Established in 1941 in the McKay Tower in Grand Rapids, Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge owes its success to the character, integrity, and ability of its lawyers and staff, beginning with founders Clifford Mitts, A.B. Smith, Jr.,David Haughey, and Bud Roegge. The firm’s early reputation stemmed from the core belief that, first and foremost, the firm should always hire the best and brightest people.
The firm expanded on this foundation throughout the last seven decades. It now includes a multitude of practice areas and three strategically located offices throughout Michigan. While Smith Haughey is recognized for the size and scope of its services, it is known for delivering superior value through outstanding expertise and exceptional efficiency.
They decided to make a strong commitment to downtown Grand Rapids, historic preservation and sustainability through their participation in the renovation of the Flat Iron Building. The firm’s office build-out combines contemporary, modern design, furnishings and lighting, with the exposed brick and timbers of the old building resulting in a modern loft-style workspace. The firm is proud to be part of the renovation of this highly visible, once vacant building in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Renovating the building is important to attracting economic development and to making downtown even more walkable and inviting.
Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge was established in 1941 as a litigation defense firm. Their offices are strategically located in three major growth areas of Michigan:Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City. Smith Haughey employs 172 in all three locations, including 54 attorneys in Grand Rapids, 29 in Traverse City, and 9 in Ann Arbor.
The firm will add additional attorneys in 2012 in all three offices to accommodate its growth in Grand Rapids. The firm is exploring the option to expand by extending into the Ledyard Building.
They are the only law firm in the nation to renovate a 150-year-old building certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) They previously occupied the Calder Plaza Building for 30 years.
They partnered with Wolverine Building Group, Design +, and Locus Development, on the interior renovation.
They are the Law Firm of the Future.
A great deal has changed in the 30 years the firm occupied its space at Calder Plaza and Smith Haughey has kept up with the times.
Clients are pushing for lower costs and law firms like Smith Haughey are answering with streamlined processes and efficient uses of resources.
Technology has transformed the practice of law. Library books and paper files have largely been replaced with electronic equivalents. A generational and legal industry cultural shift away from large corner offices and towards uniform office sizes. Utilizing hoteling for part-time and visiting attorneys has further reduced space requirements. Emphasis is on effectiveness versus space. Out-of-office time is encouraged. Less support staff relative to the number of attorneys. Client meetings in conference rooms and at clients’ offices versus in attorneys’ private offices.
The Ledyard Block consists of a triangular shaped city block located in the heart of downtown, and is bounded by Ottawa and Monroe Center. The landmark site includes the Flat Iron Building. The buildings’ Civil War Italiente architectural style, age, and integrity of historic fabric have been recognized as historically significant.
The Ledyard Block is significant for its contribution to the commercial activity in the history of Grand Rapids commerce. The Flat Iron Building was originally constructed in 1860 to house a bank. The adjacent buildings to the west, 112 and 114 Monroe Center, were also constructed circa 1860 to encourage retail in downtown. Since the buildings were constructed, numerous retail businesses have occupied the main floors, while the upper floors have housed primarily professional practices.
It was built in 1860 by Moses Aldrich and his father-in-law William B. Ledyard. It is the second oldest building in Grand Rapids.
During the Civil War the building housed retail stores and a bank on the first floor, and offices and a boarding house upstairs.
The upper floors have not been used since the 1940’s.
The building is owned by Locus Development. The initial anticipated private investment was approximately $4.5 million.
In 1983, the “Ledyard Block” was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The windows at the prow of the building are original and were restored during construction.
An artifact rescued from the building is a “Notice to Employes” with instructions on how to report a work related injury. The Notice is affixed to an old door that now stands in Bill Hondorp, CEO and workers compensation attorney’s, office. The Notice is dated May 5, 1913—the year after the first workers compensation act was passed.
Other artifacts include a newspaper clipping of an article in the Grand Rapids Press, dated June 28, 1915, which recapped the previous year’s fighting in what eventually was known as WWI. There was also an interesting cartoon, written in German, which depicted a caricature of a storekeeper as well as a sign which read “We speak German here”. There was also a small article about a car that burned on Commerce St. in Grand Rapids.
photography: Tim Motley