Put Over a Century of Legal
Experience to Work for You.

Unlike many legal firms that have come and gone over the years, Benton, Orr, Duval, & Buckingham has roots that go deep and wide.

Our colorful past gives us a connection to the community and a heritage that values staying power, experience, and good, old-fashioned hard work.

Like other adventurous souls of his day, our founder, Orestes Orr, traveled west from his home in Illinois to find his future. With Custer’s sting defeat at the Little Big Horn only two years earlier, the trip West wasn’t for the timid or weak of heart.

In 1878 Orr settled in the growing town of San Buenaventura where writers, noting the population had grown to 2000, declared “civilization and refinement” had finally arrived.

Ventura in 1878

Downtown Ventura as it looked in 1878, the year a young Orestes Orr arrived from Illinois.

Orr studied with two of the most prominent attorneys in the area, and in the Spring of 1882 Orr hung out his shingle and began his distinguished career in what is now downtown Ventura.

The young Orr quickly became known as a man of excellent character with exceptional talents as a lawyer. Only two years after opening his law practice he was elected District Attorney, a position he held until 1890 when he became a state senator.

Orr had a short partnership with Nehamiah Blackstock in 1899, and in 1910 his son Harold Frank Orr joined the firm. Harold, or “H.F.” as he was known to his friends, was elected City Attorney and held that office for the next 35 years.

Over the ensuing years Orestes Orr’s son, grandson and great-grandson would practice with the firm.

In 1915 H.F. recruited a young Oxnard attorney who was an adventurer and outdoorsman, and was to become the firm’s most famous member…Erle Stanley Gardner.

Gardner, who would later become the author of the wildly popular Perry Mason novels, was very much like his famous character, and relished the courtroom, taking calculated risks to win his cases.

Louis Drapeau, a colorful individual who had ‘punched’ cows in Nevada, driven a mule team in Death Valley, and earned his law degree from Georgetown University, joined with Orr and Gardner to form Drapeau, Orr & Gardner in 1918.

Gardner's Office

Erle Stanley Gardner’s third floor office at Drapeau, Orr, & Gardner was the birthplace of the first Perry Mason novel, The Case of the Velvet Claw

By 1926 the firm moved into the third floor of the newly built bank building at the southwest corner of Main and California Streets. It was the tallest building in the area and boasted Ventura County’s first elevator. It also turned out to be the birthplace of the first Perry Mason novel.

In the mid-1930’s Gardner left the firm to write full time, and Drapeau was elevated to the bench where he would eventually retire from the Court of Appeal in 1955.

Albert Barnes, who joined the firm in 1928 and was a member until his retirement in 1969, had the distinction of defeating two well-known opponents and being elected District Attorney at the young age of 28…only 6 years after receiving his law degree.

In 1970 the firm adopted the names of its four partners: Don Benton, Frank E. Orr, Edward Duval, and Henry Buckingham. The firm has maintained this name in recognition of their distinguished service.

Don Benton
Don Benton
Retired

Donald L. Benton started with the firm on 1953, His practice focused on litigation and medical malpractice defense. In the prime of his career he was the county’s premier trial attorney. Don also consulted with business and nonprofit entities and he served for many years on the Board of Directors of Community Memorial Hospital, including tenure as Chairman of the Board.

H.F. Orr
H.F. Orr
1888 – 1969

H.F. Orr was the son of Orestes Orr, the firm’s founder.H.F. joined his father’s practice in 1910, and he remained one of the pillars of the firm until his retirement in 1965. H.F. served as City Attorney for the city of Ventura for 35 years.

Ed Duval
Ed Duval
1918 – 1998

Edwin Duval was a Ventura County native. He started with the firm in 1948, and his practice focused on estate planning and probate work. Ed’s family has a long history in the county, and in agriculture. He was the founding President of the Ventura County Symphony Association, and played in the orchestra when it first began.

Henry Buckingham
Henry Buckingham
1924 – 2013

Henry P. Buckingham started with the firm in 1960 with a practice focusing on estate planning, probate and business. Henry was active in Masonic organizations, the Ventura Downtown Lions Club and the Salvation Army Board. He is presently Chairman of the Board of Ivy Lawn Cemetery Association, which has enjoyed a renaissance under his leadership.