Firm History

Woods & Bates was founded in 1972 by William C. Bates, Jr. and Robert J. Woods.  Many attorneys worked for the firm over the years including Dick H. Woods and Gerald Dehner, who would later become a Circuit Judge.

In 1979, upon his graduation from Drake University Law School, William C. Bates, Jr.’s son, William B. Bates, joined the firm and became a partner in the firm in 1981.

William C. Bates, Jr. retired from the firm in 1985 and departed this life in 2014.

Robert J. Woods passed away in 1998.  Along with his legacy of the law firm he started with William C. Bates, Jr., he and his wife, Joan, started The Woods Foundation, a philanthropic charitable foundation that continues to invest in the community where he built his practice.

William Blinn Bates, Jr., son of William B. Bates, also attended Drake University Law School and graduated in 2007.  Blinn joined his Father in the practice in 2008.

In 2012, Woods & Bates acquired the firm of Harris & Harris.  The firm’s roots and  history came full circle at that time.

Harris & Harris was founded in 1921 by Judge Thomas Milton Harris and his son, Homer Blinn Harris.  Thomas Milton Harris studied law under attorney Edward D. Blinn, who was the Great-Great-Grandfather of William Blinn Bates, Jr.  (Edward D. Blinn was the Father of Annette Blinn Bates, who ultimately married William C. Bates.  William C. Bates, Jr. was Annette’s son and the Grandfather of William Blinn Bates, Jr.)

Thomas Milton Harris joined Edward D. Blinn and James T. Hoblit in practice in 1893 following his graduation from Valparaiso University Law School.

In 1895 Harris became a partner in the law firm of Blinn & Harris. Harris became the first Circuit Judge to be elected from Logan County. In 1914 Judge Harris was appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court, now the Fourth District.

Homer Blinn Harris was named after his father’s senior law partner, Edward D. Blinn, and graduated from the University of Illinois Law School.  Homer was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1942, becoming the house majority leader in 1944. He served three terms in the Illinois State Legislature. Homer decided in 1948 to retire from politics to devote his time to trial work and the general practice of law.

Homer practiced law in Lincoln for more than 35 years.  Following his return to the law office, Homer’s sons, Tom and Bud joined the firm. Tom’s son Thomas M. Harris, Jr. began his legal career in the Lincoln office upon receiving his juris doctor degree from the University of Colorado in 1988.

Thomas M. Harris, Jr. worked as an assistant state’s attorney, later becoming an Associate Judge. He was elected a Circuit Judge in Logan County in 2008. In 2012 the Illinois Supreme Court assigned Judge Thomas Harris to a temporary assignment on the Appellate Court of the Fourth Judicial District.  That assignment has now become a permanent appointment to the Appellate Court.

Michael T. Fleshman, who was raised in Lincoln and attended Southern Illinois Law School, joined the firm of Woods & Bates in 2017.  William B. Bates, officially retired from Woods & Bates in 2018.

In 2019, the firm of Woods & Bates, P.C. branched out to a second office in Delavan, Illinois when it contracted to purchase the law firm of Culbertson & Allen, LLC from Mark Allen.

John T. Culbertson, Jr., began practicing law in his hometown of Delavan, Illinois, in 1916.  John T. Culbertson, Sr., was elected county judge in 1930, and circuit judge in Tazewell County, Illinois, in 1934, serving until 1968.  He served on the Illinois Appellate Court for some thirty years, and was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1969.

In 1926, Robert M. Culbertson, Sr., joined his brother John in the practice of law in Delavan, and continued to practice alone when John was elected to office.  In 1956, Robert M. Culbertson, Jr., joined his father in the practice which became Culbertson & Culbertson.  In 1977, Mark E. Allen joined the firm, which became Culbertson, Culbertson & Allen in 1980.  Robert M. Culbertson, Sr., passed away in 1985, and Robert M. Culbertson, Jr., retired in 2009, leaving Mark E. Allen as the sole practicing attorney with the firm, which became Culbertson & Allen, LLC, in 2009.

In 2021, Woods & Bates, P.C. acquired a third office in Mason City, Illinois when they purchased the Phillip M. Kirby Law Office.  Woods & Bates, P.C. continues to operate three physical office locations in Logan, Tazewell, and Mason Counties.

Woods & Bates, P.C. has a centuries long history of good men providing quality legal services to Logan County, Tazwell County, and beyond.  We look forward to continuing the legacy of those that came before us.