Law Offices of Reilly & Skerston, LLC is located in Streator with appointments available in Ottawa and LaSalle. Attorneys James T. Reilly and Jennifer Bunker Skerston have represented clients throughout central Illinois for more than 45 years combined. Law Offices of Reilly & Skerston, LLC is a full-service general practice law firm including Estate Planning and Administration, Social Security Disability, Family Law, Accidents, Workers’ Compensation, Criminal and Traffic matters.
Both Jim and Jennifer handle family law matters involving custody determinations, divorces, paternity, adoptions and guardianships. Jim is a mediator certified for family law issues required to be heard according to Rules of the Illinois Supreme Court and Local Court Rules. Jim and Jennifer are knowledgeable concerning recent major changes in family law, including how maintenance and child support are calculated. They provide individuals who are considering a divorce information about their rights and what to expect during the process.
Jim is an experienced trial lawyer with over 60 jury cases tried to verdict. Jury awards include medical malpractice, wrongful death, fraud prosecution and various types of personal injuries. Jim has defended individuals in criminal courts ranging from murder cases to truancy. He has successfully obtained “not guilty” verdicts for persons charged with Arson, Aggravated Battery, drug offenses, Driving Under the Influence, Driving While Revoked, Domestic Battery, and many other felonies and misdemeanors.
Jim has served as a La Salle County Assistant Public Defender since 2000. He represents virtually all minors charged in La Salle County for adjudication of wardship under the Juvenile Court Act. He is also the La Salle County Guardian Ad Litem for abused and neglected children.
Jim also represents clients before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and has an extensive Social Security Disability practice obtaining permanent disability awards for over 150 clients throughout LaSalle County and Central Illinois.
Jennifer is actively involved in the Illinois State Bar Association Trusts and Estates Section Council. She is the Editor of the Council’s monthly publication distributed to members throughout Illinois and provides continuing legal education to attorneys, determines the need for new legislation, and reviews and suggests changes to current legislative proposals affecting wills, trusts and estates. She has developed and drafted will and trust-based estate plans and administered probate and trust estates. Jennifer Bunker Skerston has also taught an advanced Master of Laws (LL.M.) class at The John Marshall Law School in Estate Planning and Tax Law.
Jennifer explains the need for people to have appropriate estate planning regardless of age:
“Proper estate planning is important at all stages of life. Anyone who, if they passed away today, would leave assets, including proceeds of life insurance, to an individual who is a minor should seriously consider having appropriate documents drafted to protect the minor child(ren) from frivolously spending the inheritance at age 18. Parents of minor children should have their proposed guardian of their child(ren) named in a Will. As individuals grow older, issues concerning Medicaid and protecting assets from being spent on nursing homes become an important aspect of estate planning. The sooner a client comes to our office to address these issues, the more likely we are able to protect their assets. We also regularly draft Powers of Attorney which grant another individual the ability to make decisions concerning healthcare and finances. These can be used to avoid expensive public hearings for guardianship when a person can no longer make decisions for themselves or to simply allow another (usually a child of the elderly person) to provide assistance when needed. Additionally, proper estate planning eases much of the burden on loved ones after the person has passed.”
Both Jim and Jennifer are actively involved in their communities. Jennifer was recently recognized by the Streator Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an Outstanding Young Leader. She was selected as a 2019 Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star in Family Law. She was also recognized as an outstanding young professional and a member of the “Forty under 40” class for Bureau, La Salle, Marshall and Putnam counties. She has been nominated for the 2019 ISBA Young Lawyer of the Year Award. Jennifer is Secretary of the LaSalle County Bar Association, and Vice Chairperson of the OSF HealthCare Foundation Council for Ottawa/Streator. She has been actively involved in the Zonta Club of the La Salle-Peru Area. Jennifer and her husband, Scott Skerston, have one daughter, Lydia.
Jim has served the Illinois State Bar Association as: a member of the Public Relations Committee; Marketing and Communications Committee; ISBA Assembly (the governing body of the Illinois State Bar Association); and Subcommittee on Technology for the ISBA Website. He is past president of the La Salle County Bar Association for many years and currently is the LCBA Treasurer. He is active in the United Way (especially their Labor of Love repair project for the poor and elderly); member of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Child Welfare Team; Juvenile Justice Symposium Board; Foundation Chairman for LaSalle County’s entry into the Big Brother/Big Sister Program of the Mississippi Valley. He is also a member of Ottawa’s Special Events Committee, Ottawa Civil Service Commission, Dayton Preserve Volunteer, member of the Reddick Mansion Association, member of the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Board, and a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. Jim and his wife, Debby, have two sons, Damian and Phillip, and three grandchildren, Alexandria, Zander, and Creed.