Attorney Upali Gooneratne felicitated
Felicitation of Senior Attorney-at-Law Upali A. Gooneratne by his
past and present members of his Chambers was held on May 30, at the
Hotel Galadari to mark the 37th Anniversary of his admission as an
Advocate. Upali Gooneratne who was the first lawyer of the Republic
celebrated his 61st Birthday on May 31.
He started his schooling as a boarder at the Ratnapura Convent at the
age of 4 1/2 years and later attended St. Aloysius College (SAC)
Ratnapura and SAC Galle where he was always the first at every Term Test
walking away with the coveted class (“General Proficiency”) Prize and
the maximum number of prizes at each Annual Prize-giving. After his GCE
O/L Examination, he joined Ananda College, Colombo.
He joined the Ceylon Law College (CLC) in 1967. Being only 19 years,
he was the youngest male student at CLC and its youngest Advocate
student. He was, among other offices, elected uncontested as the General
Secretary - Law Students’ Union (LSU), President of the Law Students’
Buddhist Brotherhood and a member-executive Committee of the Law
Students’ Sinhala Union.
He drafted the new LSU Constitution of 1970, sacrificing his Final
Examination that October, only to keep an election promise. It was
adopted unanimously after the longest meeting lasting 8 hours and 10
minutes in the LSU history, chaired by R. K. W. Goonesekera himself.
He obtained First Class Honours at the Advocates’ Intermediate
Examination. He passed the Final held in May 1971, after the April
insurrection that year. It was only after his “Call”, that he began to
realise the bitter realities of trying to commence practice as a young
Advocate in the big city, with no legal connections whatsoever.
Though he apprenticed in the Chambers of Vernon Wijetunge, QC, it was
without a Senior that he started his own practice as a Criminal Lawyer.
That opportunity came by later from that magnanimous “great” the late
Eardley Perera PC.
Though he was chosen for the privilege of joining AG’s Department in
early 1974, it was due to pressing personal reasons that he had to
decline, a decision he still regrets.