John Hopkins (lawyer)

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John Hopkins
Born (1936-12-16) 16 December 1936 (age 80)
Hemsworth, Yorkshire
Residence Cambridge, United Kingdom
Other names 'Hoppo'[citation needed]
Alma mater University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Known for Teaching
Spouse(s) Cherry Hopkins
Children Phillipa, Richard

John Hopkins (born 16 December 1936) is an Emeritus fellow of Downing College, Cambridge and Honorary fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge. He is married to Cherry, a retired fellow and Director of Studies in law of Girton College, Cambridge.

He attended Pontypridd Boys' Grammar School and then read law at Queens' College, Cambridge, was awarded his B.A. in 1960, and his LLB the following year, accompanied by the Whewell Scholarship in International Law. He was elected to a fellowship at Downing in October 1961. He was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1964. Thereafter, he held many positions in college, including Tutor, Senior Tutor and Director of Studies in Law, retiring in 2004. He has been Visiting Professor at City University, London since 1980. In 1981, he was elected Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple, London. He is a former governor of Harrow School, Sherborne School and Eastbourne College, and is a governor of Wellington College.

In his capacity as Director of Studies in Law at Downing for over 40 years, and also as a University Lecturer, John Hopkins guided generations of students through the highs and lows of Constitutional, Equity and International Law, regaling them with scores of (often the same) humorous stories and jokes.

His love of Winnie-the-Pooh is legendary. His style of supervision, delivered in the old style, pipe in hand,(smoking matches, as the pipe never seemed to light, and banging the pipe on the bottom of his shoe) has had a widespread influence on generations of lawyers who read law at Cambridge. He taught John Cleese Equity when he read law at Downing. (He insists that Cleese developed his Ministry of Silly Walks gait in avoiding the puddles in Downing's quad.) The following describes his supervisions perfectly:

The memorable use of "the pipe". John talks. The pipe empty of tobacco, filled from the tin, the waving of the large box of matches, the extraction of the match, the shutting of the box, the box put aside, the pointing with the pipe, the taking up of the box, the striking of the match, the box put aside the lift of pipe and match to the face, the draw - and again and again without result, the extinction of the match with one flick of the wrist, the pipe unlit and so to the repeat - to box, to match, to pipe and on. and with each movement an emphasis, a comment, a question, a pause for reply and a demand for response. All kindly done with twinkle in the eye for such clever of dumb intellects as had presented themselves to his room to be taught. And taught to good effect.[1]

He is a Master Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, and a keen member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

In 2012, John Hopkins was conferred Honorary Fellowship of Hughes Hall, Cambridge after serving for 8 years as the College's Director of Studies in Law.[2] He continues to teach and inspire students till this day.


  1. ^ Address given at The Special Cranworth Dinner in honour of John Hopkins given at Middle Temple, London on 4/3/04.[clarification needed]
  2. ^ "Fellow and Senior Members". Hughes Hall, Cambridge. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2016.