RMB Celebrates 130 Years
as published in the Illawarra Mercury by Greg Ellis Feb 27, 2015 - http://goo.gl/fk2cHy
RMB Lawyers turns 130 on Saturday. It started around the same time as electricity first came to Wollongong.
But despite being one of the of the oldest businesses in the Illawarra and becoming one of the largest regional-based law firms in NSW, it is celebrating quietly.
Founder Charles Coffey Russell established the law firm in 1885 and ran the Coronial Inquest in the Mount Kembla Mining disaster.
Mr Russell heavily involved himself in the community, starting a culture that remains to this day.
RMB Lawyers now boasts close to 100 lawyers, licensed conveyancers, paralegals and support staff.
Managing partner Craig Osborne said he and the team saw the practice as being 130 years young, modern, innovative and progressive. He said staff liked to see themselves as quiet achievers and active contributors to the community.
"Charles Russell ... became a real pillar of this community and served as the district coroner for many years," he said.
"In fact, he conducted the coronial inquiry into the Mt Kembla mine disaster of 1902, in which 96 people died."
Mr Russell was joined by son James in 1900 and Henry McLelland in 1915, when the name changed to Russell & McLelland.
But most people affectionately shortened it to Russell Macs.
The firm became Russell, McLelland & Brown in 1956 when John Brown became a partner.
Mr Osborne believed its founder would be proud at what RMB had become since Mr Russell, a lawyer from Belfast in Northern Ireland, hung out his shingle in Crown Street on February 28, 1885: RMB has offices in Wollongong, Kiama, Nowra, Bowral and Dapto and opened a Sydney office in 2014.
It has introduced many innovations such as being the Australian test site for the introduction of the quality assurance standard LAW 9000 in 2004, and introducing revolutionary fixed fee charging in 2014.
But despite the many achievements Mr Osborne said his team preferred to remain quiet achievers.
"We are going to celebrate internally and put some more funds into, and get involved in, the community," he said.
Mr Osborne said everyone in RMB cared about their community.
That culture comes from the top.
As managing partner he is involved in many projects, such as the revitalisation of Port Kembla.
"That is a labour of love," he said.
"It is about sustainability."
Mr Osborne also praised all those behind the water slide and the billy kart derby.
He puts RMB's success down to being willing to adapt.
"You have got to have a lot of luck as well," he said.
He said it was important for local companies to survive because of what they did for their communities.
Among the firm's proudest achievements were being able to inject money into the community, fund scholarships and contribute to boards.
Mr Osborne sent all staff a message this week with a Rudyard Kipling poem about resilience
"We will be doing a celebration on Monday with morning teas across all our offices," he said.