Alan Brakefield 1928 – 2007

July 19, 2007

Alan was a founder member of the Society for Computers and Law and was appointed a director on 11 September 1973 – the day the Society was incorporated; he was the Society’s first Honorary Treasurer. Alan remained as a Director until 20 March 2002. There must be very few Societies which can boast that they were served by the same Hon Treasurer for 29 years.


Alan was a Solicitor dealing with Commercial Property matters at the Prudential when he was appointed Hon Treasurer of the Society and was the Solicitor to the Prudential Group of Companies when he retired. In those early days of computerisation for the legal profession, he understood the impact that it would have on the legal profession, and in particular on the conveyancing sector.


Alan was a most loyal servant of the Society. He served with a variety of officers and always managed to help them steer a prudent financial path. In the early days he did all the financial administration for the Society – receiving all the membership applications, banking all the cheques, keeping the books etc. He always made himself available at the end of the telephone for the administrators of the Society, and Diana Hastings, myself and Caroline Gould were always most grateful for his support.


Alan was always a ‘hands on’ director; whether meeting the great and the good or helping at registration at conferences, Alan was always there. He was always the first one to volunteer, the first one to welcome a new member and (I am sure he would forgive me for saying this)  the first one to volunteer to check the men’s loos. He was also always prepared to deal with the difficult situations which from time to time arise in any organisation, and his calm and reasoned manner always ensured that those on the receiving end of one of those conversations left the room with their dignity intact.


When the Society was under severe financial strain there were times when he lent the Society money in order to assist it. His faith in the Society was repaid and, thanks to his financial prudence, the Society is now on a very firm financial footing.


Alan was appointed an Honorary Member of the Society in recognition of his outstanding service to the Society on his retirement from the Board. The Trustees hosted a dinner in honour of Alan and Joyce at the House of Lords on Tuesday 17 December 2002, on which occasion he was presented with a wheelbarrow to assist in his latest passion of maintaining an allotment.


Alan had always been a keen sportsman – a marathon runner in his youth, a very good squash player and, until his illness, an excellent golfer. He was a past Captain of his golf club. 


Alan was Hon Treasurer of the Agricultural Law Association from 1996 until 2002, when he became Financial Director, which position he held until last month.   He also served as the Chairman of a board of governors of a local Girls High School.


Alan will always have a very special place in my heart, he was part of the appointment board that appointed me as General Manager of the Society and always rang me up after Executive Meetings to check that I had arrived home safely.


He leaves behind his wife Joyce, with whom he celebrated his golden wedding anniversary on 8th June, his son, Nigel and his daughter Hilary. He will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues.



Richard Susskind OBE writes:


I have nothing but the fondest of memories of the many hours I spent with Alan – in his offices, where he hosted the Executive meetings in the early 90s; in restaurants afterwards where we had such laughs; and at all SCL events where Alan was always there to help. Fun-loving, completely unpretentious and tireless in his efforts for the Society, his passing is a terrible loss.


The Rt Hon Sir Henry Brooke writes:


The sad news of Alan’s death brings back so many happy memories of SCL, particularly in those faraway days more than 20 years ago when most people thought we were all a bit mad to think that computer technology had much to do with the practice and administration of the law. Alan was always a cheerful voice of sanity and a really good friend. SCL owes him a very great debt of thanks.


The Rt Hon Sir Brian Neill writes:


Ruth’s tribute demonstrates why Alan was held in such high regard by everyone who worked with him. For nearly 30 years he looked after the finances of the Society and I can well remember the early days when the position was difficult and his wise guidance was invaluable. From the very start and even before the Society was formed, Alan’s enthusiasm was infectious and his confidence in the future was a source of both inspiration and reassurance. We have lost a very special friend.