David Neuberger (OH 1961) – Integrity
Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury is one of four brothers to attend The Hall in the 1950’s and 60’s and all would merit their own ‘Distinctive Life’ feature.
His brother Michael (OH 66) was a renowned British biochemist and immunologist and his brothers Anthony (OH 62) and James (OH 62) both hold senior positions at British universities. Anthony is currently Professor of Finance at CASS business school and James is a consultant physician and Professor of Medicine at the University of Birmingham.
David won the Cutler Cup for improvement, but otherwise claims he had no great achievements to his name when at The Hall. His history teacher Mr Bathurst gave him a lifelong love of history. But he remembers a number of other teachers in the junior and senior school with affection and gratitude.
From the Hall he went to Westminster School and then to Christ Church Oxford to study Chemistry. After graduating he joined the merchant bank, N M Rothschild & Sons from 1970-1973 until he entered Lincoln's Inn and was called to the Bar in 1974.
But this apparent seamless progression to the Law was, by his own admission, anything but. On leaving school he had no idea what he wanted to do. He had studied science at University but quickly realized that he did not want to pursue a scientific career and after two years working in investment banking it was apparent that this was not for him.
He was in his mid-20’s and in a hurry to get on and succeed and after a chance meeting with a friend who had recently become a barrister decided to try the Law. Even then, it was not straight forward. After passing his law exams, he had a succession of pupillages at the end of which someone else was appointed over him. It was only after his fourth pupillage that he was taken on. But the fight to get established made him much more determined to succeed.
He is now the most senior Judge in the United Kingdom having had an outstanding career as a barrister, QC and judge. But he remembers feeling physically sick about his first court appearance and spending two days preparing a case which required him to stand up and say ‘I don’t oppose’. Even that was a good lesson on being thoroughly prepared for any eventuality.
The message for our current pupils is to never feel discouraged if you don't succeed at first. Lord Neuberger now feels very lucky to have found a career which is as important and as enjoyable as his private life and which carries huge responsibility.
That is certainly true of his current position. He is the President of the Supreme Court and one of the group of judges who will decide on the Government’s appeal against the decision that it requires the approval of parliament to invoke article 50.
We are very fortunate that Lord Neuberger has returned to the Hall in the past as one of our Sixth Form Society speakers. We hope that he will agree to return again in the future and in the meantime we will watch with interest at the outcome of the Brexit appeal.