Parker County Today September 2017 - Page 14

our heroes: LEGAL EAGLES Borden & Westhoff — Firm Traditions, Promising Future BY MARSHA BROWN J 12 Parker County Traditional Law Firm Takes Pride in its Next Generation ohn Westhoff sits at his desk. He’s been there since before dawn and he worked through lunch. He presides over the law firm of Borden & Westhoff, the firm he joined in 1974, fresh out of law school, as protégé to his famous uncle, the firm’s founder, Jack Borden. “I would say Jack based his life on the principle and premise of trying to help people,” Westhoff said. Clearly, Westhoff learned from the best. “John is one of the most effective business attorneys I’ve ever worked with,” said Len Bearden, president of First National Bank of Weatherford. The bank has been represented by Borden & Westhoff for years. “John’s judg- ment in litigating business interests is as good as it gets, in my opinion. To some degree, he’s in his office working all the time. You won’t see him out having lunch on a week day often. He’s very task-oriented and when he attaches himself to a case he works on it with an intense focus.” Borden & Westhoff is the oldest continuously-operated Parker County Law Firm, now 71-years-old and it has been home base to some of the most highly regarded attorneys to ever practice in Parker County. The bronze sculpture of a mare and her foal that graces the lawn of the stately structure that houses the law firm of Borden & Westhoff on Weatherford’s Santa Fe Drive is a subtle nod to the roots of the firm. It all began with Jack Borden whose dreams of becoming a country lawyer led him to work his way through Weatherford College. He graduated in 1931 and earned his law degree in 1936 from the University of Texas at Austin. He returned to Parker County, immediately hung out his shingle, and set the foundation for the Firm of Borden & Westhoff. Borden put his law practice on hold when World War II was in progress. He tried to enlist, but his colorblindness kept the military from taking him. He found another way to further his country’s cause — he went to work as an FBI agent. Once World War II was over, Borden’s FBI career ended. He returned to his law practice in Weatherford. Post war-era Parker County was booming and the law practice flourished. Soon Roy Joe Grogan joined Borden in his law practice in 1953/54. Like Borden, Grogan was raised in Weatherford, attended Weatherford College and ultimately received his law degree from Duke University in 1950. Grogan also served in the FBI, and after returning to Weatherford was elected District Attorney for Parker County, and he left the firm shortly thereafter in 1955/56. I.B. Hand joined Jack Borden in the practice after Grogan was elected District Attorney. Hand received his law degree from the University of Texas in 1940, also served as an FBI agent, and was a long-time resident of Parker County. Borden and Hand, at that time, were known by the community generally as Mr. Clean and Mr. Mean. It has yet to be determined who wore which title. In 1958, Austin Zellers joined the firm, having received his law degree from the University of Texas. Zellers was a long-time resident of Parker County. His father was an attorney, as is his son, who practices law in Weatherford to this day. One of the law firm’s proudest moments came in 1974, when Jack Borden’s nephew, John Westhoff joined the firm, having been licensed to practice law in that year. Westhoff had obtained his law degree from Texas Tech University. The firm then became Borden, Hand, Zellers & Westhoff. A new breed of young business owners had cropped up in Parker County around that time and many of them were working hard to establish their business. Westhoff was someone those young business leaders soon began to look to for help when they had legal issues of almost any ilk from contracts to divorces. Westhoff quickly went from being Borden’s protégé to becoming one of the firm’s greatest assets and a legal force to be reckoned with. One of those young business leaders was Jerry Durant. “I call him, ‘daddy,’ because he keeps me out of trouble at times,” Durant said. “I’ve used him as my legal council for years. I’ve closed a lot of transactions where John represented both me and the seller. I have a great deal of confidence in the man. John is my attorney but he’s also my friend and my neighbor. He lives right next door to me.” Word spread quickly that Westhoff was a dynamic Continued on page 57