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

Foley, Clare (1913 - 1997)

Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Lawyer, Partner and Solicitor
Alternative Names
  • Pender, Clare (birth name)


Clare Foley was the fourth woman to be admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland. The daughter of an Ipswich lawyer, she commenced a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Queensland in 1931. She then began her articles of clerkship with her brother Thomas Joseph in 1933. With her two brothers, Clare established a family legal practice through the Depression and in May 1939 she was admitted as a Solicitor.

Soon after admission, Foley became a partner with her brother in the firm of T.J. Pender & Pender until 1950, the year of her brother, Thomas Joseph's, sudden death. At that point she decided the practice should be sold, however, encouraged by friends, she carried on until the practice was bought by Mary and Eric Whitehouse in October of 1951.

In 1967, Clare resumed practice at the Toowong firm of Foley & Foley, where she was assisted by her husband and son, Thomas Joseph. Although Clare's son Thomas took over the firm as partner during the mid 1980s, his tragic death in 1992 forced Clare to return to work to run, then dispose of the practice.

Clare Foley was the first of a family dynasty of women lawyers. Her daughter, Mary, went on to become a Judge of the Family Court of Australia and her grand-daughter, Eugenie was admitted as a New South Wales solicitor in 2016.

Sources used to compile this entry: Gregory, Helen, 'Clare Foley and her daughter Mary Finn', in Susan Purdon and Aladin Rahemtula (eds), A Woman's Place: 100 Years of Queensland Women Lawyers, Supreme Court of Queensland Library, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 205-213.

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