Milling Benson Woodward L.L.P. was founded in 1896 and currently has offices in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Northshore New Orleans.
Our Firm has represented clients in domestic and international business transactions, litigation, arbitration, and maritime matters involving clients’ activities throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Central and South America, Russia, Australia and the Pacific Rim, including Indonesia and Japan. As the first law firm in Louisiana to subscribe to the American Bar Association Law Pro Bono Project, Milling Benson Woodward L.L.P. has a long history of commitment to public service and the betterment of our community. Firm partners have served as Chair of the Louisiana State Law Institute, as Presidents of the New Orleans Bar Association, and as Presidents of the Louisiana State Bar Association. They have also served on the Board of Governors of the American and National Bar Associations, among many other legal, leadership, and professional distinctions.
Robert E. Milling joined the Franklin, Louisiana firm of Sigur & Sanders, which became Sigur, Milling & Sanders. Mr. Milling had been practicing law since 1885 in Winnfield, Louisiana, where he had served eight years as district attorney. He moved to Franklin the year he joined Sigur & Sanders. Although he never served on the bench, during at least the latter part of his career, in a custom of the times, he was known as “Judge Milling.”
In 1898, Mr. Sigur retired and the firm name became Milling & Sanders. Then, in 1900, former Governor Murphy J. Foster joined the firm, and its name changed to Foster, Milling & Sanders.
The Louisiana Railway & Navigation Company persuaded Robert E. Milling to open a New Orleans office in the Liverpool & London & Globe Building. The original office was in the Liverpool & London & Globe Building. Offices were moved the same year to the Godchaux Building Chartres, where the Marriott Hotel now stands. In the same year, Emile Godchaux joined the firm and its name became Foster, Milling, Godchaux & Sanders.
Jared Sanders was elected governor of Louisiana and retired from the Firm when he took office. Emile Godchaux was elected to the Orleans Parish Court of Appeal and upon assuming his duties as Judge, retired from the firm. Alexis Brian joined the firm. The firm name thus became Foster, Milling & Brian. Sometime in this period, Robert E. Milling’s son, Roberts C. Milling, became associated with the firm. Later, two other sons, Wear Milling and Robert E. Milling, Jr. joined the firm. (Robert E. Milling, Jr. was R. King Milling’s father. Judge Milling was also John C. Christian’s grandfather and G. Henry Pierson’s uncle).
Irving Saal had been working for Gustave Lemle without any financial commitments since graduating from Tulane Law School in 1904. He was recruited by Judge Milling and offered a 1/6th interest in the partnership, which over the past five years had averaged $25,000 net. The firm became Foster, Milling, Brian and Saal. In 1915, the firm was almost literally blown out of the Godchaux Building by a storm, and moved to the ninth floor of the newly built Whitney Central Building. The firm first occupied the north front on the ninth floor. Foster, Milling, Brian & Saal changed its name to Foster, Milling, Saal & Milling on Brian’s retirement and Roberts C. Milling’s becoming a partner.
In 1918, the Franklin office was closed, and M.J. Foster ran successfully for the United States Senate. The Firm moved from the ninth floor of the original Whitney Central Building to the eleventh floor of the “new wing” around 1919. With Mr. Foster in the Senate and Judge Godchaux having returned from Europe (he had left the bench when America entered the First World War and had joined the American Red Cross as an officer, anticipating that he would be overseas ten years), the Firm name changed to Milling, Godchaux, Saal & Milling, which it remained for thirty years. Judge Godchaux was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, but was disqualified on the basis of non-residence in the famous case, Hall v. Godchaux, 149 La. 733, 90 So. 155 (1921). Judge Godchaux had spent too much time at his summer home in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
Robert E. Milling, Jr. became a partner, and Eugene D. Saunders became an associate with the Firm. Mr. Saunders became a partner in 1929.
M. Truman Woodward, Jr. joined the Firm, but could not practice law as an associate until the following year when he attained the age of twenty-one. Lawrence K. Benson came to the Firm in 1928 from Baker & Botts. Mr. Benson was a graduate of Tulane Law School. Both became partners in 1936.
H.H. Hillyer, Jr. and G. Henry Pierson, Jr. joined the Firm as associates, the former becoming a partner in 1942, the latter in 1948. In 1938 the Firm had seven partners and seven associates; it was New Orleans’ largest.
In 1941, J. B. Miller joined the Firm as an associate becoming a partner in 1948. During this period the Firm continued to build a practice based principally in real estate, oil and gas, corporate, and railroad law. The Louisiana Land & Exploration Company was formed by Roberts C. Milling from interests in the Timken estate, which had vast land holdings in southern Louisiana and elsewhere. The Firm also represented other substantial land companies such as the Miami Corporation, Continental Land & Fur Company, and the La Terre Corporation. The Louisiana Railway & Navigation Company had been acquired by the Kansas City Southern Railroad. These developments and representation of the New Orleans, Texas & Mexico Railway, later acquired by the Missouri Pacific Railway, increased the Firm’s railroad practice. Additionally, the Firm still had such clients as Godchaux’s, Krauss Company, Jackson Brewing Company, and the Whitney National Bank. Roberts C. Milling brought in the California Company, a subsidiary of Standard Oil of California (later Chevron). Mr. Saunders brought in J. Ray McDermott & Co. Representation of Exxon was later acquired through Messrs. Benson and Hillyer.
After Judge Milling’s death in 1947, the name of the Firm was changed in 1949 to Milling, Godchaux, Saal & Saunders. Mr. Saunders had returned to the Firm after an absence of several years practice with Lloyd Cobb, also a former Milling associate. Mr. Saunders brought with him Charles D. Marshall, a Tulane Law School and Law Review classmate of Messrs. Hillyer and Pierson. Mr. Marshall joined the Firm as a partner. In 1952, Messrs. Benson and Woodward’s names were added to the Firm name, and Judge Godchaux’s was deleted. For eighteen years the Firm’s name remained Milling, Saal, Saunders, Benson & Woodward.
In the seventies, the Firm underwent three more name changes as Mr. Hillyer’s (1970), Mr. Pierson’s (1972) and Mr. Millier’s (1978) names were added and those of certain deceased partners (Messrs. Saunders and Saal) were deleted. In 1985, the Firm opened a Lafayette office and in September of 1987, the Firm moved from the Whitney Building into the LL&E Tower (now First Bank & Trust).
Normand Pizza and Chadwick Collings opened the firm’s Northshore office in Covington in 2010. The Northshore office quickly outgrew its space and moved to its current location in Mandeville in 2015, where it continues to serve the needs of the Louisiana business community as it has for the past 125 years and counting.