Montgomery Business Journal

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Capell & Howard Provides Pleasant Place to Practice Law

February 2014

By Jennifer Kornegay  

Photography by Robert Fouts

For 66 years, the law firm of Capell & Howard, P.C. in Montgomery has been serving its clients, growing from a two-man partnership founded in 1947 into its present form, a professional corporation (P.C.) currently comprised of 37 attorneys.Managing Director William Martin pointed out several aspects and accomplishments that have led to the firm’s longevity and success, including something rather basic – camaraderie. “A real strength of our law firm is collegiality; we all really enjoy practicing law with each other,” he said.

A Capell & Howard tradition is its firm-wide Wednesday lunch meetings. “We all have lunch here together each week. We eat and visit and then have a short business meeting, where we go around the table and everyone gets the chance to talk. It’s just a very pleasant place to practice law; I believe that is what most of our lawyers would say is why so many have stayed here so long.”

Martin is one of the long-standing members of the firm, having been at Capell & Howard as a lawyer since 1971 after clerking in 1970. His primary practice area is commercial real estate, but his colleagues practice in many other areas, earning Capell & Howard the reputation as a strong general practice firm. “The firm is divided into three primary departments
real estate, litigation and business, and then those are further divided into sections, but we really do a little bit of everything,” he said.

Decades of growth and success led to the need for more space, and when it was time to expand, the firm decided to remain in the city’s heart, even when other businesses and firms were moving out. “By the late ’90s, we had outgrown our building downtown and knew we had to do something, but we also knew we wanted to stay downtown. We saw the beginnings of good things happening down here, and we’ve been very pleased with that decision,” Martin said.

New space was added to the original building with W.K. Upchurch Construction Co. acting as general contractor. Another of the firm’s veteran attorneys, Bill Coleman, played an instrumental role in the building’s design and construction, and this past August, the building was dedicated and named in his honor. Further expansion came when the firm opened an office in Opelika in 2003.

Some Capell & Howard attorneys do leave, but it’s often to pursue careers in public service. Past Capell & Howard lawyers have gone on to be the legal adviser to two Alabama governors, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, a justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, the chief deputy attorney general under four Alabama attorneys general, Alabama’s Civilian Aid to the Secretary of the Army and a federal judge, to name a few.

And that spirit of service is evident in the attorneys still working at the firm, another “intangible” to which Martin credits the firm’s achievements and prosperity. “Many of our lawyers are involved in civic organizations like Leadership Montgomery and the Montgomery Capital Rotary Club and serve on boards like the Central Alabama Community Foundation and others,” he said. “As a firm, we are a strong supporter of United Way, and that goes all the way back to our beginnings. For years, we have had 100 percent attorney participation.”

A number of its lawyers have been heads of sections and committees of the Alabama State Bar. In addition, Capell & Howard has been a consistent supporter of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and is also supporting Questplex, the future downtown home of the Juliette Hampton Morgan Memorial Library and The Children’s Museum of Alabama. “We are heavily involved and proud to be a part of it; I think it will be a wonderful addition to downtown and the city,” Martin said.

Despite a history of giving back to the community and the legal profession, it is taking care of their clients that is at the core of everything Capell & Howard attorneys do. “Our mission is to provide quality services to our clients,” Martin said, “and we’ve been around long enough that I think we can say we have been and still are doing that.”

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