Last year marked 100 years of continuous law practice by Gilman family attorneys at Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP in Rochester, N.Y.
Raymond T. “Tom” Gilman ’76, current partner at the firm, tells the story of his grandfather, Andrew L. Gilman, who was born on a small farm in Scottsburg, Livingston County, N.Y., in 1886.
“He never liked getting out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to milk the cows,” said Tom Gilman, so his grandfather focused on his education, attending Geneseo Normal School, Cornell University and, ultimately, Albany Law School, where he completed what was then a two-year curriculum and graduated in 1910.
After passing the bar exam, Andrew Gilman went to work for a solo practitioner in Bath, N.Y., but soon travelled to Rochester, where he contacted a classmate, T. Carl Nixon, for whom international firm Nixon Peabody is now named, to ask about job opportunities. This led to a position with Wile & Oviatt.
Andrew Gilman became partner of the firm in 1914, and the firm changed its name to Wile, Oviatt and Gilman. Tom Gilman explained that in his grandfather’s time, many things were different about the practice of law.
“There was much less specialization in individual lawyers’ areas of practice; any sort of advertising was strictly prohibited; and most lawyers charged fees according to an established ‘fee schedule,’ offering an incentive for clients to hire the best attorney rather than the cheapest attorney,” he said. “The courts were also closed in August and most law offices closed for the entire month – remember, this was the era before air conditioning.”
Tom Gilman’s father, John S. Gilman, joined the firm, then known as Oviatt, Gilman, O’Brien & Forman, in 1948, practicing law with Andrew Gilman for more than 20 years and bridging the gap between grandfather and grandson. Tom Gilman recalled that his grandfather was very happy that he was attending Albany Law School.
Wood Oviatt Gilman LLP has grown to employ more than 70 attorneys, including 12 Albany Law alumni, and represents a broad spectrum of clients, from major corporations and financial institutions to family-owned businesses and private individuals, in areas such as business and finance, IP, employment and labor, litigation, and real estate development and finance.
An active alumnus, Tom Gilman was on the Class of 1976 Reunion Committee last year and, as an avid golfer, co-chaired the 2011 Reunion Golf Tournament. He attends Reunion Weekend nearly every year, always playing in the golf tournament on a team with Peter Kopff ’75, Bill Nikas ’75 and Bill Price ’76.