Firm History

Will C. Thompson and R. Vernon Coe began practicing law together in the latter part of 1950, and in 1951 they formed the partnership that still exists today. Little did they know that almost 70 years later, the firm would have grown to over 200 lawyers in six well-established offices providing broad legal representation to clients all across the United States. A brief history of lives and legal contributions of each of our named partners is as follows.  

Will C. Thompson practiced law for 39 years with his father’s law firm. When his father died in December 1949, “Will C.” (as he was known) left his father’s firm and joined with another firm where Vernon Coe was practicing law. For years, Will C. had been one of the most recognized insurance attorneys in the state of Texas and was known throughout the United States. One of his specialties was property insurance. He represented many insurance companies and served as counsel for the Texas Insurance Advisory Association, the Texas Automobile Insurance Service Office, the Texas Fire Prevention and Engineering Bureau, and the Association of Fire and Casualty Companies of Texas. He was extensively involved in the defense of claims arising from the massive Texas City explosions of April 16, 1947. Will C. was very active in representing insurance clients before the Texas State Board of Insurance and before the Texas Legislature concerning matters of interest to the insurance industry.

Will C. and Vernon Coe became acquainted when Vernon was an Assistant Attorney General of Texas in handling insurance matters. Vernon had previously served as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Houston. Their relationship continued after Vernon resigned from Traders & General Insurance Company in October 1949 to represent the Association of Fire and Casualty Companies of Texas to work on the proposed re-codification of all Texas insurance laws. Both Will C. and Vernon were involved in the drafting and re-arranging of Title 78 of the Texas Revised Civil Statutes to make it into the present Insurance Code of Texas of 1951.

Robert B. Cousins, III was, quite literally, raised in the insurance industry. As a boy, Bob recalled seeing Will C. Thompson and other influential Texans in the insurance industry as visitors to his home when Bob’s father was Texas Life Insurance Commissioner and Chairman of the Texas State Board of Insurance Commissioners. After working in the private law practice for a few years, Bob received an appointment to be Assistant Attorney General under Texas Attorney General Price Daniel in 1948. He was assigned to the Anti-Trust Division, but also assisted the Texas State Board of Insurance Commissioners and the Texas Highway Department on their legal matters. In 1952, Bob was called by Will C. Thompson and Vernon Coe to join the firm as an associate and he later became a partner in 1954, at which time the name of the firm was changed from Thompson & Coe to Thompson, Coe & Cousins. Bob was a well known trial lawyer and together, he and Will C. Thompson, tried one of the major lawsuits arising from the Texas City disaster in 1947.

David B. Irons began his legal career as an adjuster and claims representative for Trinity Universal Insurance Company. After serving during WWII in the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps, David joined Texas Attorney General Price Daniels as his Administrative Assistant. Later, David joined the U.S. Department of Justice and became First Assistant U.S. Attorney General in charge of criminal affairs where he served with distinction until 1957. He was later appointed to the Texas State Board of Insurance as one of its three members and served in that capacity until he joined the firm as a partner, and the firm was renamed Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons. Because of David’s membership in the State Board of Insurance and his extensive nationwide contacts within the insurance industry, the administrative and insurance business practice of the firm flourished. David worked with Will C. Thompson in their representation of industry associations before the Texas Legislature and the Texas State Board of Insurance representing, among others, the Association of Fire and Casualty Companies of Texas, the Texas Automobile Insurance Service Office, and the National Counsel on Compensation Insurance. David Irons went on to become a well known lobbyist and advocate for the insurance industry, a role that the firm continues to cherish today.

The legacy left by these four men remains an inspiration to all of us today as Thompson Coe continues to be recognized as a premier litigation firm and a national authority on insurance law. While the firm remains entrenched as a leading insurance firm, it expanded many years ago into a multitude of practice areas to take care of its significant non-insurance clients, providing legal representation in the areas of general business, commercial litigation, discovery, labor and employment, products liability, mass torts, professional liability, securities litigation, construction, real estate, tax, and estate planning, to name a few. The firm’s expansion has also occurred geographically with the opening of offices in Austin and Houston, Texas, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and New Orleans, Louisiana.


Thompson & Coe is founded by Will C. Thompson and R. Vernon Coe.


David B. Irons joins as a partner and the firm name is changed to Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons.


The firm reaches 50 attorneys and has its 40th anniversary.


The firm opens the Austin office with 3 attorneys.


The Houston office opens with 4 attorneys.


The Saint Paul Office opens with 3 attorneys.


The firm opens a New Orleans office with 4 attorneys.