History

Established in 1939 by Dutch Higgs and Ferd Fletcher, Higgs Fletcher & Mack is the oldest law firm in San Diego. Over a history that spans a lifetime, HFM has evolved into one of San Diego’s most respected law firms, providing consistent results and a commitment to the community. Built on a foundation of loyalty and integrity, we cultivate an environment of teamwork and responsiveness, establishing the trust of our clients and a reputation for excellence.

As the legal environment has changed over time, so has our expertise. Now with 23 practice areas and more than 75 attorneys we’ve not only grown in size, we’ve expanded our ability to advise on 21st century legal issues like healthcare and technology, immigration and intellectual property. Our lawyers lead landmark cases both locally and internationally, and are at the forefront their respective fields.

Everyday we are reminded of the hard work and passion that inspired our firm and confidently set our course. Our attorneys are committed to the vision of our founders to provide sound advice and comprehensive representation for your legal issues. We can’t wait to work with you.

Timeline

  • 1938

    Dutch Higgs and Ferd Fletcher become acquainted during a lawsuit in which they are on opposite sides. They begin playing golf together and on January 1, 1939 form their partnership, Higgs & Fletcher.

  • 1939

    our-history-1939
    The firm begins in the Bank of America Building at 6th and Broadway, when there were only three main buildings in San Diego for attorneys: Bank of America, First National, and San Diego Trust & Savings.

  • 1940-42

    William A. Glen, a deputy district attorney with the county counsel’s office, joins the firm which becomes Higgs Fletcher & Glen. Thanks to Ferd’s father, Senator Ed Fletcher, the Statue of Cabrillo is brought to San Diego from Oakland in 1940 and dedicated on Point Loma.

  • 1942

    During World War II, when Mr. Higgs and Mr. Glen departed for the service and Mr. Fletcher remained to manage the practice, Eugene Miller joins the firm which then becomes Miller, Higgs Fletcher & Glen.

  • 1943

    Mr. Fletcher volunteers for the Navy and becomes an intelligence officer.

    • Dutch Higgs

      Dutch Higgs

    • Ferd Fletcher

      Ferd Fletcher

  • 1945-46

    Mr. Higgs, Mr. Glen, and Mr. Fletcher return from the service.

  • 1948

    our-history-way
    San Diego’s first freeway, the Cabrillo Freeway through Balboa Park, is completed.

    After his discharge, Mr. Fletcher returns to defend property owners against the federal government in Kearney Mesa, Camp Gillespie, El Cajon, and Coronado.
    our-history-mr-glenGovernor Earl Warren appoints Mr. Glen to the Superior Court, and the firm becomes Miller, Higgs & Fletcher.
    Mr. Higgs serves as City Attorney for Chula Vista (1940-42 and 1946-47).

  • 1949

    Mr. Higgs negotiates a deal by which Rohr Industries moves to Chula Vista as the aviation industry gives way to the aerospace industry.

  • 1949-50

    The firm serves as special counsel to the Cities of Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, and Imperial Beach.

  • 1950

    our-history-1950
    Mr. Fletcher represents the development of the Loma Santa Fe community, as well as the Ed Fletcher Company, Cameron Brothers Construction, and Tech Built Construction Company, as well as the Armed Services YMCA.

  • 1953

    ferd-fletcher-1953
    Ferd Fletcher is elected President of the San Diego County Bar Association.

    Henry Pitts Mack, former Chief Deputy District Attorney for San Diego County, leaves Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye and joins the firm, which becomes Miller, Higgs Fletcher & Mack, and later Higgs Fletcher & Mack.

  • 1954

    Mr. Fletcher is elected President of the San Diego Society for Crippled Children, the organization that built Children’s Hospital, and serves on the board for 25 years.

  • 1955

    Mr. Higgs becomes the first San Diegan elected President of the Board of Governors of the California State Bar, where he had served from 1952-1955.

  • 1957

    The firm builds its own building at 3rd and Juniper, which it occupies until 1963.

  • 1960

    road-1960
    Mr. Higgs co-chairs Proposition 1 that brings Northern California water to Southern California.

  • 1962

    building-1962
    Ferd Fletcher is hired to assist in the development of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where he later becomes General Counsel, Member of the Board of Trustees, and Secretary.

    Home Federal Savings & Loan Association builds the Home Tower at 7th and Broadway, the first high rise constructed during the rejuvenation period of Downtown San Diego.

  • 1963

    building-1963
    The firm moves to Home Tower after outgrowing its own building at 3rd and Juniper.

  • 1964

    University of California opens its 1,000 acre campus in La Jolla.

  • 1965

    Higgs Fletcher & Mack merges with the firm of Jennings, Engstrand & Hendrickson and becomes Higgs, Jennings, Fletcher & Mack.

  • 1966

    higgs-1966
    Mr. Higgs becomes the first San Diegan appointed to the University of California Board of Regents, and serves 16 years.

  • 1971

    The firm demerges from Jennings, Engstrand & Hendrickson and once again becomes Higgs Fletcher & Mack.

    Ferd Fletcher, as pro bono counsel, works with the Committee of 100 to rebuild and preserve the Casa Del Prado, Casa De Balboa, Organ Pavilion, and the House of Hospitality facade.
    pic-1971
    Higgs Fletcher & Mack represents Chase Manhattan in bankruptcy litigation after the $50 million collapse of U.S. Financial Corp.

    Also during the ’70s, Higgs Fletcher & Mack successfully represents approximately 35 insurance companies and their insured after the Pine Hills, Ramona, and Laguna Mountain fires.

  • 1972

    Mr. Fletcher serves on the board and as Chairman of the San Diego Economic Development Corporation, as well as serving on the board of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce.

    The North San Diego County office is established in Escondido on North Grand Avenue by Merv Thompson and Charles Marvin, former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce.

  • 1974

    Higgs Fletcher & Mack co-counsels for plaintiffs in Metromedia v. City of San Diego over the city’s outdoor billboard ban. The suit is eventually resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court by a summary judgment on First Amendment grounds.

  • 1976

    The North County office relocates to Escondido Boulevard.

  • 1981

    Craig Higgs, son of Dutch Higgs, co-founds the University of San Diego Law Center and later the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program in cooperation with the Legal Aid Society.

  • 1983

    Higgs Fletcher & Mack moves to the Columbia Center, our current home.

  • 1984

    Craig Higgs becomes the fourth partner and fifth member of HF&M to be elected President of the San Diego County Bar Association.

  • 1988

    Higgs Fletcher & Mack settles the decades-old Indian water rights lawsuit regarding the San Luis Rey River, and the North San Diego County office moves to the Escondido National Bank Building on West Valley Parkway.

  • 1995

    higgs-1995
    Several prominent jurists begin a campaign to name the new courthouse the DeWitt A. Higgs Hall of Justice after his passing in 1994. The effort fails, but a bust of Mr. Higgs is placed in the foyer of the building next year.

  • 1996

    HF&M starts the new year as Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP, a limited liability partnership, and decides to close the Escondido office at the end of February.

  • 1999

    higgs-1999
    Higgs celebrates its 60th anniversary by taking over the top two floors of First National Bank Building and merging with McInnis, Fitzgerald, Rees and Sharkey to become the 6th largest firm in San Diego County.

  • 2009-2010

    The Firm celebrates 70 years in the practice of law in San Diego, renewing its lease at the Columbia Center for 10 more years. A major facelift of the reception area occurs, including replacing the spiral stairwell, and installing state of the art wall panels in the Large and Small Boardrooms that can be retracted into custom closets to allow 200-person plus gatherings in the lobby.office-2008-09
    HFM-boardrooms

  • 2011-2012

    Higgs Fletcher & MackA complete rebranding of the Firm is undertaken to better communicate its unique strengths and capabilities in helping clients navigate the complexities and challenges of the modern legal and business environment.

  • 2014

    HFM-75thLogo
    Higgs Fletcher & Mack contributes over 7,500 hours of community service in celebration of its 75th Anniversary and commitment to San Diego.

  • 2015

    Higgs Fletcher & Mack launches Privacy and Information Security Practice Group to provide comprehensive privacy and security risk assessments and compliance audits as well as employee education and training.

  • 2016

    Higgs Fletcher & Mack’s Diversity Scholarship Program passes the $60,000 milestone in assistance provided to deserving students at both the University of San Diego Law School and the Cal Western School of Law. The initiatives also come with hands-on internship opportunities and mentorship programs for these individuals.

  • 2017

    Loren Freestone,
    Employment & Labor


     
    Partner Loren Freestone is elected to serve as President of the San Diego County Bar Association starting January 1, 2017 for one year.

     
    Higgs Fletcher & Mack Best Law Firm badgeHiggs Fletcher & Mack achieves record-breaking “Best Law Firms” rankings by U.S. News – Best Lawyers. The Tier 1 rankings were in the Appellate Practice, Commercial Litigation, Immigration Law, Insurance Law, Litigation – Tax, Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants and Product Liability Litigation – Defendants practice areas. Additionally, Higgs received Tier 2 rankings in six other practice areas covering Arbitration, Employment Law – Individuals, Family Law, Health Care Law, Mediation and Tax Law.

    Steven Cologne,
    Business Litigation

     
     
    Steven J. Cologne Named Managing Partner.

    John Morrell assumes the duties of Chairman Emeritus, the first ever to serve in this position.