Bell Gully is one of New Zealand’s oldest law firms and we are proud of our rich history. Over the years, we have produced many leading lawyers, including a solicitor-general, three attorneys-general, three chief justices, numerous High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court judges, two prime ministers and a governor-general. Here are some critical dates and events in our journey so far.
Frederick Whitaker sets up practice in Kororareka – founder of the practice which would become known as Auckland' Buddle Weir & Co.
Whitaker moves to Auckland.
Whitaker is elected Auckland Provincial Solicitor, appointed to Legislative Council and becomes Attorney-General.
Charles Izard sets up practice in Wellington – founder of the practice which would become known as Wellington's Bell Gully & Co.
BNZ founded by Thomas Russell. Whitaker and Russell become partners. Thomas Buddle is articled to Thomas Russell.
Whitaker appointed Attorney-General and Premier of New Zealand.
Capital of the colony moves to Wellington.
Buddle admitted as a partner in Whitaker & Russell.
Izard admits Harry Bell (later Sir Francis Bell) to partnership as Izard & Bell.
Partnership becomes Bell Gully & Izard.
Whitaker's partnership name changes to Buddle, Button & Co.
Izard resigns and firm changes name to Bell Gully & Bell.
During this period of two World Wars and the Depression both practices suffered economic declines and many partnership changes.
Although times were changing, the Bell Gully traditions continued. Each morning it was the law clerk's job to carry fuel to set and light the fire in the main lobby. It had to be blazing by the time the senior partners arrived.
Auckland firm changes name to Buddle Weir & Co.
Bell Gully Buddle Weir & Co employed its first woman law clerk. It was only after changes to the liquor licensing laws that Geraldine Conway was permitted to enter the bar where the law clerks met for drinks.
First merger discussions between the two firms took place.
On 1 April 1984, the association that had begun well over 100 years earlier resulted in the merger of the two firms to form Bell Gully Buddle Weir.
Auckland office moves into Auckland Club Tower, Shortland Street. Wellington office moves Featherston Street.
Auckland office moves to Royal Sun Alliance Centre (now the Vero Centre), Shortland Street. Firm name becomes Bell Gully.
The firm creates a world first in carbon trading, by purchasing the first Certified Emission Reduction units to be transferred between countries. The Gold Standard units, originating from a biomass project in India, and additional units purchased, are used to offset Bell Gully's own emissions.
New Zealand's first practice manual for in-house lawyers is launched. The Essential Guide to In-house Practice is a joint initiative between the Corporate Lawyers Association of New Zealand (CLANZ) and Bell Gully, its long-time sponsor. The guide contains practical and relevant information on legal subjects and managing in-house practice and is launched at simultaneous events in Wellington and Auckland by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and CLANZ patron Hon Sir Ian Barker, QC respectively.
Bell Gully takes part in the Golf Marrowthon to raise money for the work of Leukaemia & Blood Foundation (LBF), and raises in excess of $26,000 for LBF.
Bell Gully is named IFLR Law Firm of the Year for the eighth time in nine years. The firm was named Corporate Citizen of the Year at the 2012 ALB Australasian Law Awards. The award recognises Bell Gully’s pro bono programme, which in 2011 saw Bell Gully commit just under NZ$1 million in fee-equivalent time to pro bono legal services. Bell Gully was also named as New Zealand winner of the Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2012.