The roots of Denver’s oldest law firm began with James H. Pershing, who was born in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, in 1863. After obtaining his A.B. from Princeton, Mr. Pershing achieved his legal education by “reading the law” with the assistance of legal practitioners in Pittsburgh. On November 3, 1891, Pershing moved to Denver from Pennsylvania, family in tow, to start his own legal practice. He was admitted to the Colorado Bar in January of 1892. It was then that he founded the firm that is known today as Sherman & Howard.
Pershing spent his first 18 years of practice in Denver as a sole practitioner with an office in the Equitable Building, an architecturally beautiful structure in downtown Denver that has since been designated a historic landmark. From the outset, Pershing’s practice focused on real estate, a prosperous field on which to focus in the blossoming city, which was the gateway to the Mountain West. As time passed, Pershing also began to develop his practice toward investment securities law, with a special emphasis on municipal financing. Before long he became nationally recognized as a specialist in the law governing municipal corporations and municipal bonds. Throughout his career, Pershing developed a reputation as not only an outstanding legal practitioner, but also as an epic civic leader, a literary historian, an authority on poetry, a life-long participant in religious and charitable activities, and an educator, pre-eminent in the growth of cultural development in Denver.
In 1910, Frederick S. Titsworth, another sole practitioner in Denver, proposed to Pershing that they form a partnership. Mr. Titsworth, too, was a graduate of Princeton, and had earned his law degree at the University of Denver.
John H. Fry joined the growing Firm in 1916. He came directly from the country practice he had maintained, which by its nature required of him the knowledge of diverse legal activity. The addition of this generalist served to broaden the Firm’s appeal to clients that were not primarily engaged in purely financial transactions.
In 1917, the names of George L. Nye and Myles P. Tallmadge were added to the Firm’s letterhead. Mr. Tallmadge followed in Mr. Pershing’s footsteps as a specialist in municipal bonds. Mr. Nye, who had served as City Attorney in Salt Lake City before moving to Denver in 1905, specialized in litigation involving mining and corporation law, and brought many mining interests to the Firm’s clientele. His prowess as a litigator led to his involvement in many of the cases which initiated and developed much of the basic mining law in the mountain states. He was also instrumental in the evolvement of the Denver water system.
In 1925, Robert G. Bosworth achieved partnership after rising through the ranks of Associateship, concentrating in corporation and insurance law, along with general business law. He also initiated the Firm’s entry into the field of labor law, following the passage of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, and he was perhaps Denver’s most preeminent corporate lawyer of his day. In the years to follow his ascendance to partnership, he would twice be elected to the State Senate.
Lewis A. Dick followed Bosworth onto the Firm’s letterhead in 1930, the first attorney to climb to partner after having started with the Firm as an office-boy. He concentrated his practice in the areas of estate and trust administration work, as well as mining law, the practice of which was left to him after the departure of Mr. Nye.
Samuel Sherman and Winston Howard joined the Firm as associates just a few months apart in 1936, a fact that led to close friendship between the two. Because our nation was deep in the Great Depression at the time, both of these attorneys began their practices essentially as generalists.
Winston Howard had received his education at the University of Wyoming. In later years, he came to focus on real estate, counting among his successes a key role in the planning of the Denver Technological Center. Samuel Sherman remained a generalist throughout his career, generally recognized as one of the greatest generalists to have ever graced the Colorado Bar.
In 1941, Clyde Dawson, who had been trained in the practice of labor law by Bosworth, was added to the Firm’s letterhead. This was also the year that Samuel Sherman and Winston Howard were admitted to partnership. Their names would be added to the letterhead 15 years later.
Fritz Nagel joined the Firm in 1943, after practicing law in Denver for some time. He was a Denver native, who had earned his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his law degree from Harvard University. When he joined the Firm, he brought with him the finest residential abstract title examination file in metropolitan Denver. He also took on the Firm’s municipal finance practice during the course of World War II (in which the Firm’s other municipal finance practitioners had been drafted to fight). After the war ended, Nagel concentrated on his probate and real estate practices.
The first nearly wholesale change of the Firm’s letterhead occurred in 1956. The names of Pershing, Bosworth and Dick were removed, leaving Dawson’s name the only to withstand the alteration. The additions were Nagel, Sherman, and Howard. Twenty-four years later, Dawson and Nagel’s names were removed from the letterhead, leaving it Sherman & Howard, the Firm name which has persisted to this day.
Schedule of Name Changes for the Firm:
- 1892 – James H. Pershing
- 1910 – Pershing & Titsworth
- 1916 – Pershing, Titsworth & Fry
- 1917 – Pershing, Nye, Fry & Tallmadge
- 1925 – Pershing, Nye, Tallmadge & Bosworth
- 1930 – Pershing, Nye, Tallmadge, Bosworth & Dick
- 1932 – Pershing, Nye, Bosworth & Dick
- 1941 – Pershing, Bosworth, Dick & Dawson
- 1956 – Dawson, Nagel, Sherman & Howard
- 1980 – Sherman & Howard