Obituary – Patrick Butler

Posted On By Jess

Patrick Butler, Solicitor and Advocate, died on 10th April 2024 – aged 77.

He was born in Bristol and his father was a surgeon and mother a nurse. Whilst his 3 sisters went into the medical profession Patrick, who was educated at Downside, went to Lincoln College at Oxford where he read law.  When there he contracted glandular fever and, complying with medical advice, took a year at home. Following graduation his father, then aged 49, suffered a debilitating stroke. Patrick’s ambition to become a barrister was thwarted and he became the effective patriarch of the family, living at home. His father survived another 6 years.

Patrick entered the legal profession as an articled clerk with Wansbroughs in Bristol and on qualification became an advocate for the firm. He was an obviously superior advocate and trainees were often to accompany him to Court.  He imparted to them lessons such as, never to show anger no matter how seemingly unreasonable the result and to watch the pens of the Magistrates as soon as they stopped writing, they had either got the point or they were not interested.

Leaving Bristol he arrived in Dorset in 1975 at the Principal Prosecuting Solicitors Department and was soon in charge of Police prosecutions for West Dorset. He had the reputation for being firm and fair. A formidable cross examiner he was known amongst defence lawyers as Basher Butler. On leaving he was presented by the Police with a truncheon.

Patrick joined private practice with Porter Dobson in 1980 and became a partner, initially in their ancient Sherborne building and latterly at their Yeovil office. He undertook litigation and defence work. He was an accomplished opponent but always courteous and popular with tribunals, opponents and clients alike. Several work experience pupils were inspired by his performances to join the profession and he would write letters of commendation to their tutors.

He married Helen, a widow with 2 children, Piers and Kate. She predeceased him having born him a son, James.

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