History of our Law Firm in Texarkana

Otto Atchley(1904 - 1989), born in Malta, Texas, began his practice o f law in 1926 . He received his legal education from what was then known as Cumberland University Law School, from w hose ranks also came the late Sam Rayburn and the late Wright Patman. Otto joined the Texarkana firm of King, Mahaffey and Wheeler in 1936. A few years later he established his own law office in Texarkana. He served as County Judge of Bowie County from 1936-38. During World War II, he reformed a partnership with J.I. Wheeler; and post-World War II, he formed a partnership with former district judge Bob Vance.

Norman Russell (1915 - 1996) received his legal education from the University of Texas Law School and graduated in the same class as Ambassador Bob Strauss, U.S. District Judge John Singleton, and John Sutton, who was later to become Dean of the University of Texas Law School. Mr. Atchley invited Norman to join him in a partnership effective January 1, 1955. Their practice grew and prospered. After eighteen months it became obvious they needed an associate to handle the heavy workload both were carrying.

Howard Waldrop (1930 - 2005), a Texarkana native, had just completed his legal education at the University of Texas Law School and, in September 1956, was introduced to Mr. Atchley by a mutual friend. During a twenty-minute interview, Mr. Atchley told Howard very gravely that other prospects would be interviewed and that a decision on employing Howard would take several weeks to consider. Within the hour, Mr. Atchley offered Howard a job and made Howard promise that it would be a permanent relationship, a promise which he has kept. During this time the firm was located in the Texarkana National Bank building. On November 1, 1956, the firm moved to a new office at 315 Main Street. When the Main Street office was built, the prevailing wisdom at the time was that an office for three attorneys was all that would ever be needed in Texarkana.

The firm quickly developed the need for other experienced trial counsel. Bun Hutchinson of Dekalb, a former district judge of the 102nd District Court, joined the firm, which became known as ATCHLEY, RUSSELL & HUTCHINSON. The firm added on to the Main Street building to accommodate five lawyers. Charles Hlavinka, a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Law School, joined the firm in the fall of 1959 to fill a need for an attorney to handle finance, real estate, business transactions, and federal taxation.

When the Main Street building had reached its maximum capacity of attorneys, the firm built a new office at the corner of 8th and Spruce Streets. Victor Hlavinka, a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Law School, joined the firm in 1960 and, after a brief stint in the Army Reserve, quickly developed his own trial practice. In 1962, the name of the firm changed to ATCHLEY, RUSSELL , HUTCHINSON & WALDROP.

Stephen Oden, a graduate of the University of Texas and Baylor School of Law, joined the firm in 1965 to fill the increasing need for an attorney who could handle financial and real estate work. The Spruce Street building had now reached capacity, prompting the need for several additions to the building over the next decade.

Otto Atchley retired and took "of counsel" status in 1969. Bun Hutchinson withdrew from the partnership in April 1973 to accept appointment as district judge for the 5th District Court of Bowie and Cass Counties, later to become a Justice on the Texarkana Court of Appeals; the firm's name therefore changed to its present name- ATCHLEY, RUSSELL , WALDROP & HLAVINKA. Steve Oden left the firm in 1977 to serve as a Justice on the Texarkana Court of Appeals, and returned to the firm a year later.

New attorneys joined the firm over the next decade. Dennis Chambers, a graduate of the University of Arkansas and Southern Methodist University Law School, joined the firm in 1979. Alan Harrel, a graduate of Westminster College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School, joined the firm in 1981. Josh Morriss, III, a Texarkana native and a graduate of Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas Law School, joined the firm in 1983 and withdrew from the partnership in June 2002 to become Chief Justice of the Texarkana Court of Appeals. Louise Tausch, a graduate of Baylor University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law School, joined the firm in 1986.

The firm grew out of the Spruce Street building and temporarily established a satellite office. To house everyone under one roof, the firm embarked upon a new building plan, moving in 1989 to what once was a sparsely populated area on Moores Lane in the Galleria Oaks addition - the firm's current location at 1710 Moores Lane.

More attorneys joined the firm after the move to Moores Lane. Jeff Lewis, a Texarkana native and a graduate of Baylor University and Baylor School of Law, joined the firm in 1990. In August 2002, Brandon Cogburn (J.D. 2002 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville) joined the firm; and in December 2002, Jo Thomason (J.D. 1994, University of Arkansas School of Law, Fayetteville) joined the firm after practicing for many years in the corporate sector.

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