The history of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C. begins in 1889 when William Wishart returned to his home town of Pittsburgh after being educated and trained in Washington, D.C. and after learning the practical skills of his profession in the wilds of the Dakota Territory. By 1906, Mr. Wishart had affiliated himself with Roy Dickie and eventually a law partnership grew out of this affiliation. Following the custom of the day, the name of this partnership evolved over the years to reflect its senior partners.
However, by the early 1960s, almost ten years after the retirement of Roy Dickie, the partners in charge of the firm came to the realization that would soon be grasped by the overwhelming majority of large law firms in the country: there was significant marketing value for a business to have a stable name. On the heels of several widely publicized and nationally recognized legal successes, the name “Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote” had crystallized into a brand that had come to signify a law firm with superior litigation skills for a wide range of corporate and insurance defense needs; and it was decided that this brand was too valuable, too well known, and too hard earned to be discarded.
While the litigation successes of the late 1950s and early 1960s had brightly burnished the firm’s reputation, this reputation was built on a solid foundation of courtroom expertise and insightful counseling for many years. With its name solidified, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote continued to improve its reputation as a litigation firm and diversify into a full-service law firm through the 1960s and 1970s. As the 1970s drew to a close, it became increasingly apparent that to take advantage of the incentives that the tax code offered to corporations that provided fringe benefits, such as retirement and medical benefits, the structure of the firm needed to change from a partnership to a corporation; and, after a full and complete evaluation of the merits and difficulties of the proposal, the corporate form was adopted in 1982.
After adoption of the corporate form, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C. continued in its quest for litigation excellence and expansion into a full-service law firm. Continuation of litigation excellence was ensured by the institution of formal in-house training seminars where the older lawyers instructed the younger lawyers in the nuances of the legal profession that can be neither taught nor learned in law school. Expansion into a full-service law firm was realized by a combination of cross-marketing of non-litigation legal services to litigation clients and hiring of non-litigation attorneys (corporate law, intellectual property, and estates and trusts) with an existing practice base.
As a consequence of the development of a full-service practice of law, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote began to expand beyond its Pittsburgh roots. This expansion took two primary forms: where existing clients needed its services and where existing lawyers found like-minded lawyers who shared Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote’s philosophy of business. Following this dual path to expansion, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote has expanded into California, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia, as well as spreading across Pennsylvania with offices in Erie, Harrisburg, Hollidaysburg, Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, and Williamsport.
As with all law firms, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C.’s history is not just written in terms of its corporate structure, annual revenues, or statistics on numbers of lawyers or numbers of offices. Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote’s history is also written by the personalities of its lawyers, its support staff, and its areas of expertise. While Mr. Dickie, Mr. McCamey, and Mr. Chilcote each played an invaluable role in establishing the firm as a regional leader in litigation, it was the next generation of lawyers, led by Dave Armstrong and Dave Fawcett, that elevated the firm to national prominence in the litigation area; and the generation that followed them expanded the firm’s reputation into areas for which its excellence is now known, including the defense of medical malpractice claims, workers’ compensation claims, insurance claims, and toxic tort claims. The next generation of lawyers expanded the firm into a full-service legal provider; and the following generation expanded the firm beyond the boundaries of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.
No discussion of the history of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote would be complete without a mention of the firm’s long-time receptionist, Rita Deet, who was employed by the firm from 1951 until her death in 2003. Ms. Deet’s ability to recognize people’s voices who had not called the firm for years was not only legendary but provided a human face and human voice to clients at a time when such stability was very comforting; and Ms. Deet’s example still inspires all the firm’s employees to remember that clients aren’t just legal problems but real people whose future depends on wholehearted and skillful exercise of our professional skills and judgment.
From its origins in 1889 to the present day, Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C. has based its reputation on litigation excellence; and, from that base, it has expanded into a full-service law firm that is adept at assisting individuals, small businesses, and multi-national corporations in all their legal needs.
Note: This short history is drawn from “The History of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, P.C.,” which was written by J. Lawrence McBride, Esq.