Firm History

1930s Photo
1930s Photo

Left to right standing: Russell Mack, Donald Merwin, Albert Arbaugh; seated: Loren Edmund Souers, Emery McCuskey, Walter Ruff, Homer Black

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William Herbruck
William Herbruck

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1969 Photo
1969 Photo

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1930s Photo
1930s Photo

Left to right standing: Russell Mack, Donald Merwin, Albert Arbaugh; seated: Loren Edmund Souers, Emery McCuskey, Walter Ruff, Homer Black

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For 99 years, Black McCuskey has been located in downtown Canton and has been committed to its economic development and enriching the quality of life of the community. Over the decades, many members of the firm have served as leaders of civic and charitable organizations in Stark County and surrounding areas. The tradition of service to the community established by the founders of the firm has continued through today.

History of the firm: The firm was founded in 1922. Clarence G. Herbruck,  Homer E. Black, Emery A. McCuskey and Walter S. Ruff, all established practitioners, formed a new law firm under the name of Herbruck, Black, McCuskey & Ruff. The firm’s offices were in the newly constructed George D. Harter Bank Building. Among the new firm’s major business clients was Harter Bank as well as several other companies in the steel, brick, and ceramic tile industries. After Mr. Herbruck’s untimely death in 1925, Loren Souers, also an established practitioner, joined the firm and it was renamed Black, McCuskey, Ruff & Souers. The firm name changed Black, McCuskey, Souers & Arbaugh in 1940, after the death of Ruff. This change recognized the contributions of Albert Arbaugh, who was an attorney with the firm from its beginning.

In 1922, a six-member law firm in a city the size of Canton was quite unusual. Firms of that size were more common to large business and financial centers like New York, Chicago and Cleveland. The size of the firm remained constant through The Great Depression of the 1930s. During this time, the viability and “staying power” of many commercial and professional institutions was severely challenged. The Harter Bank, a major client of the firm, was forced to close. Attorneys Homer Black, Emery McCuskey, Loren Souers, and Donald Merwin developed a plan to reopen the bank which became the subject of major litigation. The Ohio Supreme Court approved Black McCuskey's plan and the success of The Harter Bank Holding Company case was a benchmark in the recovery for Canton and Ohio.

The firm continued to grow during the 1940s. Four of the attorneys, Richard McCuskey, Loren Souers, Jr., Dan Belden and E. Robert Schellhase entered military service during World War II. At the conclusion of the war, Souers, Belden, and Schellhase returned to the active practice of law with the firm. McCuskey remained in Europe and served as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials before returning to the firm.

By the early 1950s, the firm had ten attorneys and the corporate practice area began to grow. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the firm expanded and firmly established itself as a corporate law firm. In 1984, the firm of Shifman & Friedman merged their practice with Black McCuskey, expanding the commercial and real estate practice areas. By 1986, the firm had outgrown the offices in the Harter Bank building and relocated to its present location in the Huntington building. The firm merged in 1999 with a law firm in Dover, Ohio to expand its services into Tuscarawas County and southeastern Ohio.  It expanded its footprint again in 2017 into the Toledo area.