CELEBRATING A CENTURY IN BUSINESS

Written on the 4 June 2015 by Jenna Rathbone

CELEBRATING A CENTURY IN BUSINESS

IT'S a law firm that has operated through two world wars and a Depression, and survived.

This year, Brisbane-based Delaney and Delaney continues to beat the odds as it celebrates 100 years in operation.

Founded in 1915 by William George Delaney, the firm has grown from a small office in Ipswich to a business employing seven solicitors and 20 staff.  It has also been the workplace to four generations of Delaneys with the great-grandchildren of the founder currently working for the firm. 

"It is quite unusual for a small firm like ours to survive for that period of time and for it to still have members of the same family practicing the law in it," says Principal Fiona Kennedy.

She says what is also impressive is the fact Delaney and Delaney currently consults to a number of clients whose grandparents or great-grandparents were clients of the firm 100 years ago.

"We hear some really great stories - we still have clients who are the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the founding Delaney," she says.

"This is pretty unique because a lot of the small firms in Brisbane went down during the Depression or in the 90s or merged into other firms.

"They lost their autonomous identity, whereas Delaney and Delaney has retained its autonomous identity through those 10 decades."

The firm will have a party on the roof of its CBD office on the night of River Fire this year to celebrate the 100-year milestone with staff.

Kennedy (pictured right) says the reason the firm has lasted so long is because of its strong ethics which have been engrained in the firm from day one.

"The general ethos is that we care about our clients and we want to practice with integrity and we strive for excellence in our work," says Kennedy.

"It is my theory, and you can hear this is my propaganda, but I don't think a firm survives for this long without it practicing the law in a way that serves people properly."

Although Kennedy has been with Delaney and Delaney for the past 17 years, she is still the "new kid on the block" with a number of its staff also celebrating more than half a century with the firm.

Para-legal and estates manager Judith Kugler commenced her career with Delaney and Delaney at the age of 16 and has never left - it has been the only full-time job she has had over the past 53 years.

Kugler says she remembers the days of working from a typewriter and says the pace of law has changed dramatically.

"Technology, in most ways, has certainly speeded things up and I feel like we actually have more work to do," says Kugler.

"It has taken me a bit to get adjusted to the change. But we certainly wouldn't want to go back to the days of the manual typewriting and our archaic photocopiers that we used to have."

Kugler says she is proud of the fact she has been with the company for so long and says it is the working environment that has kept her glued to the chair at Delaney and Delaney.

"Ninety per cent of the staff we have had have been really lovely people; we get along with each other and we help each other out it is just a great place to work," she says.

Kugler adds that the hardest part of being with the firm for so long is that she has built lasting relationships with clients and says it is sad when clients pass away.

"I may have started their wills and here I am doing their estate; you feel connected to them, like they are part of your family," she says.

Bill Delaney, a former partner in the business and a current senior solicitor at the firm, has also been an employee of Delaney and Delaney for 52 years.

Delaney commenced his career working for the firm in the school holidays before being admitted as a solicitor in 1967.

In 1982 Delaney took over major responsibility of the law firm until he sold his share in the business to colleague Leanne O'Shea (who later became deputy chief magistrate).  Delaney continued working for the firm as a consultant.

"I wanted to retire from practice, I was in my late 50s and I wanted to try other things," says Delaney.

"I found that operating in a partnership with two principal lawyers was very draining. Being a lawyer was still very rewarding, but I felt I needed a break as I hadn't really had any breaks since I was admitted."

Delaney then worked for the firm part-time before again getting more involved later down the track.

"I had recovered from whatever thought I had of retiring and found the law more exciting because I didn't have to worry about the operational aspects of the business," he says.

"I could focus on just being a lawyer and that was the most enjoyable part about my career and it continues to be that way even though I am in my early seventies."

Fellow employee and practice manager Teresa Gageler has also been with the firm for 48 years.

Delaney and Delaney specialises in family law; banking, finance and business law; property; wills and estates and litigation.

Main picture above (left to right): Teresa Gageler, Bill Delaney and Judith Kugler.

 
Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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