Freehills partner Keith Steele died suddenly on the weekend.
The firm confirmed today lawyers, partners and staff have been hit hard by the news. Gavin Bell, the firm's chief executive, has given the following condolences.
The partners and staff of Freehills are deeply saddened by the loss of respected colleague, mentor and friend, Keith Steele. He was a modern colossus in the legal world and he typified everything that is good about the firm and what it stands for.
Keith joined Freehills in 1977 and became a partner in 1980. He was one of Australia’s leading litigation practitioners and as the Sydney chairman and senior partner of the firm (1997–2001) he played a lead role in the national integration of Freehills in 2000. From 2005–08 he was the head of litigation nationally at Freehills and in that capacity led a group of 65 partners, 230 lawyers and 150 other staff and sat on the firm’s Executive Board.
A man of great acumen, Keith was a Girdlers Scholar and a law graduate of Cambridge University (where he also gained a double Blue in cricket and rugby).
He played a leading role in the establishment of Freehills’ pro bono program in Sydney. In 1992 he was instrumental in establishing the Shopfront Youth Legal Centre to serve homeless young people in Kings Cross.
Keith also successfully established a permanent solicitor secondment arrangement with the Kingsford Legal Centre and orchestrated Freehills becoming a founding member of the Public Interest Law Clearing House. Keith served as a director of that body for nearly 10 years from its inception.
Keith was a man of strength, moral courage and a good friend to many around the world. Keith was dedicated to his family, and we send our sincere condolences to his wife Margaret and his three children. '