Our history

Johnston Withers was founded in Adelaide in 1946 by Elliott Johnston QC. Elliott was later joined by his wife Elizabeth and the firm of Johnston & Johnston practised throughout the 1950s until Elizabeth took up a role at the Crown Law Office. They both had extensive backgrounds in Union organisations.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the firm grew through its employment, workers compensation and personal injury work and was closely involved with numerous Unions and the Union movement generally. It also extended its work into criminal and family law.

The firm evolved and expanded throughout the 1980s and 1990s under the stewardship of Brian Withers. During this time Johnston Withers broadened its services to incorporate a commercial and property section including conveyancing, wills and estates and defamation. It also developed strong relationships with Aboriginal communities in pursuing native title and land rights claims.

The firm’s areas of practice in industrial work, crime and personal injuries saw some prominent practitioners work with the firm in past years, such as:

  • Elliott Johnston AO QC who became a Supreme Court Judge and was appointed Commissioner for the National Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
  • Elizabeth Johnston who became the first Commissioner for Equal Opportunities in South Australia
  • Brian Withers AM now Judge Withers, Master of the Supreme Court
  • Robyn Layton AO QC former Judge in the Supreme Court and has held various other judicial appointments and appointments including with the International Labour Organisation and to the United Nations.
  • Chris Kourakis QC, the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia
  • John Rau, the current Attorney General for South Australia
  • Geoff Eames QC, former Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria
  • Peter McCusker now a Judge in the Workers Compensation Tribunal and Industrial Court
  • Clive Kitchin AM, now a Magistrate
  • Paul Heywood-Smith QC
  • Lindy Powell QC
  • Andrew Collett AM, Barrister

All of the above and many others have contributed to the firm’s rich history and reputation.

Johnston Withers is proud to be part of the South Australian legal fraternity. It continues to practise in most areas of law and is strongly committed to the ethos that justice matters.