In 1891, when our founder, attorney Albert A. Reed, arrived in Boulder, it was a small town of only about 6,000 inhabitants, largely catering to the area’s gold miners. There were only 11 lawyers in the whole town.
From Reed’s initial solo practice, the firm grew, adapting to the region’s growth and continuing to serve the increasingly sophisticated legal needs of Boulder County and the rest of the Front Range.
As Hutchinson Black and Cook has evolved from the Nineteenth Century into the new Millennium, it has witnessed and participated in numerous changes. In many ways, the firm’s history echoes the history of the community itself. Albert Reed, for example, helped form the local “Chautauqua” (then primarily a lecture program). Reed’s wife was an early suffragette, and his daughter one of the first female law students in the state. In 1908, as president of what is now the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Reed suggested the name for the historic Hotel Boulderado to remind visitors of their visit to Boulder, Colorado.
Dudley Hutchinson, Senior, who practiced with the firm from 1918 until his death in 1967, was instrumental as a director of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in shaping the entire region’s water resources for decades. Over the years, attorneys in the firm have served as: City Attorney and County Attorney; members and officers of the Boulder County School Board; presidents of local banks, bar associations, service organizations and the Chamber of Commerce; church leaders and hospital directors; and members of law-school faculties.
While acutely conscious of its unique links to the community’s past, the firm manages to combine exceptional stability with deliberate progressivism. Some of its stability can be seen in its deep roots in downtown Boulder, having kept its offices near the intersection of Broadway and Spruce for more than a century (before moving five blocks away to its current location in 2000) and in the remarkable lengths of individual attorneys’ association with the firm, with six attorneys each practicing here more than 40 years. One of the few attorneys who stayed here only a few years was Wiley Rutledge, who was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1943. When asked in connection with that appointment about his prior legal experience with the firm, he said that in two years here he had garnered “a variety and volume of experience … which many young men don’t get in five or ten.”
At the same time, the firm was the first in Boulder to have hired a female attorney (in 1915), one of the first law firms in the nation to computerize its records, and a pioneer in instituting regular sabbaticals for both attorneys and support staff. These sabbaticals have resulted in such diverse experiences as teaching high school math in Brazil, writing a published novel, building a 35-foot cruising sailboat and sailing it to Tahiti, guiding whitewater trips in New Zealand, and working on legal and judicial reform in Bulgaria and Sarajevo.
For almost three-fourths of a century, the firm included at least one member of the Hutchinson family, either Dudley Senior, or his sons Dudley, Junior and T. Henry (Hank), until Hank’s retirement in 1991. Today, the firm is made up a diverse group of attorneys, some of whom are Boulder natives, with others having grown up anywhere from small-town Iowa to Houston to Philadelphia. Although many of them attended law school in Boulder or Denver, the firm includes graduates of the Harvard, Yale, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, and Michigan law schools.
All of us here are aware of the high standards set by our predecessors. Almost a century ago, Albert Reed was described as “faithful to his profession’s loftiest purposes.” Some 60 years later, at the Boulder courthouse tribute to Dudley Hutchinson, Senior in 1967, the Chief Judge said simply that Dudley’s lifetime of legal work “gives us some reasonable basis for calling this building the Hall of Justice.”