David Hershman

Co-author of the bible of children's law
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The Independent Online

David Hershman was a leading family lawyer almost certainly destined for high judicial office. As co-author with Andrew McFarlane of the definitive work Children: law and practice (1991), he leaves an enormous legacy to those involved in children's cases, whether practitioners, judiciary, academics or members of the public.



David Allan Hershman, barrister, writer and lecturer: born Stourbridge, Worcestershire 6 November 1958; called to the Bar, Gray's Inn 1981; Chairman, Care Standards Tribunal 1996-2004; a Recorder 2001-04; QC 2002; married 1986 Abigail Goucher (four daughters); died Worcester 4 September 2004.



David Hershman was a leading family lawyer almost certainly destined for high judicial office. As co-author with Andrew McFarlane of the definitive work Children: law and practice (1991), he leaves an enormous legacy to those involved in children's cases, whether practitioners, judiciary, academics or members of the public.

With the advent of the Children Act 1989, a major piece of reforming legislation, came the need for a new work and "Hershman and McFarlane", as it was soon dubbed, filled that place admirably. Earlier textbooks, though authoritative, were somewhat arid. This work represented a departure in the way in which the law was explained and applied to individual cases, being simple and down-to-earth - both eminently readable and understandable. Regularly and painstakingly updated, it was cited in important judgments as providing the definitive opinion on the issue in question. It was a work of which Hershman was rightly proud.

David Hershman was a prolific writer. As a part-time chairman of the Care Standards Tribunal (a position he took up in 1996 at the early age of 37) he produced with David Pearl - the tribunal's president, His Honour Judge Pearl - the Care Standards Legislation Handbook (2002). One of his last contributions was a special bulletin published this year explaining the workings of the new Child Care Protocol introduced by the Government in November 2003.

Hershman was in demand up and down the country as a lecturer on all aspects of the law relating to children, particularly the field of children in care. His preparation for these events was meticulous and his delivery enthusiastic. With his name on the list of guest speakers conference organisers could be assured that the event would be over-subscribed.

He was, too, a fine advocate. A large, genial figure, he had the enviable ability of being able to put clients at once at their ease. He was the antithesis of the public's perception of the stuffy, pompous lawyer. In court his delivery was measured and never flamboyant; his gentle style of questioning, extremely effective in drawing out the truth, was one which many sought to emulate.

His father had been a surgeon; his mother died when he was a few months old. David Hershman was born in 1958 in Stourbridge, just to the west of Birmingham, and educated at the King's School, Worcester, and then at King's College London, where he read Law. He was called to the Bar of Gray's Inn in 1981. He settled in chambers in Birmingham, where his interest in family law developed, and he practised largely in that city and in the county courts on the Midland Circuit. The Law Reports testify to his involvement in many landmark decisions, particularly those concerning the fundamental rights of parents and children. He was a fearless defender of those rights and was as happy appearing before first-instance tribunals as he was in the House of Lords.

He took silk in 2002, and the same year was named Barrister of the Year by the Birmingham Law Society. As an advocate he became even more in demand. His move to specialist family-law chambers at One King's Bench Walk in the Temple was a logical career progression for him, and a coup even for such a distinguished set of chambers. There he became established as part of its large team of family-law silks. Sadly he has left behind much unfinished business.

In addition to being a part-time chairman of the Care Standards Tribunal, at the time of his death at the age of only 45 Hershman was a recorder of the Crown Court and a deputy High Court Judge of the Family Division. He was vice-chairman of the Midlands branch of the Family Law Bar Association and Honorary Legal Adviser to the Acorns Children's Hospice, a charity in whose work he took a particular interest.

At work and at home, Hershman was above all a family man, for whom his own children - four young daughters - came first.

Marianna Hildyard and Anthony J. N. Kirk

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