Jean Clark was born in 1918. A native of Troon, she was educated at St George’s School, Edinburgh. She went on to Edinburgh University and graduated MA, LLB in 1943. Soon after, she was admitted as a solicitor and then worked in private practice for many years.
In 1967 a far sighted President of the Law Society of Scotland appointed Jean to be the Deputy Secretary in charge of the then fledging Public Relations Department and of what was to become the enormously successful Postgraduate Education Department. Jean’s care and attention to detail were important elements in the success of both. On a more personal level, behind a quiet and efficient manner, she hid a delightfully mischievous sense of humour, particularly about the pretentions of the ‘great and the good’, most of whom, as it turned out, she could have bought out three times over. It was a great loss to the Law Society when she retired in 1980.
Few had suspected that, through her father, one of the founders of Saxone shoes, Jean was a person of considerable wealth. But, in fact, during her lifetime she used her wealth to support many good causes and charities – for which she was awarded the MBE. In 1991, she established The Clark Foundation as a charity to promote the Law of Scotland and support “lawyers” who wished to further their studies. The Foundation has now been pursuing that aim for over 30 years.
When Jean died in 2001, she left additional funds to the Foundation. In addition to the annual award of grants in order to contribute to the development of the Scottish legal system, the Trustees decided that the Jean Clark lectures should be established in her memory.
The powers given to the Foundation’s Trustees are fairly wide – they may award grants or scholarships to suitable candidates, sponsor the publication of books, hold conferences, provide equipment for study and research, endow the maintenance of chairs and lectureships in law, institute and endow prizes and awards and generally undertake or promote such activities as shall further the purposes of the Foundation.
From the outset the Trustees have made grants based entirely on merit, not only to undergraduates and graduates to further their education but also to academics to write learned textbooks, they have provided funding for the purchase of technological equipment and have funded learned lectures.
The Foundation is constituted under a Deed of Trust dated 5 September 1991 and Supplementary Deeds dated 24 August 2010, 12 June 2014 and 3 January 2021. It is a registered Scottish charity (Number SC018520).
The Board of Trustees consists of a mixture of permanent (“Lay”) trustees and ex officio trustees (one nominated by the President of the Law Society of Scotland and one by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates). There must be not less than 3 and no more than 6 trustees. There are currently 3 lay trustees and 2 ex officio trustees. Ex officio trustee appointments are for renewable terms of 3 years.
To assist the Trustees in carrying out the objects of the Foundation, a Legal Education Advisory Committee (“LEAC”) has been established. The Committee provides grading of, and comments on the merits of, each application. The LEAC is currently chaired by Christopher W Nicholson, Scottish Government Legal Directorate, and includes a representative of the Faculty of Advocates, a representative of the Scottish University Law Faculties, a representative of the Law Society of Scotland, and a representative of young Scottish lawyers. LEAC member appointments are made by the Trustees and are also for renewable terms of 3 years.
The Foundation owns a portfolio of investments, currently managed by Investec Wealth & Investment Limited. It is currently valued at approximately £2.5M and generates an annual income which is available for making the annual awards and fulfilling the other purposes of the trust.
Through the Jean Clark lectures and its other work, the Clark Foundation strives to support the development of Scots Law in ways which are a fitting memorial to a modest but remarkable benefactor.