Trailblazers in Legal Journalism: Mary Smith (1967-1979)

Published 12th February 2018
A Personal Note by Richard Barr, Law Society Council Member

My late father David Barr and I (later) wrote for the Law Society Gazette. I think that in the late 60s/ early 70s the Gazette had an editorial committee and that my father was on it. That is how he got to know Mary Smith. When I was studying law in Nottingham I sent in an article about being a law student and Mary accepted and published it. It was my first ever article in a legal publication. So one could say she launched me on my legal writing career.

I met Mary when she came to stay with my parents at their home in Cambridgeshire (my father was senior partner of a solicitors’ firm in Wisbech; my mother was a GP from the US – another interesting story as she was very much a woman in a man’s medical world in the 1930s and 40s). I remember Mary as being a bubbly, lively and rather larger than life character. She was certainly fun to be with and quite forceful. She stayed with my parents a few times. She was single. I don’t think she ever married or had children. On one occasion I think she came with a man but I don’t know if this was a long term relationship or not. I seem to remember he was a partner in Boodle Hadfield but I cannot recall his name (we are talking about nearly 40 years ago!).

I have a fond memory of a train journey back to London (I was finishing my training in London) with Mary. We chatted all the way and she even paid my fare!

I believe that Mary edited the Gazette throughout the seventies. The Law Society then was very male orientated and it was probably not easy to be the editor of the Gazette. Not long after she left the Gazette she died. I have only a hazy idea what happened.