Our beginnings are humble, as 28-year-old Attorney Ralph W. Harris started his own law practice in the grand Hotel State Building on the square in Marion. Mr. Harris quickly became the first successful personal injury lawyer in Southern Illinois, gaining a reputation as a fierce advocate – especially for the “little guy,” as Ralph also came from very modest means. Many lawyers in our area sought to work for Mr. Harris to learn the trade, and his practice quickly expanded.
In 1963, Attorney Gordon Lambert joined Ralph Harris and the firm Harris & Lambert flourished in the courtroom, obtaining record verdicts in counties around Southern Illinois. While Mr. Harris had established a solid law firm over three decades, Gordon Lambert took the firm to another level, becoming the most sought-after personal injury trial attorney in Southern Illinois. In 1974, Attorney Lambert obtained a then-unheard-of verdict of $950,000.00, shattering the then-largest verdict in Williamson County by over $800,000.00. Even losses were turned to victories, as Harris & Lambert were frequent and successful visitors to the Appellate Court. Ralph Harris & Gordon Lambert established our firm’s underlying dedication to trying their cases in court if insurance companies failed to offer fair settlement amounts. That dedication continues today; it’s in the firm’s DNA.
In 1970, after 38 years, Harris & Lambert left Suite 22 on the second floor of the grand Hotel State Building on the Square and moved into our present location in the historic “W.A. Broad Building” at 300 West Main Street, just three blocks west. Our logo affirms this history, as it incorporates the Tower Square’s famous Clocktower – which not only has always been our home, but sat atop the original Courthouse where Ralph W. Harris argued cases in the 1930s. Marion is centrally located in beautiful Southern Illinois, allowing us to easily and efficiently represent clients from River-to-River.
Mr. Harris quickly became the first successful personal injury lawyer in Southern Illinois, gaining a reputation as a fierce advocate – especially for the “little guy``.
Our law firm has shaped careers. Over the decades, our law practice has produced many area attorneys who went on to start their own practices, including James Sanders, Donald Ferrell, Raymond Lawler, Kelly Phelps, Eric Kirkpatrick, Israel Slone, and more. Still other HDSL attorneys were asked to serve their community as Judges, like Bill Wilson, Ronald Eckiss, and Robert Howerton, who also served as an Appellate Court Justice. Additionally, our attorneys have not just practiced law, but taught it, as Robert Howerton and Stephen Stone have each been Professors of Trial Advocacy at the Southern Illinois University School of Law.
Members of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States are admitted to practice in the highest Court in our country. That great honor was bestowed upon Douglas Dorris in 1998, after 16 years of practice, and upon Stephen Stone in 2007, after 17 years. This privilege depends in part on professional and moral character, and HDSL is very proud to include attorneys of their caliber.
We have come a long way since 1932, but Ralph W. Harris would be proud of the legacy he began. Through retirements, deaths, and a few name changes, HDSL moves into its ninth decade of the practice of law in Southern Illinois building upon the great tradition of legal excellence, hard work, and personal relationships started so long ago. But the law moves forward, and we stand committed to leading the way as changing technology and more efficient practices are available. We are confident that you will not find better representation for your serious injury case than here with us. We would be proud to add your name to the thousands of Southern Illinoisans we have successfully represented over the years.