Most Huntington lawyers have offices located just a quick walk from the Cabell County Courthouse. Now, the firm of Duffield, Lovejoy, Stemple & Boggs has closed its downtown office and built a new, $1.5 million building on 16th Street Road, beyond the city limits.
“Our practice is not predicated on being able to make a quick trip to the Cabell County Courthouse,” explained L. David Duffield, the firm’s founding partner. “If you do criminal cases, you have to go to the courthouse regularly.
“If you do divorces and other domestic cases, you’re there a lot. But we don’t handle those kinds of cases.”
Duffield and his partners operate primarily as personal injury attorneys, representing clients in damage suits throughout West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky and Southern Ohio.
“With multi-million-dollar insurance cases and the like, you don’t find yourself in a courtroom every little bit,” he said. “So our practice doesn’t require us to be that close to the courthouse.”
The firm’s new, two-story building is traditional in its design. The lobby is dominated by a curved, sweeping staircase that looks like something out of “Gone with the Wind.” But Duffield notes the building boasts the latest technology — including two large conference rooms, each equipped with an 80-inch electronic screen. In addition to being used to show videos, do tele-conferences and link to the internet, the office also can display and freely annotate a wide variety of documents. As many as four people are able to write on the screen at the same time.
A native of Lincoln County, Duffield earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature and his law degree at West Virginia University, where he was president of the Law School Council from 1985-1986. He practiced with two Huntington law firms before setting up his own firm in 1997.
In a twist that proves truth often is stranger than fiction, Duffield and Chad S. Lovejoy share a birth date. Duffield recalled the first day they met.
“It was at the law school on our mutual birthday,” Dufield said. “I was 19 years older than him. I was 40 that day. He was 21.
“We didn’t know each other before that. And here we are, long-time partners.”
A native of Huntington, Lovejoy, like Duffield, earned a WVU bachelor’s degree in English. At the law school, he was editor-in-chief of the Law Review and was named by the faculty as the Outstanding Graduate in the school’s Class of 1997. He’s practiced with Duffield ever since, first as an associate lawyer and later as a partner. He served as president of the Cabell County Bar Association from 2008-2009.
Duffield notes that the firm’s other two partners, Jason J. Stemple and Thomas P. Boggs, initially joined the farm as paralegals. They became associate lawyers after earning their law degrees from WVU and later were named partners.
“As each of them went away to law school, we let them work some online and in the summers,” Duffield said. “You might say we don’t hire lawyers, we grow our own.
“And we’re very proud of that.”
A fifth WVU Law School graduate, Kenneth R. Bannon, now is an associate lawyer with the firm.
“And we’re in the process of growing another lawyer for us,” Duffield said. “Paralegal Whitney Davis is on full scholarship at the law school.”
In 2007, the firm was located in the Ratcliff Building on the corner of Huntington’s 5th Avenue and 10th Street when the building was destroyed by fire.
“We didn’t miss a single day of working for our clients — even meeting them the very next morning,” Duffield said.
After the fire, the firm moved to a historic building at 522 9th St. Built originally as a bank, the structure was long home to the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce. Unlike the firm’s new building, both the Ratcliff Building and the former Chamber building were located just minutes from the nearby courthouse.
Related Story: Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce
“We started talking about building this building maybe 10 years ago,” Duffield said, “Then that talk became serious about four years ago.”
Detailed planning and then construction took about 18 months, he said.
Without the necessity of remaining close to the downtown courthouse, the firm could have located its new office virtually anywhere. But the 16th Street Road location presented a particular appeal.
Seated in his office, Duffield explained that he, Lovejoy and Boggs all live little more than a stone’s throw from the firm’s new building,
“That was a powerful incentive for building here,” he said. “Some days you can see Chad in his dress shirt and tie riding his bicycle to work. Now that’s close.”
This story first appeared in the print edition of The State Journal. Click HERE to subscribe.
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