From a Buffalo law firm to the White House

Kevin Hogan Discusses the History of Phillips Lytle and the Firm’s Notable Attorneys

Phillips Lytle celebrates 185 years of history

Author: Peter Gallivan, WGRZ
Published: 7:52 AM EDT October 9, 2019
Updated: 7:52 AM EDT October 9, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Phillips Lytle is not only one of the top law firms in WNY, it is also one of the first. The year was 1834, in the heart of a city in its infancy, “It was only 2 years old when Orsamus Marshall hung his shingle out, started a one-lawyer firm, that later, and eventually becomes Phillips Lytle” recalls current Managing Partner Kevin Hogan.

When Marshall opened that Main Street office, little did he know how the City would grow, much less that the firm he began would survive and thrive for 185 years and counting. It was also a firm that would bring in some pretty impressive young barristers, including one who would go on to greatness, a young man named Grover Cleveland.

Cleveland was brought on board by another young lawyer who continued the growth of this firm named Lymon Bass. Bass was a friend, a former roommate, and also a political rival. Bass beat Cleveland out for District Attorney, that is when Cleveland decided to run for Sheriff. Both Cleveland and Bass go on to great political success. Bass went on to become a U.S. Congressman, Cleveland became Sheriff, then Mayor, then New York Governor, and of course, President.

During his time at the law firm, Bass and Cleveland brought on another partner named Wilson Bissel. Fast forward several years and Cleveland appointed Bissel Postmaster General.

Not a bad track record for a three-lawyer firm, producing a U.S. Congressman, Postmaster general and two-term President of the United States.