GEOFFREY ALAN CAWTHRA In Memoriam

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Published: 27th February, 2018

It is with great sadness that we write that former Senior partner GEOFFREY ALAN CAWTHRA died on 27 January 2018
Neil Shaw who was one of the founding partners of Last Cawthra Smith (now LCF Law) with Geoffrey and Paul Smith recalls his memories of Geoffrey

“I knew Geoff throughout my legal career. I first met him when he was a Partner in Last Suddards when I started my Articles of Clerkship. Geoff and I then became fellow Partners when in 1988, together with Paul Smith we set up Last Cawthra Smith. He was, however, not just a business partner but a friend and a mentor during our period in partnership together and also after his retirement.

Throughout that period Geoff ran the Ilkley Office (as he had done since 1963!)

At a very early stage in my legal career it was clear that I was working with a Lawyer who was not only highly respected in Ilkley but also in the whole of the Yorkshire Region. He was regularly consulted about complex legal or tax issues by Lawyers not just colleagues but from other legal practices in the area and also by Accountants.

Whilst Geoff ran a Branch Office and so dealt with a whole variety of legal work including Commercial and Residential Property, it was in the area of Wills, Trusts and Estates that he really made his mark.

Whilst researching the history of Last Cawthra Feather I came across a booklet which gave details of some of the Last Suddards’ Partners. I read that Geoff attended Bradford Grammar School and joined Last Suddards straight from school. He did his Articles at Last Suddards and at the same time undertook a Law Degree at Leeds University.

The booklet records that he won a leading National Scholarship in the Law Society Finals as well as two Regional Awards for his exam performance.

In 1988 the Firm of Last Suddards entered merger talks with A V Hammonds which ultimately resulted in the formation of Hammond Suddards. Paul, Geoff and I ran the Last Suddards branch offices and had the opportunity of setting up our own Firm. On the 1 May 1988 Last Cawthra Smith was founded with Geoff as our Senior Partner. But it very nearly never happened. I recall Paul and I were a little concerned when Geoff didn’t appear at our agreed meeting place until we soon discovered he was sitting in a different hostelry. It was clear however, from the look on his face when we eventually found him that he wanted to join us and we never looked back.

Geoff provided wise and experienced guidance to Paul, myself and the Firm generally. He was a key part of its success and growth from the original 3 Partners and 15 staff to its current status as a leading regional Law Firm.

It was thanks to Geoff that I saw the opportunities of establishing a Personal Law Department in the Firm.

Geoff was very supportive of this and my personal development. He shared the benefit of his knowledge, particularly on Wills, Trusts and estates. He took the time to read my Thesis as part of my application to join the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners.

Geoff always set a great example to his fellow Partners and staff in terms of the quality of his work and his attention to detail.

His tax planning legacy lives on for many clients and their families who continue to benefit from the Wills and Trusts that he set up utilising his expert knowledge.

Outside work Geoff was very supportive of his children, Mike and Marie. He always spoke highly of their achievements and it was clear when I attended his 50th birthday celebrations how much the family thought of him and he of them.

We were all delighted when he married Bernice who had worked for the Firm for many years and had become the Practice Manager. Both Geoff and Bernice remained in regular contact with the Firm and our thoughts are with Bernice and Geoff’s children.

Through his long legal career Geoff was supported by a number of secretaries, including Fiona Briggs who moved from being a Partner’s Secretary to a Lawyer, and who like myself has benefited from his experience and guidance.

Outside the office Geoff and I enjoyed many games of golf, particularly at Ilkley Golf Club where he was a longstanding member. He was also an accomplished tennis player, a member of Rotary and he particularly enjoyed exchange trips with Rotary Coutances in France.

We will all miss “Corky” but his legacy lives on in many ways.”