On Friday I attended the funeral of another iconic Liverpool Lawyer.
Betty Behn died on 29th June aged 95. She qualified as a solicitor in 1941 and a year later became a Partner in the firm of John A Behn Twyford in Liverpool. In a legal world dominated by men she became a fearless advocate for workers who suffered injury during their employment. Most of her clients were referred by Trade Unions.
Although I had little opportunity to see her at her peak she was certainly a formidable lawyer. She reportedly ended an unsuccessful meeting with one insurance negotiator by saying, in his earshot – ‘He’ll be laughing on the other side of his face when he’s got a writ up his a*se’. It is fair to say that she became one of those legendary lawyers of that era who fought for the rights of ordinary people.
She retired as a partner in 1997 at the age of 80, but by all accounts this hardly slowed her down.
I had the privilege of attending a ceremony at her nursing home in 2010 when Liverpool Law Society presented her with a lifetime achievement award. She was only the second person to achieve that honour.
Betty was a pioneer in so many ways.
Firstly she not only survived but reached the top in a male world. Secondly she gained the respect and trust of workers and union leaders – another world where women were very much the minority. All of the major unions had somebody at her funeral. Thirdly she led the way in securing access to justice for those in need – how topical is that?
I don’t want to say that she was a one off. We have never been more in need of others like her!
John A Behn Twyford became part of EAD Solicitors in 2012.