Class of 1962
Aquinas College has been responsible for educating a high proportion of the country’s judiciary over the past century.
Arguably, the Hon Eric Heenan QC leads the pack in the legal genre of Aquinian alma mater. He was born in Kalgoorlie in 1945. His parents were both lawyers and practised together. His father was also the Member of the Legislative Council for the North-East Province (the principal Goldfields region). His mother set up the family legal firm in St George’s Terrace when the family moved to Perth in 1950.
After leaving Aquinas in 1962 Eric read Law at the University of Western Australia successfully graduating with Honours in 1966 and then spent 17 years at the family firm EM Heenan & Co. His legal career was flourishing and he left the firm to practice solely as a barrister and was appointed Queen’s Counsel two years later in 1985.
Eric’s areas of practice were broad and he was regarded highly across a wide array of legal disciplines such as competition, constitutional and administrative law, personal injury, corporate law, equity, trusts and probate.
He was elected President of the WA Bar Association from 1990 to 1992, and Vice-President of the Australian Bar in 1992. He was a member of the Barristers’ Board (now the Legal Practice Board of WA) from 1985 to 2002. He served as a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of WA in 1990 and again in 1994.
Eric was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court in 2002 and retired on reaching the age limit in 2015. His second academic strength was science. In fact, Eric could have chosen it as a career. He served on the Medical Board of WA from 1988 to 2002 and was on the Advisory Committee to the Minister for Health to review the Medical Act from 1988 to 2000. He sat on the Art Gallery of WA Board from 1987 to 1991 and as its Vice-Chair from 1989 to 1991.
During his time at Aquinas he proved himself outstanding in academia and moderately able across a wide range of sports. Topping his year throughout his time at school and leaving as Dux of the College, Eric was awarded the Science Prize, was a member of the Debating Committee, a cricketer, swimmer and a Cadet Under Officer. He is the first Aquinian recorded to have won two Government University Exhibitions in his final Leaving Exams (a General Exhibition and the Special Exhibition in Physics).
Eric enjoyed his time at Aquinas College so much that he returned to take up a position as Deputy Chair of the inaugural Aquinas College Board from 1988 to 1994. He looks back on his time at the College as an opportunity that provided him with “an excellent education and appreciation of a wide variety of lifestyles, including farming”.
He stressed the great respect which he has always had for the brothers. Eric remembers the spirit of cherishing intellectual pursuits and curiosity they instilled in him that led to the success he enjoys in the legal profession of WA today.