The professional character of Semmes, Bowen & Semmes is evident in its strong business and litigation practice, its history, which spans more than a century, and its deep Maryland roots.

The firm, however, traces its beginnings to 1887, when John E. Semmes, a former Baltimore City Solicitor, joined two other lawyers, Francis K. Carey and John N. Steele, in forming the partnership of Steele, Semmes and Carey. Mr. Semmes had already established his reputation as a skilled practitioner whose interests in commercial and maritime law were encouraged by two Civil War-veteran uncles, Admiral Raphael Semmes and Commodore John Guest.

By the turn of the century, Steele, Semmes, and Carey became one of the most powerful law firms in the city with a large practice in many areas of law. Semmes, Bowen & Semmes acquired its professional name on August 1, 1909, with the association of John E. Semmes (1851-1925); his son, John E. Semmes, Jr. (1881-1967); and Jesse N. Bowen (1879-1938).

The firm grew to become one of the larger and most influential law firms in the State of Maryland, numbering among its attorneys four Presidents of the Maryland State Bar Association: Jesse N. Bowen (1924-26), Rignal W. Baldwin, Jr. (1967-68), Norman P. Ramsey (1973-74), and Cleaveland D. Miller (1987-88). Semmes' attorneys also have served as Presidents of the Bar Association of Baltimore City, President of the Defense Research Institute, and Presidents of the Maritime Law Association of the United States.