One of the last solicitors in New Zealand to have trained by correspondence rather than university died in Greymouth recently. Cyril Redmond McGinley, who retired from pioneer law firm Hannan & Seddon at age 86, died just before his 91st birthday.
Born in 1910, Cyril McGinley joined the firm as an office boy in February 1927, at a wage of 30 shillings a week. Then boss John W Hannan did not approve of women working in a legal office so Cyril McGinley learned typing at night school and ended up doing 70% of the office typing. With a growing interest in the law, he returned to night school to brush up on Latin, before enrolling with Hemingways Correspondence School for Professional Law.
He was eventually enrolled as a solicitor of the Supreme Court, although his duties as a typist were still paramount and he did little work as a lawyer until he returned from the war in North Africa in 1944 when legislation such as the Land Sales Act and the Sale of Liquor Act brought new work to the firm.
Mr McGinley also acted as defence counsel at the 1953 trial of one of the last New Zealanders to be hanged, Harry “Darkie” Whiteland.
Mr McGinley married his boss’ daughter, Mona Hannan, in 1942 and took over the practice when his father-in-law died in 1974. He later sold out but stayed on as a legal consultant, working full-time until mid-1996.
This obituary was first published in LawTalk 566, 30 July 2001, page 8.