NAME: B. MARSHALL HILMES
Job: Founder and attorney, Hilmes Legal Solutions LLC at 301 N. Main St. in Caseyville (223-1875)
Outlook: "I'm the only attorney with an address in town. And we'll be the only one that I know of with a drive-up."
When B. Marshall Hilmes found that a former bank building was up for sale, he knew he found what he had been looking for. The former UMB Bank building on Caseyville's Main Street opens today and coincides with an open house that the metro-east law firm is hosting all day. Hilmes recently sat down with business writer Will Buss and talked about his new office:
Why open your practice in former bank building?
"I actually looked for a long time for a building. I was wanting to go into a small, little building. I wanted to be on the main road. We looked on (Illinois) 159 by St. Clair Square. A lot of those were more expensive. This building actually became available because I was told it was a bank building and FCB built a bank over there. They actually gave us the loan to buy it. So this building came available because UMB moved to Collinsville. There were not a lot of people bidding on this. I like the brick building and I like the location."
How have you retrofit your law firm into the old bank?
"We put the book shelves in above the above the teller counter. There's actually a drive through, and my plan is when I'm in court, I can have a support staff person here who will be able to talk to somebody behind the glass and set up an appointment. If there is an existing appointment, we'll have them come right in, but customers can drive through when I'm in court to make an appointment or receive a payment or give them an update on their case through the glass. If I'm here, they can come in and talk to me. We've converted the former ATM room to a drop box. We'll actually have it for traffic tickets that people can drop, or an application or request for retainer. Then, I can come in and call them and get started right away. So they can use the drop box 24-seven. We have a safe. Sometimes there's evidence that has to be locked up. I worked at a state's attorney's office where we had a safe, so I'm used to having a safe."
Where did you get this idea? Have you seen it done elsewhere?
"No, I've not seen it anywhere else. The drop box I've seen before, but a drive up, I haven't. I wanted a building with a drive up. I want to be accessible and easy for clients to come and talk. A lot of times, people are afraid to go to talk to their attorney. If there is a will modification or a minor question, I want them to know that it's better to come talk to your attorney. You're not going to get a big bill. Sometimes there is a legal question and a conversation can save a lot of money or time later on, so I wanted to be approachable."
What is your background?
"I went to Southwestern Illinois College after high school and (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville). I actually did some work for Conseco Finance and Firstco Mortgage. My major was in business finance for my undergrad degree at SIU Edwardsville. I thought about law school, and then after 9/11, I made a decision to go to law school. I went to St. Louis University. Through my church, I helped some people from a church near the World Trade Center. I just thought it was important to be in law. So I went to St. Louis U to study international law. I studied in Madrid and Brussels. I did a semester in Ireland. I got an international certificate and I found out that Americans are better at business issues than a lot of the international issues, so I left the Europeans."
What was it about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that moved you into this direction?
"Our church went to New York and helped a group. We actually helped serve the firemen at the cathedral there. It was kind of a life changer for me because of the legal issues that arose out of that and the importance of the common sense in law."
Where did your career take you from there?
"I worked for a year in St. Louis County as an assistant prosecutor in the state's attorney's office. And then I got hired in St. Clair County on June 25, 2007, and I did six years there. My last day was April 26, 2013."
What did you do in St. Clair County?
"I worked in prosecution. I started out in the civil division in child support. I did traffic, misdemeanor, felonies, domestic violence, preliminary hearings."
What are you looking forward to the most?
"I'm looking forward to having clients that have somebody that they can call. Instead of focuses on a narrow practice, I want to focus more relationships with the clients. I'm looking forward to helping families and building relationships."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.