Obituary of Claire Reilly, who died tragically young but left a lasting impression on those she worked with

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Claire RobertsonClaire Robertson (née Reilly, which she retained professionally), aged just 43, lost her fight on 9 October 2020, having been diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal kidney cancer following the birth of her second daughter in 2014.

I had been employed as cashier at Gray & Gray some 10 years prior to Claire coming on board as a trainee. From the start, she displayed a maturity and empathy which went beyond her young years. She quickly learned the ropes of our four partner practice, and was recognised as partnership material, being rewarded quickly with first her associateship, then partner. It was ultimately family law that gained her expertise.

Claire’s different approach had an immediate effect. Our busy practice became more inclusive, encouraged in no short measure by Claire’s hands-on approach with her support staff. When work pressures impacted on paper filing, she did it herself. There was no standing on ceremony. My personal highlight was in 2014, in preparation for our imminent Law Society inspection. Despite being very heavily pregnant, and having just dealt with a catastrophic office flood, she rose to the challenge, rolled up her sleeves and, as any decent cashroom partner would(!), she got the bank reconciliations done.

But it was in her practice that Claire came into her own. Her work in collaborative family law saw tensions among clients ebb away. I was moved to see how parties could stay in touch, would negotiate, and were prepared to lessen the impact of relationship breakdown on every member of their family.

Claire has left a legacy of collaboration, love and a greater appreciation of what is ultimately most important in this life. Be kind, show compassion, no matter what curveballs life throws at you.

Tricia McPherson


In memory

Throughout Claire’s illness, she strove to raise funds for others in the North East affected by cancer, through the charity Friends Of Anchor.

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