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.


Did you know that Kelley Drye represented Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. when the company established the first U.S. Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama in the 1990’s?
Kelley Drye Then: After fierce bidding for the plant from states across the nation, Mercedes-Benz decided on the Vance, Alabama location, which is located about 34 miles west of Birmingham and about 19 miles east of downtown Tuscaloosa. The factory was announced in 1993, and produced its first vehicle, an ML320, in February 1997. A core practice of the firm since its founding in 1836, for nearly two centuries the Kelley Drye Real Estate group has played an integral role in real estate and industrial projects across the United States—from the development of the Port of New York to the building of our country’s canals and the construction of our national rail system.

Kelley Drye Now: Our attorneys continue that tradition today, working at the leading edge of real estate—representing parties in the financing, purchase and sale of iconic properties and serving as go-to counsel on complex financings throughout the nation.  Our team includes attorneys who are the architects of the present-day commercial real estate finance industry. Find out more about Kelley Drye’s Real Estate practice.

Frank Gilroy
Did you know that in 1976, Kelley Drye obtained a verdict of $1 million for Pulitzer prize-winning author Frank Gilroy?
Kelley Drye Then: In 1976, Frank D. Gilroy, a Pulitzer prize‐winning playwright, won a verdict worth more than $1 million because a television network, a production company and two publishers had used the character Amos Burke, whom he had created in books, without his permission. The jury's decision in State Supreme Court followed eleven years of litigation and was one of the first cases to highlight the struggle authors have to protect the rights to their literary products. Lead counsel on the case was Kelley Drye partner Robert Ehrenbard.

Mr. Gilroy, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1965 for his play “The Subject Was Roses,” created Burke, a homicide detective captain who rides around in a chauffeured Rolls Royce and who was the hero of the ABC television series “Burke's Law.” When the character of Amos Burke was created for television in 1963, Mr. Gilroy had only sold the television rights for the use of the character and retained publishing rights for himself, planning that Burke might become the hero in a series of detective novels he planned to write. The opportunity to publish a series of books was ruined by the defendants when they proceeded with the publication of two paperback books in 1964, using the character and written by another author.

Mr. Gilroy filed suit, in April 1965, following the publication of those two books, and the suit finally came into Manhattan State Supreme Court in 1972 before Justice Sidney A. Fine. The case ended with a verdict in Mr. Gilroy's favor. Justice Fine found that the defendants had misappropriated the character. Mr. Gilroy was awarded about $15,000, the profits from publication of the books, as compensation. He refused this and appealed, saying that it was critical to him to prove to the court that Burke would have been of much greater value had the paperbacks not been written.

In the Appellate Division, Mr. Gilroy won the right to a new trial, and more significantly, the Appellate Division gave Mr. Gilroy the right to bring in experts to testify to the value of his loss. In the second trial, experts were able to give significant testimony that established the value of the rights Mr. Gilroy had lost, to measure the amount of damages he suffered, and to point out that Mr. Gilroy's damages were not limited to the defendants’ profits.

The verdict was reportedly among the highest amounts a jury had awarded an author up to that time.

Kelley Drye Now: General counsel and decision makers on legal services consider Kelley Drye one of the firms that they would least like to see as opposing litigation counsel—welcome news to our clients. Find out more on Kelley Drye’s Litigation practice.

Kelley Drye India Practice

Did you know that Kelley Drye has had an India practice since 1987?
Kelley Drye Then: Kelley Drye has had, since 1987, one of the United States’ most successful India Practice Groups and in 2016 the firm was named “Best International Law Firm of the Year” by India’s Legal Era Magazine.

Kelley Drye Now: Kelley Drye’s India practice has been distinguished as a leading law firm for India-related transactions and disputes, delivering quality legal services to both U.S. and other international clients in their Indian business relationships, and to Indian businesses operating in the United States. Our longstanding relationships with multinational entities and the Indian legal and regulatory bodies provide unique value to our clients. We provide strategic counseling and comprehensive representation on a wide range of legal issues. Our India practice advises on corporate and commercial transactions and international litigation and arbitration. We advise on cross-border transactions involving the U.S. and India; counsel foreign investors, private and public companies, private equity firms, investment banks and others in connection with their investments in India; and negotiate and structure mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, information technology transactions, technology transfers and financing deals. Similarly, we help Indian companies to resolve disputes in courts and in arbitrations. In collaboration with the firm’s International Trade and Export Controls practice group, we also counsel clients on regulations relating to defense procurement, including the International Trade in Arms (ITAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).

Roberta Karmel

Did you know that Roberta Karmel, the first female Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1977-1980) was a partner with the firm?
Kelley Drye Then: Karmel served as a Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission from September 1977 – February 1980, and was the first female SEC Commissioner in the SEC's 48-year history. Having been appointed at 40 years of age, she was also one of the youngest Commissioners ever appointed (up to that time). Karmel was a partner with Kelley Drye from 1989 – 2002.

Kelley Drye Now: Throughout the firm’s history, former top officials frequently join the firm to strengthen Kelley Drye’s ability to help and advise clients as they interact with government agencies. Most recently, Texas Associate Deputy Attorney General Paul Singer joined as a partner in the firm’s growing State Attorneys General practice group, and former top Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officials Jessica L. Rich and Laura Riposo VanDruff joined the firm’s Privacy and Advertising practice groups, with Ms. Rich having served as Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) and Ms. VanDruff as an Assistant Director in BCP’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection (DPIP). Ms. Rich and Ms. VanDruff join an impressive list of former FTC officials at Kelley Drye, including the firm’s managing partner, Dana Rosenfeld, who served as Assistant Director of the BCP and attorney advisor to FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky, former Bureau Directors  Bill MacLeod and Jodie Bernstein, as well as Aaron Burstein, who joined the firm in 2019, having served as senior legal advisor to FTC Commissioner Julie Brill.

KD First Female Partner

Did you know that Kelley Drye’s first female partner was Sarah Reid in 1986?
Kelley Drye Then: While Sarah became the first female partner at Kelley Drye, just one year later (and 20 years before merging with Kelley Drye), Collier Shannon announced Lauren Howard as the first female Managing Partner of a DC firm.

Kelley Drye Now: Today, more than 25 percent of all practice group leaders, 25 percent of office managing partners, 50 percent of partner compensation committee members are women, and 44 percent of executive committee members are women. In 2020, Dana Rosenfeld became the first female managing partner in Kelley Drye history.

Henry Kelley Fighting 69

Did you know that during the first world war, partner Henry Kelley was a member of the famed “Fighting 69th” and developed a lifelong friendship with its chaplain, the famous Father Duffy?
Kelley Drye Then: Henry Kelley (no relation to Nicolas Kelley the future named partner) had just been admitted to the bar when the US entered World War I. He served as an officer in the “Fighting” 69th New York Regiment as part of the famous “Rainbow Division” and he was severely wounded in fighting near Chateau Thierry in July, 1918. While serving, he developed what would become lifelong friendships with the unit’s chaplain, Father Francis Duffy, and the unit’s commander Colonel William “Wild Bill” Donovan, another New York lawyer who would go on to lead the Office of Strategic Services in World War II.

Kelley Drye Now: Today the nation celebrates Veteran’s Day and honors the men and women who have selflessly answered the call to serve in our armed forces. Kelley Drye takes pride in our history of lawyers and staff who have served our nation. On this Veteran’s Day, we especially want to acknowledge the veterans within our Kelley Drye community: David Barry, Dana Bessey, Jeff Castello, Bob Crotty, Paul Doyle, Fabio Dworschak, Bob Ehrenbard, David Hickey, Bud Holman, Gonzalo Mon, William Pierotti, Joel Rodriguez, Patrick Sykes, Josh Thomas, Guy Wiggins, and John Wittenborn. Thank you for your courage, extraordinary sacrifice, and dedication to protecting our country.

KD First Female Employee

Did you know that Kelley Drye’s first female employee was hired because a partner thought the all-male stenographer pool was worthless?
Kelley Drye Then: In the summer in 1908, the firm’s managing clerk engaged Miss Hellstern to help out because many of the male stenographers were on vacation. She was effective but was dismissed when the stenographers returned. When partner Albert Rathbone found out, he summoned the clerk to his office and demanded he employ Miss Hellstern permanently because the stenographers were “time servers and no good.” Although her first name is lost to history, Miss Hellstern (later Mrs. Miller) became the firm’s first full-time female employee. The first female law clerk was Barbara Baisley, who joined the firm in October of 1943.

Kelley Drye Now: In 2020, Dana Rosenfeld became the firm’s first female managing partner. Achieving diversity in the legal profession requires commitment, learning and the collective and individual will to change. At Kelley Drye, diversity and inclusion are core values, expressed in our approach to recruiting lawyers and staff and to creating a workplace where all members are safe, respected and valued. Recognizing the particular challenges women face in legal careers, in 2008 the firm launched a formal program, Women At KDW, to provide networking, mentoring and learning opportunities for women associates. Our Women Partners Group is equally active, meeting regularly to network, mentor women associates, cross-market, and share business development strategies.

John Notman Pro Bono

Did you know that partner John Notman, whose practice primarily focused on insurance matters, was so dedicated to his pro-bono work that in 1899, Governor Theodore Roosevelt appointed him a commissioner of the State Board of Charities?
Kelley Drye Then: During his career, Notman always found time for pro bono work on behalf of religious and charitable organizations.

Kelley Drye Now: Kelley Drye has 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.

Connecticut Office

Did you know that in 1979 the firm merged with 14-lawyer Connecticut firm of Cross, Broderick & Chipman, gaining offices in Stamford and Danbury?
Kelley Drye Then: In 1979, firm client Union Carbide moved its headquarters to Danbury, Connecticut. Seeking an office closer to this new headquarters, the firm approached and acquired Cross, Broderick & Chipman, a ten-year-old Connecticut firm with experience in corporate law, trusts, and estates. The merger expanded the firm’s footprint into Connecticut with two new office locations – Stamford and Danbury.

Kelley Drye Now: Although the Danbury office has since been closed, Southwestern Connecticut is home to numerous financial services, consumer products, telecommunications, and business services companies. The Stamford office leverages all of the firm’s resources to meet our clients' expectations and provides a broad array of sophisticated, client-oriented legal services to businesses and individuals. Kelley Drye’s Stamford attorneys handle matters in the areas of litigation, private equity, securities, employee benefits and executive compensation, broker-dealer regulation, intellectual property, arbitration and mediation, technology, and antitrust and competition.

Louis Warren French Legion

Did you know that future name partner Louis Warren received the French Legion of Honor and was a Commander of the British Empire (CBE)?
Kelley Drye Then: Louis B. Warren led the firm’s work with the Chrysler Corporation. Throughout the 1960’s, he was instrumental in helping Chrysler negotiate to increase its holdings in Europe, including majority shares in the Societe des Automobiles in France, as well as helping the corporation obtain voting control of Rootes Motors Ltd. In the UK. His role did not go unnoticed, and in 1971 he became a chevalier of the French Legion d’Honneur, followed in 1972 with appointment as a commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Kelley Drye Now: Kelley Drye’s international trade policy group has worked on every major trade bill and international trade negotiation of the last 30 years. Our attorneys and government relations advisors collaborate to provide legal and policy advice to companies and trade associations to ensure that they remain competitive in the global economy. The practice helps clients fight barriers to trade in a variety of international markets, including Asia, Latin America and Europe. Recently, the international trade team worked in conjunction with the government-relations team on passage of Trade Promotion Authority, permitting the President to negotiate international agreements; and the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act (known as the “Leveling the Playing Field Act”), the first legislative changes to strengthen U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws in more than 20 years. Our team also worked on the Customs Authorization Bill, which contained many provisions of interest to our clients. These measures provide opportunities for U.S. companies and industries engaged in international trade to remain competitive globally, and are critical to preserving U.S. jobs and bolstering the U.S. economy.

John Drye

Did you know that partner John Drye was a descendant of one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence?
Kelley Drye Then: Born in 1900 in Van Alstyne, Texas, John Drye, Jr., came to work in New York by accident, when a friend of his parents heard he would be visiting the city as part of the Washington & Lee baseball team and insisted he meet with a business associate rather than go out on the town with his teammates. After a night at the theater, the “country boy from Texas” fell in love with the city. Drye joined the firm as an associate in 1920, became a partner in 1930, and a name partner in 1943.

Kelley Drye Now: Staying informed and participating in the legislative and regulatory process can have a major impact on your business. Founded over 50 years ago—when very few law firms had lobbying practices—the Kelley Drye government relations practice has grown from two former congressional staffers to a team of over 30 bipartisan advocates that work in partnership with companies and organizations to develop and implement strategies to change government policy.

Nick Kelley President of Harvard Crimson

Did you know that future partner Nick Kelley was president of the Harvard Crimson from 1904 to 1906, and was chosen as president by then senior editor Franklin Delano Roosevelt?
Kelley Drye Then: It is recorded that Roosevelt, in introducing Kelley to the board, picked the smaller man up by the coat collar and carried him into the room, saying, “Here’s your new president.”

Kelley Drye Now: Kelley Drye attorneys and industry experts provide timely insights on legal and regulatory issues. In addition to being frequent contributors in major industry publication and journals, our thought leaders keep clients updated through advisories and articles, blogs, newsletters, podcasts and resource centers.

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 extensively 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.