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Southern Illinois

James B. Wham

ISBA Laureate James B. "Jim" Wham, 92, died May 20, 2011, in Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

He was a trial lawyer, practicing his entire career at Wham and Wham Attorneys in Centralia.

A Laureate of the ISBA Academy of Lawyers, Wham actually was the inspiration for establishment of the Academy.

His rousing speech at the 1998 Annual Meeting in St. Louis, where he received the General Practice Section Tradition of Excellence Award, led Cheryl I. Niro to implement the Laureate program during her presidency the following year.

He was a veteran in World War II.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, and his daughters, Sarah Cary and Jennifer Price, and his brother, William B. Wham. Services have been held.

Sign the online guestbook at

Charles W. Chapman

Former Madison County circuit judge and appellate court justice Charles W. Chapman passed away last month at his home in Edwardsville. He was a name partner in the law firm LakinChapman LLC in Wood River.

Chapman served as Circuit Judge in the Third Judicial Circuit of Madison County from 1979 to 1988. He was elected in 1988 to the Appellate Court for the Fifth Judicial District, Mt. Vernon, Illinois and served until 2001.

Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian recalls when Chapman ran against him, but they still were close friends.

"He was a hell of a nice guy. He was a good book man and a good trial lawyer," Matoesian said.

Chapman earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a doctor of jurisprudence from St. Louis University in 1967. He completed his coursework for a master's degree in economics in 1980 and a master of law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1992.

Read the full obituary in the Alton Telegraph.

Read the obituary by ISBA Member John J. Hopkins in the Madison St. Clair Record


Chicago area

Southern Illinois

This post is updated with breaking news throughout the day.

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Dorothy W. Spomer

Southern Illinois lost a legal pioneer on Saturday, April 23. Dorothy Wilbourn Spomer, 90, passed away in Cape Girardeau.

Dorothy held the distinction of being the first woman judge in Southern Illinois, having been elected Alexander County Judge in 1950 and later Circuit Judge. After 27 years, she retired from the bench, only to soon be appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to become the first female to sit on the Fifth District Appellate Court. She left the court in 1980 and joined the practice of law with her husband, W.C. Spomer. They practiced as Spomer and Spomer until 1992.

Judge Spomer graduated at the age of 22 with honors from the University of Illinois School of Law, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif. Her first case after law school was with her father, attorney Asa Wilbourn, before the Supreme Court, where she argued and won an election contest lawsuit.

During her judicial career, Judge Spomer heard cases throughout Southern Illinois and garnered the reputation as a principled, fair-minded jurist. Quiet and demur, she led by example. Always prepared and proficient in shorthand, it was not unusual for her notes to rival those of the court reporter.

In 2009, she was a recipient of Southern Illinois University's Inspiring Women of Achievement Award.

ISBA President Mark D. Hassakis (third from left) is joined by Abraham Lincoln re-creator Joe Woodard (in costume), in presenting a four-volume set of books, The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, to the Carbondale Public Library on Wednesday, March 23, as a gift from the ISBA. Accepting the books is Lori Torbeck, reference librarian. On hand for the presentation were (beginning second from left) Treva O’Neill, Shari Rhode, and Eugenia Hunter, all lawyers in Carbondale. In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth in 2009, the ISBA is donating a set of the books to a library in all 102 Illinois counties.

By Michael Fiello, ISBA Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services

Barry Bloch is an in-house pro bono attorney with the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance office in East St. Louis, Illinois.  He received a BSBA degree from Drake University in 1970.  After graduating he received a fellowship in labor economics at Cornell University and was planning on entering that program.  That all changed when he received a notice to show up at Ft. Bragg for basic training.  During what he describes as his “very short stint on active duty” he was accepted into a number of law schools and ended up at Northwestern University. He received his JD cum laude from Northwestern University in 1974.

Before attending law school Barry did not have a specific idea of what type of law he wanted to practice.  Barry told me that “the only thing I knew about the law was what I saw on the Perry Mason show.” Upon graduating, all of his job offers were for tax related jobs.   He and his wife wanted to stay in Chicago so he accepted a job as a tax attorney at Jewel Companies, at the time a three billion dollar grocery, drug, and restaurant conglomerate headquartered in Chicago.  That job was a planning position with occasional appearances before administrative bodies.

All of Barry’s jobs since have been tax related.  In addition to Jewel, he was also an attorney with the Regional Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, and first a tax attorney and then Vice President for Employee Benefits with the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.  After Kimberly-Clark, he worked for a private corporation for about 25 years where he very rarely became involved in legal matters.

Although he worked at a legal aid office in St. Louis for one summer during law school, he was not involved in pro bono work during his career.  He has been a pro bono volunteer with Land of Lincoln since June of 2010.

Q: When did you retire from practice?

A: It depends what you mean by practice.  A lot of lawyers might say what I did was never really the practice of law.  I never was in a “real” courtroom until my pro bono service with Land of Lincoln.  I stopped my paid work in March 2009.

Q: What made you decide to do pro bono work after you retired?

A: About five or six years ago, while still working, I began to realize that my life was primarily self-centered.    Other than making cash contributions to various charities, I had spent fifty plus years really ignoring the needs of others.  I then started looking for things I might do.  Luckily, my wife of thirty-eight years is a successful attorney so I had the freedom to consider options that other people might not be able to consider.  One of the areas I looked at was volunteering as a non-compensated attorney at a non-profit.

Q: Were you influenced by the new Supreme Court Rules about pro bono practice by retired attorneys?

No, I wasn’t even aware of it until after I had reactivated my license and completed all my continuing legal education requirements.  The ARDC should send out yearly letters about this to retired and inactive status attorneys.

Q: How did you come to choose Land of Lincoln as the place to do pro bono?

A: It’s not easy trying to work for free.  Before I retired, I sent more than one letter to the Immigration Project in Granite City offering to work as a pro bono attorney.  They never responded.  After I retired, I wrote to the Midwest Pension Rights Project about working as a pro bono attorney.  I never heard from them.  I then wrote Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and volunteered to work as a researcher or paralegal since I am not licensed in Missouri.  The only thing I received from them was a brochure or letter soliciting a contribution.  I then called the assistant dean at Washington University’s law school, who is responsible for connecting students with pro bono projects.  I left a message that, while I was not an alumnus, I hoped she could suggest some nonprofits where I might volunteer.  I never heard from her.  Finally, I wrote Land of Lincoln and received an email, snail mail, and phone call, all indicating that they were looking for volunteers.  It’s a long story, but that is how I ended up at Land of Lincoln.



Chicago area

Southern Illinois

This post is updated with breaking news throughout the day.

More Daily Legal News available at


Southern Illinois

This post is updated with breaking news throughout the day.

More Daily Legal News available at

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today that the Fourth Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Jeffrey M. “Marc” Kelly as an associate judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Kelly received his undergraduate degree in 1996 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and his Juris Doctor in 2000 from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Mr. Kelly is currently affiliated with Burnside, Johnston, Sheafor & Kelly, PC in Vandalia, Illinois.

Hon. April Troemper

By Alice Noble-Allgire, Professor, SIU School of Law

“Set your sights high, realizing that when life throws you an obstacle, there’s always Plan B and sometimes Plan C” — that was the message Judge April Troemper delivered to students at a Women in Leadership Workshop hosted by Southern Illinois University School of Law last month.

A 1998 graduate of the SIU law school, Judge Troemper was asked to give the opening day’s luncheon address on January 13 to inspire students to follow in her footsteps as a successful attorney, a member of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Board of Governors and, most recently, among the esteemed ranks of the state’s judiciary as an Associate Circuit Judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Springfield.

Judge Troemper used her own experience to demonstrate that hard work, perseverance, and creating genuine relationships are the pathway to leadership.  After describing a number of personal and financial obstacles that threatened her ability to attend college, Judge Troemper said that’s when she learned an important life’s lesson: “When life throws a huge obstacle in the way, come up with a Plan B and go around it.”