September 12, 2008

Firm’s gift honors law school graduate Lisa Franke

by Pete Rosenbery

lisa franke

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- During her days as a student at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, Lisa K. Franke held a deep love of the law and a commitment to helping classmates. A scholarship honoring Franke will benefit future generations of lawyers looking to follow her ideals.

A $100,000 endowment funded by Hepler, Broom, MacDonald, Hebrank, True & Noce, LLC., is creating the Lisa Franke Scholarship. Franke received a bachelor’s degree from SIUC in 1979 and earned her law degree from the SIU School of Law in 1982. She was a partner and trial attorney with the Metro East-based law firm prior to her death in December.

Establishing the scholarship in Franke’s honor is a fitting legacy, according to law firm managing partner Larry E. Hepler and partner Theodore J. MacDonald, Jr. The firm has offices in Edwardsville, St. Louis, Chicago and Springfield.

“Lisa Franke was so respected and so beloved by all members of our firm we wanted to find a way to honor Lisa, to preserve her legacy and to promote her ideals,” MacDonald said. “With her love of the law and her commitment to providing education for young women, we have established a way to make a wonderful and lasting tribute to Lisa.”

At its present level, the scholarship will generate a minimum of $3,500 annually for a student enrolled in the law school’s JD/MSW (Master of Social Work) program or participating in the law school’s Domestic Violence Clinic. Another consideration is students who show Franke’s similar characteristics: endless enthusiasm, outgoing personality, strong leadership ability, commitment to civic and charitable causes, and an ability to motivate others to become involved in important causes.

The law school and law firm will continue raising funds to bring the endowment to $250,000 to cover the law school’s current one-year tuition cost.

“We are hopeful that others will join this effort so that the award will be sufficient for a full scholarship in Lisa’s name for a worthy student so that 20 years from now we may have 20 very special ‘Lisas’ practicing law,” Hepler said.

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and chief executive officer of the SIU Foundation, said: “This scholarship is a fitting tribute to a lady who exhibited extraordinary leadership as a student, professional and public servant. In addition to being deeply devoted to the law profession, Lisa had a profound influence on everyone around her. We are truly thankful to Hepler Broom law firm for paying tribute to Lisa’s legacy in this fashion and establishing support for our students many years into the future.”

Dean Peter C. Alexander said the law school is “very, very honored that the Hepler Broom law firm chose to remember Lisa in this very significant way. We have a number of alumni who work at the firm and we feel a special connection with the lawyers in that office.”

The inaugural scholarship award will be in April, Alexander said.

“This is a significant gift,” Alexander said. “It is a very, very special memorial. I think it says a lot about a firm. The partners of this firm are not SIU School of Law alumni -- that fact notwithstanding, they wanted to honor Lisa at her alma mater.”

Alexander and Franke were classmates in political science as undergraduate students at SIUC. He recalls her very outgoing and friendly personality, and said Franke was a very professional attorney and a nurturing senior lawyer to younger attorneys.

“It’s a special honor for me to be part of this tribute to her,” he said.

Mark Brittingham and his wife, Kathy Pine, were in law school with Franke, and each also practiced law in the metropolitan St. Louis area. Brittingham, a visiting assistant professor at the law school, said Franke loved her alma mater, and that the scholarship is a fitting tribute to her memory.

“Lisa was an excellent lawyer and a tireless advocate for her clients and the causes she held dear,” said Brittingham, who lives in Murphysboro. “More importantly, she was a wonderful person. In law school, every class member was Lisa’s friend; she liked everyone and everyone liked her. She was simply one of the really good people that we meet all too rarely in our lives.”

Franke’s husband, Robert B. Haida, the state’s attorney in St. Clair County, and two sons, Tyler and Brian Haida, of Belleville, survive.