It was 1909 when Frank B. Shutts, a member of the Indiana Bar, came to Miami at the request of the United States Comptroller of the Currency to act as a receiver for the Old Fort Dallas Bank. His first reaction to the hot July weather was to instruct his companion to find out when the next train to Indiana would leave. However, after meeting Henry Flagler and obtaining substantially more money for the depositors of the defunct bank than they expected, he confided, “This spot has a future; I am coming back to it.”
The story of Shutts & Bowen begins with the return in 1910 of that young attorney, Frank B. Shutts, and his belief in the future of Miami. In that year, Shutts and Henry F. Atkinson associated for the practice of law under the name of Shutts & Atkinson. In 1911, William Pruden Smith joined the firm, and the firm was called Shutts, Atkinson & Smith. When Mr. Atkinson left the firm to become a Circuit Judge and Crate D. Bowen joined the firm in 1912, the firm was known as Shutts, Smith & Bowen. In 1919, when Mr. Smith was elected Mayor of the City of Miami and retired from the practice of law, the firm became known as Shutts & Bowen.
Appointed a Lieutenant Colonel on the staff of Florida Governor Cary Hardee from 1921 until 1925, Colonel Shutts, as he was thereafter known, played an important role in many of the significant developments which transformed Miami from the small community of approximately 5,000 residents it was when he arrived to the major international city it is today. It was Colonel Shutts’ contribution to these key developments that began our firm’s tradition of service to our state that we maintain to this day.
Shortly after his return to Miami, Shutts suggested to Flagler that Miami should have a newspaper that would present both sides of current issues. With funds borrowed from the railroad builder, he founded The Miami Herald on December 1, 1910, and remained the guiding spirit of that publication for 27 years.
Colonel Shutts negotiated the City of Miami’s acquisition of the property which is now Bayfront Park from the Florida East Coast Railway. He was instrumental in bringing the Seaboard Air Line Railway to Miami, and in the construction of the Tamiami Trail and Dixie Highway. It was through his personal efforts that Carl G. Fisher became interested in Miami Beach and made his first investments in Florida, which included assisting John F. Collins in completing his wooden bridge across Biscayne Bay.
While Colonel Shutts divided his attention among The Miami Herald, the development of Miami and his law practice, Crate Bowen centered his professional attention solely on the practice of law. He was an excellent trial lawyer who was well known for his thoroughness in preparing cases. Mr. Bowen attracted wide attention in 1929 when President Calvin Coolidge appointed him United States District Judge and he declined the appointment, stating, “I just want to practice law.”
From the very beginning, Shutts & Bowen’s growth and history have paralleled that of Miami. In the great land boom of 1925, Shutts & Bowen’s practice necessitated the employment of 23 attorneys, which, in those days, was an unheard of number of attorneys in a single firm.
One of the attorneys joining the firm during the great land boom was Sherman Minton, a young, ambitious trial lawyer from Indiana. Mr. Minton later returned to his home state to pursue a political career and was elected to the United States Senate. During his years in Washington, D.C., Senator Minton became one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s closest confidants, and Roosevelt appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals in Chicago. President Truman later appointed Judge Minton to the United States Supreme Court, where he served with distinction.
Just as Colonel Shutts saw the bright future of Miami in 1909, so too do we see the bright future of all of Florida today. To serve the needs of our clients, we have offices in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.
In the years to come, we will maintain our tradition of service to our clients. We will strive always to be worthy of the reputation established by our founders more than 100 years ago.
Thus, while we are proud of our heritage of providing legal service to our clients continuously for more than a century, we are most excited not about our past, but about our future.