Solly Robins & Julie Davis

Keeping History Alive

March 12, 2013

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. originated in 1938, during the depths of the Depression. Partners Solly Robins and Julius (“Julie”) Davis started the firm when the then prevalent antisemitism prevented them from finding a place at the table among the other law firms in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Solly and Julie believed in these core values for their new firm:  represent all types of people, particularly working people; represent all types of businesses and organizations; create a level playing field. Above all else, commit to achieving justice.

Robins was the trial lawyer; Davis the negotiator.


  • Julius ("Julie") Davis

    Born on April 21, 1912 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Julie attended the University of Minnesota, receiving his law degree in 1936.  Other than a time from 1942 to 1945 while serving in the United States Army (Military Police) he engaged in private practice continually until his death. Friends note that Julie was a born business lawyer and a good negotiator with an eye for the fine print.

    Julie’s professional legal specialties were insurance, corporate finance and transportation law.  He had contacts with a number of presidents and leading professionals of major banking institutions across the country.

    Julie was the Owner, Vice President and Treasurer of Rodaly Investment, Inc., Minneapolis, a company engaged in various real estate investment activities.  At one time the company owned the land under the Foshay and Rand Towers in downtown Minneapolis.  He was also a member of the Association of Interstate Commerce Commission Practitioners as well as various local and national bar associations. 

    In September 1957, Julie became President of the Duluth-Superior Transit Co. The Duluth-Superior Transit Co. operated an urban mass transit system in the Duluth (Minnesota) and Superior (Wisconsin) areas.  Julie spent two or three days a month en route checking on the company’s operation in addition to his full-time duties as head of his law firm.

    Julie was a committed champion of the University of Minnesota and its Law School. He received the University of Minnesota Law School Alumni Service Award in 1972 and the Regents Award for exceptionally valuable service in 1977. When the Law School outgrew its location, he co-chaired the building campaign that culminated in the 1978 opening of the Law School's current West Bank home. The Davis Faculty Common Room was named in recognition of the efforts and gifts of the Davis family and law firm.

    In 1979, Julie Davis died of cancer at the age of 66. The law firm now known as Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P., his family and friends, established the first endowed chair at the Law School to honor his devotion and service: The Julius E. Davis Chair in Law. The chair rotates annually among faculty members in recognition of teaching and research excellence, and many Law School scholars have held the honor. After his death, his widow, Lillian “Babe” Davis, a renowned Twin Cities civic and cultural leader in her own right, continued recognizing recipients of the Davis Chair by sponsoring receptions at her home for many years and later at the Minneapolis Club.

    Julie left a rich legacy in the Twin Cities legal and civic arenas, one that we’re honored to commemorate at the 75th anniversary of the firm he founded.

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