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April 27, 2017: "My experience with the law."

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 5 years old. Even that far back, I remember my Dad's law firm in Champaign (Reno O'Byrne & Kepley), where I would go after swimming lessons at the YMCA located across the street. For hours on end, I would walk around the different work areas, sipping from a glass Pepsi bottle, and watch as the lawyers, secretaries and clerks interacted, talking about cases and clients. I remember my Dad's boss, Don Reno (known as "Senior", due to his son "Junior", also working at the firm) bellowing out the name of his secretary ("Virginia!") whenever he had something that needed to be done that instant.

Dad worked 60-80 hours a week back then, at a time when legal arguments were crafted from reading actual (paper!) law books and typing them on IBM Selectric machines. That meant a lot of evenings and weekends "at the Office", and I often tagged along. During breaks, Dad and I sometimes played a game where we would alternate roles as attorney and client -- and I loved playing the lawyer.

Dad started his own firm when I was 16. I helped him move his huge wrap-around desk up a large flight of stairs to his new office on North Mattis Avenue in Champaign.

I've been working with Dad ever since. That moving gig turned into a "runner" position, taking documents to the courthouse, making deliveries to other law firms and putting away papers in client files. After we moved to our current location in Urbana, I became an investigator, interviewing witnesses, preparing reports and taking charge over the firm's technology (computers, data bases, and this new resource called "the Internet"). I became a law clerk after my acceptance at the U of I College of Law in 1995, an associate attorney when I graduated in 1998, and a full partner at the firm (now known as "Beckett Law Office, P.C.") in 2002.

In 18+ years of practice and almost 30 years of experience overall, I've worked on just about every type of case. State and Federal. Jury trials and bench trials. Mediation and binding arbitration. Criminal and Civil. Felonies and misdemeanors. City ordinance violations. College disciplinary proceedings. Speeding tickets and DUIs. Landlord and Tenant disputes. People who sell houses and people who buy them (& commercial property, & farm property, & businesses). Suing on behalf of victims and defending the accused. Bringing personal injury claims and defending them. Divorce cases. Child custody and support cases. Property disputes. Juvenile and adoption cases. Complex litigation and class action suits. Advising corporations. Representing executors and trustees. Bringing and defending Will contests. Crafting complex estate plans, including testamentary, revocable, and irrevocable trusts. Insurance claims. Taxes. Bankruptcy work. Collection actions. Appellate work. Plus hundreds of instances where people have just come in to see me with issues that don't fit neatly into any particular category.

That's the nature of a lawyer with a healthy general practice. With the help of a dedicated staff and associates, I've represented thousands of clients from all walks of life, each with an important problem to solve and a unique story to tell. It has been my privilege to learn from all of these experiences and to help these people navigate the legal system. I've done this, in part, by appearing before more than 50 judges in 20 different Illinois counties, 10 appellate court panels, and tribunals in 3 other states.

Being a judge involves a lot more than conducting trials. It requires currency in the everyday problems and issues that bring people to court in the first place. A judge needs to understand how lawyers in private and government practice go about representing those clients. If elected as Circuit Judge, my wide range of experience will enable me to hit the ground running the day I am sworn in.

I look forward to this opportunity to serve, and I ask for your support. Please share this message with your friends, contact my campaign to find more information and volunteer. Together, we bring more experience and perspective to our court system.

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Paid for by Beckett For Circuit Judge. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Boards official website ( or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.