In 1937, Dana S. Hawthorne, Esq. joined him and they formed the firm of Higgins and Hawthorne. Mr. Hawthorne was a 1927 graduate of Harvard Law School. He also served several terms as Probate Judge for New Canaan and was referred to as ‘Judge” Hawthorne from then on. The two partners continued to practice together until 1947, when Mr. Higgins, who was then in his eighties, retired for the second time.
In 1948 Judge Hawthorne invited Dana C. Ackerly, a native New Yorker, who spent his summers in New Canaan, to join him as an associate. Mr. Ackerly served in World War II in the Cavalry Unit of the U.S. Army, and graduated from Williams College and Yale University School of Law. In years to come, Mr. Ackerly would serve as prosecutor in the New Canaan Town Court and later as Associate Town Judge. He was also the long-time chairman of Save the Children and Waveny Care Center.
In 1950 Samuel R. Dorrance, Esq. joined Higgs and Hawthorne as an associate. Mr. Dorrance had served in the Army Air Corp during World War II, had been shot down and spent much of the War as a P.O.W.. He was a graduate of Princeton University and Yale University Law School, and was also a longtime resident of the neighboring town of Darien, serving as Chairman of the Darien Planning and Zoning Commission for many years. Thereafter the three attorneys formed the present firm, Hawthorne, Ackerly & Dorrance, LLC. Their offices were on the second floor of a store located at the southwest corner of South Avenue and Elm Street in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The law firm of Hawthorne, Ackerly & Dorrance, LLC is successor to the firm of Higgins and Hawthorne, which Dun and Bradstreet lists as having originated in New Canaan, Connecticut in 1926. At that time, John Higgins resumed the practice of law after his retirement, and was persuaded to become the Town Counsel and remained in that position until the late 1930s.
The law firm of Hawthorne, Ackerly & Dorrance, LLC will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2016 and remains the oldest and largest law firm based in New Canaan. Although many of the firm’s traditions are a reflection of what is best about the past and about the Town of New Canaan, the firm prides itself on being able to provide the community and all its clients a worldwide, state-of-the-art legal practice.
As participants in the changing face of the Village, the partners purchased the small frame building that stood on the corner of South Avenue and Cherry Street. They cleared the site, erected the present two-story brick building and in early July, 1952, they moved in. At first they occupied part of the first floor, with only two other employees. Gradually they expanded, and thirty years later, in 1982, the firm occupied the entire building.
25 South Avenue,
New Canaan, Connecticut 06840