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125 years of law experience

St. Mary's hospital was established in 1988. This is a 1911 photo of the hospital. The founders of the law firm Johnson, Killen & Seiler helped in the legal process of establishing the medical institution. (Photo courtesy of Essentia Health)

The law firm Johnson, Killen & Seiler celebrated its 125th anniversary this year.

The firm was started by Charles O. Baldwin as a one-man practice in the old First National Bank Building in 1888, according to an article from the Duluthian, published upon the firm's 100th anniversary in 1988.

It has now grown to include 17 lawyers and has expanded to the entire eighth floor of the Wells Fargo Center.

"It is one of the oldest institutions in Duluth and northern Minnesota. We feel that is very important," said the firm's president and transactional lawyer Alok Vidyarthi.

The firm practices

basically two types of law: transactional and litigation.

Transactional law, more commonly known as "business law," works with putting business deals together, documentation of estates and wills, and corporate formations.

Litigation deals with conflict resolution, sometimes through arbitration or mediation, but also trial proceedings when necessary.

"We have represented a wide variety of business over the years," says Vidyarthi.

Johnson, Killen & Seiler has been involved with a number of legal transactions such as the formation of the Miller Hill Mall, the establishment of St. Mary's hospital and the civil cases involving the Congdon estate.

To commemorate the 125th anniversary, the firm held a dinner in October at the Congdon mansion, which Vidyarthi says he thinks was a fitting place.

"Several of the partners were a part of that case. We dug into the files and one of our partners gave a summary of what our firm did in that probate. It was, really, quite engaging," said Vidyarthi.

Although no one from the original Baldwin family is still active in the firm, Steven Seiler, one of the partners for which the firm is currently named, is still practicing law.

The firm has recently been recognized as one of the top law firms in the nation by Martindale-Hubbell, the legal industry's most respected information service. Among more than 250,000 firms nationwide rated by Martindale-Hubbell, only 2,442, or less than 1 percent, were selected as 2014 U.S. Top Ranked Law Firms.