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Local

Dixon attorney opens second office in Sterling, plans art gallery

STERLING – Paul Whitcombe, a longtime Lee County attorney based in Dixon, recently opened a second office at 15 E. Third St. – formerly occupied by Miller & Lancaster P.C. – and, with all the new space, will add an art gallery.

Whitcombe’s son, Thomas, graduated this summer from Northern Illinois University’s School of Law and has joined the practice.

“We’ve always had a lot of Whiteside County clients,” Whitcombe said. “We thought this would be a better way to serve them.”

Whitcombe handles criminal defense, DUI, traffic and personal injury cases in Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties.. He has practiced locally since 1994, and was Lee County state’s attorney from 2004 to 2008.

The younger Whitcombe interned for John Miller the past 2 years, before Miller retired on Nov. 7 after 45 years at the firm.

He is taking over much of Miller’s practice, handling real estate transactions, wills, trust and business planning.

“It just worked out very well, because those are the practice areas he’s interested in,” his dad said.

Both father and son will spend at least 2 days a week at the new office, alternating with the firm’s Dixon office at 223 W. First St. At least two paralegals will be at both offices at all times.

The new office – at one time a Walgreen’s Drug Store – is large enough to accommodate an art gallery, and paintings by Melissa Marie Collins, a friend of Paul’s, will be on display and up for sale. Find samples by searching for Melissa Marie Collins Design Studio on Facebook.

“We thought it would be a neat opportunity because the building is so big, and to introduce her to the Sterling area,” Whitcombe said.

Whitcombe also has taken on some of Michael Lancaster’s case load.

Lancaster, 63, of Rock Falls, with the firm 38 years, is accused of sexually assaulting two clients at the office. He is charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison, and one count of unlawful restraint, which carries 1 to 3 years, in the first case, which was filed Oct. 10.

He is charged with one count of criminal sexual assault in the second case, filed Oct. 29.

He has a preliminary hearing in both cases on Jan. 13 in Whiteside County Court.

Whitcombe’s Sterling office hours and phone number are the same as Dixon’s: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and weekends by appointment; 815-288-7209.

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