A Look Back – A Historical Timeline Since 1888

Our Firm can trace its beginnings back to the year 1875 when William H. Baily graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law.  Mr. Baily began the practice of law in 1875 with Frank D. Jackson in Independence, Iowa.  Mr. Baily moved to Spirit Lake in 1876 and practiced there until 1888 when he moved to Des Moines.  Through hard work and his many talents, he built a large practice in the fields of civil litigation, representation of cities and financial institutions, and probate work.

Mr. Jackson moved in 1876 to Butler county to practice, later served as Governor of Iowa from 1894 to 1896, and also served many years as President of Royal Union Life Insurance Company in Des Moines.

Mr. Baily's career in Des Moines can be traced through the following firms. 

  • 1888 - 1893 – Wishard & Baily
  • 1893 - 1897 – Guernsey & Baily

Firm appeared before the Iowa Supreme Court for 23 cases.

  • 1897 - 1898 – Baily & Ballreich 

Mr. Baily was sought as counsel in municipal litigation from an early day.

  • 1899 - 1900 – Baily, Ballreich & Preston 
  • 1901 - 1910 – Baily & Stipp 

Harley H. Stipp was active in advocacy of the Des Moines plan of city government adopted in 1908 and strong supporter of the city manager form of city government. 

Grace Ballantyne became a lawyer in 1899 and was an associate at the firm from 1904 – 1909. 

Mr. Bailey and Ms. Ballantyne represented a Des Moines woman named Mary Coggeshall and three others who led a fight for women’s suffrage.  The women wanted to vote in a city election at which voters would decide whether to approve construction of a new city hall at a cost not to exceed $350,000, but they were denied ballots.  Baily and Ballantyne filed a lawsuit in Polk County District Court asking that the election be declared void, and appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court when the district court refused.  The Supreme Court in 1908 reversed the district court, saying the election was void because "women as a class were barred from voting."  Baily may have had inspiration from home.  His wife, Alice, was president of the State Federation of Women's Clubs for several years.

Mr. Baily was appointed City Attorney the last two years of his life, until 1910 when he passed away.

  • 1910 - 1913 – Stipp & Perry

When Mr. Baily died in 1910, Harley H. Stipp, who was in Mr. Baily's firm, joined together with Eugene D. Perry in a firm relationship which lasted until Mr. Stipp's death in 1943. 

  • 1914 - 1925 – Stipp, Perry, Bannister & Starzinger
  • 1925 - 1930 -- Stipp, Perry, Bannister, Starzinger & Little

Mr. Little left the firm in 1930 to become General Counsel of the Des Moines Register & Tribune Company.

  • 1930 - 1943 -- Stipp, Perry, Bannister & Starzinger

Mr. Stipp died in 1943.  Mr. Starzinger left the firm in 1943 to take the place of Mr. Little as Register & Tribune General Counsel after Mr. Little's death. 

  • 1944 - 1945 – Stipp, Perry, Bannister & Carpenter

In 1944, Paul Ahlers joined the firm as an Associate Attorney.

In 1945, Mr. Perry passed away.

  • 1946 - 1949 – Bannister, Carpenter & Ahlers 

In 1946, James Cooney joined the firm as an Associate Attorney upon discharge from the U.S. Army.  His maternal grandmother was a leader of the Iowa Suffrage Movement. 

  • 1950 - 1967 – Bannister, Carpenter, Ahlers & Cooney
  • 1968 - 1975 -- Ahlers, Cooney, Dorweiler, Allbee & Haynie 
  • 1975 - 1976 – Ahlers, Cooney, Dorweiler, Allbee, Haynie & Smith
  • 1977 - 1978 -- Ahlers, Cooney, Dorweiler, Haynie & Smith 
  • 1979 - 2002 – Ahlers, Cooney, Dorweiler, Haynie, Smith & Allbee, P.C.
  • 2003 - present – Ahlers & Cooney, P.C. 

Paul F. Ahlers (1913-2002)

James Evans Cooney (1917-1998)