Longest-practicing attorney calls it quits


IL STAFF for www.theindianalawyer.com

cholis-alex-6492-15col.jpgAlexis “Alex” Cholis, 96, retired this year after practicing more than 70 years in South Bend. (IL file photo)

In 2013, Indiana Lawyer kicked off its series “Legal Lions” as a way to highlight attorneys who have had long and distinguished careers spanning half a century, or in Alexis “Alex” Thomas Cholis’ case, more than 70 years. Cholis was admitted to the bar in July 1942 and decided in 2013 that it was finally time to retire at the age of 96.

For more than 60 years, he came to the office his older brother Nicholas founded in South Bend in 1936. Before joining that firm, he served in the Army during World War II. He likely would have continued practicing beyond 2013 if it wasn’t for his eyesight becoming worse.

kappesPhil Kappes (IL file photo)

Cholis practiced in tax and estate matters. Those who knew and worked with Cholis described him as a gentleman and unique character, in addition to being a lot of fun.

Until his retirement, Cholis was the longest-practicing attorney in Indiana by six years, according to the Roll of Attorneys. The No. 2 spot is held by Philip “Skip” Kappes, who is going on 66 years of practice in 2014. Upon graduating from law school in 1948, Kappes worked for Indianapolis Legal Aid Society before going into private practice, eventually forming the firm Dutton Kappes and Overman. After its dissolution, Kappes founded Lewis & Kappes P.C., where he continues to practice a few days a week.


Don’t think it’s just men who dedicated their lives to the practice of law. Phyllis Gratz Poff, a solo practitioner in Auburn, has been a lawyer for 60 years. She’s the longest-practicing female attorney in the state based on Roll of Attorney records. Poff was admitted to the bar in December 1953 and opened her office in February 1954. Those who know her and work with her say she is compassionate, generous and a very skilled lawyer. She concentrates her practice on family law and some estate work and says she has no plans of retiring.