Shannon Gracey Ratliff & Miller, one of Fort Worth’s storied law firms for more than 80 years, is shutting down at the end of the year, according to court records.
The partners recently voted to dissolve at the end of 2016, and several of its attorneys are leaving to join other firms or start new ones, according to court records and interviews with those familiar with the situation.
Shannon Gracey, which lists offices in Fort Worth, Dallas, Arlington, Austin, Houston and Rhome, is primarily a civil law firm with lawyers working in all areas of business law including bankruptcy, probate and trusts and dispute resolution. Its website said it still employs about 30 attorneys.
Managing Partner Richard Lowe declined an interview. But in a statement he said that the firm, which has a “long legacy of legal integrity and community involvement,” has seen a number of its partners retire at the same time that others left the firm.
“With this in mind, the current partners are considering a variety of options and business alternatives with the goal of continuing to represent our clients thoroughly and effectively,” Lowe’s statement said. “No decisions have been formalized.”
...The current partners are considering a variety of options and business alternatives with the goal of continuing to represent our clients thoroughly and effectively,
Shannon Gracey Managing Partner Richard Lowe
But in an emergency motion seeking a continuance in a civil case in Tarrant County, three attorneys who used to work at Shannon Gracey stated that the law firm’s partners “voted to dissolve” effective the end of 2016, forcing them “out of necessity” to form on Nov. 1 the law firm of Bonds Ellis Eppich Schafer Jones.
“Most law firms plan and prepare for months before opening. Because of this accelerated timeline, Bond Ellis opened in one month’s time,” making it difficult to be prepared for the upcoming hearing, the motion signed by Roland Schafer, Brandon Jones, and Patrick Sheridan states. The motion was filed Nov. 18.
Jones did not return a phone call from the Star-Telegram seeking comment.
The new law firm, which lists eight attorneys including former federal bankruptcy judge D. Micheal Lynn, will specialize in bankruptcy and reorganization, construction, oil and gas and insurance litigation.
The partners of Shannon Gracey have voted to dissolve the firm effective at the end of 2016,
motion for continuance filed in civil court
Other former Shannon Gracey lawyers have joined Pope, Hardwicke Christie Harrell Schell & Kelly, another downtown firm that lists among its clients the Tarrant Regional Water District.
“Shannon Gracey will not have any attorneys, won’t be paying attorneys after Dec. 31, so everybody will be making a move,” Lisa Jamieson, a former Shannon Gracey lawyer, told The Texas Lawyer trade publication last week. She joined Pope Hardwick, along with others. She did not return a phone call from the Star-Telegram seeking comment.
“Shannon Gracey is one of Fort Worth's oldest and finest law firms and has contributed many talented lawyers to the Fort Worth legal community, including some of our best judges. Its dissolution is a sad event. We wish all its lawyers and staff the very best in their future endeavors,” said Lee Christie, a partner at Pope Hardwick.
Attorneys and judges were reluctant to discuss what was happening at Shannon Gracey, fearful of damaging the reputation of those who remain at the firm. Several Tarrant County jurists including state District Judge R.H. Wallace and former 2nd Court of Appeals Court Chief Justice John Cayce spent time at the firm. Wallace once served as the firm’s managing partner.
According to Shannon Gracey’s website, the firm traces its origin to the 1930s, when the lawyers at Walker, Smith & Shannon began representing a number of prominent Fort Worth companies involved with banking, oil and railroads. In 1968, it merged with Crowley, Wright, Ratliff & Miller.
Shannon Gracey moved into the top three floors of the Commerce Building in Sundance Square in 2013.