It was November of 1972 and a 25-year-old Tim O’Dwyer was hanging out the shingle of his own practice, ‘O’Dwyer & Co’.
“It started out with me and one part-time secretary who brought along her own typewriter – her own manual typewriter, would you believe?”
Fast forward almost half a century and Tim has received his 50-year pin at a Brisbane ceremony celebrating long-term service to the legal profession.
“On the night it was a real buzz,” Tim said. “It was made better by the fact that there were only three of us there receiving the 50-year pins.”
QLS CEO Rolf Moses says that, as a way of recognising decades of commitment and hard work, the QLS membership pin ceremonies are “held to recognise and congratulate members who have reached the milestones of 25 and 50 years’ consistent membership”.
Rolf Moses, right, acknowledges Tim’s 50 years of service.
Tim O’Dwyer practised property law throughout his career and was a self-described “common or garden variety, suburban solicitor”. He also did a lot of freelance writing and gave countless media interviews on legal subjects for broadcast news and current affairs programs, making a name for himself as a passionate consumer advocate.
“I’ve had a wonderful opportunity over the years to promote the law and the role of lawyers in the media,” Tim said. “In many respects I’ve represented the legal profession and I’m really chuffed to have been able to do that.”
He says one of his career highlights was writing and publishing his own book, Real Estate Escapes.
“I feel it’s my legacy to the law,” he said. “I became a journalist along the way while I was a practising solicitor, and at one stage I had a regular column in The Courier-Mail, but I also had a regular column called ‘Real Estate Escapes’ in the Australian Property Investor magazine.”
His book is a compilation of these columns about his years working in real estate law, and was written for the benefit of the legal profession and the real estate industry at large.
Nine years ago Tim merged his law firm with another and says he is now effectively retired from legal practice. He still keeps his hand in the law as a consultant and says he particularly enjoys being a notary public.
“I meet some interesting people who come to me with really interesting international documents that I witness or certify,” he said. “And once they’ve gone, they’ve gone – I don’t have any continuing files – that’s the joy of it.”
Ignazio ‘Toby’ Sciacca was the sole recipient of a 50-year pin in Cairns on Friday night.
“It was fantastic,” Toby said. “I was really touched by the fact that the Law Society went to that extent to recognise our milestones.”
Toby Sciacca with Cairns 25-year pin recipients Susan Gandini, Sandra Lim, (QLS President Elizabeth Shearer), Andrew Kerr, and Kenneth Cuthbertson.
Toby was admitted to the legal profession in August of 1971 and started practising in Cairns the following year.
“I purchased a practice in July of 1973 – I was only a kid then,” Toby said. “There were only 18 practising solicitors in Cairns at the time – there would be over 300 now.
“We didn’t have the web – there were no emails. We didn’t have the Titles Office. There were no barristers in Cairns, so we briefed barristers in Townsville or Brisbane.
“If we had to do a search for instance on a conveyance, there was no fax, so we had a search agent in Townsville or Brisbane and they mailed the searches up – it took a week.”
Toby says he introduced the first ‘word processors’ to a Cairns legal practice and recalls a trip where he flew down to Brisbane specially, to check out a new computer model for his firm.
“It was the size of an office desk,” Toby said. “It was $30,000, which in 1979 was a huge amount of money.”
Throughout his career Toby practised in areas right across the board and was involved in cases as wide-ranging as harbour-related matters through to breweries and copyright.
Toby says a highlight of his legal career came around 20 years ago during a matter involving an action against the State of Queensland. His senior in Australia on the constitutional law side was Ian Callinan AC QC and the senior counsel in London was Geoffrey Robertson QC.
“I flew to London with Ian a dozen times or so to brief Geoffrey on the matter,” he said. “We actually won a very substantial compensation. And a highlight was witnessing two incredibly intellectual lawyers debating constitutional law.”
Toby is now semi-retired but says he still enjoys being active in the law, including undertaking some pro bono work.
Other QLS members receiving 50-year pins this year include Hilton Misso, Robin Thomson, Peter Chappel, William Dillon, Gregory Ford, Robert Cartwright and John Tiley.
QLS members being recognised for their 25-year milestone this year include (in Brisbane) Frederick Banks, Ian Bisson, Jason Burkitt, Bronwyn Clarkson, Anthony Colavitti, Jonathan Corby, Amy Deeb, Frank Dzelalija, Stephen Fox, Kym Greinke, Darren Ho, Peter Keenan, Scott Keft, David Lester, Andrew Mackenzie, Elisa McCutcheon, Yvette McLaughlin, Jamie McPherson, Keith Mole, James Naughton, Joseph Parker, Bruce Pasetti, Heidi Schweikert, Hideki Shimizu, Rebecca Stevens, Matthew Thomas, Ernesto Tubaro, Adolf Van Zyl, Peter Wilkinson, Peter Sinnott, Edward Stewart, Patricia James, Peter Rowe, Grant Dearlove, Rebecca O’Loan, Brook Burke, Bruce Patane, Michael Reynolds, Heinz Lepahe, Bruce Adkins, Jennifer Crowther, Fiona Chapman, Lance Ensor, Kylee Ghodsi, Janet Cook, Sandra Padgett, Rossline Janes, Marek Reardon, Sergio Tosoni, John Briggs, Paul Betros, Justine Garvin, Dean Stibbe, Stephen Robertson, Jo Atkinson, Suzanne Rosolen, Brett Hart, Patricia Wright, Justine Beirne, Judith Simpson, Timothy Horrell, Nicola Davies, Dale Ellerman, Thomas Adames, Colin Hardie, Christine Dwyer, Janelle Moody, Gregory Rostron and Trish Wright.
In Cairns, Susan Gandini, Sandra Lim, Kenneth Cuthbertson, Andrew Kerr and Patricia Cope.
On the Sunshine Coast, Bruce McDiarmid, Gregory Wildie, David Lang, Rhonda King, William Zemek, Andrew Davis, John Blayney, Paul McHugh, Cecil O’Dea and Colin Mildwaters.
On the Gold Coast, Adam Sambrook, Despina Priala, Christine Smyth, Sean DelPopolo, David Evans, David Mackie, Kenneth Petty, Simon Chan, Kerry Ward, Thomas Forster, Gregory Smith, Scott Eustace, Suzanne Weel, Michael Dwyer, Timothy Delaney and Don Fenwick.
And elsewhere in Queensland, Paula Phelan, Sandra Clive, Leanne Henrickson, Suzanne Jensen, Leah McDonnell, William (Mark) McGrath, Catherine Pereira, Kathryn Rayner, Kerrie Stuart, Sara Sugars, Anderson Telford, Steven Titmus and Jayson Waldon.