Dorothy Christine Somerville
Dorothy Christine Somerville was born on 12 May 1897 in Malvern, South Australia.
In 1916 she attended the University of Adelaide, receiving a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1918, before going on to complete a Bachelor of Laws in 1921 at the encouragement of fellow student, Aileen Constance Ingleby. Whilst at the University, Somerville was awarded both the Barr Smith Prize for Greek and the Andrew Scott Prize for Latin.
Following the completion of her degree, Somerville was admitted to the Bar in 1922, allowing her to practice law in South Australia. She was just the third woman to be admitted.
In 1925 Somerville joined with Mary Kitson, the first woman admitted to the Bar in South Australia, to form ‘Kitson & Somerville’ the first women’s legal partnership in Australia. The pair worked together until Kitson left in 1928. Somerville would continue to work as a sole law practitioner until her retirement in 1991.
Somerville was a Foundation Member of the Lyceum Club (1921), and in 1977 received honorary life membership.
In 1977 Somerville was awarded The Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal  and in 1986, the Medal of Australia for service to the legal profession and to the community.
Dorothy Somerville died in 1992, at the age of 95.
Somerville's niece, Sesca Zelling, would go on to follow in her Aunt's footsteps, graduating from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Laws in 1941. She was admitted to the South Australian Bar the same year, having already received valuable experience articled to her Aunt Somerville.
1. Evening Journal 1897, 'Special notice', Evening Journal, 17 May, p. 2., viewed 16 Nov 2022,
2. Somerville, Dorothy Christine 1923, [Student card]. The University of Adelaide, University Archives, Series 1117.
3. Emerson, J 2020, A History of the Independent Bar of South Australia, University of Adelaide Barr Smith Press, Adelaide, p. 28.
4. Somerville, Dorothy Christine 1923, [Student card]. The University of Adelaide, University Archives, Series 1117.
5. Observer 1922, 'Another Portia', Observer, 29 July, p. 12, viewed 16 Nov 2022, <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article165658501>
6. Observer 1928, 'Kitson & Somerville', Observer, 21 July, p. 61., viewed 11 Nov 2022,
7. Olsson, E 2017, 'Three brilliant Adelaide girls', Bulletin, vol. 39, no. 9, Law Society of South Australia, Adelaide, p. 12.
8. Lofthouse, A & Smith, V 1982, Who’s who of Australian women, Methuen Australia, Sydney, p. 414.
9. Commonwealth of Australia 1977, 'Government gazette notices', Commonwealth of Australia gazette. Periodic, 1 August, p. 49., viewed 16 Nov 2022, <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article237152137>.
10. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 1986, 'Miss Dorothy Christine Somerville', Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, viewed 16 November 2022, <https://honours.pmc.gov.au/honours/awards/882276>.
11. Olsson, E 2017, 'Three brilliant Adelaide girls', Bulletin, vol. 39, no. 9, Law Society of South Australia, Adelaide, p. 12.
12. Calendar of the University of Adelaide 1942, 'Past and present graduates', Advertiser Newspapers Limited, p. 68.
13. Emerson, J 2020, A history of the independent bar of South Australia, updated ed., University of Adelaide Barr Smith Press, South Australia, p. 28.