Founder DiTrapano's legacy lives on despite Charleston law firm's recent name change

By Chris Dickerson | Feb 14, 2019

CHARLESTON –DiTrapano Barrett DiPiero McGinley & Simmons has a new name, but the members insist it’s the same law firm.

The firm, located in downtown Charleston, now is known as DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress.

“When Rudy DiTrapano passed away in 2017, our firm carried on with his name to honor his stellar career and his commitment to excellent and caring legal representation to clients,” said Tim DiPiero, a partner at the firm since 1983. “We are fortunate he passed on his tremendous legal experience and wisdom to all our present members.

“But now is the time to for us to move forward under our new name.”

The firm has been in existence for more than 40 years, starting as DiTrapano & Jackson. It evolved over the years, with the last name change in 2013.

“First of all, we’re the same firm we’ve been,” DiPiero told The West Virginia Record. “We just have a different name. It actually sounds funny or strange to me to have my name first in the firm name.

“I have to pause and think to say DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress when I have to give our firm name. I’m so used to beginning the firm name with DiTrapano.”

DiTrapano began practicing law in 1951 in Cabin Creek.

“Our lawyers have both depth and breadth of legal experience. Our unique talents enable us to handle each client’s case with insight, understanding, and preparedness,” partner Lonnie Simmons said. “We continue to practice law in the mold of Rudy DiTrapano, who had a huge influence on the way we represent injured people, defend our clients in civil and criminal cases, or represent them in administrative proceedings and arbitrations.”

DiPiero said a recent name change at another Charleston law firm, in part, helped spur the need for a change. DiTrapano’s son Dante recently became a name partner at Calwell Luce diTrapano, which formerly was The Calwell Practice.

“We talked about possibly changing our name, but we never did out of respect to Rudy and because many attorneys and clients have known and referred to us as ‘the DiTrapano Firm,’” DiPiero said. “We also have had one of our firm’s founding and name members, Joshua I. Barrett, become less active and ‘of counsel’ to the firm.

“We have wondered if the public might be confused by Rudy’s daughter, Lia, having her own DiTrapano firm in the same building we are located. Then Rudy’s son, Dante, called me this past fall to inform me that his name was going to be included in a new firm name.

“So, Sean, Lonnie, Rob and I talked about it and decided it was time to change the name of the firm to reflect better who we are today and to minimize any potential confusion.”

And while Rudy DiTrapano’s name isn’t on the door anymore, his legacy and spirit live on through the firm and its partners.

“I first met Rudy back in 1976 when I was working as a law clerk for Judge (Charles) Haden,” DiPiero said. “Rudy was one of a kind. After we became friends, he told me with our similar last names and our having both graduated from Notre Dame, it was a natural that someday I should come join his firm. That sounded great to me.

“He suggested I go work somewhere and get some trial experience. So, I did. I was very fortunate to get a job in the U.S. Attorney’s Office where I learned a lot about trial work from Bob King and his staff of experienced prosecutors. …

“Anyway, from time to time, I would visit with Rudy and some of his buddies after work. At other times, I would stop by his house. I started working for him on March 1, 1983. I was still single at the time. At one point, Rudy accused me of having an uncanny ability to visit him right at dinner time. I was no dummy. Invariably, I’d end up with a great plate of pasta Martha had prepared and a glass of Rudy’s smooth, homemade red wine.”

DiPiero said DiTrapano is missed by everyone at the firm.

“Everyone in our firm loved Rudy,” DiPiero said. “Not only was he a great trial attorney, he could find humor in the toughest of circumstances and he had the ability to make the practice of law fun.”

DiPiero joined the firm of DiTrapano & Jackson in 1983 after years of working as an assistant U.S. Attorney, and tried many criminal and civil cases with DiTrapano. Simmons joined the firm in 1988 and worked many cases with Rudy DiTrapano. Sean McGinley joined in 1995 and worked on many complex commercial and personal injury cases with DiTrapano.

After the present firm was formed in 1998 and then known as DiTrapano Barrett & DiPiero, Rob Bastress joined the firm and also worked on many cases with DiTrapano, DiPiero and Joshua Barrett, one of the founding members of the firm. Barrett became of counsel to the firm in 2012.

“Our firm is proud of the reputation we have built over the years and we are dedicated to remaining one of the most successful law firms in West Virginia in our practice areas,” McGinley said.

“We are not a typical law firm,” Bastress said. “With over 150 combined years of experience, our attorneys have made a name for themselves by applying our knowledge in diverse legal areas, especially in complex cases involving personal injury or wrongful death, medical malpractice and industrial accident claims.”

DiPiero said he and the rest of the firm’s staff love what they do.

“I’ve been blessed to work with some really astute and caring attorneys and with an excellent staff,” he said. “I get asked when I’m going to retire. I have no exit plan. I enjoy working with these guys too much to leave and I feel like The Good Lord still wants me helping folks get through the complex, legal issues and personal challenges that come from serious, accidental injuries or criminal charges.”

The firm can be found online at www.dbdlawfirm.com.

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