Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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  • Australian Women Lawyers as Active Citizens

Craft, Lilian Jessie (1907 - 1988)

11 August 1907
Woolwich, Kent, England
7 February 1988
Cammeray, New South Wales, Australia
Barrister, Lawyer, Public servant and Solicitor
Alternative Names
  • Craft, Lillian (alternative spelling)
  • Goldsmith, Lilian (birth name)


Lilian Jessie Craft (nee Goldsmith) has the distinction of having been the first woman in New South Wales to become a solicitor by undertaking the Solicitors' Admission Board course. She was also the first woman solicitor to practise in the regional New South Wales city of Goulburn, when she was managing clerk to the city's firm of Ian R. Duffy and Galland in 1947. The then Goldsmith attended Fort Street Girls' High School. On 1 November 1933 a notice in The Sydney Morning Herald announced that she had been serving articles of clerkship with Keith Ewington Whitehead Solicitor of Sydney and of her intention to apply to be admitted as an attorney-solicitor and proctor. She was admitted on 17 November 1933. In 1938, she travelled overseas for a year. When she returned, she set up her own practice and also took on responsibility for the practice of Horace Archy Teakle, who went into the army. (She herself joined the Women's Royal Australian Navy Service (W.R.A.N.S.), on 10 July 1945). In the late 1940s Goldsmith worked in the State Crown Solicitor's Office. She married in 1949. With her retirement from practice as a solicitor in 1959, Craft transferred to the Bar roll as a non-practising barrister. She was appointed permanent convenor of the regular meetings of the informal Society of Women Lawyers, the forerunner to the Women Lawyers' Association of New South Wales.

Sources used to compile this entry: O'Brien, Joan M., 'A History of Women in the Legal Profession in New South Wales', MA thesis, Department of History, University of Sydney, 1986. Also available at; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1934, Alfred James Kent, I.S.O., Government Printer, Sydney, 1934, p. 100; 1941 p. 136; 1947, p. 87; 1950, p. 83; 1958, p. 102; 1960, p. 91; Bennett, J. M; with contributions by E. J. Minchin and Anthony Fisher, A History of Solicitors in New South Wales (Sydney: Legal Books, 1984), pp. 274, 264.

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