The firm of Downie Stewart takes its name from Mr William Downie Stewart, the original founder of the firm, but is more strongly connected with his well-known son, the Hon. William Downie Stewart (Jr).
Mr Downie Stewart Senior commenced practice in 1867 and continued with the firm until his death in 1898.
Mr Downie Stewart (Jr) is better known, both as a distinguished lawyer at the beginning of last century and as a politician and member of Cabinet. He joined the firm in 1900 and retired in 1922.
William Downie Stewart (Junior) William Downie Stewart (Senior)
There have been 21 partners in the firm practising as Downie Stewart since 1867 including the current 5 partners. The longest serving was Mr W S ("Rusty") Armitage who completed 50 years with the firm up to just before his death in 1984. Rusty Armitage was the grandson of the founder W D Stewart (Snr). His son, Mr W D S (Bill) Armitage, was with the firm for 43 years until his retirement in 2008.
Two partners have been appointed to the judiciary; Mr J E Denniston was appointed a Supreme Court Judge in 1889, and Mr W H Reid was appointed a Stipendiary Magistrate in 1978.
Other names which are strongly identified with the firm are Charles Joseph Payne (partner 1898 to 1945), William Ferguson ("Fergie") Forrester (1934 to 1969) and George Edwin ("Eddie") Laing (1951 to 1967). Incorporating the names referred to above, Downie Stewart for several years was known under the name "Downie Stewart Payne Forrester and Armitage".
This was abbreviated to Downie Stewart & Co in 1974, and finally to the present day form, Downie Stewart, in 1986.
When the firm of Paterson Lang merged with Downie Stewart in 1995, that firm brought with it a significant history of its own. Paterson Lang was founded by John Alexander Hislop in 1877. The name was changed to Hislop and Lang in 1905, and then to Hislop Lang and Paterson in 1911. This became Lang and Paterson in 1920, before changing to Paterson and Lang in 1943. The Paterson Lang form was adopted in 1990. J M Paterson as well as the pivotal name of his firm was also the first Dean of Commerce and had a strong presence in the commercial community.
The practice has been conducted within the Exchange area of Dunedin throughout its history, firstly from premises in Princes St. (just north of Rattray St.), then from Liverpool St., then from Upstart House (then known as the T&G Building). The latest move was to John Wickliffe House in 1997.
Every type of legal work has been carried out over the years. The firm's history is intertwined with generations of rural, business and working families from Dunedin and Otago. This enduring client loyalty is at the core of the firm and the basis of our "Client for Life" philosophy.