Our History

Stoel Rives grew up with some of the Northwest’s earliest railroads and electric utility companies. Having gone through many name changes over the years, the current firm is the result of the 1979 merger of two important Portland firms—Davies, Biggs, Strayer, Stoel and Boley; and Rives, Bonyhadi and Smith—followed by the 1987 joinder with the Seattle firm Jones, Grey and Bayley; the firm’s expansion to Boise and Salt Lake City in the 1990s; and the 2001 combination with the California-based firm Washburn, Briscoe and McCarthy. In 2007, the firm expanded to the Midwest for the first time, when it opened an office in the Twin Cities. Encouraged perhaps by the ability of visiting Stoel Rives lawyers to endure the Minnesota winter cold, the firm opened an office in Anchorage, Alaska, in 2008. The latest expansion came in 2013, when the firm opened an office in Washington, D.C.

Davies, Biggs, Strayer, Stoel and Boley
The roots of the firm of Davies, Biggs, Strayer, Stoel and Boley date to 1883, the year the Northwest’s first transcontinental railroad was completed with Portland its terminus. That year Charles H. Carey began a long career—practicing law in Portland and representing the Northern Pacific Railroad as its Oregon counsel. Carey, who later penned the still-popular “General History of Oregon,” formed a partnership with James B. Kerr in 1907.

In 1905 Kerr came west from St. Paul, Minnesota to represent the Northern Pacific Railroad when it joined with the Great Northern Railroad to construct the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railroad (SP&S) line along the north bank of the Columbia River, which provided both railroads access from Spokane to Portland. Kerr went on to become one of the great land lawyers in the region and continued to handle the Northern Pacific’s tangled land and grant problems. Thomas B. Stoel joined the Davies firm in 1937. He became a nationally recognized corporate and tax lawyer.

Rives, Bonyhadi and Smith
The firm of Rives, Bonyhadi and Smith grew from the partnership of Laing and Gray, formed in 1935. John A Laing came west from New York in 1910 to represent Electric Bond & Share, which had acquired several small electric utilities in the Northwest. When these companies were merged into the predecessor of Pacific Power & Light (PP&L), Laing served as vice president and general counsel and was joined by Henry Gray as part of the house counsel office. In 1935 Laing and Gray formed an independent law firm but continued to represent PP&L while building a broader client base. The firm also has represented Northwest Natural Gas since the 1950s.

When PP&L’s first rate case was initiated in 1958, the firm engaged George Rives to handle the matter; he did so successfully and was invited to join the firm in 1963. Rives brought with him a belief that the venture should further broaden its client base and reduce its dependence on PP&L. During the next 15 years its representation expanded into business litigation, corporate representation and antitrust work.

Jones, Grey and Bayley
Jones, Grey and Bayley was the outgrowth of a law practice established by Ira H. Bronson, one of the most prominent and capable lawyers in Seattle during the first quarter of the 1900s.

In 1889, after graduating from Harvard Law School, Bronson moved to Seattle and practiced law in various associations. In 1912 he formed a partnership with H.B. Jones, son of U.S. Senator Wesley Jones. The resulting firm went through several name changes through the years, eventually becoming known as Jones & Grey in the early 1950s.

In 1966 the Seattle firm led by Frank S. Bayley Jr. merged with Jones & Grey, and in 1975 the firm name became Jones, Grey and Bayley. By 1987 (the year the firm merged with Stoel Rives) Jones, Grey and Bayley had established a strong business practice in banking, electronics and general corporate representation.

Firm Expansion
In 1991 the firm opened an office in Boise, Idaho, and in 1992 it expanded to Salt Lake City, Utah.

California Offices
In 2001 Stoel Rives merged with the Washburn, Briscoe & McCarthy law firm. Washburn was founded in August 1978 by three partners from Landells, Ripley & Diamond and was initially known as Washburn, Kemp & Wagenseil. They became Washburn & Kemp when Harris Wagenseil left private practice to pursue other interests. In 1986 Kemp left the firm to pursue a solo practice in product liability. That year the firm incorporated as Washburn, Briscoe & McCarthy and narrowed its focus to environmental, energy and natural resources law and litigation. The firm expanded from its San Francisco office with the opening of the Sacramento office in the mid-1980s and a Tahoe City office in 2000. Stoel Rives opened a San Diego office in 2006.

Minneapolis Office
In 2007 a group of attorneys from the law firm of Lindquist & Vennum joined Stoel Rives and founded the firm’s Minneapolis office. Originally consisting primarily of energy, agribusiness, corporate, M&A, environmental and commercial litigation attorneys, the office has since expanded to offer appellate, tax, project finance, real estate, intellectual property, wealth management and labor & employment services.

Anchorage Office
In 2008 a group of lawyers originally from the Heller Ehrman law firm joined Stoel Rives and founded the firm’s Anchorage office. Included in the group was litigation partner Jim Torgerson, who later assumed the role of Stoel Rives firm managing partner—the first Alaska-based FMP at a major law firm in U.S. history.

Washington D.C. Office
In 2013 the firm opened a DC office to serve as the hub for federal regulatory work performed on behalf of clients engaged in major client industry sectors, including energy, transportation, food and alcohol, manufacturing and distribution, timber, health care and technology.

About Stoel Rives

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