A Century of Service
A Short History of Groom & Lavers Solicitors
In September, 1893 Charles Stockley Eden a young, newly admitted solicitor first opened his doors to the Club Hotel Chambers in Toowoomba to start his new law firm. That firm is today known as Groom & Lavers.
Sometime between 1900 and 1909 Charles Eden commenced partnership with Leslie Walter Groom and the firm then became known as Eden & Groom. In 1909 the firm changed names once again to its current name of Groom & Lavers when Mr Arnold Ernest Lavers commenced practice with Mr Groom upon Mr. Eden’s retirement.
Of course the practice of law in the early 20th century was vastly different from how law is practised today!
There was no electricity, the city was poorly lit and the roads, particularly out of the city were in very poor condition and in wet weather often impassable. Other than train travel all communication out of the city was done by horse drawn vehicle.
Each office had its own policy and Solicitors rarely met socially or in any way other than in business transactions.
The letter press was often used for the copying of letters and accounts and all Wills and many other documents were typed requiring many official engrossing clerks in the law offices.
In 1930, Mr Arnold Lavers and Queensland Trustee joined together to build the T & L Building at 156 Margaret Street, Toowoomba. The firm has only recently ceased operating from these premises.
In 1991, the firm merged with the respected firm of T J Irvine and Co in Oakey. At that stage the firm had offices in Toowoomba, Oakey, Kingsthorpe, Goombungee and Pittsworth. In 2001, the firm merged with Sorensen Legal with the Principal of that firm, Mr Phillip Sorensen being a previous principal of Groom & Lavers.
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The Groom Family
The Groom family have contributed immensely to the political and cultural life of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs. Leslie Groom’s father, William Groom was the first Mayor of the municipality of Toowoomba and a member for Darling Downs in the first federal parliament. The current federal electorate of Groom is named after William Groom.
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Former Partners of Groom & Lavers
Over the years there have been many partners of the firm. Below is a short mention of some of them.
Charles Eden was the founding Partner of the firm. He served his articles of clerkship with Alexander Drysdale of Ipswich for five (5) years commencing 30 May, 1888. He was admitted as a Solicitor on 5 September, 1893 and later that year he commenced practice in the Club Hotel Chambers in Margaret Street, Toowoomba.
Mr Dodds commenced partnership with Mr Charles Eden in 1900. He continued in partnership until approximately 1909.
Leslie Walter Groom
Leslie Walter Groom was the son of William Henry Groom, one of the political pioneers of the colony. He continued in practice until October, 1915 when his brother, Sir Littleton Groom took over his share of the practice.
Mr Arnold Lavers lays claim to one of the eldest practicing Solicitors in the state. He was affectionately referred to as “the grand old man of the profession”. He served in the legal profession for sixty-one (61) years. He was admitted as a Solicitor in 1907 and entered the Crown Solicitor’s Office in Brisbane. He moved to Toowoomba in 1909 and joined the firm of Groom & Lavers. He devoted a great deal of time to organisations and charities in the city being involved in the Rotary Club of Toowoomba, Toowoomba Branch of the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland, the Queensland Ambulance Brigade, Toowoomba Grammar School and the Downs and South Western Law Association. He was also heavily involved with the Neil Street Methodist Church and the Toowoomba Ladies Literacy Society. He continued making court appearances at ninety-one (91) years of age. For many years the Lavers family lived at 126 Russell Street, Toowoomba one of the grandest houses in Toowoomba at the time.
Sir Littleton Groom
Sir Littleton Groom was a partner of Groom & Lavers for a period of three (3) years from 1915 to 1918. In 1901 he was elected as a member for Darling Downs after the death of his father, William Henry Groom. He represented the constituency with one (1) intermission for a period of 33 years. It was during this intermission that he practiced as a Solicitor for the firm. He held many ministerial positions during his term including the Commonwealth Attorney-General. In 1926 he was chosen as Speaker of the House of Representatives. In parliament, on the death of Sir Littleton Groom, it was said “if it can be said of any man that he was a cultured gentleman, and that he had a well balanced nature, that he earned the profound respect of everyone with whom he came in contact, that can be truly said of Sir Littleton Groom”.
Mervyn was the nephew of Sir Littleton Groom . He completed his articles of clerkship with the firm and was admitted as a solicitor in 1925. He practiced until he was well over 80 years old. He was chairman of the board of Toowoomba Grammar School for many years. For many years he acted for the Toowoomba City Council and was very highly regarded by the community and the profession.
Howard Lavers, son of Arnold Lavers, was the first Solicitor on the Darling Downs to hold a Law Degree from the University of Queensland. He was articled by Brisbane Solicitors Flower & Hart and admitted as a Solicitor in December 1946. He joined the firm of Groom & Lavers after serving as a navigator in the RAAF with the rank of flight lieutenant. He served in Europe and in the middle east from 1941 to 1946. Mr Lavers was an active member of Rotary and Legacy and retired from the firm in 1989.
George undertook his initial legal training in Brisbane and became a partner of the firm in 1978. He was president of the Queensland Law Society in 1993 and served on the Council of the Toowoomba Prep School and Rotary. He retired from the firm in 2001.
Judith trained as a Solicitor in Brisbane and was admitted in 1983. She joined the firm in 1984 and become a partner in 1987. She was one of few female Solicitors who obtained partnership in Toowoomba at that time. Judith retired from the partnership in 1994.
Trevor undertook his legal training in Toowoomba and began practice in Oakey in 1972. He owned and operated a farming venture for 12 years and served as a Councillor on the Jondaryan Shire Council for 7 years and was involved in many community organisations. Trevor retired from the firm in 2002.
Anita was admitted as solicitor in 1999 after studying at James Cook university in Townsville. She became a partner in 2000 and served the firm for a period of 5 years before retiring to undertake further study. Anita was involved in many community organisations.
Robert was admitted as a Solicitor in England and Wales in 1980, and as a Solicitor in Queensland in 1983. He commenced practice in London in 1980, and then moved to Brisbane in 1982, where he practised at Chambers McNab Tully & Wilson (now Corrs Chambers Westgarth), becoming an associate of that firm in 1984. Robert moved to Toowoomba in 1988 when he joined Groom & Lavers. Robert retired from the firm September 2008.
Phillip was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in December of 1986. Phillip completed his 5 year Articles of Clerkship in 1985 with the Toowoomba firm Wonderley & Hall after which he moved to Brisbane, to complete his studies. After his admission as a Solicitor in 1986 Phillip then worked in suburban firms in Brisbane prior to returning to Toowoomba in 1990 to commence duties with another Toowoomba firm, Bernays & Bernays. Phillip joined Groom & Lavers as a Partner in 2001. He retired at the end of 2013 and now practices as a Barrister in Brisbane.
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Current Partners of Groom & Lavers
Today the current partners of Groom & Lavers are:
Andrew Taylor (See Profile)
Andrew commenced his legal training at Groom & Lavers in 1991 whilst studying law externally through the Queensland University of Technology. He completed his degree in 1996 and was admitted as a Solicitor in July 1996. Shortly after his admission he moved to Brisbane to work in Law Firms there before returning to Groom & Lavers in 1999. He became a partner in 2000. Apart from his time in Brisbane, Andrew has lived locally all of his life. Andrew is now the Resident Partner at the Firm’s Oakey office.
Amanda Boyce (See Profile)
Amanda grew up in the Jondaryan area before moving to Brisbane to further her education. She returned to Toowoomba nearing the end of her University studies to undertake Articles of Clerkship with Bernays Lawyers in Toowoomba. Amanda was admitted as a Solicitor following her graduation from the University of Queensland in 1994. She has subsequently been employed as a Solicitor or Associate with A R Coutts & Sons St George, Dean Kath & Kohler Toowoomba & Edgar & Wood Dalby. She commenced work as a Solicitor with Groom & Lavers in 2006 before being elevated to an Associate in 2010. Amanda is now the Resident Partner at the Firm’s Toowoomba Office.
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Tools of the Trade
The dictaphone worked by the user speaking into the tubed mouthpiece and a recording being made by the needle on a waxed cylinder. The cylinder was then taken from the machine and given to a transcriber. Once the transcriber had finished with the cylinder, it was erased using a “shaver”. As its name implies, it literally shaved off the soft paraffin leaving a smooth surface upon which to record new material. The cylinders could be reused until there was no longer any paraffin left on the cardboard tube. Early cylinders could only record up to 2 minutes of dictation but later larger cylinders increased recording times fourfold to about 8 or 9 minutes per cylinder.
Letter copying press
Today printers and photocopiers allow documents to be copied easily. However, in the early 1900, letters and other documents were copied by using a letter copying press.
A copying clerk would insert a sheet of oiled paper into a copying book in front of tissue paper on which he wanted to make a copy of a letter. He would then insert another sheet of oiled paper later on in the book. The success in copying the letters depended almost entirely upon the damping of the paper. The paper would be saturated and damp, not wet.
Letters were written with special copying ink. The copying clerk would arrange a portion of the letter book to be used in the following sequence starting from the front, a sheet of oiled paper, then a sheet of letter book tissue, then a letter placed face up against the back of the tissue on which the copy was to be made and then another oiled paper.
Finally, the book was closed, placed into the press and the press screwed tightly down letting it remain a minute or two under pressure when the copy would be properly taken and then would be dried with blotting paper or held near the fire.
The computer on the right is an “all in one” unit. It combines a monitor, keyboard, disk drive and printer. The computer used the now obsolete 5.25-inch floppy disk drive in order to store information.
The computer’s memory was very small in comparison to the capacity of today’s computers but at the time of its first purchase, it was cutting edge technology. This computer was used in the firm’s Oakey office.
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The previous offices of Groom and Lavers, located in Margaret Street Toowoomba were built in 1930 by the Lavers family and Queensland Trustees. The building includes sandstone that was sourced from Helidon. For many years the building had a bomb shelter at the rear of the building.
The Oakey Office
The first solicitor in Oakey was Allan B Stanley. He practised in the town from 1919 to 1920. He was followed by Fred Winkle. Also practising in the town at that time was Alex White. Fred Winkle continued his firm until 1 July 1955 when he sold his practice to Lindsay Statham.
Some years later White and Statham amalgamated and continued in practice until Alex White left Oakey. Lindsay Statham continued as the sole practitioner in Oakey until March 1972 when he sold his firm to John Robinson.
In 1975 Mr Trevor Irvine went in partnership with Mr Robinson and the two traded as Robinson and Irvine until 1978 when Trevor Irvine took over the Oakey operation of the firm and changed the name to TJ Irvine and Co.
Mr Irvine continued to practise as a sole practitioner until 1991 when he merged with Groom & Lavers. In 2002 Trevor retired and Andrew Taylor became the resident partner of the firm.
For additional historic information, please contact Groom & Lavers.