The story of Eastman & Smith Ltd. began in 1844. The City of Toledo was just seven years old, with a population of fewer than 3,000 people. The Lucas County Courthouse was located in Maumee. Jesup W. Scott was Editor of The Blade. John Tyler was President of the United States, a growing nation of only twenty-six states. There was no federal income tax.
In that year of 1844, William Baker came to Toledo to practice law. Mr. Baker was one of 99 graduates of the Harvard Law Class of 1844, and finished his schooling at a time when most lawyers and judges did not even attend law school. He opened his first office in the Mott Block on Summit Street near Fort Industry Square, beginning a practice that has evolved through the intervening 160+ years into Eastman & Smith Ltd., Toledo’s oldest law firm and one of its largest.
Barton Smith joined William and his son Rufus H. Baker in 1881 and the Firm became known as Baker, Smith and Baker. Smith, described as a man of spotless character who was unfailingly courteous toward opposing counsel, represented some of the most important Toledo business interests of the time, including Connecticut Mutual Insurance Company, The Milburn Wagon Company, Sun Oil Company and The Toledo Blade Company. He became President of The Blade in 1920.
Upon William Baker’s death in 1894, the Firm continued to practice, adding other attorneys including LeRoy E. Eastman. The Firm became known as Smith, Baker, Effler, Allen & Eastman. The Firm name has undergone seven additional name changes, becoming Eastman & Smith Ltd. in 1996.
Eastman & Smith Ltd. now employs more than 150 people, including over 75 attorneys. Through the years, seven of its members have served as president of The Toledo Bar Association and two as president of The Ohio State Bar Association.
After being located for 65 years in what is now the Huntington Bank Building at the southeast corner of Madison and Huron, the Firm returned to Summit Street in 1992, to One Seagate, where it now occupies the 24th and 25th floors. The Firm also has two additional Ohio offices in Columbus and Findlay and an office in Novi, Michigan.
Over the years, the Firm has seen many changes. Currently our team provides legal services to both individual and corporate clients in a variety of backgrounds, including publicly-held corporations; privately-held commercial, industrial, manufacturing and service businesses of all sizes; public employers; professional practices; hospitals and related health care institutions; financial institutions; construction companies; and insurance carriers. Just as in 1844, we are committed to serving our clients to the best of our abilities.