Firm History

Spengler Nathanson Firm History - It All Started When...

On February 1, 1947, four prominent young Toledo attorneys formed the law firm of Spengler, Nathanson, Hebenstreit and Heyman.

Otto H. Spengler began practicing in Toledo in 1915 with the firm of Brown, Hahn & Sanger.  The firmís offices were located on the 10th floor of the Nicholas Building on Madison Avenue, known until recently as the Fifth Third Bank Building.   Walter F. Brown had been practicing law in Toledo for a number of years at the time.  Brownís other endeavors took him to Washington D.C. where he served as the Postmaster General of the United States under the Hoover administration and as the chairman of the National Republican Party.  George Hahn was only a few years away from becoming a United States District Court Judge.   Judge Hahn served on the Federal bench from 1928 to 1937.  Sigmund Sanger was a prominent lawyer and patron of the Toledo Public Library.

Otto was committed to community service.  The many organizations Otto served for over fifty years are well known to the community: the Toledo YMCA, the Toledo Humane Society, the Child Welfare Board and the Toledo Kiwanis Club.  Ottoís leadership on these Boards can be seen today in the former YMCA Building on Jefferson and the first home of the Toledo Humane Society, both of which were built under his leadership.  

In early 1947, Otto Spengler began discussions with Joseph S. Heyman about working together as lawyers.  Joe had been associated with Williams, Eversman & Morgan.  Joe, a lifelong resident of Toledo and an outstanding Libbey High School football player, was dedicated both to the practice of law and to serving the community.  From the time he joined the firm, Joe was a strong force in the direction the firm would take for the next fifty years.   The standards he set for his partners and the work ethic he instilled in all those related to the firm serve as guideposts to this day.

At the same time, Joseph Nathanson, the former Law Director of the City of Toledo, and the current Assistant Law Director, Bertram P. Hebenstreit, also began discussions about creating a firm.  Joe had been employed by the City of Toledo since 1933, first to collect unpaid license fees and assessments and then rising through the city to become the Cityís youngest Finance Director.  Joe was later named the Cityís Law Director and retired from the City in December 1945.

Bert Hebenstreit had been associated with the firm of Brown and Sanger, and taught at what was then known as the Toledo Law School. He was well known for his brilliant mind and considered an authority on corporate law.  Bert had worked with Joe Nathanson at the City of Toledo Law Department where they were involved in drafting and insuring the passage of the City Income Tax ordinance, which would become a model for many other municipalities.  

At the time of the firm founding, Otto was 57, Bert was 49, Joe Nathanson was 42, and Joe Heyman was only 33.  Little could these four men have known the impact they would have on the firm as it continued to grow over the years or how much their dedication would impact the community and the legal profession. While they were of different ages and came from different backgrounds, they all firmly believed in providing the very best legal service possible to each client.

Spengler Nathanson Firm History - The Early Years

From left, back row: Dave Katz, Ben Durfee, John McCarthy, Dick Entenmann; front row: Joe Nathanson, Joe Heyman and Otto Spengler.

Benjamin B. Durfee was hired in 1948 as the firmís first associate.  Shortly thereafter, Richard A. Entenmann and David A. Katz joined the firm.

In 1956, John J. McCarthy joined the firm. John had served the City of Toledo as Law Director, following Joe Nathanson, and also served as City Manager. The firm name was changed to Spengler, Nathanson, Heyman, McCarthy and Durfee, and that remained the name until 1993. 

During these early years, the firm focused on small business and on public law, representing The University of Toledo and many local school districts, and was instrumental in the formation and development of the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority.  In particular, Joe Nathansonís reputation in the community played an integral part in the formation of Seaway Food Town, bringing together five independent groceries to form a new entity.      

Spengler Nathanson History - And Today...

The firm changed its name to Spengler Nathanson in 1993.  It has grown from the four founding attorneys to 31 attorneys.  After 60 years on Madison Avenue, the firm moved to Summit Street overlooking downtown Toledoís Riverfront in July 2008.  The firmís reputation for fairness and professionalism drew many clients to the firm, and many of those clients remain with the firm to this day.  The rich tradition of commitment to personal service and community service remains a cornerstone of Spengler Nathanson.   Spengler Nathanson is committed to the ideals of its founders and remains resolute in its determination to provide the highest quality legal services to each client. 


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