Ellis, Head, Owens and Justice has long, distinguished history

Lawyers stand on steps of the law offices of Ellis, Head, Owens and Justice: Oliver Head, Bill Justice, J. Frank Head, Butch Ellis, Josh Arnold, Bent Owens, Dan Head and Conrad Fowler. (Contributed)

Lawyers stand on steps of the law offices of Ellis, Head, Owens and Justice: Oliver Head, Bill Justice, J. Frank Head, Butch Ellis, Josh Arnold, Bent Owens, Dan Head and Conrad Fowler. (Contributed)

By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist

The history of the law firm of Ellis, Head, Owens and Justice is a who’s who of Shelby County’s legal minds.

Wales W. Wallace, Jr., was the founder of the law firm in 1947 when fewer than 10 lawyers were practicing in Shelby County.

Wallace’s father, Hon. Wales W. Wallace, Sr., was mayor of Columbiana, served as senator in the Alabama Legislature and was respected judge of the 18th Judicial Court from 1935-1953.

Wallace, Jr., was the leading lawyer in Shelby County when he asked Frank C. “Butch” Ellis, Jr., to join his firm.

Ellis, who graduated No. 1 in the Class of 1964 University of Alabama Law School, was the grandson of H.L. Handy Ellis, one of Shelby County’s leading lawyers in the 1920s to 1930s, member of the Alabama State Legislative, Lt. Governor and Judge of the Law and Equity Court.

Wallace and Ellis practiced law until Conrad Fowler, Jr., joined as junior partner in 1972 – Wallace, Ellis and Fowler.

Fowler is the son of Conrad M. Fowler, Sr., who practiced law with Ellis’s grandfather and was probate judge in Shelby County.

In 1975, Frank Head and son Oliver Head of Head and Head joined the firm, which thus became Wallace, Ellis, Head and Fowler.

WWI veteran Frank received his law degree in 1921 from the University of Alabama Law School and was in the Alabama Legislature, Deputy District Attorney (1953-1959) and District Attorney of 18th Judicial Circuit (1959-1967).

His twin brother Cage was Shelby County Judge of Probate.

Son Oliver graduated from Alabama Law School in 1956, served as Deputy District Attorney and was appointed in 1990 Circuit Judge for the 18th Judicial Circuit of Alabama and elected and reelected until his retirement in 2002.

His sons J. Frank and Dan Head also are also members of the firm.

In 2005 William R. (Bill) Justice joined the law and became partner in 2010 – Wallace, Ellis, Fowler, Head and Justice.

Josh Arnold also joined the firm. In 2014 Bent Owens became a partner and the name became Ellis, Head, Owens and Justice.

Seven members of the firm have served as president of the Shelby County Bar Association: Wales Wallace, 1957-1970; Frank Head, 1970-1971; Oliver Head, 1974-1975; Butch Ellis, 1976; Bill Justice, 1986; Conrad Fowler, 1987; and J. Frank Head, 1999.

About Phoebe Donald Robinson

I am President of Donald Real Estate and Ins. Co., Inc., a company that my grandfather , Charles J. Donald, founded in 1925. I am the third generation owner of the business. I am also the Columbiana Columnist for the Shelby County Reporter.

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