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History of Rennie Cox

The law firm of Rennie Cox dates back to 1920. The firm is one of the few firms in Auckland, or indeed in New Zealand, where there have been three generations of the same family as partners from inception through to the present day.

It all started in 1920 when Frederick James Cox (“Fred”), father and grandfather respectively of the current partners, Graeme Cox and John Cox, returned from World War I. After his discharge from the forces, Fred returned as a clerk to the law firm to which he was articled in 1910, being Reed, Bailey and Towle. In 1920 Fred joined Nugent Percy Wyatt, forming the firm called Wyatt and Cox. Fred continued in partnership with N.P. Wyatt until 1926, when the partnership was dissolved.

At the conclusion of World War I, Fred’s brother, John Watson Cox, eleven years Fred’s junior, was still a student at Auckland Grammar School. After finishing at Auckland Grammar, John W. Cox also studied the law, and he became a clerk in the firm of Stanton Johnstone & Spence for some years. After qualifying as a solicitor, John joined Wyatt & Cox as a senior qualified clerk.

When Fred dissolved partnership with N.P. Wyatt, Fred and his brother John, decided to establish the firm of Cox & Cox (usually known as Cox & Box, after the well-known Gilbert & Sullivan play), and this practice continued until it was amalgamated with Goulding & Rennie in 1933.

In 1933, the law firm of Goulding, Rennie, Cox & Cox was formed by an amalgamation of the two then existing firms of Goulding & Rennie, and Cox & Cox. That year, the new firm employed Russell Tonson Garlick, as an articled clerk. Russell was most likely the last clerk to be articled in Auckland, and he started on the princely salary of 7 shillings 6 pence per week.

 Russell had graduated from Auckland University College, and upon John W Cox’s retirement in 1939, Russell Garlick was admitted into the partnership, and the firm assumed the name of Rennie Cox & Garlick.

It transpired that each of the senior partners’ sons also joined the firm as partners;  Peter Rennie in 1945, Graeme Cox in 1956, and Hugh Garlick in 1968. John Sparling joined the practice in 1978, at which time the firm changed its name to Rennie Cox, Garlick & Sparling. John Cox (junior) joined the firm as a partner in 1993.  John Cox and Graeme Cox went “back to the future” in 2000, when the firm Rennie Cox Garlick & Sparling was dissolved, and the firm Rennie Cox (not Cox & Cox), was formed. Wayne Richards joined as a partner in 2008.

To put first things first and because it is far more interesting to consider the older history, it would not seem amiss to give a “thumbnail” sketch of the four senior and founding partners of Rennie Cox, J.C. Rennie, F.J. Cox & J.W. Cox, and Russell Tonson Garlick. These notes were penned by Fred Cox before he died in 1981.