In 1944, during World War II, Chicago attorney Arthur Goldberg was sent to North Africa by the OSS, a predecessor to the CIA. He contacted his old friend Carl Devoe, who was also doing intelligence work and stationed in Cairo.
The two arranged to meet in Casablanca. With the city suffering from a blackout, the two men climbed to the roof of a building to talk. Sitting on a parapet and staring out into the darkness, they discussed life after the war. Before the night was over, they agreed to return to Chicago and form a partnership where a small group of exceptional attorneys could provide superior legal services – the law firm known today as Miller Shakman Levine & Feldman.
Goldberg & Devoe opened its doors in Chicago in 1946 and quickly became one of the most highly regarded small law firms in the country. The firm was successful from the beginning. Goldberg became one of the nation’s top labor lawyers, while Devoe developed a successful corporate and real estate practice. Monetary success was not their only goal, however. Both men believed strongly in the value of pro bono work and civic engagement, and attorneys at the firm became known as both intellectually talented and public-spirited. Goldberg set the tone. After developing a national labor practice, including arguing the famous Steel Seizure Case on behalf of United Steelworkers and the CIO, he ultimately left the firm in 1961 to serve as President Kennedy’s Secretary of Labor. He later served as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Goldberg was succeeded at the firm by similarly accomplished attorneys, including Milton Shadur and Abner Mikva, highly regarded attorneys known for exceptional legal ability who also went on to public service. After years of a successful transactional practice, Shadur left the firm to serve as a United States District Judge. Mikva served in the U.S. Congress, as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and as White House Counsel under President Clinton.
Following in their footsteps were attorneys such as Ruth Goldman, Ron Miller, and Michael Shakman.
Ruth Goldman, one of only six women in the 1947 graduating class at the University of Chicago Law School, was a pioneer among female attorneys in Chicago. After practicing as a public interest attorney, she joined the firm in 1968 and later became its first female partner, all while working a part-time schedule. Recognizing her groundbreaking success in private practice at the firm and her tireless commitment to civic and political causes, the Chicago chapter of the American Constitution Society has established the annual Ruth Goldman Award honoring women in the Chicago legal community who have made significant contributions to advance the status of women in the legal profession.
Ron Miller joined the firm in 1961 and quickly established himself as a premier transactional attorney. He represented both national and international companies in significant financial transactions, including serving as lead counsel in connection with the initial public offerings for several national corporations. His professional accomplishments and commitment to public service have earned him numerous awards from local and national legal groups, including the inaugural Pickering Award issued by the American Bar Association for outstanding legal ability and a distinguished record of service to the profession. Ron founded and continues to preside over the Public Affairs Roundtable, a monthly lunch gathering hosted at the firm and attended by dozens of prominent leaders in politics, law, journalism, and culture, to which a different speaker is invited each month to discuss topics of interest. Past speakers at the more than 150 Roundtable sessions have included Barack Obama, Richard Durbin, Lee Hamilton, David Axelrod, Jonathan Alter, Seymour Hersh, Garry Wills, and Patrick Fitzgerald.
Mike Shakman, one of the most well-regarded litigators in Chicago, is known by many for the landmark litigation bearing his name, which he initiated shortly after joining the firm as a recent law school graduate. The Shakman lawsuits resulted in federal court orders that fundamentally changed the operation of local government by barring the City of Chicago and Cook County from engaging in patronage hiring and firing. Mike was named by Chicago Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Chicagoans of the 20th century. The legal excellence and civic leadership exhibited by Arthur Goldberg, Milt Shadur, Abner Mikva, Ruth Goldman, Ron Miller, and Mike Shakman have remained a hallmark of the firm and its attorneys. Throughout its seven decades of existence, the firm has consistently attracted top-flight lawyers who are committed to the needs of their clients, and who also serve as leaders of the community and the bar. The current attorneys of Miller Shakman proudly carry on this tradition.