Our History

History of Vandeleur & Todd


Vandeleurs was founded by Mr O’Malley in the early 1900s. Mr O’Malley practiced as a solicitor in Innisfail until he was tragically killed in a cyclone that passed through Innisfail in 1918. Mr Norman Mighell (pronounced mile) returned to Far North Queensland after a distinguished military career in the First World War. Mr Mighell picked up the remnants of Mr O’Malley’s papers and commenced practice as a Solicitor in Innisfail. Mr Mighell built up a successful practice quite quickly. He was well connected in North Queensland, having married a Draper who was a member of a very well known Cairns family.

Michael Vandeleur, who grew up in Innisfail, was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Queensland to undertake studies in a bachelor’s degree in Arts. At the completion of his Arts Degree, Mr Vandeleur became a high school teacher in Charters Towers. While teaching, Mr Vandeleur aspired to study and practice law. He later became articled to Mr Viv Roberts, a solicitor practising in Townsville and was admitted as a solicitor in 1926. Mr Vandeleur and Mr Bob Lee-Bryce bought the practice from Mr Mighell in 1926 and from then practised under the name of Mighell, Lee-Bryce & Vandeleur.

Mr Lee-Bryce left the firm in 1936 after selling his interest to Mr Leslie Francis Gallagher. Michael Vandeleur and Leslie Gallagher practised in partnership until 1949 when Mr Gallagher left Innisfail to pursue a business career in hotels. Mr Vandeleur then practised on his own account for about two years thereafter. Mr Ernie Birchley (who had seen active service in the Second World War and was a POW in Germany after his plane was shot down in the North Sea) purchased an interest in the practice in 1951.

After graduating in 1959, Mr Vincent Vandeleur (Michael Vandeleur’s oldest son) worked in the practice for some years and became a partner in 1965. Mr Vandeleur Snr, Ernie Birchley and Mr Vandeleur Jnr continued to practise in partnership until Mr Vandleuer Snr retired in 1980. By that time, Mr Gary Down had joined the firm and worked in the firm until the early 1980s before pursuing a career in gold mining. The firm continued operating in practice with Mr Vandeleur Jnr and Mr Ernie Birchley in partnership until Mr Birchley retired in 1987. Mr Vandeleur Jnr continued in practice by way of a partnership with one other practitioner. During that period and with some reluctance, the name of the firm changed from “Mighell, Lee-Bryce & Vandeleur” to “Vandeleurs”. The name of Mighell, Lee-Bryce & Vandeleur was well known in legal circles throughout Queensland, but many people did not know how to pronounce “Mighell” and as it was commonly observed, the name was a little difficult to write. The partnership was dissolved in the late 1980’s and Mr Vandeleur Jnr then practised on his own account until the amalgamation of the firms of Vandeleurs and Boyett, Stubbin and Todd in 1994.

Vandeleurs practised in all areas of law but the major focus of the practice over many years going back to the 1930s was related to the sugar industry. There were three sugar cane mills in the Innisfail area in those years owned separately and the practice acted for the three mills since the 1920s. The Italian community formed a very significant part of the clientele of the practice. The typical Italian migrant cut cane for a few years, saved enough money for the deposit of a farm purchase, acquired a mortgage from a bank and then arranged for the seller to carry some of the purchase price on a second mortgage and often borrowed a further sum of money from a lender. When the purchase price of the farm was paid in full, the farm would be sold and a larger farm would be purchased. In the early years of the sugar industry throughout North Queensland, the Italian community were very successful and the descendants of these families continue to play an active role in community life throughout North Queensland to this day.


The second limb of the merger that created the current firm of Vandeleur & Todd was the practice of Boyett Stubbin & Todd. This practice had its origins in 1917 when Jack Boyett rode his horse down from the prosperous mining town of Herberton to set up a legal practice in Innisfail in the name of J. R Boyett. Jack had previously been injured while on active service in the First World War.

Mr Boyett practiced on his own account for many years before being joined in the practice in about 1949 by Earle Stubbin who had seen active service in the Air Force during the Second World War. The practice then became known as J. R. Boyett & Stubbin.

Jack Boyett died shortly after Mr Stubbin joined the practice and Mr Stubbin practiced alone until Peter Daniel joined the practice in 1969 after which the firm was called Boyett Stubbin & Daniel. Mr Stubbin and Mr Daniel practiced in partnership until Mr Stubbin’s sudden death in 1977. Thereafter Mr Daniel carried on the practice as a sole practitioner with the assistance of employed solicitors until December 1989.

At that time, Stephen Todd who had been an articled law clerk with the firm from 1982 – 1986 returned to Innisfail and acquired the practice from Mr Daniel who moved to Townsville.

Mr Todd practiced as a sole practitioner until the merger with Vandeleurs on 1 November 1994 to form the current firm of Vandeleur & Todd.