Lewis & Rice was founded more than a century ago, on March 31, 1909 by Joseph W. Lewis and Charles M. Rice. The founding partners represented perhaps the chief hallmark of the firm that would grow around them—complementary diversity. They differed in age, birthplace, religion, education, experience, personality traits, work habits and outside interests. Two things they had in common: excellent legal minds and the desire to serve the community in an unpretentious manner.
On January 1, 1932, the firm was renamed Lewis, Rice, Tucker, Allen and Chubb. New associates were hired and by 1934 the firm had grown from two to eleven lawyers.
Two developments in Washington had strong impact on the firm’s law practice. The Securities and Exchange Commission had been established on June 6, 1934, and the National Labor Relations Board came into being July 5, 1935.
While Lewis, Rice, Tucker, Allen and Chubb continued to be heavily engaged in the general practice of law, with emphasis on corporate and probate and estate matters, the firm also expanded its practice into securities and labor law.
During the 1940s, the firm engaged full time specialists in labor and taxation law, laying the groundwork for the present organizational structure.
At mid-century, Lewis, Rice, Tucker, Allen and Chubb numbered eleven partners, five associates and about thirty major corporate clients in addition to numerous smaller organizations and individuals.
The postwar 1950s brought a marked increase in commercial litigation, and Lewis, Rice increased its involvement in that area, particularly.
By the end of that decade the firm’s growth rate was indicative of what would follow: it had doubled in size as well as age during its second quarter-century.
Twenty-three lawyers strong and backed by a non-legal staff that had been just as carefully assembled, Lewis, Rice, Tucker, Allen and Chubb was, on April 1, 1959, 50 years old and continuing to grow.
In 1960, Lewis, Rice, which had been recognized as one of the strongest law firms in St. Louis, merged with the Allen and Allen law firm. The merger brought to the firm a major banking client and expanded its practice in commercial law. Beginning in the 1940s, the firm had become somewhat departmentalized with specialists assigned to a few areas of law. Coincident with its own strong growth, however, client legal needs had expanded and become more complex. Moreover, it was perceived that a better-defined organizational structure would be required to sustain the growth curve of Lewis, Rice.
The firm changed its internal structure in the 1960s by establishing our present departments: corporate, estate planning, labor, litigation, and tax.
With the attendant concentration on specialization, the stage was set for providing more efficient legal service and accommodating more rapid growth in areas of greatest demand.
The continuing need to replenish and enlarge the legal staff was recognized by instituting a recruitment program which initially involved visits by one partner to a number of law schools each year. Later, the present program was adopted with a committee charged with seeking promising candidates for employment from across the country.
Two other law firms merged with Lewis, Rice in 1982: Thompson, Walther, Gaebe and Frank, and Evans, Hoemeke and Casey. In 1989, the firm merged with the Kansas City-based firm of Brown, Koralchik & Fingersh and adopted the name which it continues to use, Lewis, Rice & Fingersh. Satellite offices were added in subsequent years: Belleville, Illinois in 1993; Washington, Missouri in 1994; St. Louis County, Missouri in 1998; and Jefferson City in 2003. In each instance a new strength was added to the firm.
Our reputation is built upon a strong historical foundation and more than a century of service has given us the experience, resources and tools to serve our communities dynamic needs.