All in the family law

PLENTY OF people follow in the family footsteps when it comes to work and careers but there’s some added family history to a crop of professional appointments in Tamworth circles.

GENERATIONAL CIRCLES: A Tamworth historical tale of  law legacies, from left, Richie and Patrick O’Halloran, Victoria and Terry Broomfield, and Ed and Nick Leyden at the law society celebration in late May.

GENERATIONAL CIRCLES: A Tamworth historical tale of law legacies, from left, Richie and Patrick O’Halloran, Victoria and Terry Broomfield, and Ed and Nick Leyden at the law society celebration in late May.

The legal fraternity is often based on family partnerships and three law firms have seen another generational change that sets the bar high.

Everingham Solomons, RJ O’Halloran, and Leyden Legal, which is based in Manilla, have celebrated sons and a daughter following in their fathers’ footsteps. 

Victoria Broomfield, Richie O’Halloran and Nick Leyden were admitted as solicitors at a ceremony at the Supreme Court in Sydney a couple of weeks ago.

It was a rare triple header for local celebration and the coincidental achievements were marked with a photographic call. 

The O’Halloran achievement is a remarkable and rare one, even for the rarified atmosphere of local legal records. 

The first law firm to see three generations admitted to the bar, they have now racked up a fourth and a succession of legal eagles that can trace their family and professional roots from 1903. 

Dad Patrick O’Halloran denies there was ever any coercion on his part laid against Richie to become a lawyer.

“If anything, I think he was more interested in his great grandfather who was a criminal lawyer and his grandfather’s career, than he ever was in my background,” Patrick said.

As a kid he would do the obligatory holiday stint.

“As a young boy he was a quasi-articled clerk, undertaking those mundane matters around the office; yes, yes, even to making the coffee and fetching errands, so he had a very real experience of it first hand,” Patrick says.

The O’Halloran place in the legal world of Tamworth carries an impressive legacy.

The original Richard John – or Dick – O’Halloran was admitted in November, 1903, and came to Tamworth to start a practice with a fellow Maitland solicitor who went on to become a state member for Tamworth. 

RJ’s son Harry became a working partner in 1938. Harry’s older brother John D, recorded in historical records as the first ever dux of the CBC school, had been admitted in 1933 but died on active service with the RAAF in World War 11.

Harry’s son Patrick followed in July 1982. Then came younger brother and fellow mad-Pirate supporter Andrew exactly 10 years later. Now comes Richie, at age 25.

Solicitor Terry Broomfield, one of the five directors of Everingham Solomons today, and the elder statesman of the partners still practising full-time at a legal firm that traces its beginnings to 1872, was in Sydney with the other dads to see his eldest daughter Victoria admitted in May.

He is just as proud of his protege and just as adamant he never pushed his eldest daughter to the law either.

Rather, admits Terry, it might have been the family dinner table conversations, the visiting guests from work circles, the family links; just the osmosis of it all.

Whatever it was, Victoria first went off to university in Sydney to do an arts degree.

“She came relatively late to it,” says Terry.

“She had always wanted to be an actress and did some short courses and wanted to do the NIDA thing, but I think the cohort she was associating with helped sway her to look to law as a career so she went into law after arts.”

Her father had what he describes as a gypsy upbringing, so the third generational link to justice took a slightly different track from Terry’s dad.

John Broomfield was a policeman, an inspector in Tamworth for a few of those years, and a superintendent of police, retiring from Bathurst in 1983, four years after Terry had become a solicitor and a year after he saw Terry made a partner at an old fraternal friend, Sir Adrian Solomon’s, practice in Tamworth. Victoria is now working with a national firm at Mills Oakley in Sydney, and Terry thinks his girl has perhaps an eye to more of international law than coming back to practise with dad. 

It’s a world away from Nick Leyden’s law landscape now. 

He’s come a bit later to legal work and it’s a bit different to the dreams of when he was younger. 

“I wanted to be a cricket playing dentist when I was about five years old,” says Nick.

“Then I wanted to be a sports journo.”

But he went off to Sydney and did some marketing and events diploma studies, and sometime after that realised a law degree might be a bit of icing on the cake for his professional career.

In between, there’d been some overseas travel, wielding a cricket bat and chasing the little red ball around ovals over there; a stint in Darwin too.

So, then he came home, joined his father Ed in the family firm that’s been part of the Manilla main streetscape since 1951, and worked as his dad’s clerk while he studied at uni. 

His grandfather Mark Leyden practised from 1951 until his death in 1995. Mark’s son Ed was admitted in 1978 and has practised ever since, mostly from the same office building and for some 15 years a partner with the Lyons Barnett and Kennedy firm too.

“Being able to work in a family practice is special,” Nick says.

“But the further thing is that it’s dawned on me how much I enjoy what you can do to follow on my from dad and Pop. Dad and I are very good mates, I have to say.”

They mightn’t play in the same teams most of the time, but Nick Leyden and Richie O’Halloran share more than just work connections. They’re both mad cricket tragics; both top order bats.

In the law game, they’re finding the same field is often set.

Country practice is all over the paddock. From murder to the mundane.

Richie’s great grandfather handled something like 24 murders in his career – winning some 17 of them, according to the family history book.

“Country law is general practice at its most wonderful,” Patrick O’Halloran says.

“Everything from something like an international child custody case to local arguments. That’s the spectrum, anything from international law to a dividing fence for neighbours.”

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