In 1901, two young Richmond lawyers, Randolph Williams and Henry Anderson, partnered with two of Virginia’s most respected lawyers, Beverly Munford and Eppa Hunton Jr. to form Munford, Hunton, Williams & Anderson. During its first decade, the firm established its industry base by representing railroads, banks, insurance companies and energy companies and, notably, arguing over 40 cases before the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
As the firm’s work grew, so did its reputation, attracting prominent lawyers including Lewis Powell Jr., who was later appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Thomas Benjamin Gay, the firm’s first managing partner, became the first Chair of the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates.
In the 1930s the firm argued one of the first cases before the National Labor Relations Board, gaining a national reputation in labor law. During the Depression, the firm continued to play a key role in the bankruptcy and reorganization of some of the country’s largest railroads. Its representation of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company resulted in an amendment to the federal Bankruptcy Act.
In 1943, the firm hired its first female associates, Sarah Greer Dale and Nan Ross McConnell. The 1950s and 1960s brought major growth to the firm. Labor, tax and litigation specialties were established and Merrill Pasco, who worked during World War II on the War Department General Staff at the Pentagon, servicing under then Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, became the firm’s second managing partner.
By the mid-1970s, under the leadership of third managing partner, Joseph C. Carter, the firm boasted more than 200 lawyers, including John Charles Thomas Jr., the firm’s first African American lawyer. Charles later became the firm’s first African-American partner and, one year later joined the Virginia Supreme Court as its first African American justice and the youngest person to sit on the court.
In 1976 the firm adopted its current name, Hunton & Williams and continued to grow and expand beyond its historic Richmond roots. New offices were opened in Washington and Norfolk. Through the 1970s and into the early 1990s, Hunton & Williams worked on licensing 10 commercial nuclear reactors at six sites. Building on its utility and nuclear work, the firm became a leader in the then burgeoning area of energy and environmental law.
Expansion continued throughout the 1980s under the fourth managing partner, W. Taylor Reveley III, now president of William and Mary, with offices opening in New York City, Atlanta, Raleigh and Brussels. Virginia Governor Charles S. Robb joined the firm for two years, before being elected to the US Senate.
By 1991 Hunton & Williams saw its fifth managing partner, Thurston R. Moore. Offices opened in Europe and Asia. Firm lawyers played a major role in the $2.3 billion Midland Cogeneration Venture transaction, then the largest project financing of its kind in US history. By the end of the century, Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles and Senior US District Judge Robert R. Merhige Jr. had joined the firm. The 1990s also saw the addition of an office devoted exclusively to pro bono work in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood.
The 2000s saw the introduction of new practices and lawyers to the firm. Its litigation and regulatory practices flourished, and its business group significantly expanded. The seeds of what was to become one of the country’s leading privacy and cybersecurity practices were planted.
Today Hunton & Williams operates under its sixth managing partner, New York-based Walfrido (Wally) J. Martinez, the first Hispanic American to serve in the position. The firm has 725 lawyers based in offices throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Its New York office has grown to over 100 lawyers and its Washington, DC office is nearing 200 lawyers. The firm is growing its US footprint in Texas and California, and its Miami office continues to thrive as the gateway to its Latin America practice.