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New Zealand's Oldest Law Firms

15 October 2015

New Zealand has a large number of very durable law firms. The first lawyer to arrive in New Zealand, Richard Davies Hanson, stepped ashore in Wellington on 3 January 1840. Hanson left in 1846 for Australia, later becoming Sir Richard Hanson and Attorney-General, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of South Australia. Just before he left New Zealand, Hanson joined Robert Hart in legal practice. The firm which Hanson started in 1840 - now known as Treadwells - still practises today in central Wellington.

The list of our oldest law firms has been compiled from many sources - but it is recognised there may possibly be some firms which should be included. The criteria for inclusion is that a firm must always have been in existence. While legal partnerships change relatively frequently, the firm must always have been doing business.

NameBeginningAge in YearsCurrent Name AdoptedLocation
Treadwells 1840 176 2006 Wellington
Bell Gully Buddle Weir 1840 176 1984 Auckland/Wellington
Brandons 1841 175 1991 Wellington
Jackson Russell 1844 172 1864 Auckland
Brookfields 1856 160 1991 Auckland
Duncan Cotterill 1857 159 1879 Christchurch
Glasgow Harley 1858 158 1997 Nelson
Gallaway Cook Allan 1859 157 2001 Dunedin
Wynn Williams 1860 156 1956 Christchurch
Izard Weston 1861 155 1924 Wellington
Anderson Lloyd 1862 154 1987 Dunedin
Russell McVeagh 1863 153 1904 Auckland
Joynt Andrews 1863 153 1892 Christchurch
Pitt & Moore 1864 152 1879 Nelson
Hardy-Jones Clark 1865 151 2007 Blenheim
Anthony Harper 1865 151 1987 Christchurch
Hesketh Henry 1865 151 1986 Auckland
Hannan & Seddon 1867 149 1920 Greymouth
Downie Stewart 1867 149 1986 Dunedin
Gresson Dorman & Co 1867 149   Timaru
Whitcombe Guinness & Kitchingham 1867 149   Greymouth
Treadwell Gordon 1869 147 1909 Wanganui
Lane Neave 1869 147   Christchurch
Miller Poulgrain 1869 147 1921 Thames
Langley Twigg 1872 144 1976 Napier
Meares Williams 1873 143 1899 Christchurch
WCM Legal 1874 142 2006 Masterton
Cairns Slane 1874 142 1988 Auckland
Chapman Tripp 1875 141   Wellington/Auckland
Sainsbury Logan & Williams 1875 141 1900 Napier
Gawith Burridge 1875 141 1998 Masterton
Harkness Henry 1875 141 1945 Hamilton
Kensington Swan 1878 138   Auckland/Wellington
Nolans 1879 137   Gisborne
Gascoigne Wicks 1879 137 1945 Blenheim
Arthur Watson Savage 1880 136 1984 Invercargill
Corcoran French 1881 135 1988 Christchurch
Jack Riddet Tripe 1881 135   Wanganui
Weston Ward & Lascelles 1883 133   Christchurch
RSM Law 1883 133   Timaru
Helmore Bowron & Scott 1884 132   Rangiora
Helmore Ayers 1884 132   Christchurch
Rhodes & Co 1884 132   Christchurch
Innes Dean - Tararua Law 1884 132   Palmerston North
Halliwells 1886 130   Hawera
McKay Mackie 1886 130   Waipawa
Ross Dowling Marquet Griffin 1887 129   Dunedin
Simpson Grierson 1887 129   Auckland/Wellington
Johnson Prichard Fee 1887 129   Auckland
Harmans Lawyers 1888 128   Christchurch
Papprills 1894 122   Christchurch

Last updated on the 19th January 2017