Kelley Drye: Then and Now
2021 marks a unique confluence of milestones for Kelley Drye. As we move into new office space in New York City, we also look back to celebrate the 185th anniversary of the firm’s founding and two key mergers that have had a dramatic impact on the evolution of the firm – the 15th anniversary of the merger with Collier Shannon Scott, and the fifth anniversary of the merger with Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs.

On this occasion we reflect on a series of questions:

What impact have we had on our clients and on the legal profession?

What has changed about our approach to client service and why?

What do we want the next 185 years at Kelley Drye to look like?

As we pondered the answers to these questions, we uncovered an amazing historical progression that traces the course of not only our firm but also our nation. Our rich history has influenced our portfolio of legal services and guided our approach to daily interactions with clients.

Over the coming weeks and months, Kelley Drye will open the archives to share photos and memories from our history, noting the themes that have carried over time to influence our engagements with our clients. These will include: key milestones, office additions, notable attorneys who have been a part of our community, technological firsts, and fun trivia facts.

We are proud of our heritage. The days and years ahead offer potential for great contributions to our clients, our communities, and our lawyers and staff. To truly visualize the future of Kelley Drye, we must understand something about our past. And as we learn more about our history through this fun reflective exercise, we are able to understand how we became the firm we are today and how it impacts the services we continue to provide clients.

Jackson Gilmour Dobbs Merger
Did you know, in 2016 – Kelley Drye merged with Jackson Gilmour & Dobbs, P.C.?
Kelley Drye Then: The merger adding a strong Texas presence to the firm as well as becoming the heart of the firm’s environmental litigation practice.

Kelley Drye Now: On May 24, 2021, Justice Clarence Thomas delivered a unanimous decision for the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Territory of Guam v The United States, brought on behalf of Guam by Kelley Drye & Warren LLP. The Court found in favor of Guam, reversing a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision. For nearly half a century, the United States military discarded toxic waste, including munitions, at the Ordot Dump, which was created by the U.S. military before World War II without any environmental safeguards. The dump was owned and operated by the U.S. military before it was transferred to the newly-created Government of Guam in 1950. This is one example of how the firm provides comprehensive solutions to private and public entities facing complex environmental litigation involving unique, multifaceted legal and technical challenges. Through decades of experience helping clients address the intricacies associated with environmental litigation and administrative matters, our team of attorneys, who are dedicated to environmental litigation, have earned sophisticated legal and technical knowledge to handle the difficulties and challenges presented by environmental litigation. We are one of the few law firms in the country to have been retained by both governmental trustees and private sector clients to represent them in NRD matters, giving our attorneys a unique and well-informed perspective in these large and exceptionally complicated environmental matters. Kelley Drye is also on the vanguard of legal issues related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). We have a preeminent team of attorneys dedicated to helping clients address PFAS contamination, and we are counsel in some of the biggest and most significant PFAS litigations in the country, both for public and private clients.

Francis Scott Key

Did you know that one of the firm’s early clients was the estate of Francis Scott Key?
Kelley Drye Then: Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was the United States district attorney for the District of Columbia and a good friend of firm founder, Hiram Barney. Upon Key’s death in 1843, Barney was responsible for settling his estate.

Kelley Drye Now: The firm’s Private Clients attorneys provide legal counsel and related services to high-net-worth individuals, multi-generational family estates and trusts, corporate fiduciaries, corporate fiduciaries in dispute resolutions and non-profit organizations. Unlike most private clients practices, our team utilizes an in-house tax team to prepare and file tax returns for individuals, fiduciaries and exempt organizations. We handle the legal and contractual dimensions of personal key life events from creating and refining vehicles for wealth transfer, to administering wills and trusts, resolving intra-family disputes and crafting marriage agreements. Our team handles issues such as business valuation, succession planning, and tax disputes with federal and state entities. We also provide legal and administrative services to charitable organizations.

Associate Thomas Dewey

Did you know that former New York Governor and unsuccessful candidate for President of the United States Thomas Dewey had been an associate at the firm?
Kelley Drye Then: On October 31, 1925, after graduation from Columbia Law School, Dewey was hired by the firm, then known as Larkin, Rathbone & Perry. One of his primary tasks was the preperation of corporate trust release letters, a task that, according to his autobiography, he found “most tedious.”

George Catlin First Client

Did you know that the firm’s first client was George Catlin, a famous painter of Western and Native American scenes?
Kelley Drye Then: Catlin was an American adventurer, lawyer, painter, author, and traveler, who specialized in portraits of Native Americans. After initially teaming up with Governor William Clark on a mission up the Mississippi River, he travelled extensively through the West in the 1830’s writing about, and painting portraits of, the Plains tribes. His work included nature engravings of sites along the Erie Canal, and a number of his pieces were published in one of the first printed books to use lithography. His works are now part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection. The work with Catlin led firm founder Hiram Barney to travel extensivley in the West and work on behalf of numerous Native American tribes.

Kelley Drye Now: This work is carried on today, as Kelley Drye has developed a long history of helping those who may not have access to or be able to afford legal counsel. This passion for justice and commitment to advocacy helps make a difference in our clients’ lives and in our communities. We believe it is the firm’s professional and ethical duty to provide legal support to individuals and to organizations that impact change for those in need. We empower lawyers and legal professionals to pursue pro bono cases that reflect their personal passions and where they can put their legal acumen to best use in the community. As a result, our initiatives are as varied and diverse as the professionals at our firm. For example, while some are inspired to fix the cracks in the criminal justice system, others advocate for neglected children or help asylum petitioners navigate the country’s complex and changing immigration laws.

First Air-Conditioning
Did you know that the first air-conditioning in a Kelley Drye office appeared in 1951, as a window unit in the office of partner Edward Bachman?
Kelley Drye Then: The first practical air-conditioning units began to be seen in the mid to late 1920’s. However it was the post-World War II prosperity of the 1950’s that truly led to wide-spread adoption of air-conditioning. In spite of its acceptance, air-conditioning was unknown at the firm till partner Edward Bachman had a room unit installed in the window of his office at the firm’s 70 Broadway location. Senior partner John Drye is said to have commented that he objected to visiting Bachman in his room because he disliked “entering into a solid mass of cold cigar smoke.”

Kelley Drye Now: Today, all of the firm’s offices are air-conditioned. While air-conditioning is not required at workplaces in the US, OSHA has recommendations for workplace air treatments and sets federal standards for temperature and humidity levels with a minimum indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum of 76 degrees Fahrenheit. The Kelley Drye Labor & Employment practice works with clients to provide timely, business-focused advice on climate control and the full range of employment and workplace issues so they don’t have to feel the heat.

Virginia office

Did you know that during the dotcom era, Kelley Drye had an office in the Dulles Internet corridor in Virginia especially for telecom and internet clients?
Kelley Drye Then: This area was known as the Dulles Internet corridor because MCI/AOL were based there and MCI established one of the major intent hubs in Ashburn, Virginia which people referred to as Dulles because of its proximity to the airport. The firm was a member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), and shared the 12th floor of the Tyson Tower with other companies, such as Nokia Venture Partners, LP, that together offered a wide range of legal, investment, financial consulting, public relations, and other business services. Without formal corporate mergers, this joint effort provided one-stop business assistance. The firm would also hold a monthly tech seminar at the Tower Club on the top floor of the building that was typically attended by representatives from all sorts of technology companies.

Kelley Drye Now: Kelley Drye’s Communications practice assists a wide array of enterprises ranging from global carriers to start-ups – individually or collectively as part of a coalition or an industry association – in meeting their legal and regulatory needs with representation and advice that is effective, practical, creative and on budget. Our clients look to us for advice and representation with respect to communications related regulatory, transactional and litigation matters where assessing risk, recognizing opportunity, and achieving a desired outcome are of paramount concern. We offer holistic solutions including advocacy, lobbying, litigation and compliance advice, as well as narrower solutions that may stand alone or be part of a broader initiative.

NYC Bar Association

Did you know that firm lawyers helped organize the NY City Bar Association?
Kelley Drye Then: After the Civil War, widespread corruption led some in the legal profession to seek reforms. Answering the call in 1870, the firm's lawyers helped organize The Association of the Bar of the City of New York that fought against Tammany Hall and its leader "Boss" Tweed.

Kelley Drye Now: One of the firm’s core values is our belief in making a positive impact on our communities. Whether through service or financial contributions, Kelley Drye supports organizations that invest in every community where we operate. Together, as a team, we raise money to battle major health challenges, support educational opportunities, and promote diversity and inclusion programs. By championing these causes, we foster a culture of compassion, generosity and social responsibility.

NY Giants and media clients

Did you know that Kelley Drye has a long history of working with professional sports organizations, including the NY Giants and other NFL teams?
Kelley Drye Then: In 1965, the firm began representing the New York Giants, which led to work for other NFL teams, the National Football League itself, and the NFL Management Council that represented the players in collective bargaining.

Kelley Drye Now: The Media and Entertainment attorneys at Kelley Drye represent clients in complex entertainment disputes and lawsuits in virtually every facet of the industry—copyright and trademark, idea submission, defamation, privacy, right of publicity, talent agreement, distribution/financing and profit participation, among many others.

Auto manufacturing

Did you know that the firm played a key role in early auto manufacturing in the U.S.?
Kelley Drye Then: The firm helped the Maxwell Motor Company gain a loan from Chase Securities Corporation so that it could build the first Chrysler automobile, and then it incorporated Chrysler Corporation under Delaware law in 1925. With the firm's help, in 1928 Chrysler Corporation acquired Dodge Brothers to become the nation's third largest auto maker. Chrysler remained one of the firm's major clients for over half a century.

Kelley Drye Now: When companies are confronted with challenges unique to a specific industry, they need legal counsel that understands the trends, innovations, opportunities and emerging issues in their business sector. The firm draws from the collective knowledge and creativity of regulatory, transactional and litigation attorneys to provide a full spectrum of advice. We collaborate seamlessly across disciplines to provide the industry-specific legal and business advice our clients need in today’s global economy.


The firm has a long tradition of supporting the arts. Did you know that the firm drafted the will of Augustus Juilliard, the document that created the Juilliard Musical Foundation?
Kelley Drye Then: Besides maintaining the School of Music, the Juilliard Foundation supported fellowships in a number of other institutions and was a major contributor to the Metropolitan Opera Association. Firm partner John Perry, who drafted the will, served as a trustee of the Foundation, as a director of the School of Music, and as the Foundation’s representative on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Opera Association.

Kelley Drye Now: The firm’s nonprofit practice group is comprised of attorneys with considerable experience in areas such as taxation, trusts and estates, corporate governance, litigation, legislative and regulatory affairs, employee benefits, labor and employment, tax-exempt financing, intellectual property and real estate, on issues affecting tax-exempt organizations. As a result, we are able to provide our nonprofit clients with cost-efficient, creative and multidisciplinary solutions to the unique challenges they face.

Merger with Collier Shannon

The merger of Kelley Drye and Collier Shannon Scott significantly expanded the firm’s presence in Washington, D.C.
Kelley Drye Then: The merger of Kelley Drye and Collier Shannon significantly expanded the firm’s presence in Washington, D.C. With more than 150 attorneys located in D.C. as a result of the merger, the firm was able to provide clients with new or enhanced capabilities in several key areas, including International Trade, Advertising, Government Relations, Environmental and Antitrust.

Kelley Drye Now: Today, the firm’s lawyers, government relations professionals and economists based in the Washington, D.C. office serve clients' legislative, regulatory and litigation needs. Clients turn to Kelley Drye for industry-specific services and strategic analysis of how developments in our nation's capital affect their businesses at home and abroad.


The typewriter was invented in 1868, and exactly when the Firm acquired its first typewriter is unknown. However even with the modernization to computers, today there is at least 1 typewriter on each floor at the 3 World Trade Center office.
Kelley Drye Then: The introduction of typewriters in the late 1800’s heralded a paradigm shift in document production for the legal industry, as the transition from scriveners equipped with quill pens, who could transcribe 15 to 30 words per minute, to typists capable of 30 to 60 words per minute, dramatically increased efficiency.
Kelley Drye Now: While computers are now ubiquitous, some jobs just still require a typewriter.

Call System

In the 1950’s, the firm employed an auto call system of lights throughout the office at 70 Broadway – allowing attorneys to be notified when they had a call. This was cutting edge for the time.
Kelley Drye Then: Each lawyer in the office had a number. If that lawyer was wanted, the telephone operator would ring the auto-call for the appropriate lawyer, and the corresponding number of bells would ring and lights would flash, prompting the lawyer to go to the nearest telephone to pick up the call. The bell was ringing almost continuously; and every time it rang, every lawyer in the library or elsewhere away from their desk had to stop whatever they were doing and count the rings and lights to see if it was their number.
Kelley Drye Now: Thankfully, the invention of the intercom, direct-dial phone lines, and cellphones has made the auto-call a footnote in history… and the firm’s offices a much more peaceful place to work. However, there is a similar system still in use at the U.S. Capitol to alert Representatives that a vote is underway.

Early Kelley Drye Names

Between 1836 and 1873 the firm had six different names – all of which included founder Hiram Barney. In 1874, Barney’s name was removed from the masthead and the firm became Butler, Stillman & Hubbard.
Kelley Drye Then: The six iterations were - Mulligan & Barney; Waterman & Barney; Barney & Mitchell; Barney & Butler; Barney, Humphrey & Butler; and Barney, Butler & Parsons.

Kelley Drye Now: On January 1, 1975, after being known by fifteen other names since 1836 which changed to reflect the senior partners, the firm officially adopted the name Kelley Drye & Warren.

Barney Meets Abraham Lincoln

In 1859, while in Chicago for business, firm founder Hiram Barney met Abraham Lincoln for the first time. He became so closely associated with President Lincoln that the President reportedly asked him to review a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Kelley Drye Then: In the years before the Civil War, Barney became very active in national politics. A life-long abolitionist, Barney had originally been an anti-slavery Democrat, but when the Republican Party was organized to unite the anti-slavery Whigs and anti-slavery Democrats, Barney became a Republican and a delegate to the Party’s national convention in Philadelphia.

Kelley Drye Now: The firm’s attorneys and government relations professionals represent companies before federal agencies, where decisions on the implementation, promulgation and enforcement of regulations can have an enormous impact on our clients’ businesses. Kelley Drye’s Regulatory practice comprises the knowledge, experience and connections of professionals across the firm, many with backgrounds working for the agencies or legislative bodies influential to our clients. This far-reaching experience with state and federal agencies and regulators affords our attorneys a unique perspective to help clients navigate evolving rules and manage risk. Today, the firm also builds and leads strategic coalitions to advocate on behalf of clients, and has successfully pursued legislation aimed at protecting the rights of our clients’ businesses and industries.

First Kelley Drye Merger

In 1961, the firm completed its first merger, acquiring Barr, Robbins & Palmer
Kelley Drye Then: In early 1961, Wolcott Robbins died. His partners William Barr, who was admitted to the bar in 1905, and James Palmer, born in 1896 were in poor health. To accommodate their clients, the firm absorbed Barr, Robbins & Palmer, with Palmer being admitted to the partnership and Barr made of counsel.

Kelley Drye Now: The firm has continued to grow and expand through strategic mergers including: Collier, Shannon & Scott (2006); and Jackson, Gilmour & Dobbs (2016).

Early Technology Adopters

The first BlackBerry handheld devices were piloted by the firm in early 2000. Following a successful program, the firm became an “early adopter” and the devices were fully deployed to almost all attorneys later that year.
Kelley Drye Then: The firm has historically been at the forefront of technologies that can keep attorneys in contact with clients, from the auto-call lights system in the 1950’s, to use of handheld devices such as the Blackberry.
Kelley Drye Now: Kelley Drye remains at the forefront of technology adoption in the legal industry. This has included the integration of laptops, tablets, and the recent incorporation of video technologies such as Zoom and Teams for depositions and client meetings.

Remembering Pardee Marshall

Since the firm’s founding in 1836, our lawyers and professionals have answered the nation’s call, unfortunately, not all of them returned, and we honor them for their service to our country.
Kelley Drye Then: As we observe Memorial Day 2021, we remember U.S. Army LTC Pardee Marshall, an associate who won the bronze star and was killed in action on April 19, 1945, while fighting in Germany.

Kelley Drye Office Locations

Kelley Drye was founded in lower Manhattan in 1836. This year, our New York office returned to the old neighborhood with our move to 3 World Trade Center.
Kelley Drye Then: New York City in 1836 was undergoing gradual, but noticeable changes as it reaped the benefits of its port and access to the Hudson river and Erie Canal trade routes. The location of the firm’s initial office at 47 Nassau Street was ideally placed to support clients, and had luckily escaped the devastating fire of December 1835, which had destroyed most of the southeastern quadrant of the city from Wall Street south and Broad Street east.

Kelley Drye Now: Although the original building is gone, the site of the original office at 47 Nassau Street is now a Dunkin Donuts. The site is located just three blocks from the new office location at 175 Greenwich Street

Hiram Barney Founded Kelley Drye


2021 marks a unique confluence of milestones for Kelley Drye and over the coming weeks and months, we will open the archives to share photos and memories from our history. This week highlights how it all began.
Kelley Drye Then: Kelley Drye was founded 185 years ago by Hiram Barney and William Mulligan – the son of revolutionary war hero Hercules Mulligan. While Barney was a young man of 25, Mulligan was “a man of advanced age, and some eminence, who still kept an office and a good law library.” Unfortunately, Mulligan died in late 1837 but he left Barney in contact with an old friend and former mentor, William Dwight Waterman, who wished to return to the practice of law and became Barney’s second partner and in 1838, the firm was rebranded Waterman and Barney.

Kelley Drye Now: Kelley Drye is a firm of more than 300 lawyers and other professionals practicing in New York, New York; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles and San Diego, California; Chicago, Illinois; Stamford, Connecticut; Parsippany, New Jersey; and Houston, Texas. With skilled practitioners in the areas of litigation, regulatory, real estate, corporate and bankruptcy the firm is able to combine a wide range of talents to address the unique complexities of our clients’ legal challenges.