In the 1870s the Auckland province contained about one-fifth of the total European population of New Zealand, three-quarters of the Maori population and one-fifth of the colony's lawyers. When statutory provision was first made for a law society covering the whole of New Zealand, Auckland lawyers refused to support it and when provision was made for district law societies, it was promptly availed of in Auckland.
Twenty-three Auckland practitioners petitioned Parliament opposing the bill which became the New Zealand Law Society's Act 1869 on the grounds of lack of prior consultation; and following the enactment of that statute, 33 Auckland practitioners signed a document formally declining the Premier's invitation to express a view as to the constitution of the Council of the new Society.
For the next 30 or so years the NZLS functioned little, if at all. Finally on 1 November 1878 the Royal Assent was given to The District Law Societies Act 1878, which recited in its preamble that the 1877 statute "had been found ineffective in its operation",
repealed that statute and by section 4 provided as follows:
"It shall be lawful for the solicitors of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, residing and practising within the limits of any judicial district, present at any meeting duly convened as hereinafter provided, to resolve that the solicitors of the said Supreme Court residing within the limits of such district shall be associated as a society by the name of "The Law Society of the district of " (the name of such judicial district), and every such resolution passed by any such meeting shall be published in the New Zealand Gazette, and from and after the publication thereof all solicitors of the said Supreme Court then residing and practising in such judicial district, and all such solicitors who may thereafter be admitted members in manner hereinafter provided, shall be members of such District Law Society, and subject to the by-laws, rules, and others thereof. “
Extract from Lawful Occasions by D F Dugdale published to mark its first centenary by Auckland District Law Society, 1979.
The Law Society of the District of Auckland - 1879
A meeting of Auckland practitioners convened by F M P Brookfield and Frederick Whitaker was held at the Supreme Courthouse at Auckland on Friday 28 March 1879 at 2:00 pm.
Twenty-three practitioners were present in person or by proxy. A proposal to name the new society "The Law Society of the Northern District" having been defeated, the meeting then resolved "That the Solicitors of the Supreme Court residing within the limits of the Northern Judicial District (excepting thereout the Provincial District of Taranaki) shall from and after this 28th day of March 1879, be associated as a society within the meaning of “The District Law Societies Act 1978” by the name of "The Law Society of the District of Auckland”.
This resolution was duly gazetted on 17 April 1879. The officers elected were Whitaker, president, Brookfield, vice-president, E H Tyler, treasurer, and E Hesketh (who acted as temporary secretary), James Russell, W A Armstrong, E A McKechnie, A Devore and J M Alexander, members of the Council. The Society was to retain the name "The Law Society of the District of Auckland" until 1974 when it adopted the present shorter form. back to top