• Two top lawyers awarded honorary degrees by College of Law

  • 20 November 2012

  • Two of the country’s most eminent lawyers were presented with Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees at The College of Law’s Degree Congregation.

    The degrees were awarded by Chairman of the College Governors, Professor David Yates to Margaret Cole, who is formerly of the FSA and will shortly take over as UK General Counsel and Executive Board Member at PwC, and Michael Napier CBE QC LLD, winner of ‘Lawyer of the Year’ in the 2012 Legal Business Awards and until this year Senior Partner at Irwin Mitchell law firm.

    At the ceremony, which took place on Saturday, November 17 at Central Hall Westminster, LL.B degrees were also given to 362 College students, who have passed both its Graduate Diploma in Law and then either its Bar Professional Training Course or Legal Practice Course. The College also conferred Masters of Laws degrees on 22 graduates of its LL.M programmes.

    The College was the first non-publicly funded institution to be granted Degree Awarding Powers by the Privy Council in 2006.

    Margaret Cole with College of Law Chief Executive Professor Nigel Savage (left) and Professor David Yates, Chairman of the Governors of The College of Law

    Margaret Cole with College of Law Chief Executive Professor Nigel Savage (left) and Professor David Yates, Chairman of the Governors of The College of Law

    Margaret Cole joined the FSA in July 2005 as Director of Enforcement. She is a graduate in Law from New Hall, Cambridge and a solicitor with over 20 years’ experience in private practice, specialising in commercial litigation with an emphasis on financial services. She is also qualified as a Mediator with CEDR and the ADR Group.

    From 1990 to 1995 Margaret was a Partner with Stephenson Harwood, where she was responsible for the recovery actions in relation to the Maxwell Pension Funds on behalf of the Pension Funds Trustee. In 1995 she joined the London Office of international law firm White & Case to found and head its Dispute Resolution Department.

    In 2009 Margaret took over responsibility for the FSA’s Financial Crime Division which merged with the Enforcement Division. In 2010 she joined the FSA’s Board as Managing Director, Enforcement and Financial Crime. In April 2011 she assumed interim responsibility for the new Conduct Business Unit which formed the core of the new Financial Conduct Authority.

    Until 2011 she also served as a Non Executive Director of the National Skills Academy Financial Services.

    Margaret joined PwC in September of this year to take over from Owen Jonathan, UK  General Counsel and Executive Board Member, when he retires from the firm in December.

    The citation for her delivered during the ceremony said: “As a partner in a major corporate law firm has pointed out, what Margaret Cole achieved at the FSA represented a major contribution to the practice of law in the UK.  He might have added, though, that there surely could not be a more powerful illustration than Margaret Cole of the value, to our government and legal systems and to the community at large, of lawyers who combine the highest possible standards of professional practice, with a deep rooted commitment to public service; and who are therefore willing to serve both the public and private sectors, and, over the course of their careers, to move between the two.”

    Michael Napier (centre) with College of Law Chief Executive Professor Nigel Savage (left) and Professor David Yates, Chairman of the Governors of The College of Law

    Michael Napier (centre) with College of Law Chief Executive Professor Nigel Savage (left) and Professor David Yates, Chairman of the Governors of The College of Law

    In a high profile career in the law, Michael Napier has a lengthy track record of significant achievements in the private and public sectors. In the 2012 Legal Business Awards he was voted ‘Lawyer of the Year’ for his 30 years as senior partner, leading Irwin Mitchell ‘from a small Sheffield practice to the national powerhouse it is today’.

    Beyond his reputation as a practitioner in many landmark cases, Michael is widely regarded as a progressive thinker and innovator who has influenced many reforms in the civil justice system as well as the fundamental changes now taking place in the legal services market.

    Since his Presidency of the Law Society in 2001, Michael has been the Attorney-General’s pro bono envoy, and having stood down as Chairman of Irwin Mitchell Holdings Ltd in May  he is now a freelance consultant and a key advisor to Harbour Litigation Funding Ltd.

    His citation said: “Michael has an extraordinarily impressive record of service to his clients, the profession and the public at large. However what makes it all the more remarkable is the extent to which it has gone hand-in-hand with an acutely commercial approach to the delivery of legal services. In the words of one of his former Irwin Mitchell colleagues Michael combines the “good values and commercial instinct which are necessary to making justice a reality” ......The College could not offer its graduates a better example than Michael Napier of what a lawyer, who combines technical excellence; acute commercial awareness, and a thorough going commitment to professional and public service can contribute to a legal system and thus to the society which depends upon it.”

    Further information from Lucy Wray, Press Officer, The College of Law on 01483 216072 (lucy.wray@lawcol.co.uk)

    Copies of the full citations are available on request