Firm History

Washington StWe go back a ways. Tracing our ancestry takes us to the firm of Jeffrey & Lenon, formed in 1906, located at 3131/2 Washington Street. Portlanders got around more by horse than horseless carriage, and the practice of law was simpler, as Charles E. Lenon’s biography in the History of the Bench and Bar of Oregon shows:

CHARLES E. LENON
Born August 21, 1878, in Logansport, Indiana. Son of Alvin and Catherine (Spangler) Lenon. Education was very meager. Did not attend school after attaining 15 years of age. Studied law at home at night while working as a cigarmaker during the day. Received no instruction in law. In 1906 removed to Portland, where he entered partnership with John A. Jeffrey, and formed the firm of Jeffrey & Lenon.

In the forties, Charles’ son Harlow Lenon joined his father to form the firm Lenon & Lenon. In the depths of the Great Depression it was not unknown for the firm to accept payment of freshly caught fish or freshly slaughtered livestock. (Apologies, but we just accept monetary payments now.)

By the late fifties and early sixties the firm – now Lenon & Wilner – had become more involved in representing unions and union employees. The firm was heavily involved in the early sixties in the strike against the Oregonian that began in 1959 and lasted for years. In 1964, the firm represented the West Coast breakaway unions, which formed the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers. In 1969, Lillian Meyers, the only woman in her law school class at Northwestern College of Law, became a partner. She is perhaps the first woman partner in any Portland law firm.

As public sector collective bargaining came to Oregon with the passage of the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act in 1973, the focus of the firm broadened to include public sector unions and the varied needs of their members.

Though the firm’s name has changed over the years, our basic commitment to unions has remained. For those of you who enjoy time lines and evolving names, here is our provenance:

  • Jeffrey & Lenon, 1906
  • Lenon & Lenon, 1945
  • Lenon & Willner, 1960
  • Willner, Bennett, Leonard & Burns, 1966
  • Willner, Bennett & Leonard, 1972
  • Willner, Bennett, Riggs & Skarscad, 1976
  • Willner, Bennett, Bobbit & Hartman, 1978
  • Bennett, Hartman, Tauman & Reynolds, 1984
  • Bennett & Durham, 1990
  • Bennett, Hartman, Reynolds, Smith & Wiser, 1992
  • Bennett, Hartman, Reynolds & Wiser 1997
  • Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan, 2001

Through our history, Bennett, Hartman, Morris & Kaplan has grown its reputation as the Portland firm dedicated to labor law and representation of unions in Oregon and Washington.