Crown Law was destined to be part of Queensland’s historical landscape. As the State Government’s legal advisers, Crown Solicitors and Solicitors-General have been intrinsically involved in the events of the State, quite often confidants to decision makers well before such episodes unfolded or became public knowledge. 

Thirteen days after the Colony of Queensland was proclaimed – on 23 December 1859 – Robert Little was appointed Crown Solicitor for criminal and civil business. His right of private practice continued. 

Ratcliffe Pring QC, Queensland’s first Attorney-General, was one of the three Ministers appointed in Governor George Bowen’s interim Government pending the election of the first Parliament in 1860, of which Pring was to become a member.

Although the office of Attorney-General was held from the outset by a politician, in those early days, the Attorney’s duties were predominantly legal, being mainly parliamentary drafting, prosecuting criminal cases and acting as Chief Counsel for the Government in the courts. By the time Samuel Walker Griffith was Attorney-General in 1874, the workload of the Office was becoming too much. In 1890, when Griffith became Premier, he appointed Thomas Joseph Byrnes as Queensland’s first Solicitor-General.

One of Pring’s first duties as Attorney-General was to write to the managers of three Brisbane banks and one in Ipswich, advising that the Government would be immediately calling tenders for the performance of Government business. The letter is the first piece of correspondence in Crown Law’s records. It is headed ‘the Crown Law Offices’ and is dated 13 December 1859, three days after Separation.