In 1991 Peskind Law Firm operated out of offices located at 10 South River Street in Aurora. In addition to Steven and David, the firm had grown to include several associate lawyers, a CPA, and several legal assistants. The firm continued to expand its family law practice in addition to handling personal injury cases, commercial litigation, and real estate. Due to David’s long-standing reputation as an attorney with integrity, the firm was always busy.
In July of 1991, while playing tennis at a Kane County Bar Association event, David suffered a fatal heart attack. David had no history of heart problems so this tragic event was totally unexpected. Suddenly and literally overnight, Steven was thrust into the role of firm owner, responsible to the staff and the clients. At the age of 31, he was hardly prepared to assume the responsibilities of running a law firm. Having no time to properly grieve the loss of his father, he went to work the next morning trying to keep the firm operating. It was not uncommon to see the office light burning at 3:00 am while Steven managed the transition.
Steven eulogized David for the Kane County Bar Association Memorial Service and the Kane County Bar Association Family Law Committee named its fall seminar the “David Peskind Memorial Seminar”. Steven also sponsored an annual scholarship in memory of David for the top family law student at the Northern Illinois Law School. David’s genial nature and strong advocacy skills were missed by his family and the community.
Shortly after David’s death, Steven decided to focus the firm exclusively in the area of divorce and family law. He took the bold move of advising all of the non-family law clients of his decision and helped them find a replacement law firm. He marketed the firm as handling only family law cases and rejected all other types of cases. This decision was revolutionary at the time as few, if any, attorneys in the Chicago suburbs were limiting their practices to one area of law. This was the age of the general practitioner and a concentration in one area of law was groundbreaking. The gamble paid off and Peskind Law Firm quickly developed into a boutique family law firm that the community trusted.
In 1995, Steven moved the firm to 10 West State Street in Geneva. This was another risky move due to the firm’s long-standing reputation in Aurora. Steven believed, again accurately, that family law clients would gravitate toward law firms that were close to the courthouse, which at that time was located on 6th Street in Geneva. At the time of moving, the firm employed one associate attorney, Mario Ventrelli, who has since gone on to become a top family lawyer in the Chicago area.
The firm continued to develop throughout the 1990’s. Steven became very active with the Kane County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. He published his first major article for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education on the basics of handling a divorce case for general practitioners. He served on the assembly of the Illinois State Bar Association and chaired the Kane County Bar Association Family Law Committee. In 1999 Steven was sworn in as President of the Kane County Bar Association.
After serving the Kane County Bar Association, Steven started writing more. He published law review articles for Loyola Law School and Northern Illinois Law School on the topics of parentage law and child custody law. He was appointed to serve on the Family Law Section for the Illinois State Bar Association and became active in the American Bar Association Family Law Section.
In the early 2000’s Steven argued two important cases at the Illinois Supreme Court. One involved the law of child relocation became a seminal case on the topic (In re Marriage of Collingbourne). In the other, Steven persuaded a Kane County Circuit Judge that the Illinois Parentage Act unconstitutionally violated the rights of children. While the High Court ultimately reversed that ruling, the Illinois legislature adopted Steven’s arguments as part of its revisions to the Parentage Act in 2015.
The firm continued operating out of its office in Geneva until 2005 when Steven decided to move the firm to St. Charles. In the next and last installment of the firm history, we will discuss the continued development of the firm and the emergence of Edward Milas and Mollie Peskind as top Illinois family lawyers.