Auckland Barristers & Solicitors

Our History

Johnston Prichard Fee has been providing legal services for over 125 years. We're proud of our history as a practice.


George Miller Johnston established a legal practice in Shorts Building Queen Street in September 1887. He quickly gained respect in the city both as a barrister and in commercial and conveyancing areas of the law.

Throughout the period from the original founding of the first practice through to the present time, there has always been a member of the Johnston family involved in the practice. It started with the original founder, George Miller Johnston. The founder was followed by his son, John Kenneth Johnston, Senior. In turn, John Kenneth Johnston's two sons, George and John, both became partners.


Justice Evan Murray Prichard, CBE, first joined the firm, then called Johnston Coates and Fee in 1936. After serving as a captain in the Second World War, he was appointed crown prosecutor for the Fijian Government. He became a partner in Johnston Prichard and Fee in 1948.

Justice Prichard was appointed a High Court Judge directly from general practice as a partner in Johnston Prichard and Fee (at a time when appointment as a High Court Judge was almost always through first becoming a Barrister and then a Queen's Counsel). It was a tribute to the respect with which he was held that, prior to his eventual retirement from the bench, his warrant as a Judge was extended three times.


William Richardson Fee, MBE, first joined George Miller Johnston in practice in 1908 - over 100 years ago. In 1915, the first partnership was established between George Miller Johnston, William Richardson Fee and Robert James Coates.

Mr Fee was also closely involved in Auckland City business and local affairs. He was an Auckland City Councillor, a President of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, and the founding president of the Auckland Citizens and Ratepayers Association. He was also a trustee of the Eden Park Trust Board for a period of over 45 years. For his services to the community and to sport, Mr Fee was awarded the MBE.

From the time William Richardson Fee first joined the firm in 1908 down to the present, there has always been an involvement of the Fee family in the practice. Mr Fee remained with the firm from 1908 through to his death in the 1970's. Whilst he was still practising, and in the early 1960's, he was joined by his grandson, Colin William Bright. Colin has, in turn, been joined by his son, Michael Colin Fee Bright, Mr Fee's great grandson.

The Profession We Represent

"We belong to a great profession. We deal with and we defend the rights, liberties and property of our fellow citizens.

We stand, when the occasion demands, between the citizen and any attempt at abuse of power by the executive arm of the state.

That is who we are. That is our identity.

When we do these things, we are asserting our identity. And when the chips are down, we will contribute to do these things regardless of cost effectiveness, margins of profit and the like."

Justice Evan Prichard, on his retirement as a High Court judge.