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Firm History

Rogers Joseph O’Donnell was founded in 1981 by a group of friends — Joseph W. Rogers, Allan Joseph and Neil O’Donnell — who had a vision of creating a law firm with three guiding principles: (1) to practice law at the highest level; (2)  to treat all whom they encountered, both within and outside the firm, with decency and respect; and (3) to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal community. Joe was a renowned trial lawyer, having handled more than 150 jury cases and 40 appeals. He served the legal community as an arbitrator and mediator and was a founding member and past president of the Edward J. McFetridge American Inn of Court, a group devoted to the training of young trial lawyers in not just skills, but in the best qualities of great trial advocates—honesty, courage, industry, judgment, eloquence, wit and fellowship. Allan chaired the Public Contracts Section of the American Bar Association and was a key player in the passage of the pivotal Contract Disputes Act of 1978 – all before the age of 40. He also served on the ABA Board of Governors and was Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, the Committee that traditionally conducts a confidential review of all prospective nominees to federal judgeships. And Neil continues his practice as one of the most widely recognized and sought-after government contracts lawyers in the country while ensuring the Firm’s commitment to its founding principles. 

That three friends were able to make their vision a reality which endures to this day is due in large part to the strong foundation that Joe, Allan, and Neil laid for the Firm at the outset. In its early years, the majority of RJO’s shareholders were women. This was unique in the legal profession at the time, because in the 1980s and 1990s, it was uncommon for women to be equity partners or shareholders in law firms, let alone be the majority owners.

RJO continues to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion with its significant number of women and LGBTQ shareholders in leadership positions, and the number of women and diverse lawyers and staff within the firm. The Firm continues its insistence on civility, fair treatment, and respect for all—both inside and outside the firm. RJO demonstrates its commitment to racial, gender, and social justice in the community through pro bono work, and participation in and financial contributions to organizations that promote these principles. The Firm’s commitment to excellence has never wavered.  Many of the firm’s Fortune 500 clients and industry leaders have counted RJO as part of their legal team for decades. At the same time, RJO attorneys represent a wide variety of clients on cutting-edge issues across a range of sectors, including cybersecurity and privacy, start-up technology and gig-economy companies, large law firms, and small businesses.

Joe Rogers was born in San Diego, 1921. He entered law school at Stanford after returning from serving as a Marine Officer during World War II where he was wounded in the battle for Iwo Jima.  He graduated from Stanford in 1949 and commenced a distinguished career as a trial lawyer.   He spent two decades with Bledsoe, Smith, Carthcart & Rogers, then later Pettit and Martin, prior to helping found Rogers Joseph O’Donnell. 

Joe tried more than 150 cases to a conclusion before juries, served as an arbitrator and mediator, and handled more than 40 appellate cases. Among his many honors were being named California Trial Lawyer of the Year and receiving the American Board of Trial Advocates’ Don E. Bailey Civility & Professionalism award.  He was a consummate trial lawyer because juries sensed his innate decency and usually came to believe what he told them.

Allan Joseph burst onto the government contracts scene at a young age where he quickly made a name for himself in the space. He became Chair of the Public Contract Section and a key player in the passage of the pivotal Contract Disputes Act of 1978 before he was 40.

Allan worked tirelessly to ensure that Rogers Joseph O’Donnell continued to prosper in a world that moved increasingly to a different model of ever-larger, multi-office, and even multi-national institutions. Allan made sure that the firm was always a major factor in the government contracts bar, likely to be considered whenever representation was needed in a particularly difficult or contentious matter.  He was also a leader in the American Bar Association, serving as National Treasurer and as Chair of the critical Judicial Nominations Committee.

Allan loved the practice of law and brought his unending enthusiasm to every case. Even after working for more than 45 years in the field, he treated each new matter as a challenge and a delight – an opportunity to help his clients and to shape the law. 

San Francisco, CA
  • Robert Dollar Building
    311 California Street, 10th Floor
    San Francisco, CA 94104-2695
  • Phone: 415.956.2828
  • Fax: 415.956.6457
Washington, DC
  • 1500 K Street, NW, Suite 800
    Washington DC 20005-1227
  • Phone: 202.777.8950
  • Fax: 202.347.8429