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Allan Bruce Buxton, 1894 - 1959

By Sir Richard Wild

Allan Bruce Buxton who succeeded his friend Timothy Cleary [as New Zealand Law Society President] in 1958 was not an easy person to get to know. Behind a kindly eye, a natural courtesy and a guileless humour was a basically shy man who kept a great deal in reserve.

Like others, he owed his opportunity in the law to HF O'Leary whose first clerk he was before the 1914 war, and on his return he found himself, at O'Leary's typically loyal insistence, a junior clerk in a very large firm [now Bell Gully].

He set himself to work attentively and studiously, if not always methodically in all departments of practice, and in due course he became the senior partner and a leading commercial and family lawyer. His grasp of legal principle was firm, and in his apparently limitless memory he stored up a vast miscellany of knowledge and experience from which, with a deceptively bewildered air, he could draw in answer to any enquiry.

Like Cleary he never lacked time to discuss any problem with any person on any occasion. Like him too, he loved to match a situation with a reminiscence, and his stories linger on, though his own artless and ingenuous manner of telling them can never be recaptured.

Buxton was consistent in his loyalties, tolerant in his opinions, completely unselfish in his dealings, and respected by all. It was the sum of these qualities that led, no doubt to his own surprise, to the choice of AB Buxton as President from a number of Wellington men of comparable seniority and service in Law Society affairs. He had the distinction of being the first President who was not pre-eminently a common law advocate.

During his term the Council dealt with some difficult questions of professional privilege, began a study into retirement schemes, and entertained a further group of overseas guests. In the short space of two years, made none the easier by a change in secretarial staff, Buxton served the Society well.

From "Seven New Zealand Presidents", Portrait of a Profession (edited by RB Cooke QC, New Zealand Law Society, 1969), pages 178 to 179.

Allan Buxton was born on 31 December 1894 and died on 10 November 1959 aged 64 while serving as the New Zealand Law Society's tenth President.

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Last updated on the 17th August 2016