Malcolm Walker was born in Mill Hill, London in 1943. He attended school in Hendon and later studied at Sheffield University.
There is no known history of legal work in the Walker family and when asked what drew him to the legal profession he says, “It was just a feeling or sense that whatever talents I had would be most appropriately exercised in the legal world.”
After leaving university he attended law college at Lancaster Gate and took articles at British Rail in Marylebone. Upon admission he and his wife decided to leave London and he began to look for legal positions elsewhere in the south of England. At that time the Law Society maintained a register of solicitors seeking appointments. Law practices would contact applicants for interview. Accordingly, after finding him on the register, Gaby Hardwicke offered Mr Walker an interview. Subsequently he accepted a position as a solicitor at the firm. The year was 1972.
Joins Gaby Hardwicke
“Gaby’s when I joined had three partners: Jethro Arscott, George Herbert and John Midgley,” recalls Mr Walker. “The firm was very well placed in the market in both Bexhill and the immediate vicinity. The partners were very impressive, very well respected in the locality, and the firm had a really good feel about it – and that has remained throughout my working life.”
“Initially, like so many, we tackled anything and everything,” Mr Walker says of his early years as a solicitor. “You were rather like a GP doctor, where little was beyond your ability to take on, but as time moved on and the law grew enormously the need for specialisation became imperative. Ultimately I concentrated on conveyancing and subsequently on probate, tax, wills and work of that nature.”
Malcolm Walker became a partner in Gaby Hardwicke at the same time as Peter Taylor, in November 1974, and the five partners were joined by a sixth partner, Geoffrey Baker, some time later. In the late 1970s the firm opened its Cooden Sea Road office, which Mr Walker agreed to run and where he was based for much of his working life.
“That was the beginning of the expansionist phase of Gaby Hardwicke,” he recalls. “In 1985 Peter Taylor opened an office in Eastbourne and thereafter the firm grew significantly in a relatively short period of time. We were fortunate that we had two senior partners – George Herbert and Jethro Arscott – who were very receptive to new ideas and appreciated that the younger partners had the drive and motivation to push ahead; they took a back seat in the management of the firm to enable that to happen.
“It’s fair to say that initially John Midgley, Peter Taylor and I were pushing the firm forward. Sadly during the course of the firm’s development George Herbert died, prematurely and suddenly, and Jethro, although he was effectively retired, died when he was 70 in 1996.
“Inevitably, because the firm grew so large, we had to introduce new systems and proper controls – financially and in every other aspect – and we had to become significant businessmen rather than mere lawyers. The prime mover on all of that was Peter Taylor, who accomplished a massive job to the enormous benefit of the firm.”
Following a reduction in hours and a move from our Cooden Sea Road office to our Eversley Road office, in 2011 Mr Walker moved to his current senior consultancy role. When asked about the highlights of his time as a solicitor and Gaby Hardwicke partner, he explains, “The highlights of the job were the clients: all unique, all presenting a story in themselves. You got to know them rather like friends and they provided interest beyond the scope of the law: that was effectively the fun of the job.”
Away from the law
Mr Walker says that being a solicitor engrossed in the firm for around 40 years left him little time for hobbies and interests. However, he has always had a keen interest in sport. In the past he played football, tennis and squash and today he plays golf. He also reads an eclectic mix of books and enjoys crosswords.
David Young, Senior Partner, comments: “The firm owes Malcolm an enormous debt of gratitude. It was he who guided me as I took my first tentative steps as an articled clerk with Gaby Hardwicke, and over the next twenty years he was always to be found in the engine-room of the firm making a huge contribution to the significant growth we have enjoyed.”
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Key partners (pre-1945)
Key partners (post-1945)
- George Herbert
- Jethro Arscott
- John Midgley
- Peter Taylor
- Malcolm Walker
- Geoffrey Baker
- Michael Bugden
- John Gregory
- John Raeburn
- Bryan Sagar