For more than 35 years, The National List of Attorneys has been honored to have as one of its members the oldest law firm in Mississippi, Dabney & Dabney. The profile information on the Vicksburg firm comes from 90-year-old Lucius Dabney, Jr., a sixth generation attorney, who is also likely to be the longest practicing attorney in the state. He has been licensed to practice law since 1949 — a total of 67 years. Dabney still goes into the office every weekday and on Saturdays, when necessary. Some of the following information was also published in the “Mississippi Business Journal” in at article by Becky Gillette titled, “A Legal Legacy—Vicksburg’s Dabney keeps family name alive at oldest law firm in state”, based on an interview with Dabney.
In August of 2016, “Mississippi list of Business Journal” published a list of the oldest law firms in Mississippi. This firm came out as the oldest because Lee Dabney, Lucius Dabney’s great-great Grandfather, a Virginia lawyer, moved this firm to Raymond, MS in 1835. The next oldest law firm has “only” been in MS since 1853. In 2006, when the MS Barr Association published its 100th Anniversary book, this firm was also featured as the oldest firm in MS. The firm was founded in 1794 by Benjamin Dabney, Lee Dabney’s father, at Gloucester Court House, VA. Lee Dabney practiced law in Gloucester and then Fredericksburg, VA, before leaving for MS. There has been a Dabney law firm in MS since before the Civil War.
When asked, “What is the secret to your longevity in life and as an attorney?” Dabney replied that he followed the advice of his father, who told him to start each day walking for an hour before breakfast. And never retire. “My father told me he was not retiring because it was very simple: ‘When you retire, you drop dead.’ He told me to keep my weight down, to get a good urologist and a good cardiologist, which I did. And I have happily survived four heart bypasses in 1999 and surgery for a new heart valve in 2005.”
Dabney did his undergraduate work in electrical engineering at the Virginia Military Institute, but didn’t get to finish because he was drafted at age 18 to serve in World War II. He had long been interested in electrical engineering, and worked repairing teletypewriters. He was a technician fifth grade in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. To this day, he has a fondness for teletypewriters and his small collection of antique machines.
After World War II, Dabney attended the University of MS School of Law, graduating in 1949. He also finished ROTC and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve. When he came back to Vicksburg, he transferred his commission to the Mississippi National Guard. He practiced law in Vicksburg until January 1951, when the 31st Dixie Division of the Mississippi National Guard was called to active duty during the Korean War.
After serving in the Korean War, he returned to Vicksburg to practice law with his father. They had a general practice of law. But, in 1956, they decided it was practical to specialize in four fields: real estate, commercial, insurance and estates. Dabney is a solo practitioner. His daughter, Emily Dabney, practiced with the firm for about five years, and then she moved to Chicago to work as an attorney. She now works at Delta State University keeping track of state and federal grants.
If he was starting over again, Dabney would still choose to be a lawyer. “Yes, definitely,” Dabney said. “What I like about the law is that in order to do it right, it requires study and thought, both of which I enjoy. I also like to study history. And I like to study electronics.”
Someone practicing law at age 90 is unusual. So is the fact that Dabney still repairs automobiles. Recently he was changing an alternator in the early-September Mississippi heat. He has worked on vehicles since he bought his first car in about 1940. “My father let me buy what was left of 1929 Model A Ford,” Dabney said. “It puffed, smoked, rattled and shook. It had been run on more dirt roads than gravel roads. I started working on cars back then. My hobbies are automobiles and electronics. The reason I enjoyed electrical engineering is I was studying my hobby.”
Dabney has been married for 52 years to his wife, Allene. They have six children. Dabney was a Mississippi State Bar Commissioner from 1975-1977 and president of the Warren County Bar Association in 1976-1977. Larry Houchins, executive director of the Mississippi Bar Association, said Dabney is “a gentleman’s gentleman.”
Dabney and Dabney Law Firm practices in the areas of General Civil Practice, Federal Practice, Insurance Defense, Credit Litigation, Probate, Real Property and Regulatory Compliance Law, “We have always had a lively practice in the area of filing replevin actions for the recovery of automobiles, crawler tractors , off road vehicles, etc. We are in a position to quickly file replevin actions.” File claims with Dabney and Dabney through the National List of Attorneys to receive free claims insurance coverage.