Over one hundred years ago, a young man named William C. Gebhardt was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law in Clinton, New Jersey. He almost immediately gained prominence as an aggressive young attorney who took delight in doing battle against large corporations. His professional successes led to considerable local fame and then to politics. He served three successive terms in the State Senate, was a statewide leader of prohibition forces, and was appointed Clerk to the Supreme Court by Governor Woodrow Wilson.
As his children, Reading, Philip, and Elinor, came of age, they joined him in the practice of law and ultimately, along with E. Herbert "Bud" Kiefer, formed the firm now known as Gebhardt & Kiefer. Philip Gebhardt was the president of the New Jersey State Bar Association and also a Hunterdon County judge.
William C. Gebhardt's career as an attorney was a monument to legal professionalism and dedication to his clients. These attributes led the Hunterdon County Democrat to editorialize on his death in 1929:
"In the legal field, Senator Gebhardt established a reputation that was statewide. He illustrated to a remarkable degree that the small town lawyer need by no means confine his clientele to a small field or cases of little moment, although he was as careful in dealing with the affairs of the small client as with the big one."
In its history spanning three different centuries, Gebhardt & Kiefer has had its offices at four different Clinton Township locations. It is thought that William C. Gebhardt's original office was in the upstairs of the small frame building that still exists at the southwest corner of Leigh and Main Streets in Clinton. He later moved to the upstairs of the building which is on the northwest corner Leigh and Main Street, then known as the Clinton National Bank. In 1954, the firm moved to 19-21 Main Street, Clinton. In 1989, the firm relocated to its present facility at 1318 Route 31 in Annandale (Clinton Township), New Jersey.
Since the founding of Gebhardt & Kiefer in 1884, the practice of law has evolved considerably. The challenge of Gebhardt & Kiefer has been to retain what is best about its traditional approach to the practice of law while making the changes necessary to deal effectively with its clients' needs - both today and in the future.
Gebhardt & Kiefer has made this transition by devoting close attention to important administrative, technological and philosophical concerns. Great emphasis has been placed on administrative efficiency so that there is no wasted effort or expense in getting the client's job done. And the most modern technologies are used to maximize efficiency. But the overall philosophy of the firm is to maintain its traditional person-to-person contact with clients, with a view toward developing a personal and lasting professional relationship.