Practice Areas

  About M. Wayne Wheeler

  About Larry R. Boothe, Jr.

  History of Law Firm


    The firm of M. Wayne Wheeler, P.C. began in the year 1902 when my grandfather, Robert James Wheeler, received his Bachelor of Law (LLB) Degree from the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa. At that time, The University of Alabama was the only law school in the state of Alabama. Under the historical practice of "diploma priviledge," a graduate from the Alabama law school was automatically awarded a law license. Consequently, any high school graduate who attended law school for two years could be admitted to the practice of law upon graduation. At that time, many lawyers just "read law" and did not even attend Law School. They were admitted to practice upon successful completion of the oral examination administrered by the State Bar Assocation.

    While attending classes at the University at Tuscaloosa through the week, my grandfather worked in a miners' saloon for his uncle (William Wheeler) in Blossburg, Alabama on weekends. After graduation, my grandfather commenced his career as an attorney in downtown Birmingham, Alabama in the old First National Bank Building on 20th Street North. At that time in 1902, Birmingham had more saloons, brothels, and gambling dens than churches. That building is now known as the Frank Nelson Building. Those were the days before air conditioning, electric typewriters, or computers. During the depression, temperature control meant opening or closing windows unless they were nailed shut.

    My grandfather's first clients were his relatives who resided in the western section of Jefferson County. Well known as a man who loved people, my grandfather dedicated his practice to helping individuals without regard to economic or social standing—from rich widows to the dirt poor. During his employment as a Birmingham city attorney, he handled numerous city appeal cases.

    After his disappointing defeat for Circuit Judge in 1928 by Judge J. Russell McElroy, he ran again in 1933 at the height of the depression. This time the opposition was Judge George Lewis Bailes. Wheeler was elected and served as a judge in the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court until 1957. He died at the age of 79 of a heart attack while charging a jury at the end of a murder trial.

    My grandfather's legacy to the practice of law is established in numerous fond memories for a multitude of clients, lawyers, judges, and clerks over a legal career of 55 years. He is well remembered as a lawyer and judge in the finsest legal tradition. Many of his old clients considered him their family lawyer.

    My father, Malcolm Lynch Wheeler, was next in the family lineage to enter the legal field. After graduation from Birmingham-Southern College in 1936, he attended the Birmingham School of Law. After passing a written Bar exam to secure his license, he started practicing law in 1940 at the old First National Bank Building (now the Frank Nelson Building).

    When his good friend, Paul G. Parsons, a University of North Carolina Law School graduate, joined the Army, he prevailed upon my father to maintain his existing law practice. In 1943, my father in turn made the same request of his friend, Edward L. Rose, a Birmingham School of Law graduate. Mr Rose was to keep both law practices going until my father and Mr. Parsons returned from World War II. With the war behind them, they opened the firm of Parsons, Wheeler and Rose in the Massey Building. Several years later, the firm hired their longtime secretary, Mabel B. McIntire.

    Over the years, the firm specialized in people and their legal problems. It did not matter if it was a will, damage suit, criminal matter, or property dispute; it was the individual that counted. Edward L. Rose was known as the best criminal defense lawyer in town. He knew all the policemen, detectives, and judges on a first-name basis. Paul G. Parsons represented many funeral homes, dry cleaners, and churches. My father, Malcolm Lynch Wheeler, was a plaintiff's lawyer who filed many damage suits against bus lines, railroads, cab companies, and others. In his later life, he was appointed as General County Administrator for Jefferson County. He became a recognized expert in the area of probate law and elder law.

    Mr. Parsons died of cancer in 1965. Mr Rose became a police court judge for the City of Birmingham in 1965 and died in 1971. After practicing alone for several years, and with some encouragement from my mother, my father, together with John R. Christian, formed a firm known as Wheeler and Christian, with offices in the Massey Building. About a year later, upon graduation from the Universoty of Alabama School of Law, I joined the firm in September 1966.

    James E. Roberts joined the firm in 1977, and the firm name became Wheeler, Christian and Roberts. In 1979, the firm moved to the Walker Building (now the Wheeler Building) at 2230 3rd Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama. After seven years, this partnership was dissolved and each attorney established an individual practice. In 1991, Malcolm Lynch Wheeler, John R. Christian, and M. Wayne Wheeler, P.C. purchased James E. Robert's interest in the building known as the The Walker Building. The remaining lawyers continued at the same location. Though the partnership was dissolved, the close association and friendship of the lawyers remained strong. Malcolm L. Wheeler died in February, 1997, and John R. Christian retired in August 1997. In that year, the name of the building was changed to "The Wheeler Building."

    The firm's tradition of dedication to people representation has continued with the firm of M. Wayne Wheeler, P.C. My clients are the children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren of the old clients of my grandfather (Robert J. Wheeler); Parsons, Wheeler, and Rose; and Malcolm L. Wheeler; the Wheeler and Christian partnership; Wheeler, Christian and Roberts; and my firm. The bulk of my legal practice today consists of clients who return for additional work or through referrals from past clients who have sent friends and relatives to my firm over the years.

    J. Cooper Trent, II was hired as an Associate. He married a Mobile, Alabama lady and moved to Mobile, Alabama. B. Clay Alspaugh was hired as an Associate. He married a Huntsville, Alabama lady and moved to New York City. Larry R. Boothe, Jr. was hired as an Associate in October 2019 and is currently an attorney with this firm.

    The firm of M. Wayne Wheeler, P.C. takes great pride in the fact that the philosophy of Judge Robert J. Wheeler has remained to this day. My grandfather's philosophy and love of people has remained intact over the years from 1902 to 2019. It has prevailed for one-hundred and seventeen years.

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