East St. Louis city attorneys leave firm to start their own business

News-DemocratMay 1, 2013 

— Several of the city's attorneys who were members of the Hinshaw & Culbertson law firm in Belleville left the firm to start their own business.

City Attorney Mike Wagner, Sen. James F. Clayborne Jr., D-Belleville, John Sabo, Heidi Eckert and Jennifer Barbieri formed a new law firm that began Wednesday.

The new law firm is called Clayborne, Sabo and Wagner.

City Manager Deletra Hudson said she met with a representative from Clayborne, Sabo and Wagner about transferring the city's current contract, which is with Hinshaw & Culbertson, to the new law firm.

"We will probably transfer the city's business to the new law firm because they are the attorneys who have been handling all of the city's business," Hudson said.

The general retainer in the contract the city has with Hinshaw & Culbertson is $108,000. And, the total of the contract, which officially expires Dec. 31 is not to exceed $300,000.

Mayor Alvin L. Parks Jr. also said the city looks to continue working with Clayborne and Wagner, who have been the ones to handle the city's business, through Hinshaw & Culbertson, for the last 20 years.

He expects the city will be ready to transfer the city's contract over to the new firm by next Thursday.

Wagner announced the formation of the new law firm on Facebook.

"While we will miss our friends at Hinshaw & Culbertson, we are very excited about this new challenge," his message said.

The new firm is next door to the old one. It is located at 525 W. Main St. in Belleville and the old address was 521 W. Main St.

Wagner said the reason for the move is to better serve their regional and local clients.

"We thought it would give us more of an opportunity than we had before," he said.

Wagner worked with Hinshaw Culbertson for 13 years. Sabo had been there since 1996 and Clayborne since 1994.

Neither Clayborne nor Sabo could be reached for comment.

Another attorney, John Gilbert, also was an attorney for the city of East St. Louis and an employee with Hinshaw & Culbertson. He left the firm a month ago and joined the Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard law firm. The office is headquartered in St. Louis, but Gilbert is working out of the Edwardsville office at 101 W. Vandalia St., Suite 300. He is no longer working for the city of East St. Louis.

Gilbert said when he left Hinshaw & Culbertson, the city decided to stay with Clayborne and Wagner.

Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 618-239-2503.

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