A Brief History


Donald L. Shriver began his legal practice in 1967, serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. In 1971, Don joined with Attorney B.J. Knight to form Knight & Shriver in Rockford, Illinois. B.J. Knight, a noted trial attorney in Winnebago County since 1910, died later in 1971. Two years later, Jerome J. Downey and Paul Sorensen joined with Don to form Downey, Shriver & Sorensen. In 1975, Raphael E. Yalden and his son, Raphael E. Yalden II, joined the firm known as Downey, Yalden, Shriver and Yalden, which continued until the spring of 1984. Thereafter, for over ten years, Don practiced as a sole proprietor.

Joyce O’Neill Austin began her professional career as a teacher and educational specialist. After returning to graduate school and obtaining her J.D., Joyce practiced law first in Chicago before coming to Rockford. She joined the firm as an associate in 1989 and became a partner in 1995.

The office continued to grow, adding associates periodically and creating an affiliation with James C. Thompson, who worked periodically on various cases at the firm beginning in 1992. Jim had returned to Rockford after law school and practiced with two local firms before operating as a sole practitioner in 1992.  He continued those pursuits working on special projects for many firms in the area until 2001, when Jim closed his individual practice and joined the firm as a partner.

Within the two years following the creation of Shriver, O’Neill & Thompson, Joyce reduced her legal activities and took on a new role as Of Counsel.  Don’s son, Donald P. Shriver, who had worked for a few years with the firm after graduation, returned to the office as an associate (after a short stint at an Elgin, Illinois law firm) where he stayed until 2017.

In 2006, after over thirty years’ residency in one location, the firm moved its office to 515 North Court Street, Rockford. Still within walking distance of the courthouses, the move allowed for a more conducive office design and tremendous room for growth and special projects. The building allows for ample off-street parking, spacious conference and meeting areas and no elevator delays.

Growth proceeded for the firm with the establishment of a Belvidere office in 2008.  Additionally, Steven Whitmore joined the Rockford office in an Of Counsel capacity in 2014.