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History of the Firm

The late John Marsden AM

3 January, 1942 - 17 May, 2006


John Marsden Wikipedia

Marsdens Law Group was founded by John Marsden as a one man practice in 1968. Since he started the firm, John set high standards of service, professionalism and commitment. It was these standards and John's voracious appetite for work and innovation that saw the firm expand, at times rapidly, to become one of the largest firms in the State.

John Robert Marsden, born the son of publicans Guy and Tibby Marsden, was the eldest of six siblings. He graduated from the University of Sydney in 1968 with a Bachelor of Laws degree and awarded a Master of Laws Degree in 1974. In 38 years at the helm, John steered the practice from a one man operation to a leading firm of 140 personnel with offices in Sydney, Liverpool, Camden and, of course, the head office in Campbelltown where it all began.

John not only had a voracious appetite for work, but a passion for the law, his community, social justice, understanding and tolerance. This commitment to the community and various causes saw John serve many organisations, most of which he led at some period or another. The following were amongst many of John's involvements, some included the following:

  • Foundation President and President of the Macarthur Law Society
  • Councillor of the Law Society of NSW 1984-1993.
  • President of the NSW Law Society 1992.
  • Councillor of the Council for Civil Liberties 1976-1988 and 1992-1997.
  • Patron of Civil Liberties Australia from 2005.
  • Deputy Chair of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Sydney 1994-1996.
  • Director of the Australian Aids Trust.
  • Member of the NSW Police Board 1992-1995.
  • Chairman of the Campbelltown Art Gallery.
  • Chairman of the Board of Management of the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.
  • In 1994 John was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (AM).

John lived by the philosophies of some famous Australians, one of the most important of whom was Ben Chifley.... "If an idea is worth fighting for, no matter what the penalty, fight for the right, and truth and justice will prevail". It was this quote from Ben Chifley that John embraced. Every day of his life he fought for his clients' rights, his beliefs and he fought for equality and justice.

John was an openly gay man. For that openness and candour, he ended up fighting for his own reputation and justice from 1995-2001. He had been defamed by Channel 7 and in this period he prosecuted Australia's longest running and most famous defamation case - which he won.

John Marsden was diagnosed with stomach cancer shortly after the defamation case was over. Whilst fighting the cancer on a daily basis, he refused to give in. He attended work as often as he could, he took holidays and he defied his doctors in typical fashion. In defiance of advice from doctors and family, he took a holiday to Turkey in the middle of May 2006 and it was in Turkey that the cancer finally won the battle.

The strength, courage and passion John instilled into the firm and, in particular, his Partners and the now Senior Partner, his brother Jim, still exists. The success of the firm has been recognised in many areas including Western Sydney Business Awards in 2004 and the achievement of Law 9000 Accreditation a week after John's death.

To Marsdens Law Group, even in his final days, John was a backbone with the strength of a steel rod. His legacy of commitment to service, to the client and the community will be continued by the firm.

The late Ken Searle

1 May, 1946 - 28 May, 2017

Ken Searle - History Page

Ken was the partner in charge of our Camden office and was a lawyer for over 40 years.  Prior to joining Marsdens in 1986, Ken was in partnership with the former Premier of New South Wales and Federal Minister for Finance, John Fahey.

Ken was always a community man, he was actively involved in the Camden area for approximately 40 years.  Ken held roles in several community organisations including President of the Camden RSL Club, member of the Camden Rugby Club & Camden Rotary Club, as well as Chairman of the finance committee of the St Paul's Catholic Church.

Ken left behind a huge legacy, one that we know his children and colleagues of Marsdens will cherish forever.


Marsdens Law Group's History Video