John Date OAM



Legal Expertise


John has been with Cornwalls for 60 years; this includes 20 years as Senior Partner.

He has extensive experience in setting up corporate structures for not for profit organisations, with particular expertise in relation to religious and charitable groups.

In addition, John recently completed his Master of Laws at the University of Melbourne, with a thesis entitled ‘Implications of Canon Law for Church Organisations Operating in Australia’

John works pro bono for a variety of religious organisations, and in July 2019 Pope Francis recognised his outstanding service to the Church and community over 60 years’ by awarding him a Papal Knighthood of the Order of St Sylvester. Of the award the Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli said: ‘These honours are bestowed as the Church seeks to recognise the service of genuinely gifted lay leaders.”


  • acting for and advising over a dozen religious orders, both male and female, of various denominations;
  • setting up corporate structures that comply with both civil law and canon law;
  • resolving property and financial disputes between organisations within the same Church;
  • advising New Zealand organisations on the New Zealand Charities Act;
  • arranging DGR and income tax exemptions for not for profit and charitable organisations; and
  • setting up charitable foundations.

Pro Bono and Community Work

All John’s advisory work is pro bono, with concessional rates on costs for the legal implementation of new structures.

Memberships and Associations

  • Member of the Order of Australia
  • Melbourne Cricket Club
  • Life Member – Little Frankston Golf Club


  • Bachelor of Laws, The University of Melbourne
  • Master of Laws, The University of Melbourne

Jurisdictions Admitted to Practise

  • Victoria

“I understand the way organisations such as religious orders, hospitals, schools, university colleges and the like are presently structured, both legally and administratively. My aim is to provide practical and effective advice on how they should be set up to accommodate current thinking and future requirements.”

Canon Law