Why Choose Cosgrave?
The local law firm with extensive experience—in the boardroom and the courtroom.
“I am confident that without your efforts and interest in my case, the outcome would have been much less favorable. I cannot thank you enough for your tenacious belief in my case and the outstanding legal representation you provided me.” —Client Testimonial
Your Local Legal Partner
Excellent client service has always been our overarching goal. We build lasting partnerships with clients, getting to know them and their businesses, so that we can provide customized, cost-effective legal solutions and strategic advice.
Just as our clients span a wide range of industries, our legal services span a wide range of client needs, including estate planning, business formation, real estate transactions, employment law, and litigation.
Efficient Dispute Resolution
Cosgrave’s attorneys are trained in mediation and strive to settle disputes whenever it’s feasible and in the client’s best interest. But when it’s not, we’re ready and able to go to trial, and we’ve done so with excellent results in more than 800 cases.
We also offer an all-star bench of appellate attorneys who have argued hundreds of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, Oregon Supreme Court, Oregon Court of Appeals, Washington Supreme Court, Washington Court of Appeals, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Our in-depth knowledge of the Pacific Northwest, including its industries, economy, and governments, benefits local clients as well as national clients with local interests. We are active in many industry associations, such as the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Oregon Mortgage Lenders Association, and the International Council of Shopping Centers.
In addition, some of our lawyers chose law school following a distinguished career in another field. Their firsthand experience in nursing, counseling, accounting, real estate appraisal and business ownership adds dimension to our legal practice.
International Legal Network
Cosgrave is a member of ALFA International, the global legal network. With 145 member firms across the globe (80 in the United States) ALFA International is the premier global network of independent law firms whose success is driven by broad, deep, local relationships all over the world. The ALFA International model enables Cosgrave to use its local expertise to deliver highly effective legal solutions while drawing upon the collective wisdom and experience of other member firms within the United States and around the world as needed. More information is available at ALFA International.
Our lawyers’ achievements in their profession demonstrate our dedication to the practice of law according to the highest standards. Cosgrave is proud to count among our ranks a former Deputy District Attorney, former Assistant Attorneys General, and two pro tem judge on the Multnomah County Circuit Court.
We’re also leaders in the Bar. Among our lawyers are several former presidents of the Multnomah Bar Association and the Oregon Association of Defense Counsel. Another is past president of the Owen M. Panner American Inns of Court. Still others have served on or chaired various Oregon State Bar committees, sections, and commissions, and as delegates to the Oregon State Bar House of Delegates and the American Bar Association House of Delegates. Even with all this volunteer activity, we still find time to speak at continuing legal education seminars and write for various law-related publications.
The legal community recognizes our accomplishments. Seven Cosgrave partners were selected by their peers for inclusion in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, and two of our lawyers have been honored with the Multnomah Bar Association’s Professionalism Award.
We’re not just lawyers—we’re also Oregonians. We love the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the lifestyle it offers, and we do our part to protect both through community service. The firm’s programs include charitable donations, pro bono legal work, a scholarship fund, and volunteer activities. Individual service is also encouraged. Cosgrave lawyers and staff serve as officers, directors, and active members in diverse organizations that support our community’s economic and social well-being.
Our firm culture reflects the Oregon lifestyle. Although we have the latest in communications technology, we still prefer a face-to-face, first-name relationship with our clients and colleagues.
Since 1934, Cosgrave has been an integral part of the Portland community, serving the city and the Northwest region. Through charitable donations, volunteer activities, and individual service, we work to help our communities thrive.
In 1999, the firm established the Cosgrave Vergeer Kester Scholarship fund at Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College. Initial donations were made in memory of our deceased named partners, Walter J. Cosgrave and Duane Vergeer.
Income from the fund is used to provide scholarship for students on the basis of financial need and satisfactory performance. Preference will be given to students who have held a full-time job while attending the law school’s evening program, something done by Walter Cosgrave, Duane Vergeer, and other firm lawyers.
Cosgrave actively supports, with volunteered time and donations, Portland-area charities that provide services to youths and disadvantaged families, such as Loaves & Fishes, Komen Portland Race for the Cure, Dress for Success, JOIN, YMCA, and OHSU Women’s Health Center.
Individual Community Service
Our commitment to community service starts at the top. Thom Brown, Cosgrave’s managing partner from 1994 to 2010, chaired the board of the Classroom Law Project, a nonprofit organization that seeks to build strong communities by teaching students to become active citizens, and served on the advisory committee to the Campaign for Equal Justice, which works to provide equal access to justice for those who can’t afford to pay for legal services in Oregon. Jill Laney, Cosgrave’s managing partner from 2010 – 2015 volunteers with Dress for Success Oregon and serves on the board of the St. Andrew Legal Clinic.
The many other organizations to which our lawyers and staff donate their time include:
- American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Board of Directors
- Classroom Law Project, Chair and High School Mock Trial Competition
- Dress for Success Oregon
- Friends of Children, Fast Friends Scholarship Board
- Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Board of Directors
- Northwest Sarcoma Foundation, Board of Directors
- Oregon Business Association, Good Government Committee, Chair
- Oregon Public House
- Owen Panner Inns of Court
- Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette, Board of Directors
- Recovery Association Project
- Toys for Tots
- Various local schools and educational foundations
- 1,000 Friends of Oregon
We believe equal access to justice is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society. In addition to Thom Brown’s service on the Campaign for Equal Justice advisory committee, our lawyers provide pro bono legal services through, and volunteer as leaders of, organizations such as:
- Multnomah County Legal Aid Services
- Oregon Law Center
- Oregon Paralegal Association Pro Bono Committee
- Oregon State Bar Military Assistance Program
- St. Andrew Legal Clinic
Our pro bono program is coordinated by Peter Willcox-Jones, who volunteers and recruits volunteers for the Southeast Legal Clinic. In 2007, Peter was awarded the Michael E. Haglund Pro Bono Award, presented annually to a young lawyer who displays special commitment to pro bono legal services.
Our Diversity Statement
Cosgrave is committed to embracing and advancing persons who seek success and share our vision of integrity and inclusiveness. Cosgrave looks to recruit and advance any talented person regardless of their religious beliefs, origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disabilities. We endeavor to do this from the ground up, by communicating with diverse college students who are making career choices, and by recruiting diverse members of law school student bodies who have distinguished themselves. We strive every day to assure a welcoming, inclusive and supportive work environment where opportunity for growth and success is available based solely on a person’s character, skill and talent. Cosgrave’s commitment to those values is not reflected by words, but reflected in acts that are meaningful, rewarding and measurable.
We also support many diverse related organizations, such as:
- ALFA International Women’s Initiative
- Campaign for Equal Justice
- Classroom Law Project
- Immigration Counseling Service
- Multnomah County Bar Association, Court Care and Young Lawyer Section
- Oregon Gay and Lesbian Law Association
- Oregon Hispanic Bar Association
- Oregon Minority Lawyers Association
- Oregon State Bar Affirmative Action Program
- Oregon Women Lawyers
- Portland Leadership Foundation
- Portland State Foundation- Women Politics and Policy
- St. Andrews Legal Clinic
- 1000 Friends of Oregon
Our History & Timeline
A law firm that’s been serving clients for more than 81 years must be doing something right.
Our firm’s history is deeply intertwined with the history of our region. Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP traces its roots in Portland back to 1934, when the law partnership of Maguire & Shields was formed during the Great Depression.
Our founders’ complementary styles made them a perfect team. Outgoing and expressive, Robert Maguire brought a charismatic presence to the courtroom. Roy Shields had a modest, self-effacing style, and when arguing a case relied on calm, logical presentation. Their office was in the Pittock Block, at SW 10th and Washington streets, where it remained for the next fifty years.
Maguire had a distinguished career in public service—a tradition that continues at Cosgrave to this day. Before going into private practice, he was Assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon and Chief Deputy District Attorney for Multnomah County. For many years, he acted as a Master in Chancery and Special Master to the U.S. District Court for Oregon. From 1947-49, Maguire was honored to serve as a judge of the historic War Crime Trials in Nuremberg, Germany.
Shields was an Assistant Attorney General for Oregon, then local attorney for the U.S. Railroad Administration in Salem. He moved to Portland as Assistant General Solicitor at Union Pacific Railroad and rose to General Solicitor, a position he held until 1958. Shields oversaw all the railroad’s trial work in Oregon, as well as contracts, real estate, administrative, and legislative matters. His close ties to the railroad industry are another long-standing tradition at Cosgrave. We still serve many railroads, trucking companies, and other transportation clients, and our lawyers are leaders in industry associations.
Over the decades, our team of talented attorneys has grown, as has the scope of our practice. Cosgrave is made up of men and women with diverse skills and experience, serving diverse industries. Today, we provide a wide range of business and litigation services to clients based in the Pacific Northwest, as well as clients with national and international operations.
Below is a small sampling of our significant work through the years.
- Successfully appealed charges of unfair labor practices in National Labor Relations Board v. Union Pacific Stages, 99 F.2d 53 (9th Cir. 1938).
- Represented a descendant of Matthew Deady, Oregon’s first federal district judge, in federal litigation that involved interpreting a 1923 will (1941).s
- Served as amici curiae in cases challenging Japanese exclusion laws (1942-43).
- Represented the FDIC in litigation related to the creation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge (1945).
- Represented Willamette Valley hops growers in suits against buyers who rejected crops by claiming they were not of merchantable quality (1937, 1951).
- Established the Oregon rule about concurrent insurance in Oregon Auto Ins. Co. v. U.S. Fidelity & Guaranty, 195 F.2d 958 (9th Cir. 1952), the basis of the Lamb-Weston rule.
- In the 1950s, when plans for the Banfield Expressway (I-84) were being laid, and a long stretch of Union Pacific track had to be moved, we negotiated most of the railroad’s complex contracts.
- Represented dairy farm owners in groundbreaking environmental litigation against aluminum plants that had caused contamination of nearby cattle grazing lands (1952-59).
- Represented the Portland Baseball Club in an antitrust suit against major league baseball (1960).
- Obtained an injunction against a union, prohibiting it from striking over the provisions of another union’s contract, that was affirmed in Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, et al. v. Union Pacific R.R., 423 F.2d 673 (9th Cir. 1970).
- In the 1980s and 1990s, we defended railroads against a wave of claims of work-related hearing loss under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).
- Successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that Oregon’s denial of review of the size of punitive damage awards violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in Honda Motor Co. Ltd. et al. v. Oberg, 512 U.S. 415, 114 S.Ct. 2331, 129 L.Ed.2d 336 (1994).
- Helped the general contractor settle a $30 million construction defect suit—the largest in Oregon history—that involved 24 parties and claims of defective design, defective construction, and product liability (2009).
1934 – Roy Shields and Robert Maguire form the law firm Maguire & Shields; Duane Vergeer (whose firm will later merge with Cosgrave) clerks for Maguire
1935 – William Morrison joins the practice, which is renamed Maguire, Shields & Morrison; Maguire becomes first president of the Oregon State Bar
1938 – Hugh Biggs, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, joins the firm
1940 – Randall Kester joins the practice
1941 – Ralph Bailey joins the firm, bringing experience from the Oregon State Tax Commission
1942 – The firm is renamed Maguire, Shields, Morrison & Biggs
1943 – Morrison rejoins the U.S. Army during WWII; Biggs leaves the firm name reverts to Maguire, Shields & Morrison
1945 – Morrison returns to Portland from active duty
1947 – Maguire is appointed as a judge in the War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg, Germany, where he serves until 1949; Kester joins the faculty of Northwestern School of Law
1950 – The firm name is changed to Maguire, Shields, Morrison & Bailey; Walter Cosgrave joins the practice
1957 – Kester is appointed an Oregon Supreme Court Justice
1958 – Shields retires from Union Pacific and resumes active practice with the firm; Kester becomes U.P.’s General Solicitor and rejoins the firm, now called Maguire, Shields, Morrison, Bailey & Kester
1966 – Roy F. Shields (1888 – 1966); Austin Crowe joins the practice; the firm name is changed to Maguire, Kester & Cosgrave (the professional code of ethics did not permit the continued use of a deceased partner’s name in the firm name)
1969 – Walter Cosgrave is elected president of the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel
1972 – Maguire retires; the firm is renamed Cosgrave & Kester
1973 – Kester becomes president of the Portland Chamber of Commerce
1976 – Robert F. Maguire Sr. (1886 – 1976)
1979 – The firm name is changed to Cosgrave, Kester, Crowe, Gidley & Lagesen
1981 – Kester retires from Union Pacific and resumes full-time active practice with the firm
1983 – The firm moves from its original location on the Pittock Block to 1515 SW Fifth Avenue
1984 – Kester is elected first president of the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society
1987 – Offices are relocated to 121 SW Morrison Street
1990 – After a merger with Vergeer, Roehr & Sweek, the firm becomes Cosgrave Vergeer Kester LLP and joins ALFA International, expanding the scope of its practice and referral network
1994 – Thom Brown becomes managing partner
1999 – The firm endows the Cosgrave Vergeer Scholarship Fund at Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College in memory of Walter J. Cosgrave (1910 – 1999) and Duane Vergeer (1908 – 1999)
2003 – Offices move to 805 SW Broadway
2009 – The firm celebrates its 75th anniversary
2010 – Jill Laney becomes managing partner
2011 – Offices move to Pioneer Tower, 888 SW Fifth Avenue
2012 – Randall B. Kester (1916 – 2012)
2014 – Firm celebrates its 80th anniversary
2015 – Andy Burns becomes managing partner
2017 – Paul A. C. Berg becomes managing partner
Client service is always our top priority at Cosgrave. Our clients range from individuals and small businesses to regional, national, and international corporations in various industries. No client’s needs are too small or too challenging. Whether drafting a simple will or defending complex litigation, we treat each of our clients with equal respect and responsiveness.
Pacific Continental Bank
Midland Credit Management
Joseph Hughes LLC
American Hardware Insurance Company
Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies
Farmers Insurance Group
Liberty N.W. Insurance Company
Medmarc Insurance Company
Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Company
One Beacon Insurance Company
State Farm Insurance Company
Western Heritage Insurance Company
American Bridge Manufacturing
HD Supply, Incorporated
Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund
BNSF Railway Company
Union Pacific Railroad Company
Norris & Stevens