CHAMPAIGN — For some families, it’s a time-honored memento that gets handed down from one generation to the next.
For the Harrington family, it’s a law firm.
Marking its 100th anniversary this year, Champaign-based Harrington Law was launched in 1922 and is currently owned by Patrick and Andrew Harrington, great-grandsons of one of the founders.
Their father, Daniel Harrington, is still involved with the firm and serves with them on the board of directors.
Daniel Harrington attributes the firm’s longevity to longstanding trust established with clients over four generations.
“It’s something that’s just handed down, and a lot of it is having the trust of your clients,” he said. “That’s what my dad taught me, and what I taught my sons.”
Founded under the name Busch and Harrington as a practice of Earl Harrington and Lou Busch, the firm originally focused on representing many Champaign County farmers, and in the 1950s, it was focused on insurance defense work along with its real-estate practice.
The firm’s first offices were in the Robeson building in downtown Champaign. Despite a few moves, the offices, now at in Huntington Tower at 201 W. Springfield Ave., C, have always been close to the center of the city, Patrick Harrington said.
Daniel Harrington recalled the law firm’s attorney-client relationship with the Robeson family starting when the late Frank Robeson popped into the office of the late Thomas Harrington — father of Daniel and grandfather of Patrick and Andrew — and saying there was something he wanted him to handle.
A few months later, Daniel Harrington said, Mr. Robeson presented his dad with a bonus for his work — a receipt for 7,000 bushels of soybeans.
Both Daniel Harrington and Patrick Harrington, who is currently the firm’s managing partner, said they wound up choosing law for their careers after being exposed to it throughout their lives and dropping by the law offices growing up.
Though, Patrick Harrington recalled, he didn’t originally plan to be a lawyer. He went to college planning to have a career in finance, but found he didn’t enjoy that field much, so he began taking some law classes, he said.
He was first licensed to practice law in New Jersey and hadn’t planned to return to Champaign at the time, he said, but at the start of his legal career, there wasn’t much opportunity in that state. He talked to his father, he said, and learned there was an opportunity for him back home.
The four generations providing legal services at this firm have included, after first-generation founders Earl Harrington and Lou Busch, Earl Harrington’s son, Thomas Harrington, and Lou Busch’s son, Bob Busch, along with Thomas Harrington’s brother, Ken Porter.
In the 1980s, Daniel Harrington joined as the third generation, with Patrick Harrington joining the firm in 2007 and Andrew Harrington coming aboard in 2010.
The law firm continues to employ state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and in the past also employed former state Sen. Rick Winkel.
Harrington Law now focuses largely on real-estate and business transactions, Patrick Harrington said. Some clients, among them farm families, have been clients since the beginning of the firm, he said.
It’s always been a small firm in terms of staff — though last year it opened its first office outside Champaign in Hartford, Conn., he said.
There aren’t any plans to expand more across the country, Patrick Harrington said, “but I do see us continuing to grow our practice.”
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