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Area attorneys step in for colleague during illness

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK -- A recent illness that has incapacitated Woodstock attorney James Allamong for an indeterminate period left his clients without legal representation, but the void didn't last long.

Word of Allamong's illness led members of the Shenandoah County Bar Association and attorneys in neighboring counties to take over his caseload for the duration of his recovery.

William Allen III, president of the Shenandoah County Bar Association, said many of the cases were taken over by some of the 28 members of his organization. Additional help has come from Page, Warren, Rockingham and Frederick counties, Allen said.

"I'm not doing anything for Mr. Allamong that he wouldn't do for me," Allen said of his decision to take over part of Allamong's caseload.

Allen, who has been practicing law for 40 years in Shenandoah County, described the efforts to ensure Allamong's clients continue to receive proper legal representation as unique.

The county bar association followed a procedure laid out by the statewide bar for instances in which an attorney is suddenly unable to represent his clients. While illness and death have disrupted other practices in the area over the years, those cases involved attorneys who practiced with family members or were able to close up their practices before they could no longer work, Allen said.

Attorneys can designate another attorney to manage caseloads on their behalf if they are unable to represent their clients. Allen said Allamong had designated him for the task of keeping his caseload on track in the event of serious illness or injury.

Allen said he called some attorneys and others contacted him on their own in spreading out the caseload. The cases were divided up with the goal of matching the experience and expertise of individual attorneys with client needs in areas such as criminal and divorce law.

"They all know Jim," Allen said of members of the bar association. "They like Jim, and he's well respected by the members."

All of Allamong's clients have new attorneys assigned to them "to my knowledge," Allen said.

Allen also praised area judges for cooperating with the attorneys "in recognizing this is a unique circumstance."

"They've been very good in seeing that the clients before the court are all protected and have adequate legal representation," Allen said of the judges.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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