Obituary: Jim Hall, admired Edinburgh lawyer and Writer to the Signet

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Jim Hall was a highly regarded Edinburgh solicitor, a Writer to the Signet, who spent most of his professional life in the firm of Robson, McLean and Paterson, WS where he was a senior partner over a number of years.

From his office then in Abercromby Place he successfully provided a range of legal services mainly in corporate and general commercial work, family law and some litigation at a time when specialization had not fully taken hold and solicitors could still be considered by clients as their “man of business”’. A hard working, conscientious and very capable lawyer, he derived considerable satisfaction and quiet pride from his legal work and interaction with clients. On a broader stage his ability he was recognized with appointment as Solicitor to Her Majesty’s Board of Admiralty in Scotland leading to his being awarded an OBE for the accomplished performance of his duties.

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Outwith the legal profession, Jim enjoyed a variety of interests and served a number of bodies with distinction. He was a Church elder for about forty years, a past President of Stewart’s Melville Former Pupils’ Club, a member of Edinburgh University’s Business Committee, a Commissioned Officer in the Territorial Army and President of Craigleith branch of Probus. A keen golfer, he was Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society’s longest serving member and had been awarded honorary membership in recognition while rugby was another lifelong sporting interest, a regular follower of Stewart’s Melville FPs and the Scotland team.

Jim Hall spent 40 years in practice at Robson, McLean and Paterson, WS in Edinburgh

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Samuel James Hall was the older of two sons born in Edinburgh to parents Samuel and Annie née White, Ian being the younger. His father was a sales director and also a member of Bruntsfield where he was a match secretary at one stage. The family lived in the Trinity area and Jim attended Daniel Stewart’s College, now Stewart’s Melville, where he played a full part in school life. A member of the cadet corps, he also enjoyed sport, playing as a three quarter in the 2nd XV and captaining the golf team in his final year. Academically bright, he went on to study law at Edinburgh University while at the same time he began his lifelong association with Bruntsfield, attaining full membership in 1951, the beginning of his 70 year involvement.

After obtaining his law degree Jim had to undertake National Service, which he did in the Royal Army Service Corps. This at least in part was due to his completing a prior questionnaire to the effect that his preference was for driving rather than walking!

Jim spent about six months of his service in Gibraltar where despite some difficulty he managed to fit in the occasional game of golf in mainland Spain and thereafter was stationed at Newquay camp in Cornwall, reaching the rank of Lieutenant.

On return to civilian life he completed an apprenticeship as solicitor in an Edinburgh firm before joining Robson, McLean and Paterson,WS, where he would spend 40 years in practice prior to retirement in 1997. Although National Service was over, Jim continued his link with the military by joining the Territorial Army which he thoroughly enjoyed and spent nine years, again in the RASC and rising to the rank of Captain.

Meantime he had met Olive Kerr at the Plaza Ballroom in the city’s Morningside district and the couple were married on 26 July, 1957 at North Church, Uphall in West Lothian. They went on to enjoy 64 years of happy and fulfilling marriage during which they had three children Anne, Douglas and Alastair. Initially they lived in Corstorphine before moving to Trinity then latterly Blackhall.

Although life was busy for Jim and Olive with a young family as Jim established a professional career, he was able to engage in a number of activities. Initially he was secretary of Daniel Stewart’s College FP Club and a few years after the merger of the two schools became President of Stewart’s Melville FP Club, helping steer the club through its post-amalgamation period with his legal and general experience of considerable benefit. He was a regular supporter of the FP rugby team and Scotland at Murrayfield while he also enjoyed bi-annual trips to Twickenham for the Calcutta Cup match.

As an elder for 40 years at Palmerston Place Church his faith was important to him and he enjoyed membership of Probus, becoming President of the Craigleith branch in 2011-2012. Golf was his main leisure pursuit of him and for years he and friends played in an early Saturday morning foursome over Bruntsfield. Another interest was reading history, particularly about leaders in the Second World War.

In 1997 Jim was presented with his OBE at Buckingham Palace by the Princess Royal, an unforgettable day for the family in attendance. Son Douglas, then living in Australia, could not be present but had an interesting experience that day, phoning the Palace to pass on a message to his dad that his first grandson had just been born.

Family was of great importance to Jim who, despite a busy schedule, always made time for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren whom he loved dearly. In retirement he and Olive traveled widely to North America visiting relatives and to Australia, where Douglas and family were then based. They also visited New Zealand and went on cruises to the Baltic and Russia. Golf with Olive featured on many of these trips.

A gently determined individual with a dry sense of humor and a warm smile, Jim lived a full long life and accomplished much. He is survived by his wife, children, seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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