John Lyes, a past president of Bristol Law Society, has donated his collection of books and materials on the history of the legal profession with especial focus on the legal profession of Bristol to UWE. Amongst the papers were a copy of John’s own history of the first two hundreds of Bristol Law Society, his monograph about the early history of the solicitors’ profession, and a pristine copy of the 1959 Solicitors Finals Exams.
Handing the papers over to Marcus Keppel-Palmer (Law), John said that he could not think of a better home for the collection given UWE’s history in the teaching of professional vocational courses.
John was in fact one of the very first graduates from UWE’s law programme. However, at the time this was the Bristol College of Commerce which taught the London External Law Degree at the time. After doing National Service, John worked at the Customs & Excise Department, before taking night school classes to study for a Law degree. One of the lecturers at the time was Alan Lamb, who offered John a position with his firm for John to do the necessary three year period of articles. John was in the very first intake to be paid – articled clerks had previously had to pay to do articles – and he was paid the princely sum of £4 a week.
John sat the Finals Exams in 1959, consisting then of 12 three hour papers taken over a week and a half, before qualifying as a solicitor in 1960. He then rose through the ranks of the firm that was Lawrence Tucketts, now a part of TLT, being the managing partner of the Kingswood Office. The office is now a Thai Restaurant. John was active in the Bristol Law Society, becoming President in 1980. One of his achievements during the year of office was to inaugurate the regular visits between the Bristol Law Society and the Bar of Bordeaux, the latter being twinned with Bristol. John recalls that the latter Bar was motivated in part by changes in French tax laws which meant that undrunk wine was to be taken into account for taxation, unless it was used for business purposes!
After retiring from practice, John pursued his passion for local history, enrolling at UWE and doing a MA in Local History at St Matthias, which led to him publishing monographs on the history of the local legal profession and also the history of Bristol Law Society. Most recently, to mark the hundred year anniversary of the Great War, John published a monograph, in conjunction with Bristol Law Society, on the Bristol Law Society during the First World War.