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Our History

Niles, Barton & Wilmer, LLP is Maryland’s most established law office and one of the oldest law firms in the US. Founded in 1838 by George William Brown and Frederick W. Brune, it has continuously served its clients for almost 200 years.

The founders of the precursor firm to Niles, Barton & Wilmer believed in service to the community, the people, and the justice system. These beliefs are still true today at Niles Barton. Over the past 180 years, our law firm has transitioned from a small Baltimore firm to a midsized, diverse mid-Atlantic law firm. Although we have grown in size and breadth, we have remained true to those small firm ideals of delivering personal service to clients and the community. We prepared a timeline of some important dates in the history of Niles Barton. We hope you find the predecessors of our past just as interesting as the activities and people of our firm today.

1838 - Brown & Brune, the progenitor to Niles, Barton & Wilmer, was the first law firm in Baltimore formed by George William Brown and Frederick W. Brune.

1840 - George William Brown was a founder of the Baltimore Bar Library. He also had his first case before the U.S. Supreme Court at the young age of 28.

1847 - The first Maryland Digest, an encyclopedia of court opinions, was authored by three attorneys including George William Brown and Frederick W. Brune.

1860 - George William Brown served as Mayor of the City of Baltimore at the outbreak of the Civil War.

1867 - George William Brown took an active part in the Constitutional Convention. Randolph Barton and Skipwith Wilmer established a law practice in Baltimore under the name of Barton & Wilmer.

1873 - George William Brown was elected to the post of Chief Judge of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City.

1885 - Chief Judge Brown wrote the opinion that admitted Everett J. Waring, the first black attorney, to practice in Maryland although the law said that an attorney had to be a white male 21 years of age. Edgar H. Gans signed the petition.

1889 - The firm of Gans & Haman was formed in Baltimore. This firm evolved to be called Markell, Veazey & Gans and eventually became Niles, Barton, Gans & Markell.

1915 - Carlyle Barton left the firm and joined Judge Alfred Niles who had retired from the Bench to form the firm of Niles & Barton, which later became Niles & Barton, Wolff & Morrow.

1923 - A partner with the firm, Judge Emory H. Niles, helped found the American Maritime Cases, which continues to be the premier maritime case reporting service in the United States.

1941 - Gans & Haman, although under a different firm name at the time, was the first firm to start keeping time records to track how much time they spent on a case.

1948 - Markell, Veazey & Gans merged with Niles, Barton, Yost & Dankmeyer to become Niles, Barton, Gans & Markell.

1956 - Former partner, Judge Emory H. Niles, was the first judge in the City of Baltimore to hire an African-American law clerk.

1968 - Niles, Barton, Gans & Markell merged with the firm then known as Barton, Wilmer, Bramble, Addison & Seamans and adopted the name under which it presently conducts its practice - Niles, Barton & Wilmer.

1974 - Brune & Robertson merged with Niles, Barton & Wilmer.

1979 - Rich & Janney merged with Niles, Barton & Wilmer.

1988 - Niles, Barton & Wilmer returns to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor district at its current location in Harborplace Towers.

2000 - Niles, Barton & Wilmer formed a Technology Committee to continue its commitment to technology, provide training on the firm’s systems, and provide suggestions for future enhancements to maintain the firm’s cutting edge.

2006 - Niles, Barton & Wilmer formed a Diversity Committee to enhance the firm’s commitment to diversity and to promote the hiring and retention of minority professionals within the firm.

2007 - The Law Firm Alliance selects Niles, Barton & Wilmer as its exclusive law firm member for the state of Maryland. Niles, Barton & Wilmer holds its first Women’s Committee event, providing an opportunity for women to meet, network and share ideas.

2008 - Niles, Barton & Wilmer celebrates its 170th anniversary.

2012 - Niles, Barton & Wilmer institutes an annual Day of Community Service.

2013 - Niles, Barton & Wilmer celebrates its 175th anniversary of outstanding client service.

2017 - Niles, Barton & Wilmer, LLP hosts a successful Law Firm Alliance Fall Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. The Law Firm Alliance is a global network of mid-size law firms located in geographic regions strategically partnered with other member firms to serve as referrals for legal matters.