‘Colin championed children’s rights and knew his craft like no other’

Obituary: Ian Robinson recalls a friend and colleague, Colin Parish Mackey, who ‘followed his conscience and acted for those in the community who required representation but were least able to afford to pay’

Colin, a very talented solicitor, passed away suddenly following a heart attack, on the 10 November aged 68. He grew up in Sunderland, attending St Bees School, Cumbria and graduated from the University of Liverpool in Law in 1969, qualifying as a solicitor in 1972.

After graduation Colin initially worked for Coward Chance, now Clifford Chance, London, in its commercial litigation department but became disillusioned with the world of commerce, moving back home to the North of England in 1995. He secured employment at Drabbles in Filey, where he employed Diane, who had recently been widowed, as his personal assistant. They married in 1976 and he took on a ‘ready made’ family of three daughters, Victoria, Emma and Jane. In 1977, Colin moved his new family to the south coast joining Churchers, a Hampshire firm.

Colin led the litigation department at Churchers and became a partner of the firm in 1980. He followed his conscience and acted for those in the community who required representation but were least able to afford to pay. He was an early pioneer of the criminal duty solicitor scheme and became a founder member of the Law Society’s children panel. For 25 years, he championed the rights of children and parents. He knew his craft like no other. He was dedicated to his clients and the families that instructed him. He always went the extra mile for them. He gave hope to all his clients and stories abound of the hours he worked, including early Saturday mornings or late Sunday evenings, as well as home visits. There are few others who were as committed to their clients and to the cause of family justice. He was recognised as a leading practitioner in this field.

The greatest accolade of his career came in 2013 when he was awarded Family Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year. The application was supported by many judges, barristers, other professionals and clients. One client said: ‘I have never met such a lovely solicitor who is not only an expert in his line of work, but puts you at ease and goes way beyond your needs.’ Colin was a very modest man and he found difficulty in accepting such public recognition of his achievements.

Outside the courtroom, Colin was a local authority councillor, a driving force in his local residents’ and business associations, freely giving of his time and energy to all in the local community who asked. He was a keen follow of sport and was also a popular and pugnacious batsman, playing for the local solicitors cricket team for many years. His performances are fondly remembered.

Although Colin lived in the south of England for the last 40 years, his heart remained in Yorkshire and he was a devoted Sunderland football club supporter – no matter how badly they were doing. He would often refer to their 1973 FA Cup final success to seek inspiration.

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