nothing if not traditional.

Portraits of its past leaders festoon the walls of its neo-classical headquarters in Chancery Lane. And at yesterday’s annual general meeting, outgoing president Andrew Caplen was presented with this image of himself squatting apparently rather uncomfortably on at the bottom of the building’s grand staircase.

The pose and expression make him look a bit like a man with a few spare copies of the Big Issue to shift. And indeed, the portrait itself came as a complete surprise to the property law specialist from high street firm Heppenstalls in Hampshire.

The painting was commissioned as a gift by the Hampshire Law Society, and painted by the artist with reference only to photographs and YouTube video.

Hampshire LS president, Ian Robinson, managing partner of Churchers Bolitho Way in Portsmouth, told Legal Cheek that the fee was confidential. However, and just in case Hampshire solicitors were wondering how generous they were, similar works by artist — local man Jonathan Tetley — go for around £1,500 a pop.

Far more interesting, however, was another tweet from Law Society council member Sundeep Bhatia, which appeared to show Caplen’s wife attempting to throttle the missus of his successor, Jonathan Smithers, the senior partner at another high street practice, Cooper Burnett in Tunbridge Wells.

But before Legal Cheek readers ring Scotland Yard, a Law Society official sent the reassuring message that Mrs Caplen was simply passing over the spouse’s gong of honour.

Now that’s tradition.