The dissolution of marriage is a common occurrence in today’s world. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 1,327 marriages took place in Peoria County in 2008, while 612 divorces or annulments were carried out, the highest number since 2001. Unfortunately, sometimes even the best-laid plans don’t work out. The Murphy Law Group is one family business whose business is family—its practice is dedicated exclusively to helping clients resolve thorny family law issues.
In 1988, G. Edward Murphy, or Ed, joined a small law firm in Peoria one year after graduating third in his class from the Northern Illinois University College of Law. To this young, ambitious attorney, success seemed practically guaranteed. Yet like all ventures, growing this new firm would take time, innovation and hard work. While his surname would eventually become the banner for the business, Ed held a less substantial role in the firm during the first couple of years.
“We were really more like a solo practitioner,” he explained. At the time, he worked with James D. Reynolds, a successful divorce and criminal law attorney, but in 1990, Ed took over the business, renaming it The Murphy Law Group. From these modest beginnings, it has grown to become one of the most respected firms in the area.
During these early years, the group focused on both criminal defense and family law; it later narrowed its focus primarily to the latter. This is especially interesting, as the firm itself is a family business—also employed at The Murphy Law Group are Ed’s wife, Theresa Murphy, and his nephew, Jeffrey Dunn.
Theresa is an attorney at law, certified guardian ad litem and family law mediator who focuses on child custody and mediation cases. She has served as president of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois Community Advisory Board and has been involved with the Crittenton Centers, Junior League of Peoria and other volunteer organizations. Jeffrey concentrates on family law, divorce, custody and property issues and is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Peoria County and Tazewell County Bar Associations, and the Abraham Lincoln Inns of Court. Ed was previously voted one of "Illinois Law and Leading Attorneys" in both family law and criminal law, a distinction given only to the top six percent of attorneys in the state.
Adapting to Change
This acclaim is well founded in The Murphy Law Group. They offer outstanding care for their clients, providing legal services as well as licensed mediation in divorce and child custody cases. In addition, the firm’s rapid incorporation and use of new technologies has distinguished it from many of its less tech-savvy peers.
A self-described “techie-kind of guy,” Ed has kept his firm up on the latest technological trends and gadgets. All of its attorneys carry smart phones so they can be available anytime, anywhere. The firm recently purchased two Apple iPads, which allow them, for example, to email a client immediately after a hearing if they were unable to make it. “I think our clients appreciate that instant communication,” affirmed Ed.
Murphy Law recently migrated much of its software to take advantage of “cloud computing,” a much-buzzed-about trend that refers to software, data and other resources that are stored on the Internet and are available on demand at any time. “We are using a legal-specific cloud program called CLIO—a total practice management, client contact and billing program that handles overall caseload over the web,” says Ed. The software’s ability for clients to connect directly to their bills, emails and other documents “has changed the way we practice.”
Dealing hands-on with the subject of divorce and other family law issues has made a lasting impact on Ed. “It shows you how important it is to try to work things out and get along with your spouse.” He understands that his relationship with his wife in the workplace can be a sensitive issue. The word he uses is “cautious,” noting that, while at work, the two must treat each other as co-workers, not as spouses.
The parents of four children, the Murphys see every day the pain that arises out of a divorce—not only for the divorcing couple, but for any children of that marriage. “There are no winners in a divorce case,” said Ed. “It’s one of those things where you try to get the parties through the case, and you try and keep the children out of the courtroom.” Two parents, together, making the best decision for their children is far better than a judge doing the same, he adds.
Ed believes that his business is representative of the multitude of opportunities in the region for other small family businesses. “If you look at the history of family businesses in Peoria,” he said, “I think ours is a perfect example of taking what was a fairly small operation when I started, to now, when we’re ‘actually’ a law firm.”
And this “actual” law firm is actively making a difference in people’s lives, helping them navigate some of the toughest situations they will ever face. If this family is any indication, learning from the mistakes that often lead to divorce can be a therapeutic exercise that keeps both a family and a business going strong. iBi