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By DENNIS GRUBAUGH

Hawkins DeborahHawkins    Attorney Deborah Hawkins enjoys a busy career and a mix of cases as the sole practitioner at Hawkins Law Office, P.C. in Edwardsville.
    Each day is different, a bit like adjusting to a new set of sheet music, which is appropriate given her music background and love of a well-orchestrated symphony.
    Hawkins’ first career was as a pianist and music teacher. She taught music until her first year of law school.
    She practices at 101 West Vandalia St., Suite 150, in the Mark Twain Plaza I building, within view of the Madison County Courthouse, where the majority of her courtroom work is performed.
    She maintains a substantial general litigation practice that touches on family, civil and criminal law.
    In her family practice, she assists clients with dissolutions of marriage, custody and visitation, child support, orders of protection and juvenile and guardianship matters.
    “Seventy percent of my practice is family law. I like family law,” she said. “Probably 20 percent is civil litigation, such as personal injury, negligence and medical malpractice.” The remainder is a mix, everything from criminal defense to probate and real estate disputes.
    Google and Blackberry tablets are among the tools she uses to help keep track of it all.
    “I do get a good mix of cases, but I choose the ones I take pretty carefully,” she said. Some people’s legal issues are minor in nature and potential clients are sometimes better served — and they are appreciative — when she can direct them to the self-help library at the courthouse.
    Treating clients respectfully is significant, she said, because many cases are rife with emotions.
    “I listen to the client and advise them of the strengths of the case. The client makes the decision within reason. I try not to impose my personal feelings on the case. I have to be open minded and not judgmental,” she said.
    She received her bachelor of arts from Millikin University, her master of arts and doctoral study from the University of Iowa and her Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University.
    She grew up on a family farm west of Bethalto and still manages that property today, although the once rural area has been surrounded by home growth. She graduated nearby Civic Memorial High School.
    She has worked for an insurance defense firm, a plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney and for the State’s Attorney’s Office of Madison County.
    She and her husband, Allen Schomaker, a retired teacher, reside in Edwardsville and have two dogs.  Her musical entertainment now includes season tickets to the St. Louis Symphony. She also enjoys gardening and travel. They have a time share in Cape Cod, Mass., and especially like traveling the United States.
    Hawkins is affiliated with the American Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Madison County Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, Alpha Sigma Nu and Phi Alpha Delta.