11:55, January 23 69 0 theguardian.com

2020-01-23 11:55:03
Other lives  Rosalind Bax obituary

My aunt, Rosalind Bax, who has died aged 89, was one of the first women in Britain to become a partner in a City law firm.

She was born in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, to Cyril Bax, a civil servant and barrister, and his wife, Eleanor (nee Bayne). During the second world war Ros was evacuated to the Isle of Man, but she completed her education at Malvern girls’ college in Worcestershire and then studied history at Oxford.

In the early 1950s most law firms did not even have female articled clerks, let alone solicitors, so the first few practices she approached turned her down flat. But she finally took articles with Vincent & Vincent in Crouch End, north London, where one of the two partners refused to speak to her during her time there.

In 1956, at a salary of £500 a year, she became the first female solicitor to be taken on by the law firm Farrer & Co, in central London. All her male colleagues were paid significantly more – and Ros remembered her correspondence being signed by one of the partners, as it was believed that the hand of a woman might upset clients.

In 1963 she saw an advert that read: “Leading City firm with international connections seeks assistant.” She got the job, but in her early days at Coward Chance it was made clear that there was little chance of her getting a partnership. By 1966, however, the firm had another two female solicitors and five years after that, in 1971, Ros was made a salaried partner.

Liked and admired by colleagues and clients alike, she treated everyone with fairness, consideration and her trademark pragmatism – she even grew to like conveyancing. She was good at many things, from handling complex client instructions to looking after articled clerks, but remained modest about her achievements. “I really didn’t do very much,” she insisted.

In retirement Ros kept “not doing very much” – helping the Solicitors Benevolent Association (the Solicitors’ Charity), being an active Friend of St Bartholomew’s hospital in London, and auditing the accounts of the Association of Women Solicitors. Throughout her life she made a success of sometimes unconventional choices and proved, through hard work and self-effacing application, that she was anyone’s equal.

Although she had Alzheimer’s in later life, Ros never lost her sense of fun or her smile. She is survived by her younger brother, Martin, and by three nephews, Ben, Alex and me.

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