Celebrating 93 Years

The professional association known today as Voyles Zahn & Paul was founded in the 1919 by Frank Symmes. We’re one of Indianapolis’ oldest law firms, and we value our tradition of client advocacy.

Founded as Symmes, Fleming & Symmes, the firm evolved over the years, with changes in membership, to be known variously as: Symmes, Fleming, Ober & Symmes; Ober, Symmes, Cardwell, Voyles & Zahn; Symmes, Voyles, Zahn, Paul & Hogan; and, Voyles, Zahn, Paul, Hogan & Merriman.

The firm’s founder, Frank Symmes, was co-author of Indiana Criminal Law, widely regarded as the most important treatise on the subject at that time. He counted among his clients boxing legend Jack Dempsey.

The firm is proud of its representation of Connie Nicholas, accused of the murder of Forrest Teal, then-president of Eli Lilly International. She was represented by two of the firm’s most remarkable lawyers, Frank and Charles Symmes. That trial, lasting several weeks in 1960, was covered by Life Magazine. Life’s photographers were permitted in the old Marion County Courthouse courtroom when the trial was in session. One of the photographs taken during the trial hangs in our main conference room.

Following his representation of Nicholas, Charles Symmes participated in the criminal defense of those indicted in the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum explosion in 1963. Charles Symmes was co-author of the Third Edition of Indiana Criminal Law with his father, Frank.

The firm also has a rich history of leadership outside of the courtroom. Arthur Robinson was a United States Senator from 1925 to 1935. George Ober was President of the Indiana Lawyers Association and a founding member of the United States Auto Club. J. J. Paul, III, served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense in 2004, and was on the Board of Regents of that organization from 1996 to 2004. James H. Voyles, Jr., was the 2009 President of the Indianapolis Bar Association, and, for several years, was on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Charles Symmes was a member of the Butler University Board of Governors, and Voyles and Sharon Merriman are current members of the Boards of Trustees of Illinois College and Antioch College, respectively.

The firm’s tradition of legal service has been continued by the current membership. Dennis Zahn and Voyles represented Dr. David Little in his 1991 trial for murder. In 1992, Voyles represented boxer Mike Tyson as local counsel in his rape trial, and subsequent appeals with Alan Dershowitz. Since representing Tyson, Voyles has represented many other Indiana sports greats, including Bob Knight, Jamaal Tinsley, Stephen Jackson, Dominic Rhodes, and Al Unser, Jr.

In their respective OWI practices, J. J. Paul, III and Frederick Vaiana have represented several well-known persons or “celebrity” clients. Vaiana is also licensed to practice in Illinois. James H. Voyles, Jr. and J. J. Paul, III have been accepted pro hac vice to practice for particular cases in several states.

Firm History