One of the city’s best known lawyers who was instrumental in building up the city’s biggest law firm has died after a short illness.
Sir Patrick Lawrence, the former senior partner of the commercial law firm Wragge & Co, died on November 29 at the age of 83.
Sir Patrick will be remembered, particularly in the city’s professional and business circles, as a major figure in its public life during the final quarter of the 20th century.
Following service in the navy at the end of the Second World War, he joined Wragge & Co as an articled clerk, becoming a partner in 1959.
He was senior partner from 1982 to 1993, a time when the firm, one of Birmingham’s oldest and most prestigious, began the process of transformation into a modern business.
This was the time of big bang, and it was his vision, sound judgment and leadership which enabled the firm to navigate this difficult period and emerge as an independent modern international business while remaining true to its Birmingham roots.
It is now one of the UK’s largest and most highly regarded legal practices, employing 659 lawyers and 1,118 staff worldwide.
At the same time, Sir Patrick was active in the political and public life of Birmingham and the West Midlands. From an early age he had been keenly interested in politics and local government; from 1967 to 1974 as a councillor in Bromsgrove, and then on the council of the West Midland Conservative Association, becoming its chairman from 1988 to 1989.
From 1986 to 1989 he was a vice-president of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations and chaired the party’s annual conference in 1987.
This brought him into contact with many of the national figures and events of the day. He frequently shared platforms with Lady (then Mrs) Thatcher and occupied the room next to Lord Wakeham and his late wife at the Grand Hotel at the time of the Brighton bombing in 1984.
But Sir Patrick never lost his love and loyalty for Birmingham and the West Midlands.
His advice and help was widely sought and generously given.
He was a member of the governing board of the University of Aston from 1990 to 2001 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1996.
He chaired Birmingham Cathedral’s in Need Appeal from 1990-92 and became a member of the cathedral’s administrative chapter from 1995 to 2002
Sir Patrick also chaired the Kidderminster Healthcare NHS Trust from 1993 to 1996 and was a governor of his old school Denstone.
He was chairman of the British Shooting Sports Council from 1996 to 2002, and was a member of the Gunmakers Livery Company.
In recognition of his many public and political services, he was appointed CBE in 1983 and a Knight Batchelor in 1988. In 1993 he became a Deputy Lord Lieutenant and in 1996 a Freeman of the City of London.
Those who knew him will remember him for his loyalty and generosity as well as his unquenchable sense of humour which continued to the end of his life.
His overriding quality was his genuine interest in other people and his readiness to help others.
This was shown in his long association with The White Ensign Association, a charity devoted to helping sailors when they leave the navy.
He was devoted to his family and as good a friend as he was a colleague.
His private loves were sailing and walking, both of which he pursued up to his death.
Sir Patrick married Ann Patricia Auld of Bromsgrove in 1954 who, with their daughter Judy, survives him.
Their son Thomas was killed in a car accident.