Bar history

On 22 October 1936 the New South Wales Bar Association was incorporated and the first meeting of the Council of the New South Wales Bar Association took place. The Memorandum and Articles of Association noted that the Bar Association would make suggestions on legislation, court rules, procedure and business. The memorandum also noted that a library would be established together with reading, meeting, and dining rooms, and power to undertake law reporting, printing, publishing and bookbinding.


Life members

Our life members are appointed for 'exceptional service to the Bar Association or to the profession of the law'.


View a  list of presidents, which displays them in order of appointment, along with their election date and date of retirement or resignation.

Silks (QCs and SCs)

The first person appointed to the rank of queen's counsel (QC) was John Hubert Plunkett, on 6 June 1856. The last was Peter Michael Jacobson on 1 December 1992. Since 1993 they have been known as senior counsel (SC). View the full list of appointments  here.

First World War Barristers

A list of  barristers who served in the First World War is being compiled by Tony Cunneen. If you are aware of more names that ought to be added, please contact Tony via email.

Francis Forbes Society

The Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History aims to bring together scholars, lawyers and the general public interested in legal history. It sponsors lectures, competitions, research projects and a variety of seminars and discussion groups. Learn more about them by  visiting their website.

oral history project 

The Bar Association is proud to feature the  recorded oral history anecdotes of various retired and practising counsel on this website, as part of an ongoing commitment to illuminate the principles and practice of law - both then and now. 

  • Interviews and research:  Juliette Brodsky
  • Sound editing: Labsonics
  • Content editing and supervision: Juliette Brodsky
  • Special thanks to Philip Selth OAM, Lisa Allen and Jo Wilton, barrister Jenny Chambers (additional photos) and Fairfax Photos.

Women at the New South Wales Bar: the Years to 1975

It's comparatively commonplace to see women practising as barristers today, but before 1976 in New South Wales, it was a very different story. The WBF, with the support of the Bar Association, has produced a multimedia presentation about the pioneering women at the New South Wales Bar. Full interviews and biographical details of these incredible women can be found  here.

NSW Law Almanacs

Which publication can tell you the times of rising and setting of the moon in 1915? Or list every member of the New South Wales Bar, in order of seniority, for each year between 1886 and 2012? In 2008 the Bar Association, with funding from the Attorney General's Department digitised the entire collection of NSW Law Almanacs and published them online. The software for searching and viewing the collection has been updated and is available for public viewing, once again. View the NSW Law Almanacs here.