Ice Miller LLP was founded in 1910 by Frederick Matson, a leading Indiana attorney. At the time, the Indianapolis firm was known as Henley Matson and Gates. A young attorney named Harry Ice graduated from Harvard Law School and joined the firm in 1929. From the beginning, Ice was a strong supporter of specialization. He believed that attorneys best served their clients when they became well-versed in core disciplines.
In the mid 1930s, Ice told a group of his colleagues that they needed "to follow their brethren in the medical profession and specialize." This was a challenge to the traditional thinking of attorneys as generalists. Ice observed that there was already a vast amount of information in the legal profession, and that clients would see the wisdom in working with experts in their particular field. Ice was right. Ice Miller's current division into targeted practice and industry groups reflects Ice's progressive thinking and understanding of client needs.
Founder Frederick Matson served the firm until 1941. By that time, the firm's name had changed five times, reflecting new partners and new opportunities. During World War II, the firm faced a heavy workload and an ever-changing work force. Law school graduates came on board and were immediately drafted for service. The attorneys who remained spent long hours reviewing government contracts for materials and labor, essential responsibilities for supporting their clients and America's war effort.
In the early 1950s, two attorneys in the firm known as Ross McCord Ice and Miller were instrumental in the founding of the Indiana affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The actions of Merle Miller and Alan T. Nolan were controversial at the time - some in the Indianapolis community believed that the ACLU was linked to communism. Miller and Nolan were allowed to act on their convictions and the course that they believed would benefit the law profession and the citizens of Indiana. Legal controversy surrounding the ACLU continued for many years.
The firm changed its name to Ice Miller Donadio and Ryan in 1963. This was the same year that a fire in the Fairgrounds Coliseum killed 74 people and injured 350. Ice Miller attorneys were concerned that in the "race to the courthouse" to sue the responsible parties, the funds of their insurance clients would quickly deplete and those who filed lawsuits later would receive nothing. Ice Miller attorney Stan Lawton received approval to join all parties to the lawsuit and all claimants in a single action. This became a landmark in Indiana law, as it established an equitable method of compensating claimants. In Harry Ice's book, History of a Hoosier Law Firm, he said, "The case was destined to be much cited, discussed, followed and distinguished in subsequent decisions."
After 50 years of service, leadership and an intuitive understanding of the future of law, Harry Ice died in 1982.
In January 1997, Ice Miller Donadio and Ryan acquired the boutique bond firm of Carlson & Hug in Chicago, Ill. An Indianapolis partner relocated to Chicago to open the new office, which began the efforts to grow the firm. In the year 2000, the firm changed its name to Ice Miller. Expansion and growth efforts to better service its clients on a larger regional platform resulted in the addition of a DuPage County, Ill., office in 2007.
In 2012, the firm combined with the Ohio regional firm of Schottenstein Zox and Dunn Co., LPA (SZD) which added nearly 100 lawyers and new offices in Columbus and Cleveland. SZD had been founded in 1966 by the community icon Mel Schottenstein, along with Benjamin Zox and Harvey Dunn. Under their leadership, SZD became the fastest growing law firm in Central Ohio, growing from four attorneys to over 110 in 35 years. SZD was recognized for its sophisticated business, litigation and governmental experience, as well as its significant involvement in the community.
SZD’s commitment to the community was legendary. In 1982, Mel Schottenstein chaired the first community-wide Operation Feed campaign in Franklin County, Ohio, and went on to establish Columbus, Ohio’s Community Shelter Board in 1986. SZD professionals served on more than 100 boards and dedicated thousands of volunteer hours annually to charitable causes. Because of SZD’s high-level of philanthropic and civic involvement in the local community, the firm was named Benefactor of the Year at Columbus Business First’s 2009 Corporate Caring Awards.
Today, as one of the largest law firms in Indianapolis and one of the 150 largest firms in the U.S., Ice Miller employs more than 300 lawyers and 40 paraprofessionals. The firm works with a wide range of clients, including individuals, local, regional, and national corporations, not-for-profit organizations, colleges and universities, governments and sanctioning bodies.
By providing not only counsel but also professional and legal business advice, Ice Miller builds partnerships that put the needs of the client first - a commitment that has not changed in more than 100 years.