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Pike, Veronica (1900–1986)

by Rosslyn Finn

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Veronica Pike (1900-1986), solicitor, was born on 8 December 1900 in Sydney, seventh of eight surviving children of Sydney-born Edward Pike, plumber, and his Irish-born wife Jane, née Russell. Veronica was educated at Fort Street Girls’ High School. Discouraged by her sister Nellie from going to university, because she would ‘only be a schoolteacher’, she joined the New South Wales public service in 1918. She worked in the returned soldiers’ settlement branch of the Department of Lands as a shorthand writer and typist. At the urging of her mother she resigned and in 1927 she enrolled in piano and theory classes at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music. She retained a lifelong love of music.

After her brother Vincent was admitted as a solicitor in 1929, Pike became his articled clerk. She interrupted her Solicitors’ Admission Board studies in 1935 to travel abroad. Following her return Vincent was obliged to go to the United States of America for eye surgery. Although still unqualified, Veronica conducted the practice under the supervision of the prothonotary. She was admitted as a solicitor on 24 May 1940 and, one of very few women practising in the State at that time, entered into a partnership with her brother in the firm Pike & Pike. Unusually for a female solicitor, she frequently appeared in court as skilled advocate in tenancy cases. She undertook a lot of conveyancing and managed the building society work within the practice; because the mortgagee’s rights were paramount she sometimes terrified her opponents. Her intelligence and meticulousness were tempered with a sense of humour. Approachable and humane, she showed empathy with her clients.

Pike helped to found the Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales; at her instigation a group began to hold quarterly meetings in 1941 and the organisation was formally constituted in 1952. A member of the first committee, president in 1960 and a benefactor, she became an honorary life member in March 1986. In 1952 she attended the convention of the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey, and was elected vice-president. She was a delegate to a women’s law conference in Iran in 1974. After retiring in 1977 she attended another convention of the international federation, in 1979, in New Mexico, USA.

Diminutive, Pike enjoyed entertaining in her homes, first at Vaucluse and later at Dover Heights, and was an enthusiastic concert-goer. She was a generous woman, who had a zest for life; she liked gardening and playing golf, as a member of the Australian Golf Club. A Catholic, she served on the council of the St Thomas More Society in the early 1970s. After living at Leura in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she moved to a retirement village at Bateau Bay. Never married, she died on 2 October 1986 at Gosford and was cremated. The Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales named a scholarship in her honour.

Select Bibliography

  • Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales, Annual Report, 1985, 1986-87
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 29 June 1952, p 14
  • Sunday Herald (Sydney), 11 Jan 1953, p 17
  • Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales, Newsletter, Aug 1984, p 10
  • Australian Law News, Apr 1987, p 24
  • private information.

Citation details

Rosslyn Finn, 'Pike, Veronica (1900–1986)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pike-veronica-15462/text26678, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 16 July 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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