With a little loan and a lot of hope, The Law Firm of Tenopir & Huerter opened its doors on July 1, 1984. At that time, there were three partners, Larry Tenopir, Joe Huerter and Alma Heckler. Larry worked in the office only part-time since he then served as legal counsel for the State Fire Marshal. In 1987, he joined the firm full-time. Alma left the firm the same year. Larry again temporarily returned to part-time status when Governor Finney appointed him to a term on the State Board of Tax Appeals where he served from 1992-1996.
In 1992, with a much bigger loan and still a lot of hope, the firm purchased a building and moved to its present location, 1610 South Topeka Boulevard. While this fine, old home had previously been converted to offices, Joe and Larry decided that some renovation and restoration was in order. The oak floors on the first and second floors were sanded and refinished. Joe removed the texturing that had been applied to the walls and ceiling and applied a sand-finish. He also stripped and refinished all of the oak woodwork.
While serving on the Board of Tax Appeals, Larry frequently presided at hearings in Wichita where he observed a number of tree carvings in the park system. There had been a large elm tree in front of the office when the firm first moved to Topeka Boulevard. When it began to die, Larry and Joe tried to save it and had extensive pruning done. Unfortunately, the tree was completely dead within a year. For safety, the tree was cut down, but Joe and Larry left the trunk standing and searched for someone who could do a carving of a trunk still in place. After looking for over a year, they found Jim Hale, who carved Lady Justice in bas-relief on the tree.
The tree was quickly adopted as our firm’s logo and is an easy landmark for those visiting the office for the first time. Preserving the tree has been challenging with attacks from above in the form of moisture and from below in the form of bugs. Our arborist cut the tree down, put it in a chemical bath for several months and provided several new protections. An annual arborist visit and treatment should keep Lady Justice standing for years.
Later renovations to the office include an expanded parking lot and accessibility improvements.
Over the years, the support staff has grown, and, in recent years, the firm has added three associate attorneys.