Heyl Royster

Firm History

Heyl Royster has its genesis in the law practice of Clarence W. Heyl. To say that he was unique would be an understatement. He was a gentleman with exceptional legal skills and a visionary with a skillful and highly professional approach to trial law. He set a standard of excellence that formed the base for the firm today.


First Law Office Opens

Young attorney in the 1910s working at a desk

Clarence Heyl opened his office in April 1910 on the third floor of the YMCA building in Peoria, IL. Three years later, he would move the firm to the eighth floor of the newly constructed Central National Bank Building at the southwest corner of Main & Adams in Peoria.


Heyl Establishes Strong Reputation

Clarence established his reputation as a trial lawyer early in his career. In 1927, Professor George W. Smith noted, "Clarence W. Heyl has become recognized as one of the ablest and most resourceful trial attorneys in the City of Peoria."

Caricature of successful Clarence Heyl in the Peoria Newspaper


John H. Royster

Photograph of John H. Royster

After graduating from Bradley University, John H. Royster received his law degree at Northwestern University College of Law, where he met undergraduate Helen Heyl, Clarence's daughter. In 1934, John joined the firm as an Associate. His specialty was transactional practice, which meshed well with the already existing trial practice of the firm. Mr. Royster became a Partner and grew the firm's corporate, real estate, probate, and trust law practice.


William J. Voelker, Jr.

In 1946, Heyl retained the services of WWII veteran and University of Wisconsin Law School graduate William J. Voelker, Jr. to assist with the increase in trial work. Bill quickly made himself invaluable to the firm's progress by undertaking many trials on the firm's docket. In recognition of the practice's growth, Mr. Heyl, his son-in-law John Royster, and Bill Voelker organized the law firm under Heyl, Royster & Voelker in October 1948.

Photograph of William J. Voelker, Jr.


Lyle W. Allen

Photograph of Lyle W. Allen

A central Illinois native, Lyle W. Allen served in the US Army's 87th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II. Returning from the war, he completed his law studies graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School. After a chance encounter with John Royster and Bill Voelker in Chicago and interviewing with the firm, Lyle Allen moved to Peoria to join the group in September 1951. Mr. Allen had a broad practice and was one of the first attorneys in downstate Illinois to represent doctors in malpractice cases, gaining an excellent reputation in that field.


Heyl Passes Away

In September 1962, the team changed the firm's name to Heyl, Royster, Voelker, & Allen.

Clarence Heyl died on May 18, 1968, in Peoria, IL, shortly after his 84th birthday, leaving an outstanding record of professional accomplishment. He was one of the last Peoria attorneys proficient in almost every aspect of trial practice.

Photograph of Mrs. and Mr. Heyl


From Partnership to Corporation

Drawing of Jefferson Bank building

After several years of renting space and commuting, in 1970, the firm tapped Associate Gary Peplow to launch the firm's second office in the state capital of Springfield, IL.

In 1973, the practice transitioned from a partnership to a professional corporation. The Peoria office moved to the sixth floor of the Jefferson Bank Building at the northeast corner of Fulton & Adams to accommodate the expansion.


Continued Success and Growth

With increased litigation in eastern counties, in 1981, Partner Jim Kearns and Associate Edward M. Wagner opened the firm’s third office in Urbana.

In 1985, Partner Doug Pomatto and Associate Kevin Luther opened the firm's fourth office in Rockford. Now in the county seat of Winnebago County and the western division of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, work came in quickly.

The 1980's saw an increase in asbestos litigation and similar environmental cases. Early on, much of the work was focused in the St. Louis metro-east areas of Madison and St. Clair Counties. Consequently, in 1987, Partner Robert (Barney) H. Shultz, Jr., Associate Dan Schmidt, and Associate Barry Noeltner opened the firm's fifth office in Edwardsville.

Bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln


Expansion of Services

Photograph of city in Illinois

In 1999, Heyl Royster began an affiliation with Advocus National Title Insurance Company (Advocus), formerly Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, and began offering residential title and service closing services in central Illinois. Led by firm Shareholder James Manning, the firm's competitive rates and personal service earned them recognition as one of Advocus’ Top Members.


Centennial Celebration

In 2011, the firm celebrated its centennial and earned the distinction of the largest Illinois law firm headquartered outside of Chicago. Partner Tobin Taylor led the firm's expansion into the Windy City by opening the firm's sixth office.

The firm's footprint grew again in 2018 when Partner Richard Hunsaker opened Heyl Royster's seventh office in St. Louis, MO.


Graphic of the number 100


Positioning for the Future

Photograph of law office

In May 2022, Heyl Royster acquired H & H Title Services, adding to the firm's Real Estate and Title Services practice and further positioning us as one of central Illinois' leading title service providers.

In August 2022, Heyl Royster announced a merger with the historic law firm of Kavanagh, Scully, Sudow, White & Frederick, P.C.  With the addition of the team from Kavanagh, Heyl Royster dramatically expanded its business and transactional practices throughout the Midwest region.  

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