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Brief Firm History

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Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, P.L.C. traces its history to 1852 when Sidney Davy Miller (1830-1904) opened a practice on Detroit's Jefferson Avenue, an excellent location in a growing area of Detroit where many influential people lived. Detroit's population was about 20,000 then, and rapidly growing. Miller had just graduated from Harvard Law School, and was only 22 years old when he established Michigan's oldest law firm.

More than 160 years later, Miller Canfield is one of Michigan's largest law firms and one of the nation's leading firms in its specialty areas. Our lawyers practice law in a progressive manner logically dictated by our times.

Young Miller, the founder, married the daughter of a prominent Detroiter, Charles C. Trowbridge, one of Michigan's leading citizens. Soon after Miller opened his practice, he became attorney for the Detroit Savings Fund Institute, predecessor of the Detroit Bank, now known as Comerica Bank. He was elected a director of the bank in 1881, and became president in 1883, holding that office until his death in 1904.

Because of an ever-expanding caseload and duties at the bank, in 1881 Miller recruited his first associate, James Coslett Smith, Jr. Smith was a son of Judge Smith of the New York Supreme Court and had just graduated from Columbia Law School. By 1888, Sidney Trowbridge Miller, son of the founder, joined the firm after graduation from Harvard Law School.

In 1893, Lewis H. Paddock (1866-1935) graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and joined with Charles T. Alexander to establish the firm Alexander and Paddock. Alexander was Sidney Davy Miller's cousin, and Mrs. Paddock and Mrs. Smith were sisters. A union of interest was natural and in 1902, a partnership of Miller, Smith, Alexander and Paddock was formed. Mr. Alexander died in 1908 and George B. Perry succeeded him as partner in the firm Miller, Smith, Paddock and Perry. Perry had been an associate of the firm since graduating from Harvard Law School in 1901.

In 1892, George L. Canfield (1866-1928) joined his father F. H. Canfield in practice. The Canfields were recognized as the leading specialists in admiralty law in the Midwest. In 1914, the Canfield firm merged with the Miller firm and became Miller, Smith, Canfield, Paddock and Perry. George L. Canfield became a partner and his father, Frank H. Canfield, who practiced law since 1862, became "Of Counsel" with the firm.

Ferris D. Stone (1882-1945) began his association with the firm in 1909 when he graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. Mr. Smith died suddenly in September of 1917 and Ferris D. Stone became a partner. At that time, the firm name changed to Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Perry.

By 1921, the third generation of the Miller family joined the firm, when Sidney T. Miller, Jr. became an associate. Like his father and grandfather, he graduated from Harvard Law School. In January of 1923, Mr. Perry died and Sidney T. Miller, Jr. became a partner. The firm name was then changed to Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone as it remains today.

To review our archive of clients and projects is to study the history of Michigan itself. Miller Canfield served as bond counsel for the Mackinac Bridge project, and worked with the Mackinac Bridge Authority, a public state authority supported by Governor G. Mennen Williams, which sold approximately $100 million in revenue bonds to finance construction of the five-mile span that links Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas.

As proud of this history as we are, the firm's orientation is toward the future. In order to serve our clients, we have more than 290 lawyers located in offices in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Troy, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; New York City; Tampa, Florida; Toronto and Windsor, Canada; Monterrey, Mexico; Gdynia, Warsaw and Wroclaw, Poland; and Shanghai, China.

In an era of specialization, abstract legal expertise no longer suffices. The firm believes that its attorneys should understand a client's business needs and employs attorneys who have advanced degrees in engineering, accounting, economics, tax, architecture and similar disciplines.  For more than 160 years of practice, Miller Canfield has learned that the highest quality legal services are necessary to meet the ever-changing demands of the law. Miller Canfield is committed to providing such services.