Previously published in the Genesee County Bar Beat.
After ninety years, it is safe to state that Cline, Cline & Griffin and its predecessors have been part of the Flint legal community throughout the 20th Century.
The firm was first established in 1928 with offices located in the then newly-finished Mott Foundation Building (Union and Industrial Bank) at the corner of First and Saginaw Streets in Flint, Michigan. A small corner office overlooking Saginaw Street was the beginning. The firm, which was originally styled “Stockton, Cline & George”, has maintained an active legal practice in that same location through today. The firm continued under the name of Stockton, Cline & George until the death of Thomas Stockton (1870-1937) at which time it continued under the name of Cline & George (Howard Cline, Sr. 1903-1965) and Francis J. George (1904-1970) until 1960 at which time the firm became Cline & Cline. One original founding member, Howard D. Cline, Sr., continued in practice along with his two sons, Earl J. Cline (1931-2002) and Howard D. Cline, Jr. After the death of Howard D. Cline, Sr. in 1965, the firm remained under the name of Cline & Cline until 1978 when it became established as Cline, Cline & Griffin. The firm continues under the name of Cline, Cline & Griffin to this day in the same location, but with offices expanded to now encompass the entire 10th floor of the Mott Foundation Building.
Today the firm consists of nine lawyers with Walter P. Griffin, Timothy H. Knecht, José T. Brown and J. Brian MacDonald as principals.
To survive through three generations of attorneys, multiple changes in Flint, both ups and downs, and to flow with changes in the laws over these many years, is truly amazing. The firm was initially recognized as a general practice firm and maintains that moniker today, but changes in the practice of law over the past ninety years has necessitated some specialization . Prior to 1950 the practice was indeed general, which required an attorney to handle a myriad of problems for clients in the Flint Community.
Since the 1950s, the firm has developed a defense practice in the negligence field acquiring as clients, several insurance carriers throughout the country and particularly in the areas of medical, dental and hospital malpractice defense, continued a strong business and corporate practice for a diversity of clients, and has an active will, trust and estate practice.
Cline, Cline & Griffin is most proud of its acceptance of civic responsibility. The principals of the firm have held positions such as Trustee of Grand Blanc Township, President of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, President of the University Club of Flint, President of the Flint Golf Club, to name of few.
The attorneys of Cline, Cline & Griffin have also held significant leadership roles in the legal community. Walter P. Griffin has been President of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, President of the Genesee County Bar Association, and Chairman of the Negligence Section of the State Bar. Mr. Knecht has also provided leadership in these same roles and is a past President of the Centennial American Inn of Court.
Supporting the legal profession and the community as a firm, and personally by the attorneys, along with representation of multiple corporations and entities has been the core of the firm.
It is with great pride that the members now have a ninety year legacy and the hope of continuing the legacy along with the resurgence of the community.