On 11 April 2021 John Campbell Walker celebrated 60 years as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland.
During that time John has worked across thousands of matters, liaised with clients great and small, and had a few laughs along the way.
Tuesday 27 April was the last official day at the office for John Walker, who retires this week.
QLS President Elizabeth Shearer, personally visited Mr Walker on Thursday 29 April and presented him with a gift and certificate of recognition. Over morning tea, she joined his colleagues and wife Ryl to reflect and celebrate on the momentous career he has paved.
“As far as I am aware, you are the longest standing member of the Queensland Law Society,” the President said.
“I congratulate you on your incredible achievements and service to the legal profession.”
Entering into articles in 1956 with Leo Garton Catt at 180 Queen Street, John was admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland on 11 April 1961, having passed the Intermediate and Final Board exams.
Opening his own firm in 1965, in Sherwood Road, Toowong, John recalls that patrons went from the Toowong RSL to the TAB, then into his office for an in-depth and breathy discussion on the law.
In one incident that taught him much and provided light relief, he recalled that “an early client had been charged with breaking, entering and stealing from the RE in Toowong on Christmas Eve and was to appear in No.1 Magistrates Court on Boxing Day”.
“I eventually found the court (never having been there before) and sat down on a bench seat. In comes a huge copper (prosecuting) saying ‘what are you here for’. I replied, ‘X charged with etc.’. He said ‘I know what he is charged with, but who are you?’ I said ‘his solicitor’. He said ‘well, you are sitting in the dock, you’d better get out of it before the court opens!”
The late 1960s saw John admitted as a solicitor and barrister in Papua New Guinea, where he worked on a case with then new-to-the-Bar Warren Howell (now retired Judge Howell). The two struck up a fantastic professional relationship that has continued to this day.
After moving a couple of times to increase work space, 1971 saw a move to a newly outfitted office in Jephson Street, Toowong, when, in the early hours of one morning, he received a call from the Fire Brigade at Toowong advising that the office had just been burnt out. It was during the Vietnam War and the firm John C. Walker was situated below DuPont, which made napalm in the United States. Protesters mistook the office for DuPont and fetched a Molotov cocktail through an outer window.
Rebuilding his general practice was the beginning of decades of interesting work in commercial, family, property, wills & estates, personal injuries and crime.
John moved the practice to Sherwood Road where Jim Noble joined and formed John C. Walker and Noble. Rob Winter later joined as a partner. The firm moved from Toowong to the city but the partnership later dissolved.
There was a variety of partners along the way and some special bonds that were formed with articled clerks, including Barry Johnson, Ken Owen and Tony Crilly, who are to join John at the Queensland Cricketers Club for his retirement lunch this Friday.
John was a very good yachtsmen, and as a member of Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron and the Queensland Cruising Yacht Club, his Kahala won many races on Moreton Bay and offshore against bigger and more fancied rivals. It also provided his family with memorable boating holidays, including a trip to Fraser Island.
John’s philosophy on practising law has been that the client comes first, and to always be available for them.
Retirement also looks busy for him, as he is well involved in rowing, music and gardening.
John continued rowing after he left school and is a life member of GPS Old Boys Rowing Club and Grammarians Rowing Club, and he continues to row one morning a week with the Septo-Octarians out of the Toowong Rowing Club shed. The best part, he says, is the breakfast after the row. He is also coaching rowing teams from St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School.
John plays baritone saxophone with the TLF Creative (Brisbane Law Orchestra and Arts Group) Big Band and first clarinet in a woodwind quartet.
He is a member of St Thomas Church Parish Council.
John is married to Ryl Bennett and lives at St Lucia. Son Andrew followed him into the law and three other children and former wife Joan Macfarlane live in Brisbane and Newcastle.
Congratulations John Walker on an amazing 60 years of practice.