Clerks of Wentworth and Selborne Chambers

I was very pleased to be asked by Counsel's Chambers Limited to pay tribute to the Clerks both past and present by introducing this section of the Wentworth Chambers 50th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet.

The life of a clerk in 1957 was nothing like it is today. For example, there were 12 clerks in the building, all of whom were male. The role of a clerk in 1957 was vastly different. The clerk had the responsibility of setting down all of his barristers' matters in the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, Divorce and Workers Compensation Courts.

In 1957 when the building was opened the clerks were, going from the 13th Floor to the 2nd: Bill Parsons, Norm Marks, Jack Caffrey, Ken Hall, Norman Calver, Harry Peel, Fred De Saxe, Harry Dobson, Edgar Marks, John Cockeyne, Pat Robinson and Perc Mansfield.

The legendary Fred De Saxe was the leading clerk at that time. Solicitors would ring him with a list of matters for him to find counsel for. His knowledge of counsel on his floor and in the building was immense. He never gave a solicitor a barrister who was not able to handle the brief. The Marks Brothers on the 12th and 5th Floors were the only clerks who were on a commission.

The clerk to the 10th Floor, Ken Hall, was a clerk to his bootlaces. His knowledge of the law and the workings of the listings in the courts, especially the High Court, was always highly sought. It would be remiss of me not to mention the great Brian Bannon, 7th Floor clerk for 40 years. He was also a clerk who generated a great deal of work for his floor and had a great understanding of the court system. Three clerks who started as very young juniors in the building, Bob Rymer under Greg Isaacs, Mark Dalley under Fred De Saxe and Belinda Lyus under Les O'Brien have gone on to be outstanding clerks for their respective floors.

Paul Daley
Paul Daley,
started as a clerk on
the 11th Floor in 1961.
Clerks of the Past
Seated, from left: Bill McCarthy, Greg Isaac, Brian Bannon. Standing: Bill McMahon, Ken Hall. Photo: SMH fairfaxphotos-66080
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