The entrepreneurial spirit of Godfrey & Kahn arose from its founders, Dudley Godfrey Jr. and Gerald (Jerry) Kahn. They met as undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin though Dudley later graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and Jerry from the University of Wisconsin Law School. After a time spent working in Washington, D.C., they returned to Milwaukee.
While the firm enjoys a rich history filled with dedication and long-standing memories, there are a few moments cementing the firm's place in Wisconsin's history:
Dudley Godfrey and Jerry Kahn open their first office on the 11th floor of the Empire Building, 710 N. Plankinton Avenue, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During that time the firm specialized in tax and estate planning.
The firm represents its first client, Wesley Pavalon. Unaware of Wisconsin's income tax requirements, Pavalon, a trade school operator, enlists Jerry's help. He is impressed with Jerry's willingness to work through the night to finish his tax returns in such a timely manner.
Due to Godfrey & Kahn's impending expansion, the firm moves into 8,504 square feet in the newly completed Marshall & Ilsley Bank Building at 780 North Water Street in Milwaukee. The firm's employees complete the move during one of Wisconsin's famous snowstorms.
Jerry Kahn helps Marvin Fishman acquire an NBA franchise for Milwaukee, the Bucks. Shortly afterward, he negotiates and signs Lew Alcindor, better known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to his first contract and structures the trade that brings Oscar Robertson to Milwaukee.
Immediately following the office move, Godfrey & Kahn hires new recruits Peter Sommerhauser, Carl Backus and J. Lewis Perlson. The firm's founders shift their focus from tax and estate planning to general business law, creating growth opportunity for the firm.
Dudley Godfrey and Jerry Kahn assist Parker Pen Company and Mitchell Fromstein with the acquisition of Manpower, Inc.
Godfrey & Kahn merge with Egan & Laird in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The firm establishes an office in Green Bay to maintain a presence near several key clients.
With business continuing to grow, additional offices are needed throughout Wisconsin. This leads to the opening of the firm's third location in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Godfrey & Kahn merges with LaFollette Sinykin, LLP, a Madison, Wisconsin, law firm founded in 1945 by former Wisconsin governor Philip LaFollette and Gordon Sinykin. Godfrey & Kahn also opens an office in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
The firm establishes the Godfrey & Kahn Fellowship in Law at the University of Wisconsin. Each year, the fellowship provides a full, three-year scholarship to a student who participates in the Legal Education Opportunities Program, a student-organized association that represents students of color. The firm would later establish a similar fellowship at Marquette University.
Godfrey & Kahn celebrates 50 years of teamwork! The firm continues to grow and opens another office in Washington, D.C.
The Business Journal of Milwaukee recognizes the firm as one of the Top Milwaukee Workplaces. The annual awards acknowledge area businesses for taking a lead in creating exemplary workplaces.
The firm is also recognized by the American Bar Association as an Eco-Challenge Partner on January 31, 2008. As of that date, Godfrey & Kahn was one of only 38 firms across the country and the only firm in Wisconsin honored for becoming a more eco-conscious organization. The firm is currently certified in the Best Paper Practices category and is working toward other certifications. The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) together with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed the program to encourage firms to take simple, practical steps to become better environmental and energy stewards.
Godfrey & Kahn's Milwaukee office joins the Green Tier ranks of Wisconsin companies committed to exceeding the standards for environmental regulations as the only law firm to receive this status. The Green Tier program is aimed at rewarding environmentally responsible businesses in Wisconsin and the first program of its type in the nation.
Godfrey & Kahn is named a 2010 Top Workplace by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the mid-sized company category. The survey recognizes organizations located in Southeastern Wisconsin with exemplary work places. This is the first year the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has held these awards.
American Banker ranks Godfrey & Kahn third in the nation of Top Lead Legal Advisers in its annual mergers & acquisitions ranking.
Godfrey & Kahn launches its first firm blog, "All in a Day's Work - Insights on Labor & Employment Law" from the Labor, Employment & Immigration Practice Group.
Godfrey & Kahn is named a 2011 Top Workplace by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the mid-sized company category for the second year in a row.
Wisconsin Partners for Clean Air (WPCA) honors Godfrey & Kahn with the 2011 Commuter Champion award.
The National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) and Flex-Time Lawyers name Godfrey & Kahn a 2011 Best Law Firm for Women. Godfrey & Kahn was one of 50 firms recognized nationally with this honor.
The Wisconsin Law Journal honors Founding Partner Gerald J. Kahn with the Lifetime Achievement award at its annual Leaders in the Law event.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel names Godfrey & Kahn a Top Workplace for the third year in a row.Multicultural Law Magazine names Godfrey & Kahn to the 2012 "Top 100 Law Firms for Women" rankings list nationally. The firm was ranked 74th.