The firm was established as a one-man practice by John Benjamin Russell in 1863. He was joined by various partners until he was succeeded at the firm by his son Edward in 1893. In 1904, Robert McVeagh joined the partnership and remained involved in the firm until his death in 1944; the firm has held the Russell and McVeagh names ever since.
In 1969 the firm merged with McKenzie & Bartleet to become Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartleet & Co., the name it held until 2000, when it became known simply as Russell McVeagh.
In 1988, the firm established its Wellington office with four founding partners to become a truly national firm – which means that in 2013 as well as celebrating the firm’s 150th birthday, we also celebrated the 25th birthday of the Wellington office.
Over the years Russell McVeagh has been involved in a number of high profile transactions and cases, from the growth of the Auckland Harbour port in the late 1800s; shipping rights in the early 1900s; playing a leading role in the aftermath of the Erebus tragedy; following the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in the 1980s; and right up to the creation and evolution of New Zealand's largest company, Fonterra.
The firm appointed its first female partner in 1987 and established its first website in 1995, one of the first law firms in New Zealand to do so.
From its beginnings as a one-man practice, the firm has grown to a large national firm acting on behalf of some of the country’s largest and most influential companies. But the current Auckland office is just metres from its earliest location on ‘Shortland Crescent’, and the firm’s tradition of outstanding legal work has continued from its foundation up to today.