In 1913, Advocates Group 621 came into being, the first group to arise at the Johannesburg
Bar, which was then small and loosely organized. At its inception, like most of
the Bar, it was housed in Sauer’s Buildings in Loveday Street in central Johannesburg.
C.F. Stallard led the group until 1924, when he was invited to become the Minister
of Mines in the Smuts government. Shortly before the mantle fell on the next leader,
Philip Millin QC, the group moved to Corporation Building in Rissik Street. Millin
QC headed the group until, in 1937, he was elevated to the bench. Soon thereafter,
the group moved to Empire Building and afterwards to His Majesty’s Building and,
in 1961, to Innes Chambers. In the following decades, the task of leading the group
fell successively to Oscar Rathouse KC, Norman Rosenberg KC and Rex Welsh QC. Clive
Cohen SC took over between 1994 and 2006. The role of group leader is currently
rotated amongst the senior silks in the group.
In 1997, as part of a general trend at the Johannesburg Bar, the group moved from
its position directly opposite the Johannesburg High Court to Sandton, where it
set up chambers on the Maude Street side of Sandown Village. It honoured its illustrious
former leader who had passed away three years before by naming its new home Rex
Welsh House. Facing the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Sandown Village is at the financial
heart of greater Johannesburg.
Advocates Group 621 is proud to count among its alumni former Chief Justice Arthur
Chaskalson and Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court, and Jonathan Heher and
Johan Conradie, of the Supreme Court of Appeal. Other alumni include Bram Fischer
QC and Cecil Margo SC. Sir Sydney Kentridge QC is an honorary member.
Several members of the group have played leading roles in the governance of the
Johannesburg Bar and the General Council of the Bar. Many are also active beyond
the organized profession. Michael Kuper SC is the chairperson of the Arbitration
Foundation of South Africa and David Unterhalter SC serves on the dispute resolution
panel of the World Trade Organisation. Jeremy Gauntlett SC is a member of the South
African Law Commission.
Moreover, several members have held and continue to hold local and foreign university
lecturing posts and continue to write and edit monographs and articles on legal
Timothy Bruinders SC and several other members of the group play a leading role
in advocacy training programmes at the Bars across the country.