Albert Simpson came to Armidale by horse-drawn coach in 1863 on his way north. In those days a coach didn’t travel much over twenty (20) miles per day, and so Simpson stayed overnight in an Armidale hotel. He was approached by a miner from Hillgrove to represent him in the Mining Court the next morning. He agreed to represent the man for a fee of 100 sovereigns (200 sovereigns if he won). He won the case and was asked by the townsfolk to stay and practise, because they did not have a solicitor. Simpson returned to Armidale to set up practice on Monday 23 November 1863. We have a photo of his first office, but we don’t know where it was exactly. A W Simpson & Co is one of the oldest legal firms in Australia still retaining its original name. We understand at latest count we are now the 9th oldest law firm in New South Wales.
An article in the Armidale Chronicle of 9 December 1875 said “Mr Simpson is having built a very comfortable brick office in Faulkner Street.” Thus we understand it was around that time that he moved to the front part of the current office at 121 Faulkner Street. Each room had a fireplace and the ceilings were of pressed metal. Mr Paul Johnstone recalled that when he started work as an Articled Clerk before the Second World War, his first job in the Winter was to go out into the backyard and chop firewood and place a pile of firewood beside each of the fires in the office each day. The front counter at reception was originally a part of the bar of one of the many Hillgrove hotels. The offices were extended to the size that they are today during the 1970s.
Albert Whitby Simpson worked in the firm for 47 years. His son Arthur Wakefield Simpson worked in the firm for 42 years. After World War I in which they both served, Eustace Simpson (1884 – 1953), another son, and J LG Johnstone (1881 – 1968) practised in the firm for 41 years and 43 years respectively. After World War II, J L G Johnstone’s son Paul L Johnstone MBE (1922 – 2010) and F T (Tom) Johnstone (1906 – 1991), J L G Johnstone’s nephew, carried on the practice for 35 and 40 years respectively. They were both notable for their war service and their community service. Tom’s son Ian Johnstone, came in 1964 and practiced for 40 years until retiring in 2003. There have been many employed solicitors over the years, and the other partners have included David Edwards (1985 – 1990), who is now a Barrister in Brisbane, Judith Housego (1987) who became a Barrister in Sydney, Austin Rummery (1992 – 1994), Danny Brickwell (1992 – 1993) who now practises at Gladesville, and David A B White, the present proprietor who has practiced at the firm since 1987 for 26 years.
We are a general country practice. Our main work is in the Local Court, in Conveyancing of properties and businesses, in preparing Wills, Power of Attorney, Appointments of Enduring Guardian, in acting for Executors in deceased estates, in representing people in Family Law issues, commercial matters, and litigation. As a general practice we try to help anyone who comes to see us with their problem. If necessary we can refer them to a specialist or engage a barrister to assist. We do leases, mortgages, debt recovery, commercial work, company work, criminal representation, personal injuries compensation, probate applications, trusts, children’s court, and commercial agreements.
We hope to continue serving the people of the New England area for many years to come.
A W Simpson & Co would like to thank all their clients and business associates for their continued support over the last 150 years.