At the age of 18, when most young people are finishing high school and dreaming about their freshman year in college, young Frank Constangy graduated from law school at the University of Georgia. The State of Georgia actually had to enact special legislation to allow "Mr. C," as he would become known, to take the bar exam at such a tender age. Needless to say, he passed.
During World War II, Mr. C worked for the War Labor Board and the Oak Ridge Project, in addition to carrying on the private practice of law. After the war, he was offered the opportunity to become President of Miami University (Florida) but turned that down to work with the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association, an employers’ group. He established in 1946 the firm that would later become known as Constangy, LLC. Mr. C’s first partners were Legree Davis and Mildred McClelland, one of the few female attorneys in Atlanta at the time.
In 1950, they were joined by Bill Prowell, formerly an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"). In 1961, the firm became Constangy & Prowell and was considered one of the premier management labor-law firms in the nation. At that time, the primary areas of practice were the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), the Taft-Hartley Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA").
Mr. C died in 1971, and several attorneys left the firm over the next two years. Meanwhile, employment law was emerging as a hot new area of litigation, as Title VII was enacted in 1964 (prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, religion, and color), followed by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Rehabilitation Act. In 1973, Lovic Brooks, who had been hired as an associate in the 1960s, rallied the remaining troops and the firm became known as Constangy, Brooks & Smith. (Jim Smith still practices out of the Atlanta Office, representing clients in the area of labor relations.)
In 1974, the firm opened its first satellite office, in Birmingham, Alabama. The firm continued to expand, opening an office in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1975; an office in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1977; an office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1991. Similarly, the law continued to expand, with the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 (to take effect in 1992), the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (allowing discrimination plaintiffs to recover compensatory and punitive damages), and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. In addition to these federal laws, the states were enacting their own individual statutes protecting individual rights and against discrimination. The firm opened its Metro D.C., office in Arlington, Virginia, in 1996. (The office relocated to Fairfax, Virginia, in 2003.)
From 1996-2005, Lee E. Boeke served as the firm’s Managing Chairman.
Beginning in 1999-2000, the firm experienced unprecedented growth. Offices were opened in Macon, Georgia; Tampa, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Florida; and Kansas City, Missouri. In 2004, Constangy expanded to Asheville, North Carolina and Austin, Texas. In 2008, Constangy opened a new office in Greenville, South Carolina. Also, in 2008, Constangy expanded to the west coast, opening an office in Los Angeles County, California as well as making a switch from LLC to LLP. In 2009, Constangy expanded to the Northeast region by opening an office in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2010, the firm opened three new offices in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Princeton, New Jersey and St. Louis, Missouri. In 2011, the firm's growth continued with the opening of a Dallas, Texas office. In 2012, the firm further expanded in the Southeastern region; opening the West Point, Georgia and Opelika, Alabama offices.
Neil H. Wasser was named Managing Chair in 2006. Neil is the grandson of the firm’s founder, Frank Constangy.
In 2015, Constangy was humbled to be told it was the first firm among the 350 largest U.S. law firms to have an African-American named partner. Donald Prophete, a talented client advocate, joined the firm in March 2015. The firm is now known as Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. Constangy also expanded its geographic footprint, and opened offices in Denver, Colorado, New York, New York, Memphis, Tennessee and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Constangy celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2016. This milestone is an exciting time for the firm, and a time for continual expansion. The firm opened its fifth Florida office in Miami, Florida and an office in Century City in Los Angeles, California.
The firm now has 28 offices with more than 180 attorneys, and practices in all areas of labor and employment law. We are still considered one of the premier management labor and employment firms in the nation. Constangy continues its mission to provide services for complex labor and employment law issues, while encompassing advanced technologies and a diverse legal team.