Firm History

Our firm was founded on October 1, 1925 by Carl Schmidt, Wright Hugus and Albert W. Laas. In 1927, the offices of Schmidt, Hugus and Laas were located in the then brand new Central Union Building on the corner of 14th and Market Streets in downtown Wheeling. The firm was located in the Central Union Building for 55 years until June 1, 1982 when it moved to the Hawley Building. The firm moved to its present offices in the Maxwell Centre in 1997.

Our Founders

Carl Oscar Schmidt was born on January 21, 1891 and died on September 8, 1959. His father served as mayor of Wheeling. Carl attended Linsly Institute, then a private, all-male, military school. He attended Washington & Jefferson College where he received an AB degree. He then attended the University of Virginia where he received an LLB degree from its College of Law. He then attended West Virginia University where he received a Masters of Law degree. He was very active in the business, political and social affairs of Wheeling.

Wright Hugus was born in Ohio County on November 8, 1890 and died on April 23, 1958. His father had served as Judge of the Criminal Court of Ohio County. Wright attended Wheeling High School. He received an AB degree from Dartmouth College and an LLB degree from Harvard Law School. He served as President of both the Ohio County Bar Association and the West Virginia Bar Association (1935-36). He served several terms in the West Virginia State Senate. His seminal legal achievement was the merger of Wheeling Glessner Company, Wheeling Steel & Iron Company and Ackerman Manufacturing Company to form Wheeling Steel Corporation in 1920.

Albert W. Laas was born in Benwood, West Virginia on December 30, 1896. He died on June 17, 1970. He attended public schools in Benwood. He received both an AB degree and a Bachelor of Laws degree from West Virginia University. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and to the order of the Coif while at WVU. He began his legal career in association with J.H. Brennan until Judge Brennan’s election to the Circuit Court bench in 1924. Albert was a director of Valley Camp Coal Company.

Henry S. Schrader

The firm continues to honor the name and memory of one of its most prominent and influential members – Henry Stifel Schrader. Mr. Schrader was born October 18, 1909 in Wheeling. He died on August 8, 1996. He was educated in the Ohio County public schools. He enlisted in the United States Army after graduating high school. After military service, Henry attended West Virginia University where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1931 and his law degree in 1934. He began practicing law with the firm in 1934. His legal practice was interrupted when he returned to the military and served his country during World War II. At his death, Henry bequeathed much of his estate to Oglebay Institute. With his bequest, the largest in its history, Oglebay constructed the Henry S. Schrader Environmental Education Center, the Stifel Fine Arts Center’s state-of-the-art dance and art studio and significant upgrades to Oglebay’s Towngate Theater. Henry also bequeathed more than $1 million to Wheeling Jesuit University for the restoration of WJU’s Troy Theater. Henry also bequeathed $250,000 to the West Virginia University Foundation. The firm established a memorial scholarship fund in Henry’s honor with the West Virginia University College of Law.

Prominent Members

Through the years, many members of the firm – past and present – have been called to serve the public and their profession in the executive and judicial branches of government – both state and federal. Seven former members have been appointed or elected to the bench. Two present and two former members have served as United States Attorneys.

Hon. Justice Thomas Miller was elected to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in 1976 where he served until his retirement in 1994. Following his retirement he returned to the firm where he practiced until his death in 2008.

Hon. Frederick P. Stamp, Jr. practiced with the firm for more than two decades. He was the firm’s senior partner in 1990 when he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. He served as Senior Judge for the District from 1994 to 2001. He has served as a senior status member of the Court since 2006.

Hon. Judge Arthur M. Recht was a member of the firm for many years until his appointment to the First Judicial Circuit (Hancock, Brooke and Ohio Counties) in 1981. He returned to the firm in 1993 where he practiced until his appointment to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals by Governor Caperton in 1995. He was reappointed to the First Judicial Circuit by Governor Caperton in 1996. He has since been elected and re-elected to full terms on the Circuit Court.

Hon. James P. Mazzone, a former member of the firm, was elected Judge of the First Judicial Circuit (Hancock, Brooke and Ohio) in 2000. He was re-elected (unopposed) to a second eight-year term in 2008.

Hon. Thomas E. Johnston, a former associate with the firm, served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia from 2001 until 2006. He was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia by President George W. Bush where he has served since 2006.

Hon. Judge Jennifer L. Sargus, a former associate of the firm, has served as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Belmont County, Ohio since 1990.

Hon. John E. Hoffman, a former associate of the firm, has served as Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Ohio since 1990.

James F. Companion, a senior, managing member of the firm, served as United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia from 1973 to 1976.

Melvin Kahle, current of counsel at the firm, served as United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia from 1999 to 2001. Before serving as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Kahle was the Prosecuting Attorney for Ohio County from 1993 to 1999.

in the spotlight

Ray Byrd

Ray Byrd has been with the firm since 1970. He works on commercial, real estate, business organization, and estate planning matters as well as litigation. He was selected for inclusion in the 2011 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® in the area of Corporate Law.

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Careers

  • Schrader, Byrd & Companion, PLLC seeks talented and motivated individuals who exhibit high standards of ethical conduct...

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