Theodore Fink was admitted to practice in 1877 and steadily improved his knowledge of mercantile and constitutional law before entering the partnership with Robert Best.
He wore a number of professional hats in his time, including that of a politician, solicitor and newspaper proprietor. He became a joint owner of The Herald (now Herald Sun) in 1889 which served to strengthen his interest in journalism and public affairs.
Theodore Fink was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly as member for Jolimont and West Richmond in 1894 and held that seat until 1904 when he withdrew from State politics. In 1920, he appointed (Sir) Keith Murdoch as editor of the Herald.
Sir Robert Best
Sir Robert Best did his articles at the firm of W. T. Trollope, studied law at the University of Melbourne, and was admitted in 1881. After entering the partnership with Theodore Fink, he was elected as a member for Fitzroy in the Victorian Legislative Assembly in 1889 and was chairman of the Royal Commission on constitutional reform in 1894.
He served as president of the Board of Land and Works, was twice acting-premier, and represented Victoria at the 1897 premier’s conference.
Sir Robert Best was appointed Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1908 and held the seat of Kooyong from 1910 – 1922.
A GOLDEN AGE
Our firm emerged out of the Golden Age of the 1880’s land boom in Melbourne.
Theodore Fink and Sir Robert Best’s legal union was hinged onto the great land speculation of the day, and in applying their craft, they were both optimistic, intelligent, entrepreneurial men with an un-quenching capacity of persuasion.
Albeit, it would seem they had their foibles, Theodore Fink being described on the one hand as a ‘chirpy gregarious man with enormous vitality and a ready sense of humour and charm’, but on the other hand as having an irritating ego, demonstrating a capacity for scheming and manipulation which arguably went beyond the accepted norms of the day.
Amongst our notable lawyers was Harold Holt, who was admitted to the Victorian Bar in November 1932 and served his articles with Best Hooper (then known as Fink, Best and Miller), but the Depression left him unable to find work as a barrister. Within a few short years, he had turned his focus towards politics.
In or about 1934, Cecil Hooper joined the firm as a partner and the firm’s name was changed to Robert Best and Hooper. He was a man of aristocratic bent and was always impeccably groomed. Our lawyers still use the shoe cleaning box that Cecil used to shine his shoes each time before he’d leave the office.
At this time, the firm occupied premises in the then Perpetual Trustees building at 100 Queen Street. It was the open weave step steel stairs in this building that Sir Robert Best fell down in 1944 which lead to his retirement from the firm, and Cecil Hooper becoming the personal solicitor to both the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works and the Metropolitan Fire Brigades Board.
DOYEN OF VICTORIAN PLANNING LAWYERS
Cecil Hooper was a brilliant lawyer, and with Louis Voumard Q.C., was the doyen of planning lawyers in Victoria, having had a large hand in drafting the Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme 1954 which was given effect to by the first Metropolitan Interim Development Order and came into operation on 1 March 1955.
He was also the author, in 1956, of Melbourne Metropolitan Town Planning, a copy of which is in both the Supreme Court and State Libraries. He was also a pre-eminent lawyer with deep knowledge in the law of compulsory acquisition of land.
Cecil Hooper lay the foundations for Best Hooper becoming Victoria’s Property, Planning and Land Development Advisory Law Firm. He retired from the firm in 1979.
By July 1982, the firm name was changed to Best Hooper.
LEVEL 9, 451 LITTLE BOURKE STREET
In January 2015, after significant growth as Victoria’s Property, Planning and Land Development Advisory Law Firm, Best Hooper moved to a new home at Level 9, 451 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. This building is in the heart of Melbourne’s legal precinct and shares a view into the courtyard of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
LOYALTY AND STABILITY
Ian Pitt QC commenced his Articles at Best Hooper 1966 and remains in the firm as one of Victoria’s most senior and respected pre-eminent planning and land development lawyers. Ian is amongst only a handful of solicitor advocates to take silk in Victoria.
John Cicero joined the firm as a partner in 1993 and remains as an equity partner.
At a time where mergers and demergers of legal firms and partners moving from one established firm to another have been the norm, our firm has been a place of loyalty and stability. The last merger that it was involved in was in 1961.
Sholto James and Ian Pitt QC both started as articled clerks at the firm, as did Simon Raleigh and Tania Cincotta, who are now both equity partners. In our planning practice, only one lawyer in a senior position has left to join another established firm, and that was in 1993. Tim Rintoul was with the firm from the year after his Articles until he retired. This stability is also reflected in many of our support staff who have remained with Best Hooper for their entire careers and form the cornerstone of our practice.
Teresa Bisucci had a distinguished career at Best Hooper and retired from her position as an equity partner to become a Senior Member at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunals.
Two of our three newest principal lawyers, Romy Davidov and Joel Snyder, also started their careers at Best Hooper. Sarah Raso joined Best Hooper in 2012. They form part of the tremendous growth that has been experienced by Best Hooper.
NEW BUSINESS MODEL
Leading in innovation amongst the legal industry, our operations and culture are now led by a carefully selected trio of senior executive lawyers. This model is proving successful as we enter into the next phase of growth as Victoria’s Property, Planning and Land Development Advisory Law Firm.