The roots of today’s Bellanca LaBarge were firmly planted in 1935 by the firm’s founder, James V. Bellanca, Sr. An immigrant’s son, Mr. Bellanca began practicing law during the height of The Great Depression, founding the firm of Monaghan and Bellanca. Exhibiting the values of hard work, dedication, experience and integrity that would become the firm’s hallmark, James V. Bellanca, Sr.’s stature in the Detroit legal community grew as he sat on Detroit’s Civil Service Commission under several mayors and practiced law in downtown Detroit, heading a series of law firms that grew from that first small firm.
In 1960, Peter J. Bellanca, his oldest son, graduated from law school and joined the firm. It became Bellanca and Bellanca. Four years later, his middle son, Anthony J. Bellanca, joined the firm. It became known as Bellanca, Bellanca and Bellanca. James Sr. died in 1965. He didn’t have the opportunity to see his youngest son, James V. Bellanca, Jr., graduate from law school and join the firm in 1969.
In 1970, Stanley E. Beattie joined the firm. Mr. Beattie was a long-standing and highly-respected professor at the University of Detroit Law School and a State Bar Law Examiner, as well as the state’s preeminent appellate attorney. The firm became Bellanca and Beattie.
In 1978, Charles DeLisle joined the firm and the name Bellanca, Beattie and DeLisle, P.C. was born. He was followed by Aloysius Suchy, George Matish, James Zeman, James Rashid, Costanzo Lijoi, Joseph Kramer and Steven Grobbel. Ultimately, the name was shortened to Bellanca, Beattie and DeLisle, P.C. under which it operated for decades.
In 2002, James V. Bellanca, III, the son of James V. Bellanca, Jr., became the third generation of his family to be part of the firm founded by his grandfather.
In a parallel universe in Macomb County, J. Russell LaBarge, became a lawyer in 1934. He followed the same path as his Bellanca counterpart in Wayne County specializing in corporate and municipal law. He was followed in 1968 by his son, J. Russell LaBarge, Jr., who expanded on his father’s municipal law practice and, in addition, became one of the County’s preeminent lawyers in the area of probate law and estate planning.
So it was by serendipity that in 2002, James V. Bellanca, III met and studied for the Bar Exam and quickly formed a bond of friendship with Jay Russell LaBarge, himself aspiring to be the third generation of his family to practice law. Bellanca, Beattie and DeLisle was pleased when Jay decided to join the firm in 2011. The two parallel universes became one when J. Russell LaBarge, Jr. joined his son, the Bellanca family and the Bellanca, Beattie cadre of lawyers, in 2012.
Today, Bellanca LaBarge is home to twelve lawyers, including two generations from the Bellanca and LaBarge families.
The feeling of family permeates the relationships at Bellanca LaBarge, where many of the attorneys and staff have been with the firm for over 25 years.