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Rawle & Henderson, from Philadelphia, Oldest Law Firm in the Country
The law firm of Rawle & Henderson, which started seven years after the birth of the United States in Philadelphia, is the oldest firm in the country, according to The ABA Journal. The law firm of Howard, Kohn, Sprague & Fitzgerald, from Hartford, Connecticut, also claims to be one of the oldest in the country.
On the firm’s website, it is described as “the oldest law firm in continuous practice in the United States.” The firm was founded in 1786 as Enoch Perkins, which makes it just 228 years old. Rawle & Henderson is 231 years old.
Up until the year 1930, there were five generations of Rawles working at the Philadelphia firm. One of them was Francis Rawle, who was a founder of the American Bar Association. The initial meeting of the ABA was in August of 1878 in Saratoga Springs, New York. During the meeting, they realized they forgot to bring a gavel. They went to a local hardware store to get a carpenter’s mallet. The mallet, in silver and gold, is the ABA symbol today.
Joseph Henderson joined the firm in 1913 and then became a president of the ABA.
Thomas A. Kuzmick is a Rawle & Henderson partner. He said that the firm endured some rough years in the 1990s. He also said that, “No way in hell we’re going to allow Rawle & Henderson to close on our watch.” In 1997, “we embarked on creating what you see today—120 attorneys spread over five states.”
There are three offices for the firm in Pennsylvania. They are located in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. The firm also has offices in New York, Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia.
“You need to be thought of first by your clients or potential clients as being in a niche,” Kuzmick says. “Our niche has been being trial lawyers on the defense side.”
U.S. Senator Arlen Specter created a resolution in 2008, the 225th anniversary of the firm, honoring the firm as one of the oldest in the country. The resolution stated that the firm is “a firm of national distinction whose reputation is based on the noble accomplishments of its founders and its commitment to providing quality legal services.”Rawle & Henderson, from Philadelphia, Oldest Law Firm in the Country by Jim Vassallo