Our story

Johnston Withers Lawyers has a rich history and takes pride in its reputation for fighting for the underdog and the disadvantaged. We recognise our practical and ethical obligations to provide top quality legal services to all members of the community, or organisations, who seek our advice or assistance.

We remain committed to the vision of our founder, Elliott Johnston QC, who passionately pursued justice for all under the law and acted with empathy and compassion for those in difficult circumstances.

Today, Johnston Withers’ highly experienced practitioners continue to provide top quality legal services across a very wide range of areas. We continue to provide assistance in the Personal injury, WorkCover, Industrial, Family and Criminal law fields but have also developed strong practices in all aspects of Commercial and Property law, Wills and Estates and Defamation.

Whilst the firm’s major work base historically came from the labour movement, it now has a broad general public clientele and today represents clients including individuals, families, small and medium businesses, community organisations, corporations and Aboriginal communities.

Johnston Withers Lawyers is the South Australian legal profession member of MSI Global Alliance, an association of independent law and accounting firms with over 250 member firms in 100 countries. The firm is also a member of the Statewide Legal Group, an association of one city and five independent country legal firms.

Today Johnston Withers has permanent offices in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Murray Bridge and Clare, and in addition services Roxby Downs on a regular basis.

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Our history

Johnston Withers Lawyers 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 formerly 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 former Attorney General for South Australia
  • Geoff Eames QC, former Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria
  • Peter McCusker formerly a Judge in the Workers Compensation Tribunal and Industrial Court
  • Clive Kitchin AM, formerly 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 Lawyers 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.

Our community

Johnston Withers Lawyers’ commitment to justice is real and unwavering.

We are active in the local communities in which we operate and our lawyers participate in a variety of pro bono and charity work.

We support a number of organizations including the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, JusticeNet SA, the RSPCA, the Refugee Advocacy Service of South Australia, the ACH Group Foundation and the Cancer Council by providing their members or clients with free or discounted services.

Our purpose

We provide legal solutions for people

  • in their workplaces
  • in their families
  • in their businesses
  • in their lives

Our values



of our history



in our outlook



to justice



in our fields of practice