Former President receives 50-year pin

Fifty-year pin recipients (from left) Richard Rylands, John de Groot, Peter Challen, Brian Bartley, Michael Kenny and Michael Klug. Photo: Supplied

Former Queensland Law Society 2012 President John de Groot was receiving a membership pin rather than presenting one at Thursday night’s Brisbane Celebrate, Recognise, Socialise event.

Dr de Groot was one of six 50-year QLS pin recipients who received a gold pin from current President Chloé Kopilović under a new recognition format.

Becoming QLS President was one of Dr de Groot’s career highlights when reflecting on the past 50 years.

“Early in my career I also had the opportunity to work for Sir Matthew Farrer, (Farrer and Co, London) who acted for the Royal Family at the time and I found this experience to be an inspiration. His discipline and professionalism were outstanding,” John said.

“Another highlight was the mentoring I received over many years from Mr J.F FitzGerald. He was another lawyer I greatly admired.

“Finally, to be able to work with my wife, Margot, for the last two and a half decades is also a highlight that I didn’t anticipate. She is also an inspiration to me, particularly her enthusiasm to do well whatever she takes on.”


Dr de Groot admitted a career in the law was one that he “arrived at by a process of elimination”.

“Nothing else attracted me but I did think tertiary study was something I wanted to do. Once I started, I found it fascinating and being in practice has continued to hold my interest,” he said.

“I enjoy the challenge of finding a solution to clients’ problems. I often tell clients that ‘every problem has a solution and I look forward to finding it with you’, or at least the best solution that the law has available to them.”

John was “grateful and honoured” by the 50-year recognition but “a little reluctant for it to be publicised as I wouldn’t want people to think I might be less engaged in the practice of the law than in past years”.

“Fortunately, law is an area where experience is of value, and I’m encouraged by the example of lawyers many years my senior who have continued to practise law successfully. I know that Mr FitzGerald, referred to earlier, continued to do excellent legal work well into his eighties.”  

Dr de Groot was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in 1970, a Bachelor of Laws in 1973 and a Doctorate of Philosophy in 1993, all from the University of Queensland.


He was admitted in 1973 and from 1982 to 1996 he was the Director of the Legal Practice and Bar Practice courses at QUT Law School. John is an Accredited Specialist (Succession Law) and Director and Special Counsel at de Groots Wills and Estate Lawyers.

Before his presidency, he was a member and Chair of the Queensland Law Society’s Succession Law Committee for six years from and a member of the Specialist Accreditation Advisory Committee for 10 years.

John is a former Chair and member of the board of governors of the Queensland Community Foundation. He is also author of the Australian chapter of the last three editions of International Succession, published by Oxford University Press. In 2016, John was invited to join the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law as a member.

Another 50-year pin recipient Richard Rylands also studied law at the University of Queensland, graduating in 1972.

Richard Rylands (centre) with Michael Kenny and John de Groot.

He was admitted as a solicitor in Queensland in December that year. He was an articled clerk at Sholto Douglas and Douglas from 1970-1971.

Post admission, Richard worked at the firm Power & Power Solicitors before moving to the Public Trustee in 1974.

In 1976, he established his own firm, Richard Rylands and Company, at Annerley.


In 1980 he entered into partnership with John Hilmer, a friend from first-year law school, and traded as Rylands and Hilmer at Upper Mt Gravatt and then Sunnybank. David Prince acquired the Annerley practice. John Hilmer retired from the practice in the late 1990s and Richard continued on as a sole practitioner.

The Sunnybank practice was sold to Woods Prince Solicitors in 2008 and Richard continued to work at the firm for several years before spending time as a sole practitioner from 2016-2017.

In 2018, he started his current role as a Consultant at Anthonys Lawyers, Mt Gravatt.

Outside of work, Richard enjoys tennis and has represented Queensland in the National Veterans Titles three times. He has been a member of Tattersalls Racqueteers for more than 25 years.

Keep an eye on Proctor for more features on the CRS Brisbane event.

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