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200-Year-Old R.I. Firm Dwindles & Dies

Posted May 2, 2008 11:47 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A venerable Rhode Island law firm that long ago earned a respected name in the state's history books has dwindled to the point where it is no longer a viable practice, and hence plans to close its doors.

Tillinghast Licht, whose roots date back at least to 1818 and whose attorney roster has included numerous state politicians and at least one state supreme court chief justice, has lost dozens of lawyers in recent years. It had about 50 attorneys in the mid-1980s, and that number rose to a high of 100, in the year 2000, counting those in Boston during brief affiliation with a firm there. However, only about 10 lawyers remain right now, reports the Providence Journal.

"It’s mostly people leaving for other jobs or retiring, and that’s been going on for a pretty long period of time,” explains David Riedel, the firm's managing partner. “Our problem is, for whatever reason, it got to a certain point where to be full-service, it would’ve required a long-term plan.” However, many of the senior partners are in their 60s and didn't want to focus on long-term planning, he says.

Six of the firm's remaining lawyers will be joining Adler Pollock & Sheehan on May 19, including Riedel, former Lt. Gov. Richard Licht and former Rhode Island House Speaker Joseph DeAngelis.

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