Ice Miller LLP was founded in 1910 by Frederick Matson, a leading Indiana attorney. At the time, the Indianapolis firm was known as Henley Matson and Gates. A young attorney named Harry Ice graduated from Harvard Law School and joined the firm in 1929. From the beginning, Ice was a strong supporter of specialization. He believed that attorneys best served their clients when they became well-versed in core disciplines.
In the mid 1930s, Ice told a group of his colleagues that they needed "to follow their brethren in the medical profession and specialize." This was a challenge to the traditional thinking of attorneys as generalists. Ice observed that there was already a vast amount of information in the legal profession, and that clients would see the wisdom in working with experts in their particular field. Ice was right. Ice Miller's current division into five sections-business, labor and employment, litigation, public finance, and real estate - reflects Ice's progressive thinking and understanding of client needs.
Founder Frederick Matson served the firm until 1941. By that time, the firm's name had changed five times, reflecting new partners and new opportunities. During World War II, the firm faced a heavy workload and an ever-changing work force. Law school graduates came on board and were immediately drafted for service. The attorneys who remained spent long hours reviewing government contracts for materials and labor, essential responsibilities for supporting their clients and America's war effort.
In the early 1950s, two attorneys in the firm known as Ross McCord Ice and Miller were instrumental in the founding of the Indiana affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The actions of Merle Miller and Alan T. Nolan were controversial at the time - some in the Indianapolis community believed that the ACLU was linked to communism. Miller and Nolan were allowed to act on their convictions and the course that they believed would benefit the law profession and the citizens of Indiana. Legal controversy surrounding the ACLU continued for many years.
The firm changed its name to Ice Miller Donadio and Ryan in 1963. This was the same year that a fire in the Fairgrounds Coliseum killed 74 people and injured 350. Ice Miller attorneys were concerned that in the "race to the courthouse" to sue the responsible parties, the funds of their insurance clients would quickly deplete and those who filed lawsuits later would receive nothing. Ice Miller attorney Stan Lawton received approval to join all parties to the lawsuit and all claimants in a single action. This became a landmark in Indiana law, as it established an equitable method of compensating claimants. In Harry Ice's book, History of a Hoosier Law Firm, he said, "The case was destined to be much cited, discussed, followed and distinguished in subsequent decisions."
After 50 years of service, leadership and an intuitive understanding of the future of law, Harry Ice died in 1982.
In January 1997, Ice Miller Donadio and Ryan acquired the boutique bond firm of Carlson & Hug in Chicago, Ill. An Indianapolis partner relocated to Chicago to open the new office, which began the efforts to grow the firm. In the year 2000, the firm changed its name to Ice Miller. Expansion and growth efforts to better service its clients on a larger regional platform resulted in the addition of a DuPage County, Ill., office in 2007.