One of the first locations of Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman was the First National Bank Building on the north east corner of Main and Grand Street from 1888 to 1910.
Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman is one of the oldest law firms in Montana. The firm was founded in 1879 during Montana’s territorial gold rush days.
From the firm’s beginnings in the turbulent territorial days of the Last Chance Gulch gold rush, development during the reign of Montana’s “copper barons,” and through the resource conflicts of the 1990’s, Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman has maintained a diversified practice with an emphasis on the natural resources of the state.
Notable Firm Members
Joseph Kemp Toole (1851-1929) was Montana’s first governor and one of the founding members of the firm.
Joseph Kemp Toole, founding the firm with his brother, Edwin Warren Toole, was a key figure in Montana’s early history. Toole was admitted to the bar at the age of twenty in 1871. During Toole’s terms as delegate to the 49th and 50th Congress of the United States, he spoke often in favor of statehood for Montana. His efforts were rewarded by the passage of the Enabling Act of 1889, which allowed the people of Montana Territory to form a constitution and state government. Toole was elected the new state’s first governor the same year.
Supreme Court Justices of Montana Territory (1883-1886). Two of the four men above, Associate Justice Thomas C. Bach, far left, and Chief Justice Decius S. Wade, second from right, were members of the firm in the late 1800’s.
William Wallace, who became First Assistant Attorney General of the United States (1913), was an early member of the firm. He became a senior partner in the Wall Street firm of Chadbourne & Parke. Wallace and Decius S. Wade, Chief Justice of the Montana Territorial Supreme Court, were partners with the firm through the 1890’s.
In 1980 William Coldiron was the solicitor of the Department of the Interior and later returned to Montana in 1984 to become a senior partner in Gough, Shanahan.
The named partners of the firm are shown above: Newell Gough, Ward Shanahan, Cordell Johnson, and Ronald Waterman, left to right.
The name of the firm was changed to Gough, Shanahan, Johnson, and Waterman in 1978. The four partners named are Newell Gough, Ward Shanahan, Cordell Johnson, and Ronald Waterman. Newell Gough retired in 1994 and Cordell Johnson retired in 1996. Both William Coldiron and Ward Shanahan were recipients of the William J. Jameson Award from the State Bar of Montana for distinguished legal service.