The legend of Abraham Lincoln’s last law partnership has evolved during the 150 years since the President’s assassination on April 15, 1865. George W. Murray connects the Lincoln-Herndon partnership to D. Logan Giffin and the firm known today as Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C.
Lincoln’s law practice
In April of 1837, Abraham Lincoln enrolled to practice before the Supreme Court of Illinois and moved to Springfield, where he went into partnership with John Todd Stuart (the cousin of Lincoln’s future wife, Mary Todd). “John T. Stuart and A. Lincoln, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, will practice conjointly in the courts of this judicial circuit. Office. No. 4 Hoffman Row, upstairs,” read the notice in the Sangamon Journal on April 15, 1837. Their partnership ended in 1841. According to some, the partnership dissolved due to political differences and differences of opinion on the issue of slavery.
Lincoln’s second partner was Stephen T. Logan, a former circuit judge. Their partnership lasted from 1841 to 1844. In August of 1843, they moved their law office to the Tinsley Building, located on the southeast corner of the public square across Adams Street from the statehouse. For various reasons, Logan and Lincoln dissolved their partnership in 1844.
Lincoln quickly found his third and last law partner. William H. Herndon had been a law clerk in the Logan-Lincoln law office. They continued to practice in the old Logan-Lincoln law office in the Tinsley building, but, after Lincoln left for Washington in October 1847 to serve in the United States House of Representatives, Herndon moved to a smaller office in the same building. In 1852, they moved to the northwest side of the state capitol square on Fifth Street, where the Myers Brothers Building currently sits, and the two remained at that location until Lincoln left Springfield in February of 1861 to become President.
Lincoln stopped practicing law following his election as President. However, the Lincoln-Herndon partnership never officially dissolved until Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Just before he left Springfield to become President, he told Herndon, “Give our clients to understand that the election of a President makes no change in the firm of Lincoln and Herndon. If I live I’m coming back some time, and then we’ll go right on practising law as if nothing had ever happened.”
Herndon’s subsequent practice and Hon. George W. Murray
Following Lincoln’s assassination, Herndon partnered with Charles S. Zane in the successor firm of Herndon & Zane. That partnership lasted until 1869, when Zane was elected to the bench. Herndon then partnered with Alfred Orendorff, an associate in the office of Herndon & Zane, and formed the partnership of Herndon & Orendorff, which continued for several years.
George W. Murray moved to Springfield from Ohio in 1876. After practicing in Auburn for two years, he moved his practice to Springfield. In 1881, he partnered with Noah H. Turner. In 1884, he became William H. Herndon’s last law partner. The December 18, 1884 edition of the Illinois State Journal reported, “Hon. Wm. H. Herndon, formerly Mr. Lincoln’s law partner, after having retired from the practice of law now returns to the same, having formed a partnership with G. W. Murray.” In 1920, Murray reflected on this period of his life and wrote, “I came to Illinois with great admiration for Abraham Lincoln, and was glad to be associated with a man who had known him intimately as Mr. Herndon had known him. Mr. Herndon was as willing to talk about Lincoln as I was to listen.”
Murray was elected a judge of Sangamon County in 1890 but lost reelection in 1894. Murray then partnered with William H. Colby with the firm Colby & Murray until Murray was reelected in 1898. Murray lost his bid for reelection in 1910 and resumed private practice.
Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C.
The firm began shortly after D. Logan Giffin’s graduation from Valparaiso Law School and admission to the Illinois Bar in 1911. Giffin associated with Judge Murray and practiced with the last law partner of Lincoln’s last law partner until 1915. Their office was located at 217 ½ South Sixth Street in Springfield.
Giffin then partnered with Edgar Sampson, also a former circuit judge, in approximately 1916 under the name of Sampson & Giffin. In 1920, they invited Harlington Wood, Sr. to join them, and they changed the firm’s name to Sampson, Wood and Giffin. This association lasted only one year.
In 1921, Sampson and Giffin left 217 ½ South Sixth Street and became the first tenants in the newly-built First National Bank Building at the corner of Fifth and Adams Streets in Springfield, with an office on the fourth floor.
In 1927, the addition of Cornelius J. Doyle, a former Illinois Secretary of State, caused the firm name to become Doyle, Sampson & Giffin. C. Terry Linder and Alfred F. Newkirk, a recent graduate of the University of Illinois Law School, became associates of the firm in 1926 and in 1928, respectively. Giffin invited Linder and Newkirk to join him as partners in 1938, and asked Norman Jones, the namesake of a sitting Illinois Supreme Court Justice, to lend his name to the firm. As a result, the firm became Giffin, Linder, Newkirk & Jones.
Montgomery Winning joined the firm as a senior partner in 1941 after spending 15 years as the first Assistant Illinois Attorney General in the Springfield office. Upon his addition, the name of the firm became Giffin, Winning, Linder, Newkirk & Jones. The “Jones” name was dropped in 1948, leaving it as Giffin, Winning, Linder & Newkirk.
The firm continued under that name until Robert S. Cohen was invited to become a partner in 1967, at which time his name was added to the name of the firm to become Giffin, Winning, Linder, Newkirk & Cohen. When Herman G. Bodewes was invited to become a partner in 1971, the name of the firm was changed to Giffin, Winning, Linder, Newkirk, Cohen & Bodewes.
In 1972, the First National Bank decided to rebuild its building. After 50 years as a tenant in The First National Bank building, the firm moved to 525 West Jefferson Street. While there, John L. Swartz was invited to become a partner. After fourteen years, the firm returned to downtown Springfield by moving into the Sixth Floor of the Myers Building at the corner of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue. At this location, R. Mark Mifflin, David A. Herman, Creighton R. Castle, Kerri A. Doll, and Christopher E. Sherer have joined the firm as partners.
Coincidentally, the Myers Building is marked as the last location of where Abraham Lincoln practiced with William H. Herndon during their partnership.
A Legacy of Leadership
Throughout the firm’s history, its attorneys have become judges, congressmen, and other prominent leaders. They include such names as:
- D. Logan Giffin, state representative (1931-1933) and state senator (1945-1951)
- Evan Howell, United States Congressman from the State of Illinois (1941-1947)
- Harlington Wood, Sr., Sangamon County judge
- Stanley Thomas, Sangamon County judge
- John R. Keith, Sangamon County judge
- John Mehlick, Sangamon County judge
Former attorneys of the firm who currently hold such positions include:
- Hon. Dick Durbin, United States Senator from the State of Illinois and Senate Majority Whip
- Hon. Sue E. Myerscough, United States District Judge for the Central District of Illinois
- Hon. Thomas P. Schanzle-Haskins, United States Magistrate Judge for the Central District of Illinois
- Hon. Carolyn Taft Grosboll, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Illinois
Our long history of public service is not limited to acting as public officials. Giffin Winning’s attorneys are also active participants in local service organizations, youth groups, and nonprofit boards in our communities. We spend time coaching youth sports, participating with high school mock trial competitions, and support fundraising events for many local organizations.