The 1930s: A new associate joins the Firm

Herbert O’Hare retired from the Firm in 1939 after the tragic passing of his wife in a car accident. He spent the rest of his life with his son in Seattle.

Later in 1939 a new associate, E Forsyth Engebretson, was also added to the Firm. Engebretson was a new graduate and O’Hare, Cox & Cox was the first Firm he joined. He was with the Firm for a short period of time before he received his commission as an officer with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He served as a PT boat captain in the Philippines. Upon coming home, he rejoined the Firm and shortly after became a Partner.

Engebretson was with the Firm until his retirement in 1971. Upon his retirement he and his wife Elizabeth opened Swans of the North, a Scandinavian specialty shop.

The 1920s: A brother joins the Firm

Gordon Cox had been living in Bismarck for a number of years working as an attorney for the State Tax Commission before he joined O’Hare and Cox in their practice in 1925. He brought his experience from the State to the Firm and tried many cases related to tax law in addition to other defense work. When he had been with the Firm for five years, he became a namesake partner and the Firm name was changed to O’Hare, Cox & Cox.

Cox was also invested in the community and served on for-profit and nonprofit boards in the area. He also was a member of the North Dakota State Legislature for a number of years.

He stayed with the Firm until his retirement in 1966.

Where we’ve practiced through the years

Before O’Hare and Cox partnered to create the Firm, O’Hare practiced in the First National Bank building which was located on the corner of Main and 4th, where today stands the BNC National Bank building. Cox joined him in this location and they practiced there until the completion of the Little Building the following year. The Little Building is located on the southwest corner of Broadway and 3rd next to the Logan Building. The Little Building housed a dress shop, Hall’s Drug Store, and an extension of the Logan Building’s Logan Grocery which included a candy factory and bakery. The law offices were located on the second floor along with other professional services.

In 1963, the Firm relocated to the First Federal Bank building on 4th Street where today stands American Bank Center. During this time the MDU building was being constructed across the street and it was a frequent topic of conversation in the office. Less than a decade later the Firm relocated to its current offices in the Downtown Office Building, which was once the Montgomery Wards building. Prior to the current building being the local Montgomery Wards store, is was Lahr Motor Sales Co. Major renovations were done to the building between each transformation from car dealership and shop, to department store, to professional offices.

Today, we still practice in the Downtown Office Building.

Edward Cox: The beginning of a legacy

Edward Cox moved to Bismarck in early 1917 to work in the state tax commission as an attorney. Later that year he was appointed Assistant Attorney General by then Attorney General William “Wild Bill” Langer and held the position until he and O’Hare began the Firm. He had many interesting cases while with the Attorney General’s office.

Cox was a golf enthusiast who placed at the North Dakota state championship in the 1920s. He served as a school board member in Bismarck for a number of years after co-founding the Firm as well.

Along with Herbert O’Hare, Cox is a founding partner of our Firm. He practiced until he passed in 1954.

Herbert O’Hare: The beginning of a legacy

Herbert O’Hare began his career as a teacher in rural Ward County prior to going to the University of Minnesota to pursue a law degree. Upon completing his degree, he settled in Garrison, ND to practice law in 1905. He later opened a practice with Charles Staley in Garrison and practiced there for a number of years before moving to Bismarck.

During his time in Garrison he, along with others in the community, petitioned McLean County to incorporate the town of Garrison. He later went on to be a proponent for the division of McLean County in 1908 when both Stevenson County and Sheridan County divisions were proposed. O’Hare was named the county judge for the period of time that Stevenson County was being formed prior to the North Dakota Supreme Court ruling against the annexation of land for the creation of the County.

O’Hare moved to Bismarck in 1915 upon being appointed to bankruptcy referee for the southwestern district of North Dakota and later acted as city attorney as well. He opened his own practice in the First National Bank building where today stands BNC National Bank.

Along with Edward Cox, O’Hare is a founding partner of our Firm. He represented many local and national clients during his tenure and was active in the community. He was with the Firm for twenty years until his retirement in 1939.

O’Hare & Cox to Pearce Durick PLLC: Name changes through the years

It used to be common for a law firm to change its name when a new partner came on board. This was true of our Firm for many years until the Pearce & Durick name was adopted in 1985. We’ve dropped the ampersand, but we still pay homage to the attorneys who helped to build the reputation of the Firm through the years even if they do not appear in our name.

Below you will find a timeline of the name changes we’ve seen through the years.

1919    O’Hare & Cox

1929   O’Hare, Cox & Cox

1939   Cox & Cox

1944   Cox, Cox & Pearce

1950   Cox, Cox, Pearce & Engebretson

1954   Cox, Pearce & Engebretson

1961    Cox, Pearce, Engebretson, Murray, Atkinson &                               Gunness

1963   Cox, Pearce, Engebretson, Murray & Atkinson

1963   Cox, Pearce, Engebretson & Murray

1964   Cox, Pearce, Engebretson, Murray & Anderson

1965   Pearce, Engebretson, Murray, Anderson & Schmidt

1966   Pearce, Engebretson, Anderson & Schmidt

1969   Pearce, Engebretson, Anderson, Schmidt & Thames

1971    Pearce, Anderson, Schmidt & Thames

1973   Pearce, Anderson, Pearce, Thames & Pearce

1977   Pearce, Anderson, Thames & Durick

1980   Pearce, Anderson & Durick

1985   Pearce & Durick

2015   Pearce Durick PLLC

Pearce Durick PLLC celebrates 100 years

In 1919 when Herbert O’Hare and Edward Cox opened a small law practice in Bismarck, ND they had both come from different backgrounds but knew that together they could be a resource to the community. What O’Hare and Cox did not know was that they were starting a legacy which would still stand 100 years later. Throughout the years the Firm has had nearly 50 attorneys working for clients both big and small, local and across the nation.

It is with great honor that Pearce Durick PLLC celebrated this legacy by inviting attorneys and staff, both current and past, to an evening to reconnect and reminisce. Harry Pearce, former partner who went on to become vice chairman of General Motors, spoke of the legacy that the attorneys before him, particularly his father, built around the Firm and the dedication to integrity that is woven into the fabric of Pearce Durick PLLC.

Today, Pearce Durick PLLC still has a commitment to integrity in its dealings with clients. We draw on the strength of those who have made the Firm what it is today – strategic, responsive, and effective. We are a client-focused, innovative, and value-driven Firm and look to the next century to continue to build relationships and represent our clients in a way that would make O’Hare and Cox proud. Here’s to the next 100 years!