12:17, August 23 327 0 theguardian.com

2018-08-23 12:17:03
Other lives  Lesley Vickers obituary

My friend and colleague Lesley Vickers, who has died aged 98, was a pioneering solicitor who came to Britain from Germany in 1938 as a refugee from the Nazis.

Lesley was born in Fuerth, a Bavarian town not far from Nuremburg, into a Jewish family. Originally names Lisa, she was the youngest of three children of Karl Sahlmann, a hop merchant, and his wife, Ida (nee Krailsheimer). With Hitler’s rise to power, Lesley’s brother, Bernard, and sister, Ilsa, left Germany in 1935 and, following her father’s death in 1938, Lesley and her mother also fled, settling in London.

During the second world war, Lesley had various office jobs working for refugee organisations, and obtained her School Certificate by correspondence. After the war she obtained a law degree from the London School of Economics, where she met David Vickers, whom she married in 1948.

Lesley qualified as a solicitor in 1950, by which time they had a daughter, Julia. Lesley worked initially as an assistant solicitor in Harrow, but in the early 1960s took the bold step of opening her own firm in Ealing, which she ran from home, having had two more children, Christopher and Peter. I was her first full-time employee when she offered me articles – now called a training contract – in 1970.

As well as the usual services offered by a solicitor, Lesley was interested in divorce work, and was involved in the early years of Chiswick Women’s Aid (now Refuge), the first hostel for victims of domestic violence, founded by Erin Pizzey.

Lesley was a regular broadcaster on Radio 4 under the name of Pamela Deedes – at the time, the Law Society did not want solicitors to appear to be touting for business – and she published a book on the law in 1968, and a Penguin handbook, Buying a House, in 1970, of which various editions followed.

She was a founder member in 1959 of what is now the Middlesex Law Society, becoming its first female president in 1970. She was also president of Ealing Chamber of Commerce.

Lesley retired in the 1990s, but continued to run the English end of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, organising speakers and dinners at London clubs, until the onset of dementia about 14 years ago meant that she had to give this up.

David died in 2003. Lesley is survived by her children and seven grandchildren.