Our Partner Melinda Giles has been elected to represent Private Client Solicitors on the Law Society Council. With one lawyer to represent each area of law for the whole country, this is an accolade that cements Melinda’s place as a leading voice in Private Client Law. But it’s also so much more than that.
Melinda is a supporter of the First 100 Years Project, a project which celebrates the past successes of women in the law in the run up to 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. In 1920 the first woman to hold public office in the UK was Georgina ‘Georgie’ Frost. There is an interesting comparison to be made between Georgie and Melinda.
Georgie’s father Thomas Frost was a petty sessions clerk and in the years prior to his retirement Georgina worked with him and became known in her town. Upon her father’s retirement, Georgie was appointed to succeed him by the local magistrates. Due to the Petty Sessions Clerk (Ireland) Act 1881, this appointment needed approval from the Lord Lieutenant who flat out rejected her appointment, because she was a woman. Georgie took her case to the chancery division in Dublin where the judge dismissed her claim, stating that women were not disqualified for such roles due to inability but due to concerns of ‘decorum.’ After more hearings, she took her case to the House of Lords in April 1920. But by this time the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 was law and she could now take up the position.
Giles Wilson has always been a local, family-run firm which Melinda heads up with her brother Philip. But the history of Giles Wilson is not all that dissimilar to Georgie’s. Giles Wilson grew from the firm of John Wilson & Giles; the Giles being Melinda & Philip’s father Antony. In 1996 Antony retired, and Melinda and Philip bought the practice having decided to continue and expand on their father’s foundations. It was never a question that both a daughter and a son could take on this role, as they were both qualified and capable, and it was never a matter of Melinda’s ‘decorum.’
Whilst we should never acknowledge someone’s successes in relation to their gender, race or sexuality and purely on their merit, it is worth noting that it is only in recent history that owning a firm as a woman and being appointed Private Client Representative on the Law Society Council have been possible.
The recent announcement that Lady Hale has been appointed as the First Woman President of the Supreme Court has been greeted with great enthusiasm by Melinda and all at Giles Wilson.
Melinda’s new role as the Private Client Section’s representative on the Law Society Council has its foundations in the leadership skills she has developed within the Private Client team here at Giles Wilson. Melinda’s guidance and expertise in this field has supported the team’s growth, ensuring our firm offers helpful guidance for important decisions in your life, whether it’s drafting your Will, managing your estate or establishing a Power of Attorney.
If you are in need of specialist guidance in these areas of law, contact us to arrange a consultation at our offices in Leigh-on-Sea and Rochford. Call us on 01702 477106, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.