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Delaware Lawyers Since 1826

A Proud Tradition: The History of Potter Anderson & Corroon

Small Beginnings

In 1826, a young member of the Delaware bar, Andrew C. Gray, opened a law office in New Castle, Delaware—then the seat of New Castle County and the location of both the state and federal courts.  That law practice has become one of the largest in Delaware and one of the oldest in the nation.

The Evolution of Success

In addition to a burgeoning law practice, Gray pursued other business ventures.  He became president of the Farmers' Bank of the State of Delaware and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company.  Gray was also chairman of two local railroad companies that were later incorporated into the Pennsylvania Railroad System.

In 1863, Gray's office began its first of many expansions when his son, George Gray, was admitted to the bar and joined his father's law practice.

When the New Castle County seat was moved to Wilmington in 1881, the Grays relocated as well.  By 1901, Ward & Gray was ensconced in the newly constructed DuPont Building, located at 10th and Market streets.  New partners Herbert H. Ward and Andrew C. Gray, son of George Gray, developed a leading position for the firm in corporate and litigation practice, which had been growing in Delaware following the state's adoption of the new General Corporation Law in 1897.

By the turn of the century, George Gray had already served as Attorney General for the State of Delaware and had been elected to two full terms in the United States Senate.  In 1888, he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where he served with distinction until his retirement in 1914 at the age of 74.  After retirement he was appointed as a judge for the newly formed Court of International Justice at The Hague, The Netherlands.

Corporate and litigation practices remained the firm's focus for the first half of the 20th century.  During this time, Ward & Gray continued its growth, which was reflected in changes to its name:  Southerland Berl & Potter, Berl Potter and Anderson, and since 1967, Potter Anderson & Corroon.

A History of Distinguished Public Service

Throughout the firm's long history, its members have maintained an unparalleled tradition of public service in Delaware's judicial, elected and professional posts.  George Gray, his son Andrew C. Gray, and Clarence A. Southerland each served terms as Attorney General of Delaware.  Upon the creation of the new appellate system in 1951, Clarence Southerland became the first Chief Justice of Delaware.

That same year, Daniel F. Wolcott became the second of three new Delaware Supreme Court Justices.  A former partner, Wolcott also had served as a Chancellor of the Court of Chancery and Judge of the Superior Court.   Earlier, Paul Leahy left the firm to become Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.

In 1946 a young associate, Collins J. Seitz, began his distinguished judicial career.  Perhaps best known for authoring the only decision affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education, Seitz served as Vice Chancellor and later as Chancellor of the Court of Chancery.  In 1966, Seitz was appointed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.  He presided as Chief Judge of the Circuit from 1971 to 1984, and served as a Senior Judge on that Court until his death in 1998.

Several distinguished judges who have served on the Delaware District Court bench also began practiced law at Potter Anderson & Corroon.   James L. Latchum was appointed to that bench in 1968, served as Chief Judge from 1973 to 1983, and later as a Senior Judge.  Sue L. Robinson, who was an associate with the firm, became a United States Magistrate in 1988, appointed a United States District Judge in 1991 and served as the Chief Judge of that Court for several years.  Kent A. Jordan, who was an associate at the firm, was appointed to the Federal Bench in 2002.

Experience Leads to Expertise

Today, Potter Anderson & Corroon remains in Wilmington and boasts a broad and diversified practice.  By identifying a client's legal challenges and producing unique and cost-effective solutions that exceed the client's expectations, Potter Anderson & Corroon has maintained a leadership role in its focus practices.  The firm remains committed to serving the needs of its clients and meeting its own high standards in all aspects of its professional endeavors.