The Holdsworth Club is the University of Birmingham’s Student Law Society. The Holdsworth Club was founded in 1927 and named after Sir William Holdsworth, by Professor C.E. Smalley-Baker who served as the first Dean of the University of Birmingham’s Faculty of Law between 1928 and 1949. Sir William Holdsworth was Smalley-Baker’s mentor and had been an External Examiner at the University for several years.
After giving his name to the Law Faculty’s Student Club (the names of Bacon, Coke and Blackstone having been considered and rejected) Sir William Holdsworth became its active Patron. In this role he attended and spoke at the Club’s annual dinner, and he gave an annual presidential address. The establishment of the presidency of the Holdsworth Club as an annual office, involving the sole obligations of attending a dinner and giving a lecture, led to the Faculty gaining a distinguished line of visiting speakers, (which by 1948 already included two Lord Chancellors and two Masters of the Rolls).
Sir William Holdsworth remained Patron of the Club until his death in 1944 (after which there have been two more Patrons: Dean Smalley-Baker 1949-72; and Professor O Hood-Phillips 1974-86). The list of distinguished Presidents includes Lord Chancellors, such as Hailsham, father and son, Master of the Rolls, Denning (three times); Donaldson; Bingham; Green, the majority of the great Law Lords of the 20th Century and academic lawyers such as the International Lawyer Sir Arnold McNair and the American jurist Dean Roscoe Pound to whom the Golden Medal of the American Bar Association was awarded for ‘conspicuous service to the cause of American jurisprudence’ was presented in 1940. This medal is still worn by Holdsworth Presidents when delivering their Address. The Vice President of the club is George Applebey, Visiting Lecturer in Law at the University of Birmingham. The Deputy Vice-President is Linden Thomas, in-house Solicitor and works for the University’s Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research.