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Peoria's Muir a shining example for McAndrews Award

By Michael T. O'Connor

Robert Muir of Peoria was the 2014 recipient of the John C. McAndrews Award.  He exemplifies what this award stands for, and at 80 years of age, Attorney Muir will celebrate 50 years of practice this coming November. 

After retirement from Caterpillar Inc. in 2004, where he was the head of the Intellectual Property Department, managing 50 people and a budget of more than $16 million, he took it upon himself to establish expertise in family law so as to provide pro bono assistance in a subject area of high need.  Since 2004, Attorney Muir has served 128 clients and has given 2,093 hours of his time.  Attorney Robert Muir began his long volunteer career with Prairie State Legal Services in October of 1999, the first time he volunteered at one of our divorce clinic.  It was the beginning of a long and rewarding partnership.  He was well aware that family law is the single biggest need for Prairie State’s clients, and that Prairie State’s scarce resources prevent us from assisting with all but the most egregious cases involving domestic violence. 

In 2013, Attorney Muir closed 11 cases for a total of 416 hours.  As a result, he obtained $22,764 in annualized child support, future pension payments, and college expenses for clients.  He has six cases pending and is in the process of taking on new cases. 

Attorney Muir takes on the tough case other volunteers will not touch due to the contested nature or complexity of the case.  Without Attorney Muir, these clients would be left alone to navigate the legal system on their own.  This is especially problematic when the opposing party has representation.  Going to court without the benefit of counsel can often result in your voice not being heard.  He has obtained thousands of dollars in child support and maintenance payments for Prairie State’s clients.  A young man was able to attend college because Attorney Muir successfully obtained a court order directing the natural father, who had been absent for the child’s entire life, to pay a portion of his college expenses.  He assisted a senior citizen in Stark County in filing a suit against a contractor who did faulty work and refused to correct it.  Attorney Muir spent 18 months litigating this case and monitoring the payments until the client had been reimbursed $6800.00 in satisfaction of the judgment.

His pro bono activity is just one of his many philanthropic activities.  He has been involved, and is still involved, in the larger community in many ways, including:

  • Past Board of Directors - Illinois Valley Holding Company, Peoria IL
  • Past Board of Directors - Rehabilitation Foundation of IPMR (Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), Peoria IL.  He remains on the Foundation committee.
  • Former President - Peoria Civic Ballet, Peoria IL
  • June 15, 2010 - Went to Blidene, Latvia, in Eastern Europe to assist the Latvian Lutheran Church with general maintenance and painting of their church.  The trip was sponsored by St. John Lutheran Church of Dietrich, Illinois.  And prior to that, he went to Lutheran High School South in Chicago to build bleachers for the athletic field, sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Illinois.

He has been a member in good standing of the Peoria County Bar Association since 1974, and he currently serves on the Special Committee on Government and Public Interest Law.  He was the recipient of the 2006 Peoria County Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, and could easily receive the same every year if not for his selflessness in wanting others recognized.

Posted on October 7, 2014 by Douglas Knapp