James Lestikow is an experienced estate planning, business and real estate lawyer. He focuses his practice in a number of distinct areas, including:

Estate Planning, Administration, Litigation and Asset Protection
Mr. Lestikow's estate planning and wealth preservation practice includes the drafting of wills and trusts, family limited partnerships and other devices that help clients achieve their financial goals in the most tax efficient manner and protect their assets for retirement and the next generation. He also handles estate and trust administration, as well as handling estate and trust administration disputes through alternate dispute resolution or through litigation in court and has testified as an expert witness on duties of executors / trustees, fees of executors and trustees and in attorney malpractice cases. Reflecting his substantial estate planning experience, he was elected to Fellowship in the prestigious American College of Trust and Estate Counsel in 2001, and in 2006 was appointed a member of its Asset Protection Committee.

Corporate and Business Law
Mr. Lestikow represents businesses (many of them family and closely held), not-for-profit associations and foundations, limited liability companies and partnerships. He helps them with their choice of business entity, and advises them on such day-to-day issues as employment discrimination, credit, contracts and management activities. He advises on succession plans for closely held and family held businesses including buy-sell agreements, and offers transactional advice on asset sales, mergers, acquisitions, financing and dissolutions. Some of Mr. Lestikow's clients in this area include the Springfield Airport Authority; Community Care Systems, Inc.; and Springfield Farm & Home Supply, Inc. d/b/a Big R.

Commercial Real Estate
In this area Mr. Lestikow handles commercial real estate matters including financing, tax-free exchanges, purchases, sales, leasing, annexation, construction and zoning. He has testified as an expert witness on the subject of attornment agreements in a commercial lease.

Professional Background

Mr. Lestikow joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in February 1992.

Since its inception, Mr. Lestikow has been a member of the Leading Lawyers Network, and has been recognized by his peers as a "Leading Lawyer" in the category of Trusts, Wills and Estate Planning Law, with extensive experience in Asset Protection, Corporate and Business Law and Real Estate Law.

Professional Affiliations

  • Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE)
    • Board of Directors, Board Chair, 2021 – Present
    • Executive Committee, 2016 – Present
  • Illinois Bar Foundation, President, 2014 – 2015
  • American College of Trust & Estate Counsel
    • Asset Protection Committee, 2006 – 2017
    • Fellow, 2001 – Present
  • Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA)
    • Business Advice & Financial Planning Section Council, Chair, 1999
    • Trusts and Estates Section Council, Chair, 1989
  • Sangamon Valley Estate Planning Council, Past President
  • American Bar Association
    • Probate
    • Trust and Real Estate Section
  • Leading Lawyers Network
    • Advisory Board Member
  • Central Illinois Family Business Forum, sponsored by Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
    • Former Advisory Board Member

Honors & Awards

  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© for Litigation – Trusts and Estates, 2007 – 2023; Trusts and Estates, 2007 – 2023
  • Recognized on the Super Lawyers list by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine, 2007 – 2023
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers® as the Trusts and Estates "Lawyer of the Year" in Springfield, Illinois, 2014, 2017
  • Holds the AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability
  • Included in Martindale's "Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers"
  • Leading Lawyers Magazine's "Top" lists:
    • Top 10 Downstate Illinois Lawyers, 2019
    • Top 10 Downstate Illinois Trust, Will & Estate Planning Lawyers, 2019
    • Top 10 Downstate Illinois Consumer Lawyers, 2016
    • Top 50 Downstate Illinois Consumer Lawyers, 2008, 2009, 2011
    • Top 100 Downstate Illinois Consumer Lawyers, 2019
    • Top 100 Downstate Illinois Business Lawyers, 2010
    • Top 100 Consumer Lawyers in Illinois, 2008


Mr. Lestikow regulary speaks on estate planning topics for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE). He helped plan the 48th, 50th, 52nd and 54th Annual IICLE Estate Planning Short Course (2005 – 2011).

  • "Family and Philanthropy," University of Illinois, Public Affairs Center, Springfield, Illinois, May 2016
  • "Asset Protection Planning," Hinshaw University, June 2013
  • "Asset Protection Planning," Illinois State Medical Society webinar, October 2012
  • "Asset Protection for Physicians," Rock Island County and Scott County Medical Society, East Moline, Illinois, April 2011
  • "Asset Protection and Family Wealth Management for Physicians," Illinois State Medical Society Seminars, Collinsville and Peoria, Illinois, July 2006
  • "Protecting Family Assets," IICLE, Advanced Asset Protection Planning for 2006 seminar, Bloomington, Illinois and Chicago, Illinois, December 2005
  • "Planning and Drafting for Illiquid Assets," IICLE, 48th Annual Estate Planning Short Course, Chicago, Illinois, April 2005; Urbana, Illinois, May 2005
  • "Post-Mortem Planning with Disclaimers," IICLE, Springfield and Chicago, Illinois, June 2004


Mr. Lestikow is a frequent writer on estate planning topics for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE). His publications include:

  • Co-General Editor, "Postmortem Estate Planning," IICLE, 2014 and 2010
  • Chapter Author, "Asset Protection," IICLE's Postmortem Estate Planning, 2014 and 2010
  • General Editor, "Estate Planning for Illinois Lawyers: The Basics and Beyond," IICLE, 2011, 2008, 2005, and 2001
  • Chapter Author, "Initial Meeting and Client Relationships," IICLE's Estate Planning for Illinois Lawyers: The Basics and Beyond, 2011, 2008, 2005, and 2001
  • Co-General Editor, "Asset Protection Planning," IICLE, February 2007, Supp. 2010
  • Chapter Author, "Practical and Ethical Considerations," IICLE's Asset Protection Planning, February 2007, Supp. 2010

Community/Civic Activities

  • Illinois Bar Foundation
    • Board of Directors, Foundation's President, 2007 – 2015
    • Charter and Diamond Fellow
    • Lincoln Legacy Society, Charter Member
  • Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, a World Health Organization
    • Board of Directors, Member
  • The Lincoln-Douglas American Inn of Court, 2013 – Present
  • Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce
    • Chairman of the Board, 2008
  • Sangamo Club, Past President and Board Member
  • Springfield High School Boosters Club, Past President
  • Island Bay Yacht Club, Past Commodore and Board Member

J.D., University of Illinois College of Law, 1973

B.S., Northern Illinois University, 1970