The firm of Bloom Gates Shipman & Whiteleather is distinguished by a unique history, defined by a commitment to excellence and characterized by rich tradition. Comprised of three distinct branches, each branch brings a different experience and each makes a substantial contribution. Our firm is a clear validation of the axiom that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

The firm traces its beginnings to 1894, when David V. Whiteleather began the practice of law in Columbia City. Shortly thereafter, in 1908, Benton J. Bloom followed suit. Well-known in northeastern Indiana as skilled trial attorneys and active participants in politics and civic affairs, the two established the law firm of Whiteleather & Bloom in 1922. Their initial partnership was made on the second floor of the Central Building on the north side of the Whitley County Courthouse Square.

In 1937, however, the firm dissolved when Whiteleather’s son, John, and Bloom’s son, Benton W., graduated from law school and returned to Columbia City to practice law with their respective fathers. After the dissolution, William Bloom also came back to the family practice, joining his father and brother. It was then that the separate partnerships of Whiteleather & Whiteleather and Bloom & Bloom, were established.

The Bloom law office would continue as a successful family affair for the next six decades. William’s son, John S. Bloom, joined the firm in 1973 and remained with the firm until relocating his practice to Fort Wayne in 2003. Benton’s son, Timothy J. Bloom, joined the law practice in 1978. Benton Bloom, following a long and distinguished career, passed away in September of 1990. William Bloom, a distinguished member of the Indiana Bar for more than 50 years, which included serving as a two-term county prosecutor, passed away in January of 2004.

John Whiteleather, Sr. was joined by his son in 1965 and in 1970, the junior Whiteleather was elected to the first of eight terms as Whitley County prosecutor, a position he held until 2002. John Whiteleather, Sr., a community stalwart and highly respected member of the Bar, died in 1984 at the age of 80. The firm then continued under the name of the Whiteleather Law Firm.

On January 1, 1993, John Whiteleather, Jr. and Timothy Bloom, along with others, created a new law firm, much like the one their grandfathers had forged eighty years before in the shadow of the Whitley County courthouse. It was a homecoming, of sorts, for the men whose fathers had practiced together early in the 20th century.

Noted Whitley County attorneys and brothers, Benton E. Gates, Jr. and Richard W. Gates, were also members of our firm. Dick joined the firm in 1994 and passed away in 1997. Ben joined the firm in 2011 and passed away that same year. Both men left behind wonderful families and numerous friends. Despite their short tenures with our firm, their respective contributions will never be forgotten. Ben and Dick continue to be important and valued pieces of our history.