THE HISTORY of a law firm was told recently at a party acknowledging the retirement of Graham Cowley, founding partner of Sydney law firm Cowley Hearne.
“The firm was successful on its first day, it earned a fee of $2.10. I had the fee framed at a cost of $5.70. I was going back quickly,” Cowley told his colleagues and friends.
Thirty-five years after the founding of the then Cowley & Associates, Cowley said he had started the firm with the plan that a “burgeoning North Sydney business community needed legal advice and I was there to provide it”.
The beginnings were not necessarily smooth, however, and he found it amazing that he was “touting” by asking someone to lunch while large firms held luncheons uncriticised. “That sort of hypocrisy I ignored to the detriment of both my waistline and brain cells.”
In 1974, the firm was one of the first to introduce word processing, Cowley said. He tried to lead rather than push and set standards that others would respect, he said.
Now, Cowley Hearne is “a good law firm” and capably led by John Hearne as chair and Mike Beilby as CEO, Cowley said. The retired Cowley will meanwhile travel as “there clearly is some gypsy in my blood”. And, he will improve his tennis and “be available for lunch at Balmoral — or indeed elsewhere — on most days”.