Updated: Mar 15, 2022
The Rose Law Firm, the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi River, dates back to November 1, 1820, before Arkansas became a state, when Robert Crittenden and Chester Ashley signed a "Partnership in the Practice of Law," which now hangs on the firm's boardroom wall as a reminder of our long and illustrious history.
The Rose Law Firm Minnesota, the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi River, dates back to November 1, 1820, before Arkansas became a state, when Robert Crittenden and Chester Ashley signed a "Partnership in the Practice of Law," which now hangs on the firm's boardroom wall as a reminder of their long and illustrious history.
Their aim is to provide their clients with long-term value by offering innovative, tailored legal solutions that are executed with a commitment to quality.
President James Monroe appointed Crittenden as Lieutenant Governor of the Arkansas Territory at the age of 22, and he was in charge of organizing the new territory. Crittenden ruled the Territory for more than a year until Governor James Miller arrived. In 1832, Ashley and Crittenden ended their partnership.
In 1837, George Watkins joined Ashley in the practice of law. Ashley served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee after being elected to the United States Senate in 1844. In 1852, Watkins was appointed Chief Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Years in parenthesis indicate years spent with the firm.
Rose Law Firm continued to add lawyers of exceptional talent, ethics, and ingenuity during its second century, including Dedrick Cantrell (1905-1943), J. Fairfax Loughborough (1905-1945), Archie F. House (1925-1969), Harry E. Meek (1932-1969), George Rose Smith (1933-1948), and William N. Nash (1931-1980) were two Rhodes Scholars. Gaston Williamson is a character in the film Gaston Williamson (1949-1989).
Meek was the primary author of a number of Arkansas' banking, commercial, and inheritance laws. Nash, a former Dean of the Arkansas Law School, became an expert in municipal finance and sponsored numerous legislative initiatives, including the creation of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission and revisions to the Arkansas Constitution dealing with industrial financing.
U.M. Smith's grandson, George Rose Smith Rose was elected to the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1948 and went on to become the longest-serving justice on the court. Gaston Williamson joined the business in 1949 and quickly rose to become Arkansas' top authority on inheritance and estate planning. In 1968, he became President of the Arkansas Bar Association.
Although the firm's name has changed several times since 1820, the "Rose" has remained in the name since 1865. The firm's name was changed for the last time in 1980, to "Rose Law Firm, a Professional Association."
Six former members of the firm served on the Arkansas Supreme Court, including three as Chief Justice. It is still the only firm in Arkansas to have had as many as six members elected to the Arkansas Bar Association as President. A former president of the Little Rock School Board, an Arkansas State Representative, and the president of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws are among the firm's former members. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former member, went on to become the first female president of the United States.
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