• 1940s
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s
  • 2000s
  • 2010s

1940s

Carr McClellan was founded in 1945, when communities along the El Camino Real corridor, including Burlingame, Hillsborough and San Mateo, were small, and suburbanization was just beginning to take hold. The open spaces of the grand, 19th-century estates were being converted into subdivisions and commercial properties, and the Peninsula’s economy was still largely tied to light industry, agriculture and ancillary businesses.

Luther Carr, a former district attorney in Jasper County, Iowa, and native San Franciscan Ed Cosgriff established the law firm of Cosgriff and Carr in September 1945. Their first space was above Miller’s Drugstore on Burlingame Avenue. One year later, J. Ed McClellan joined the firm, and Cosgriff, Carr & McClellan moved into a new building — among the first in Burlingame to have a passenger elevator.

With the addition of Frank Ingersoll, Cosgriff, Carr, McClellan and Ingersoll was formed in July 1947. A short time later, Cosgriff passed away.

In 1949, the firm moved into its new office building at Carr McClellan’s current location at 216 Park Road, and while the address has remained the same, little else of the original building has.

1950s

The firm’s growth and reputation continue to grow, with Carr McClellan powered by eight attorneys counseling clients on complex transactions.

San Mateo County witnessed tremendous growth in the 1950s. The open space between northern Burlingame and Millbrae Avenue, which had been part of the Mills Estate, was developed into housing. The airport expanded and became a catalyst for new business development in the northern part of the county, and Stanford University was having a similar effect in the southern part of the Peninsula, serving as an incubator for technology start-up talent.

Carr McClellan was working with many of the new businesses and public institutions that were developing to serve a growing population. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the firm was integral to the formation of the Peninsula Hospital District.

By the late 1950s, Carr McClellan had eight attorneys, and the firm’s reputation for handling complex transactions was on the rise. The firm represented the landowners in the sale or lease of property to residential and commercial developers to create Foster City, the region’s largest deal at the time. In addition to handling the transactions, Carr McClellan dealt with riparian rights to the canals that define Foster City, and decades later would represent the owners in protecting their leased interests.

1960s

In 1968 the firm closed its largest business transaction to date when it represented Gamlen Chemical Company in its multi-million-dollar sale. Through the representation of Ames Taping Tools, Inc. in its sale, the firm was introduced to a member of the Kinney family, and a relationship was established that continues to this day.

For another client from that time, Edward Scripps, the firm first developed his estate plan then expanded this relationship, representing him and the Scripps Company on a variety of business matters as the publishing empire underwent significant changes.

1970s

In the 1970s, the ongoing commercial and residential development on the Peninsula in communities such as Foster City was keeping Carr McClellan’s real estate practice very busy. Carr McClellan’s reputation for serving privately held, often family-owned businesses continued to grow. The quantity and complexity of legal issues that clients brought to the firm was also on the rise, supplying the firm’s growing corporate, estate-planning and litigation practices with a swelling stream of engagements.

1980s

The 1980s witnessed significant changes in the health care delivery system that were brought about by increasing competition among health care providers. Carr McClellan, through the course of its long-term relationship with the Peninsula Hospital District, was positioned to help health care districts and emerging HMOs transition to a system of nonprofit hospitals. Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the firm worked with a variety of health care districts and hospitals throughout California, setting up nonprofit organizations to run the hospitals and working with the districts that owned the facilities.

The firm continued to add one or two attorneys a year up until the late 1980s, when Carr McClellan acquired the old-line San Francisco bankruptcy and creditors’ rights firm of Phelan, Stuppi & McQuaid. Phelan traced its roots back to the 1930s, and its merger reaffirmed Carr McClellan’s commitment to its Bay Area clientele while immediately diversifying the firm’s service offerings.

1990s

Beginning in the 1990s, Carr McClellan’s client list grew to include major manufacturers, food distributors and retailers, construction and real estate development companies, nonprofit and governmental entities, software and computer companies, investment and consulting firms, and professional service providers, among many others.

2000s

Carr McClellan strengthens its Business Litigation and Construction practices.

 

2010s

Carr McClellan earns top 1% nationwide ranking among law firms in the Fortune Magazine 2012 Top Ranked Law Firms report. Over 55% of the firm’s attorneys are rated AV® Preeminent™. Nationally, of the 254,000 firms with 21 or more lawyers rated by Lexis Nexis® Martindale-Hubbell®, only 965 have more than one-third of their lawyers who are AV-rated; that’s less than 1%.

Fortune magazine issue – Dec. 26, 2011:
“To compile a list of top law firms in the U.S., Lexis Nexis® Martindale-Hubbell® – the authoritative source for information about U.S. lawyers since 1868 – researched its comprehensive database of 1 million lawyers and firms in more than 160 countries and identified U.S. law firms of 21 or more attorneys where at least one out of three lawyers achieved the AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating. This rating indicates the rated lawyer has been deemed by his or her peers to have demonstrated the highest level of ethical standards and legal ability.”

In 2014, the firm launches a new brand to better reflect its energetic and rigorous approach to client service and legal excellence.