Skip to content
Government NSW, Legal

NSW Solicitors acknowledge Supreme Court’s 200 years

Law Society of NSW 2 mins read
President of the Law Society of NSW Brett McGrath

Friday, 17 May 2024


Brett McGrath – President of the Law Society of NSW

NSW Solicitors acknowledge Supreme Court’s 200 years

Solicitors in NSW have supported the work of the Supreme Court of NSW since it was established two hundred years ago today.

When it was first established, just six solicitors were admitted to practice in the court of the first Chief Justice Sir Francis Forbes. Today, that number has eclipsed 42,000 practitioners who’ve each sworn an oath to ‘faithfully serve … in the administration of the laws and usages of this State’.

Since 1968, qualification was extended to solicitors to be appointed directly as Justices of the Supreme Court. The first such appointment, the late Kim Santow AO, was made in 1993. The second most senior judicial officer in NSW, President of the Court of Appeal Hon Justice Julie Ward, was a solicitor when appointed to the bench.

The Supreme Court has overseen the calm application of law across NSW with an independent sense of justice that has animated the common law for more than a thousand years. Without that independence, maintained since Monday, 17 May 1824 the citizens of NSW would be much poorer.

Any acknowledgment of this occasion though, cannot pass without also recognising the broader colonial legacy in which the Supreme Court sits, including the deeply disturbing consequences for the Aboriginal peoples who lived here for five or six hundred centuries or more. The Court’s approach to the Myall Creek massacre stands as a tragically lone example of justice for all peoples in early New South Wales.

Nevertheless, what has happened in the Supreme Court, over the past two hundred years, has happened without serious incident.

There has been public controversy and friction between branches of the legal profession, and different attitudes to the application of the law. But no major incident has scarred this institution or disfigured it. It works in a complex, efficient, and prodigious capacity with an unbroken heritage.

The Law Society expresses its appreciation to Chief Justice Hon Andrew Bell, the present steward of the Supreme Court’s storied history, and thanks him for his active engagement with the solicitor profession, particularly over the course of this bicentennial year.

Damien Smith | Director, Media and Public Relations
The Law Society of New South Wales

M: +61 417 788 947 | E:  

EDITORS NOTE: portions of this statement are adapted from the speech delivered by Mr McGrath at the Ceremonial Sitting of the Supreme Court on 17 May, 2024. The video of the sitting is available on the Supreme Court’s YouTube channel.


More from this category

  • Education Training, Government NSW
  • 22/06/2024
  • 09:00
NSW Department of Education

2024 North Coast & Mid North Coast Training Awards celebrate excellence in Vocational Education and Training

The region's most outstanding people and organisations working and learning in the vocational education and training (VET) sector have been recognised at this year’s North Coast & Mid North Coast Regional Training Awards. The event celebrated the achievements of all category winners including apprentices, trainees, students, businesses, and trainers that champion vocational education. Joshua Manning and Emily Sutherland, who took top honours at the 2024 North Coast & Mid North Coast Training Awards ceremony last night at the Byron Theatre, were given special recognition. Joshua was named Apprentice of the Year and commended for his drive, knowledge, and passion for…

  • Legal, LGBTQIA
  • 21/06/2024
  • 09:02
Monash University

Monash expert: Thailand first South-East Asian country to legalise same sex marriage

Thailand's Senate has approved a bill legalising same sex marriage in the South-East Asian country. A Monash expert is available to talk about what this means for LGBTIQA+ rights in the country. Professor Paula Gerber, Monash Faculty of Law Contact: +61 3 9903 4840 or Read more of Professor Gerber’s commentary at Monash Lens The following can be attributed to Professor Gerber: “Thailand has become the first country in South-East Asia to allow same sex couples to marry, and only the second in Asia (after Taiwan). This change in law was possible after last year's election which saw the…

  • Government NSW
  • 20/06/2024
  • 14:52

Portable long service leave rewarding and retaining 240,000 NSW community workers

The passage of portable long service leave for 240,000 community and disability sector workers in NSW is a major victory that will help keep them in the sector for longer and recognise their service and dedication to NSW communities. The new law, passed by the NSW Parliament today, allows workers to accrue long service leave entitlements that carry with them between employers, providing greater security and incentive to remain in this critical field. "This is a momentous day for the dedicated community and disability sector workforce in NSW," said Angus McFarland, Secretary, Australian Services Union NSW & ACT. "For too…

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.