The firm known today as Bowditch & Dewey, LLP was established in 1914 under the name of Thayer, Smith & Gaskill with offices in the Commerce Building at 340 Main Street in Worcester, Massachusetts. Three distinguished Worcester natives, all graduates of Harvard Law School, combined to form the firm:
- Charles M. Thayer (1866-1932), a graduate of Classical High School and Harvard College, was a Director of Crompton & Knowles, Wyman-Gordon Company and Peoples Savings Bank.
- Frank C. Smith, Jr. (1880-1952), a Harvard College graduate, was counsel to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc., a Director of Mechanics Bank, and served as President and for many years as Trustee of the Worcester Art Museum.
- George A. Gaskill (1888-1940), a graduate of Worcester Academy and Brown University, was President of Peoples Savings Bank and a Director of Worcester County National Bank and State Mutual Life Assurance Company.
Other prominent members of the firm included: J. Otis Sibley, a graduate of Dartmouth College, who "read law" in Thayer's office and passed the Bar without having attended law school; Irene Gowetz, one of Worcester's first women lawyers; and a noted trial lawyer, Arthur S. Houghton, co-author with Edwin Norman of the first definitive textbook on Massachusetts Evidence.
After nearly 60 years in the original location, the firm moved its offices to new and very enlarged quarters at 311 Main Street, the site of the Central Exchange Building, which was built in 1850 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The firm's name over the years has undergone several changes and now bears the names of the two most senior partners of the firm in the late 1970s - Robert S. Bowditch and Henry B. Dewey.
In 1984, most of the members of the Worcester firm of Cope & Wilson merged into Bowditch & Dewey, adding a Framingham branch office to the firm. In 1990, the Framingham office was expanded when Sheridan Garrahan & Lander affiliated with Bowditch & Dewey. The Framingham operation was known for a time as Bowditch & Dewey Garrahan & Lander. In 2004, the firm opened an office in Boston at One International Place.