Municipal Client Law Firm
Cunningham, Vogel & Rost, P.C. was founded in 2002 by Tom Cunningham, Dan Vogel, and Paul Rost as the first full-service law firm in Missouri and the region formed to represent only municipalities and related public-sector interests. In the years since, CVR has grown to represent over 100 local governments and related financing districts and entities throughout Missouri, Illinois, and elsewhere. The firm now includes more than dozen attorneys, paralegals and support staff, exclusively practicing in municipal law to provide legal representation and public official training in all aspects of municipal law. CVR remains the only firm in Missouri listed as the nationally-recognized "Red Book" of Bond and Finance attorneys that serves only public-sector municipal clients
Genesis of CVR
The origin of this unique public-sector law firm began in part with Mr. Vogel’s role in community efforts leading to the formation of the City of Wildwood. After years of litigation and extraordinary citizen involvement, this grass-roots effort and legal work led to the 1994 Missouri Supreme Court ruling, City of Ellisville v. Board of Election Commissioners, 877 S.W.2d 620 (Mo. 1994), striking down the Missouri law blocking new municipal incorporations and allowing for the incorporation of the City of Wildwood. After being appointed as City Attorney for the new City of Wildwood in 1995, Mr. Vogel focused his practice on municipal law at Gallop, Johnson & Neuman, L.C., where he and Mr. Rost led that firm’s first concerted municipal practice. Meanwhile, Mr. Cunningham pursued similar interests serving as the City Attorney of Olivette while a lawyer with Husch & Eppenberger, L.L.C. where he represented private and public entities relating to redevelopment, bond, and finance law and served as a member of that firm’s Municipal and Real Estate department.
In 1998 and 1999, all three lawyers came together to form the Public Law Group of the St. Louis office of Stinson, Mag & Fizzell, P.C., a large Kansas City-based law firm. There the practice expanded both in size and geographic reach. However, like all area law firms existing at the time, the practice faced the inherent conflicts of interests of such multi-focus law firms in that many other clients of such a firm are private sector entities either adverse to local government, litigating against local governments, or seeking approvals from municipalities as to zoning, economic development requests, and other matters. While a large law firm had vast resources in many areas of the law, those resources were not committed (or priced) to address the unique problems and issues of local governments. In short, the founding lawyers struggled to resolve two problems inherent with law firms existing at the time: (1) conflicts of interests between municipal clients and a firm’s representation of private clients and (2) insufficient legal staffing and resources committed to municipal needs.
Formation of the Firm
These two fundamental issues led to the formation of CVR – a firm believed to be the first to represent only local governments and related interests so as to eliminate or greatly reduce the conflicts of interests faced by attorneys in existing firms and—by necessity—create a resource of cost-effective municipal experience in one firm committed exclusively to representation of municipalities. With this mission in mind, Cunningham, Vogel & Rost, P.C. was established in 2002, with its first offices located in Historic Downtown Webster Groves. The firm began with its three founding shareholders and part-time associate attorneys and staff, serving approximately 25+ initial municipal clients. Among the original clients were the Cities of Green Park, Pacific, Wildwood, Olivette, and Warson Woods, for whom CVR served as City Attorney, along with numerous other cities in Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas represented in “special counsel” roles. From its inception, the firm has also provided counsel to the Missouri Municipal League and Municipal League of Metro St. Louis and has taken an active role in public official training throughout Missouri and Illinois for the benefit of other public officials of all kinds. The firm’s unique practice was immediately well-received as a new type of resource for municipalities and the firm’s founding adherence to its public mission has resulted in its continued growth and success.
By 2011, the firm had outgrown its initial offices and moved into to its present location in Historic Downtown Kirkwood, Missouri. CVR is now believed to be the largest full-service municipal law firm in Missouri representing local governments in both traditional municipal law matters and municipal bond and finance, and remains the only such firm committed to representing municipal clients. We now can point to at least two other firms in the Kansas City area that have adopted aspects of CVR’s exclusive commitment to municipal sector representation and we are proud to have paved the way and supported adoption of this new public-sector approach.
Consistent with our founding principles, we continue to work with lawyers, public officials, and other professionals throughout the Midwest to encourage and promote new resources that put loyalty and responsiveness to local governments and municipal public policy before the financial benefits inherent in also serving private clients.