The 1950s: The Firm adds young local talent

The 1950s saw three young attorneys join the firm: Myron Atkinson, John Gunness, and Edgar Rose. It was also during this decade that Edward Cox, founding partner of the Firm,  passed away.

Myron Atkinson was a man who had a mind for both law and business. After his time with the Firm he went on to have his own practice in addition to being involved in broadcasting and television, real estate development, and banking. Atkinson was one of the founders of North Dakota Guaranty and Title.

John Gunness was heavily involved in oil and gas law. He served as the executive director of the North Dakota Petroleum Council for a time which gave him exposure to many decision makers in the industry. He went on to work for the American Petroleum Institute after leaving the Firm.

Edgar Rose had served as a county auditor for a while prior to joining the Firm. He went on to have his own practice in Bismarck for many years.

The 1940s: A new partner joins the Firm

William R. Pearce joined the firm in 1944 as a namesake partner after a period of time as an assistant attorney general. Pearce did not attend law school, but rather read the law under A.P. Paulson of Valley City, ND. He was one of the first lawyers to argue before the North Dakota Supreme Court with no formal law education.

Pearce gave the Lincoln Day speech to the joint session of the Legislature for years and did so entirely from memory. He was a very talented orator and scholar, participating in debate when he studied briefly at the University of Kentucky.

Pearce was instrumental in the expansion of the Firm, identifying many candidates to join the Firm as well as adding the oil and gas practice during North Dakota’s first oil boom.

His sons all came to work for the Firm at a point during their career as well. Harry and William as attorneys and Murray as business manager of the Firm.

Vukelic to speak on Special Education

Pearce Durick PLLC attorney Meredith Vukelic has been invited to speak at the National Business Institute’s upcoming seminar titled Special Education Laws Made Simple.  The seminar is designed for professionals who work with children with special needs in the school setting. Attendees will learn about schools’ obligations under special education laws, including requirements for IEPs, FAPE, LRE, options for dispute resolution, and issues surrounding discipline of special education students.  Meredith will also present on bullying and harassment, discrimination under Section 504, and other school actions or inaction that can result in lawsuits.  The seminar is being held at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center in Fargo, North Dakota on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.  If you are interested in registering, you may use this link to do so.

Attorneys Bruner and Vukelic speak on transgender student rights

Rachel Bruner and Meredith Vukelic, who lead Pearce Durick PLLC’s Education Law Group, were invited to speak at the North Dakota School Boards Association’s Law Seminar on October 24, 2019, on the topic of transgender student rights. As society continues to address issues affecting people who identify as LGBTQ, schools become a place where evolving opinions are explored and tested. In turn, school boards and school staff must balance competing opinions while transgender or gender non-conforming students assert their civil and educational rights at school. Rachel and Meredith enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the current legal landscape surrounding these matters with the several hundred seminar attendees.

The 1930s: A new associate joins the Firm

Herbert O’Hare retired from the Firm in 1939 after the tragic passing of his wife in a car accident. He spent the rest of his life with his son in Seattle.

Later in 1939 a new associate, E Forsyth Engebretson, was also added to the Firm. Engebretson was a new graduate and O’Hare, Cox & Cox was the first Firm he joined. He was with the Firm for a short period of time before he received his commission as an officer with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He served as a PT boat captain in the Philippines. Upon coming home, he rejoined the Firm and shortly after became a Partner.

Engebretson was with the Firm until his retirement in 1971. Upon his retirement he and his wife Elizabeth opened Swans of the North, a Scandinavian specialty shop.

The 1920s: A brother joins the Firm

Gordon Cox had been living in Bismarck for a number of years working as an attorney for the State Tax Commission before he joined O’Hare and Cox in their practice in 1925. He brought his experience from the State to the Firm and tried many cases related to tax law in addition to other defense work. When he had been with the Firm for five years, he became a namesake partner and the Firm name was changed to O’Hare, Cox & Cox.

Cox was also invested in the community and served on for-profit and nonprofit boards in the area. He also was a member of the North Dakota State Legislature for a number of years.

He stayed with the Firm until his retirement in 1966.

Where we’ve practiced through the years

Before O’Hare and Cox partnered to create the Firm, O’Hare practiced in the First National Bank building which was located on the corner of Main and 4th, where today stands the BNC National Bank building. Cox joined him in this location and they practiced there until the completion of the Little Building the following year. The Little Building is located on the southwest corner of Broadway and 3rd next to the Logan Building. The Little Building housed a dress shop, Hall’s Drug Store, and an extension of the Logan Building’s Logan Grocery which included a candy factory and bakery. The law offices were located on the second floor along with other professional services.

In 1963, the Firm relocated to the First Federal Bank building on 4th Street where today stands American Bank Center. During this time the MDU building was being constructed across the street and it was a frequent topic of conversation in the office. Less than a decade later the Firm relocated to its current offices in the Downtown Office Building, which was once the Montgomery Wards building. Prior to the current building being the local Montgomery Wards store, is was Lahr Motor Sales Co. Major renovations were done to the building between each transformation from car dealership and shop, to department store, to professional offices.

Today, we still practice in the Downtown Office Building.

Edward Cox: The beginning of a legacy

Edward Cox moved to Bismarck in early 1917 to work in the state tax commission as an attorney. Later that year he was appointed Assistant Attorney General by then Attorney General William “Wild Bill” Langer and held the position until he and O’Hare began the Firm. He had many interesting cases while with the Attorney General’s office.

Cox was a golf enthusiast who placed at the North Dakota state championship in the 1920s. He served as a school board member in Bismarck for a number of years after co-founding the Firm as well.

Along with Herbert O’Hare, Cox is a founding partner of our Firm. He practiced until he passed in 1954.

Herbert O’Hare: The beginning of a legacy

Herbert O’Hare began his career as a teacher in rural Ward County prior to going to the University of Minnesota to pursue a law degree. Upon completing his degree, he settled in Garrison, ND to practice law in 1905. He later opened a practice with Charles Staley in Garrison and practiced there for a number of years before moving to Bismarck.

During his time in Garrison he, along with others in the community, petitioned McLean County to incorporate the town of Garrison. He later went on to be a proponent for the division of McLean County in 1908 when both Stevenson County and Sheridan County divisions were proposed. O’Hare was named the county judge for the period of time that Stevenson County was being formed prior to the North Dakota Supreme Court ruling against the annexation of land for the creation of the County.

O’Hare moved to Bismarck in 1915 upon being appointed to bankruptcy referee for the southwestern district of North Dakota and later acted as city attorney as well. He opened his own practice in the First National Bank building where today stands BNC National Bank.

Along with Edward Cox, O’Hare is a founding partner of our Firm. He represented many local and national clients during his tenure and was active in the community. He was with the Firm for twenty years until his retirement in 1939.

O’Hare & Cox to Pearce Durick PLLC: Name changes through the years

It used to be common for a law firm to change its name when a new partner came on board. This was true of our Firm for many years until the Pearce & Durick name was adopted in 1985. We’ve dropped the ampersand, but we still pay homage to the attorneys who helped to build the reputation of the Firm through the years even if they do not appear in our name.

Below you will find a timeline of the name changes we’ve seen through the years.

1919    O’Hare & Cox

1929   O’Hare, Cox & Cox

1939   Cox & Cox

1944   Cox, Cox & Pearce

1950   Cox, Cox, Pearce & Engebretson

1954   Cox, Pearce & Engebretson

1961    Cox, Pearce, Engebretson, Murray, Atkinson &                               Gunness

1963   Cox, Pearce, Engebretson, Murray & Atkinson

1963   Cox, Pearce, Engebretson & Murray

1964   Cox, Pearce, Engebretson, Murray & Anderson

1965   Pearce, Engebretson, Murray, Anderson & Schmidt

1966   Pearce, Engebretson, Anderson & Schmidt

1969   Pearce, Engebretson, Anderson, Schmidt & Thames

1971    Pearce, Anderson, Schmidt & Thames

1973   Pearce, Anderson, Pearce, Thames & Pearce

1977   Pearce, Anderson, Thames & Durick

1980   Pearce, Anderson & Durick

1985   Pearce & Durick

2015   Pearce Durick PLLC