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A tribute to John Fraser: 1934 to 2017

11 April 2017

We pay tribute to John Fraser, whose contribution to the development of Lewis Silkin was considerable.

During the 1970s and 1980s when the firm practiced from two offices (one in Westminster and the other in Peckham) John was instrumental in developing the latter into the leading south-east London law-firm and then over time, to play a major role in contributing towards the augmentation of our commercial practice into enlarged central London offices in Westminster. From that base the firm grew into the significant commercial legal practice it is today.

John was a remarkable man. From relatively humble roots (to which the obituary appearing in this week’s Daily Telegraph refers) John’s sheer ambition, drive and intellect led him to achieve outstanding results. First in qualifying as a solicitor (particularly given that his career went the long route – not having experienced the background of a university education) and then playing a central part in the development of Lewis Silkin & Partners, as the firm was then known. Whilst John’s practice as a lawyer to some extent mirrored his career in public life (both as a Lambeth councillor and then as a long-standing Member of Parliament for Lambeth Norwood), John’s great skill was in his commercial pragmatism. He became a magnetic source of legal and commercial advice to such diverse sectors of the economy as the country’s leading housing associations in the unfolding of development and regeneration in the housing sector, to some of the country’s largest public companies on competition issues in respect of which of which he was something of an expert following his days as a competition minister.

John was a man from whom two generations of our lawyers learned much – not just the law and its application – but also about compassion and kindness. He became a mentor to a number of our partners over the years and whilst he retired from the partnership over 15 years ago, his influence can still be found in our culture and values.

Last night’s 3-0 win by his beloved Crystal Palace over Arsenal would have left him with a proud and beaming grin.

You can read the Daily Telegraph’s obituary on their website. A subscription is required.

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