Bolt Burdon Kemp's senior partner, Roger Bolt, retires

April 13, 2015
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Bolt Burdon Kemp’s senior partner, Roger Bolt retired from the partnership and from practice on 31 March 2015. Roger’s contribution to the firm and the profession has been immeasurable. Lynne Burdon, Roger’s partner of some 30 years, put it best in her speech at Roger’s retirement party last week and her notes are produced in full below.

Roger retired on 31 March 2015

Here are a few words about his career from Lynne Burdon – an extract from her speech at his retirement party.

I first met Roger in 1977 – 38 years ago.

He had just qualified as a solicitor and I was his articled clerk.

Over the years I learnt a lot about his early career.   He didn’t complete his degree – preferring Rock and Roll to studying.   He emigrated to Australia as a £10 Pom where he strived to be a rock star with some success – as evidenced by the Australian Who’s Who of Rock and Roll where he has entries for his bands The Lost Souls 1965 and This Halleluiah Chorus 67-69.  He has great stories about touring Australia in his van including an evening with Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones when he crashed their party!

He moved back to England with his wife Kay and soon after his first child was born – about that time he thought he should get a proper job and so after some vocational guidance he set about becoming a lawyer.  It wasn’t easy in a basement bedsit in Ladbroke Grove – baby Crispin slept in a drawer and Roger sometimes in the cupboard under the stairs to get a quiet night!

Roger started as a volunteer at North Kensington Law Centre one night a week – later moving to North Islington Law Centre.  A service he continued for 20 years.

In 1972 he was offered Articles at Osmond Gaunt and Rose – salary £12.50 per week plus 75p luncheon vouchers.  Times were still hard – he had to sell his beloved guitar a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty to pay for central heating in the new house!

He qualified as a solicitor in 1976 and I became his articled clerk in 1977.  We both went on to become partners in Osmond Gaunt and Rose.

After a partnership dispute in 1985 we struck out on our own – almost exactly 30 years ago Bolt Burdon was conceived.

“I expect you will take a room above a shop” one of our former partners said – not for us – we bought a shop lived above it  – and then another and another ..

There were 5 of us on the first day of trading 1 May 1986 we are now 15 partners and 130 people in total.

We had a vision – to be completely different to the firm we had left – professional of course but also friendly, informal and trusting and supportive of our people.  We wanted to make best use of modern technology – we had a word processor and a telex machine!

We also had a mission – to earn enough money to keep Roger’s children at the private schools they were attending!

We are both incredibly proud of achieving both.   We now have two amazing and successful firms.

But most important of all Roger’s career must be defined by his legal work.  He is a tenacious litigator.

A pioneer in personal injury work – indeed one of the first lawyers in the land to declare personal injury his specialism

One of the things we all want in life is to ‘make a difference’

There are hundreds of people around this land who will say that Roger Bolt made a huge difference to their life.  I have been reviewing the press cuttings – far too many to mention so I will pick just one.

Not long after we started Bolt Burdon Roger took on the case of Jenny Morris.   Jenny send me this message

 “I was one of Roger’s first clients when he set up Bolt Burdon.  

I was paralysed as a result of falling onto a railway line from a wall while trying to rescue a child stuck on a ledge.  The first solicitor I approached told me I had very little chance of making a claim against British Rail and Islington Council.  

Roger’s approach was entirely different. He was seized by the injustice of what had happened to me. His persistence resulted in the disclosure of reams of documents from British Rail detailing accidents involving the same wall over many years and after three years both British Rail and Islington Council admitted their negligence, made the wall safe, and paid me a level of damages which transformed my life”

That is how Roger’s career should be remembered – for helping hundreds of people who have had terrible accidents.

Lynne

PS and just in case anyone is interested his leaving present was a Gibson Les Paul Standard Heritage Cherry Sunburst Candy (2015) guitar – given with huge sadness, joy, pride, gratitude and love from me and from all the partners and staff at BB and BBK

We wish Roger and Julie a very very happy retirement.

 

 

 

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