James Jack

James Jack
The Herald Scotland

Born: March 2, 1925; Died: November 12, 2012.

JAMES Jack, who has died aged 87, was a prominent Paisley solicitor who used his formidable knowledge of company law to help transform Kibble Residential School into one of the most successful social enterprise ventures in Scotland.

Without his contribution as chairman of the board of trustees, the school may not have survived the re-organisation of local government in 1996. With the demise of Strathclyde Region and the end of the block grant system, Kibble’s future looked uncertain. It was forced to re-invent itself. In preparing the objects of the company for the newly constituted Kibble Education and Care Centre, Mr Jack brought his legal expertise, rigour and vision to the process.

The framework he provided enabled the organisation to respond effectively to future changes and challenges, be they political, economic, societal, legal or technical.

Mr Jack, who retired as chairman in August 2011, also structured the board in a way which, though commonplace in business but highly unusual for a charitable organisation at the time, allowed for senior management to become members of the board with unpaid directorial responsibilities. Far from regarding this as a radical move, he simply said it was the right way of going about it.

Under his 15-year chairmanship, Kibble enjoyed a period of unparalleled growth. His contribution is all the more remarkable when you consider that he had actually retired from the legal profession by the time he joined the board at the Paisley school.

Jimmy Jack was born in Halfway, Cambuslang. His parents, Andrew and Mary, had both been married before and the youngster found himself with two step-sisters and two step-brothers.

He went to Hallside Primary and then, in 1937, Hamilton Academy. At the age of 15, the family moved to Paisley and Jimmy was transferred to Paisley Grammar School. Too young for National Service at the outbreak of war, he nonetheless served in the Home Guard from 1942 till 1944. During this time he studied law at Glasgow University but his education was interrupted in 1944 when he joined the RAF.

It was while serving in the air force that he met his future wife, Pat Geater, who came from London. They married in 1951 and set up home in Ralston before moving to Corsebar, Paisley. They had no children.

After graduating LLB from Gilmorehill, Mr Jack began his solicitor’s apprenticeship with the Paisley firm of Pattison and Sim in 1949. He became a legal assistant with the firm in 1951 before moving a year later to take up a similar post with another legal firm in the town, Walker and Laird. It was an association that would last more than 40 years.

He became a partner in 1954 and senior partner in 1962. He officially retired in 1990, by which time the firm was known as Walker Laird Herron and Harper, though he continued as a consultant until 1994.

Among the public appointments Mr Jack held over the years were Paisley Burgh Prosecutor, Clerk of the Peace for the County of Renfrew and chairman of the Medical Appeal Tribunal. He was an honorary sheriff of North Strathclyde and was the first non-Edinburgh-based lawyer to be elected president of the Society of Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland.

In 2010, Mr Jack was awarded an MBE for services to children and young people at Kibble Education and Care Centre.

His wife predeceased him in 2003.