Our Story

Modrall Sperling originated with Judge John F. Simms, who was admitted to practice law in New Mexico in 1915. After establishing himself as a successful and highly respected lawyer and serving as a Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, Judge Simms formed a partnership with James R. ("Dick") Modrall and Augustus T. ("Joe") Seymour in 1937.

Dick Modrall was a cowboy/ranch foreman turned lawyer, and Joe Seymour was a distinguished lawyer subsequently appointed to the New Mexico Supreme Court. The three founding partners were bound by their common desire to provide the highest quality legal services while maintaining standards of impeccable integrity.

The firm hired its first associate, James E. Sperling, in 1946, followed shortly by the hiring of Joseph E. Roehl and Daniel Sisk.  These three fine attorneys helped to advance our natural resources, litigation and transactional practices, respectively, as have the many lawyers hired over the years through our selective and sophisticated nationwide recruiting and hiring practices.

Simms, Modrall and the "Gallup 14" 

Judge Simms and Dick Modrall met in 1935 as adversaries in the trial of ten men charged with the murder of the Gallup, New Mexico sheriff.  The incident arose out of a riot involving the American Communist Party and its National Miners' Union. The trial is the subject of the historical novel, Gallup 14, by Gary L. Stuart (University of New Mexico Press, 2000).  The author summed up the significance of these events:

The riot in Gallup, New Mexico, and the killing of Sheriff M. R. Carmichael occurred on April 4, 1935. It was a significant historical event in New Mexico. The trial of the men charged with his murder was a watershed legal event and an important marker in the cultural progression of race and labor relations in New Mexico. But the real story lies in the ferment and political intrigue that led to the riot, the jury's verdict at the trial, and the political conclusion to the saga of the "Gallup 14."  The two main real characters are John F. Simms and J. R. "Dick" Modrall. They were adversaries in the trial in 1935 but became partners in 1937 and founded what is now one of New Mexico's largest and most prominent law firms. The ten men who were charged with Sheriff Carmichael's murder are lost in history.

Modrall Sperling Today

Today, we remain true to the vision of our founders by continually striving to provide the highest quality legal services to our clients while maintaining a commitment to professionalism, integrity, productivity, and contribution to the community and to the bar, both locally and nationally.