100 Years Centenary – Our History
The early years: C Leslie Hale Solicitor
The roots of Mander Cruickshank Solicitors LLP date back to August 1923 when a man called Charles Leslie Hale, commonly known as Leslie Hale, established a firm that over the years has evolved from a sole practising solicitor based in Coalville, to an extensive multi-branch firm providing high quality legal services to people across the East Midlands and further afield.
Leslie Hale was born in 1902, and was educated locally completing his education at Ashby Grammar School. He obtained employment as a Clerk with a Leicester Solicitor called Evan Barlow. Evan was a highly regarded lawyer whose firm still exists in Leicester. Having impressed his employer Leslie was granted Articles of Clerkship, which are the equivalent of what is now known as a period of recognised training (or Training Contract). Leslie therefore worked in effect as an apprentice whilst at the same time studying for his legal exams.
Having completed all of his exams on the 6th November 1922, Leslie was too young to become a Solicitor. He had to wait until his 21st birthday before he could qualify as a Solicitor. His employer Evan Barlow offered him employment as a Solicitor upon qualifying, however Leslie decided that the remuneration was not sufficiently attractive, so decided to set up his own firm in his home town of Coalville.
Leicester Evening Mail
Thursday 14 December 1922
Whilst it is now not possible to set up a firm immediately after qualifying, back in 1923 no such time bar on owning or operating a firm existed. Leslie set up his firm in August 1923 and began to practice based on High Street, in Coalville. It is commonly believed that he was the youngest Solicitor to have his own law firm within the United Kingdom. He undertook a wide variety of legal work, and became a renowned advocate.
Leslie was also a keen politician. He served as a Councillor on Leicestershire County Council from 1925 for some 20 years, representing the Snibston Ward.
With his growing reputation, the firm widened its work base. In 1937 he prepared all the legal documents for a new Coalville company called Motors Coalville Limited, which is still successfully trading within Coalville.
Leslie enjoyed travelling the world, finding himself in National newspaper headlines in 1938. “Briton locked up by Nazis at frontier town” followed him being arrested on the Polish Germany border for what was claimed to be a visa discrepancy. His confinement was however short, and after a short confinement he was released. He went on to serve in the Second World War.
Tuesday 24 May 1938
During and post Second World War
A man called Frank Mander, born locally in Coalville in 1910 as the son of a miner, was already working with Leslie Hale, and had been since 1923. As a 13 year old boy who had studied at Bridge Road Council School, he was lined up with other boys in the Senior Class when Leslie Hale visited the school seeking an office boy to work for him. Leslie Hale chose Frank Mander, who then worked his way up over the years from office boy, to a clerk and eventually an articled clerk. Fortuitously Frank had passed his law exams and qualified as a solicitor in 1939 just before Leslie went to war. The firm became known as Hale and Mander.
Leicester Daily Mercury
Monday 19 April 1937
Leicester Daily Mercury
Tuesday 5 September 1939
Like Leslie, Frank was considered a good advocate, and the litigation work of the practice thrived. The practice dealt with a lot of work for trade unions dealing with injuries sustained at work. Perhaps Franks most renowned case, certainly from a notoriety point of view, was a case involving two local Catholic Priests, one of whom accused the other of having a venereal disease. With the expert evidence that Frank obtained, his client won.
Frank was known as a man of integrity whose word was his bond. To augment the litigation work, he built up a thriving property practice, and this later became his specialism. He went on to practice for 50 years.
Leslie became MP for Oldham in 1945. He was very active in the House of Commons, and was famous for speaking against the death penalty, for legislation relating to asbestos, and for the repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1735.
The 1950s to the 1970s
Charles Ewan Mander, born in 1939 the son of Frank Mander, literally followed in his fathers footsteps. In 1956 he became Franks clerk, and then his articled clerk. Whilst Leslie retired from Hale and Mander in 1958, this granted Charles (known commonly as Ewan) a fantastic opportunity upon his qualifying as a solicitor in 1963. He immediately became a partner in the firm at its Marlborough Square office, a fortunate location being almost next door to Lloyds Bank, now Wetherspoons, where he banked the firms money each day, choosing a particular cashier Janet, who he eventually married.
Ewan was not a natural advocate but had real strengths in property and probate work. He acted for some high profile commercial property clients and had an aptitude for finance and business management. Ewan found and acquired Berrisford Row (our current premises) through one of his commercial property contacts. He was well liked and a man of integrity. He had the vision to see the need to expand the firm by way of merger, and the ever growing need to have a wider client base and a broader range of expertise. He practiced like his father for more than 50 years.
As an aside, Leslie Hale famously went on to continue to represent the people of Oldham as MP until 1968 and on the 24th April 1972 he was made Baron Hale of Oldham in the County of Palatine of Lancashire.
In 1986 Ewan Mander made an appointment to see another local solicitor called James Anthony Girvan Abbott.
James (Jim) was born in 1954 and studied law at Manchester University. After graduation and passing his Law Exams he became articled to Peter Cruickshank a solicitor in Loughborough. Jim qualified as a solicitor in 1979 and took over with a view to expanding an office at Britannia Chambers, Vaughn Street, Coalville directly opposite what was then the Police Station and Magistrates Court. Jim then acquired the Leicester Building Society Office at 7 Belvoir Road which he substantially extended. A wide range of services were offered particularly property family and crime. Jim enjoyed advocacy and in addition to representing defendants and individuals in family cases he acted for the Police and Crown Prosecution Service. To support the growth of the office a solicitor called Peter Chadwick joined Jim in 1984 to head the property side of the practice and to promote work in the areas of wills and probate.
William Peter Chadwick was born in 1956 and studied law at Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University) in the late 1970s. Peter qualified in 1980 and worked in Long Eaton. Although Peter excelled at legal debates (moots) at university he specialised in property work in all its various forms. In 1984 having joined forces with Jim Abbott he led the property team and quickly became a partner. Peter retained his position as Head of Property until his retirement. Peter had a wide range of clients ranging from household conveyancing to large builders and was an expert in leasehold and unregistered conveyancing. He was a fine after dinner speaker, was a founding member of the Law Society Group for Disabilities and served on the Rugby Football Unions Committee on Disabilities.
The meeting between Ewan Mander and Jim Abbott had been arranged with no advance notification or indication as to what the meeting would be about. Typical of Ewan, there was no beating about the bush, and he laid out a detailed business plan to support a merger. It was clear to both Ewan and Jim that the two practices would compliment each other, and significantly widen the areas of expertise for both. Terms were quickly agreed and Peter Cruickshank who Jim was still articled to was invited to join. The new firm was to be called, Mander Cruickshank.
Rapid growth followed, with the firm creating dedicated departments covering all of the main areas of law expected of a high street law firm.
As part of the plan for expansion, an office was opened in Hinckley.
[This is work in progress and will be completed by May 2023 in time for our August 2023 centenary celebrations]