Partner Murphy C. Hart, a native of Benton, has practiced law with the Hart family firm since his graduation from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1983.
In fact, Murphy represents the fourth generation of Harts to practice at Hart Cantrell — the oldest continuous family law firm in the state of Illinois. He has worked alongside his father, Richard O. Hart, and his Uncle Bill during his tenure at Hart Cantrell.
Murphy has more than 30 years of experience as an attorney at the firm, which is located on the southwest side of the Benton Public Square.
He is a member of the Illinois and Franklin County Bar Associations. He is admitted to practice law before the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, all Illinois courts and is an inactive member of the Missouri Bar Association.
Murphy also is a Director of the Illinois State Bar Mutual Insurance Company as well as a member of the Attorneys Registration and Disciplinary Committee of the Illinois Bar Association, longtime Chair of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Merit Board, and longtime member of the Board of Directors of the State Bank of Whittington.
He writes title insurance for Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, making Hart Cantrell a top producer for Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund for many years.
Murphy has been happily married to his wife Jody since 1985. Jody recently retired after serving many years as a health and fitness instructor at John A. Logan College.
The Harts have two sons, Ryan and Caleb. Ryan Hart is an attorney who is pursuing his Master of Business Administration at the University of Notre Dame. Caleb Hart is a professional online video gamer who also has earned three certificates in Culinary Arts.
Murphy and Jody Hart are active in their community and enjoy traveling with their boys. Additionally, Murphy is an avid golfer, and Jody enjoys swimming and playing tennis.
Jonathan Cantrell’s unique background and education have provided him with a solid foundation to serve the people of Southern Illinois. Jonathan is the proud son of two U.S. Air Force veterans, both of whom served during the Vietnam War era. Throughout his father’s career in the Air Force, Jonathan’s family moved from state-to-state and country-to-country. Jonathan spent almost ten years of his childhood in Belgium, attending school in French through his seventh grade year. Jonathan’s parents eventually chose to return to Southern Illinois, moving to Galatia in 1993. Jonathan graduated as Valedictorian of his class at Galatia High School in 2000.
After high school, Jonathan attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While at the Naval Academy, Jonathan benefited from an outstanding education along with exposure to some of America’s greatest leaders. Jonathan graduated with merit, earning a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. He later received an Honorable Discharge as a Lieutenant in the Navy Reserves.
Jonathan returned to Southern Illinois to attend SIU School of Law starting in 2005, and he graduated cum laude in 2008. He has been practicing law in Southern Illinois continuously since 2008. In 2017, Jonathan joined fourth-generation Franklin County Attorney Murphy Hart to continue the Hart family tradition in Benton, renaming the law firm Hart Cantrell LLC.
Jonathan is licensed in all state courts in the State of Illinois, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Jonathan has successfully briefed and argued appeals before the First and Fifth District Courts of Appeals in Illinois, as well as the Seventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals.
Best of all, Jonathan was lucky enough to meet his wife, Linda, while practicing law in Southern Illinois and together they are proudly raising a daughter and son. Jonathan hopes to continue serving the people of Southern Illinois for the remainder of his career. Of the many places he has traveled, Jonathan finds the people of Southern Illinois to be genuine, caring, and honest, making this a great place for his family to call home.
Jennifer L. Thompson
Jennifer L. Thompson joined Hart Cantrell in 2020. She earned her law degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in December 2011 and obtained her Illinois law license in May 2012. From 2012 to 2020, Jennifer practiced family law with the firm of Michelle M. Schafer, Attorney at Law, LLC. Prior to attending law school, she served as a paralegal for over 13 years.
Since joining Hart Cantrell, Jennifer has transitioned her practice to focus on adoptions, mediation, estate planning, estate administration, and uncontested matters including dissolution of marriage and allocation of parental responsibilities for decision-making and parenting time. Jennifer is a Court-approved family law mediator and guardian ad litem for children and adults with disabilities in the First and Second Judicial Circuits of Illinois.
Jennifer is a current member of the Illinois Bar Association where she serves on the Assembly and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section Council. She is past President of the Williamson County Bar Association and past Treasurer and Board Member of Dispute Resolution Institute, Inc., a nonprofit providing mediation services in Illinois.
Jennifer moved to Herrin, Illinois in the summer of 1991 and graduated Herrin High School in 1994. Despite having lived in New York and Texas, Jennifer chose to remain in Southern Illinois to further her education and raise her family. Jennifer appreciates the beauty of the area and the outdoor activities that are available at every turn. She likes to cook and enjoys travelling to experience different climates, cultures, and food.
Tyler C. Owens
Tyler joined Hart Cantrell as an associate attorney near the end of 2022 when he obtained his law license. Prior to becoming an associate attorney at Hart Cantrell, Tyler worked at the firm as a law clerk, beginning in 2020 and continuing throughout his law school career. Tyler obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in May of 2022, and his Bachelor of Science in Health Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in December of 2017. Tyler is admitted to practice law in all state courts in the State of Illinois, and he is also admitted to practice at the Federal Court in the Southern District of Illinois.
Tyler, a lifelong resident of Benton, is part of a longstanding family tradition of attorneys who practiced law in Benton. Tyler is a third-generation attorney, following in the footsteps of his father (Evan), grandfather (Gerald), and his uncle (Kent). Tyler’s grandfather practiced law in Benton for over 50 years before retiring, his father practiced in Benton before becoming an Associate Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit of Illinois in 2019, and his uncle currently serves the State at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
Prior to obtaining his collegiate degrees, Tyler grew up in Benton and attended Benton Consolidated High School where he met his wife, Olivia. Tyler competed in football, basketball, and baseball during his high school career and graduated in 2014. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Tyler returned to Southern Illinois knowing that he wanted to practice law and serve the residents of his hometown.
Tyler and Olivia both enjoy traveling and spending time with their two German shepherds. Tyler is an avid sports fan and can be seen sporting Illini gear every gameday. Tyler and Olivia both look forward to remaining in Benton for the long-term, and Tyler hopes to serve the residents of his hometown and Southern Illinois to the best of his ability.
Taylor McCann joined Hart Cantrell in 2023. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in May 2018 and obtained her Illinois law license in November 2018. Taylor began her career as an attorney at a long-standing law firm in Marion, Illinois where she practiced general civil law including workers’ compensation, personal injury, estate planning, probate, contract disputes, municipal law, and general civil matters. Taylor continues her practice with Hart Cantrell where she intends to continue to grow her practice to better serve the Southern Illinois community.
Taylor is a current member of the Williamson County Bar Association where she serves as Secretary, Illinois State Bar Associates, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, and Illinois Municipal Law Association. She has also served as Vice-President of the Tri-C Youth Athletics, NFP board based in Carterville.
Taylor is a Southern Illinois native born and raised in Carterville with ties to Benton through her husband’s family. After living in Belleville, Illinois for several years she and her husband chose to return to Southern Illinois to complete her law degree and raise their family. Taylor and her husband enjoy traveling when possible and watching their kids play every sport available to them.
"I have known Murphy for a number of years. We have utilized him in our business, Jerkins Creative Consulting, and in most of our private work. My wife and I have discussed with him many of the things we experienced in life and experienced with our kids, and we did our trust and our will through his law firm. We have sold and bought property over the years, and Murphy has always done all of our documentation. He is very professional, very communicative and detail-oriented. My wife and I have counted on Murphy and his staff to do a good job for us."
- Floyd Jerkins, Jerkins Creative Consulting
"Murphy Hart is an attorney who makes you feel confident: He has law experience to go along with his knowledge of real estate — and there is a lot to know because laws are always changing. Buying a house is a serious thing, and most people know nothing about it. It's good to know that Hart Cantrell is not only a title company: It's a title company and a law firm. Murphy is so accommodating and has a nice way with people, plus he comes from a long line of attorneys. I really appreciate his flexibility and his ability to talk to people." - Lynette Ing, Real Estate Agent
“After a suffering a serious injury at work, I hired Jonathan and he did a great job making sure my benefits were paid throughout a lengthy recovery process. Although my health never recovered enough to go back to my old job, Jonathan was able to obtain a substantial settlement to help my family be set up for the future. I would recommend Jonathan to anyone who has been injured at work.” - Brett M.
“After getting nowhere with the insurance company, I hired Jonathan to help me with my worker’s compensation claim. I was impressed at how fast he was able to get my case settled, and I am very happy with my settlement. If I ever need an attorney in the future, Jonathan will be the first person I call.” - Adam R.
“My son suffered a serious injury, and I had no idea what our rights were and whether I could get my son any help. To my pleasant surprise, Jonathan was able to help us secure a significant settlement that has my son’s future looking much brighter.” - Jonathan H.
“My family went through a very difficult and lengthy lawsuit involving disputed inheritances, finances, and real estate rights. Jonathan took our case to the appellate court, where he was successful, and he helped us resolve the entire case after years of legal battles. Jonathan did an outstanding job on behalf of my family, and I would recommend him to anyone looking for a good attorney.” - Joyce W.
“I had to go onto Social Security Disability as a result of my work injury. Jonathan was able to get me a good settlement for my worker’s compensation claim while making sure my social security benefits were not affected. I am very happy that I made the right choice by hiring Jonathan.” - Michael S.
“My wife and I hired Hart Cantrell to revise our Wills and update our estate planning. The attorney did a great job explaining our options, and we ultimately chose them to prepare our new Wills and Power of Attorney documents. We are very happy we chose Hart Cantrell.” – Ronald B.
Over the years, Hart has acquired a number of repeat clients and loyal realtors and lenders, such as longtime realtor Christy Powers.
“I have used Murphy for title examination and closings ever since I first started buying and selling homes,” says Powers, an agent at Property With TLC in nearby Herrin. “Murphy is very efficient, quick and trustworthy, and that’s the way we like it! – Christy Powers
Peter J. Birnbaum, president of Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund, has known Hart for most of his career. “Murphy’s dad Richard was one of the founders of my company, and Murphy serves on the board of directors,” says Birnbaum. “Murphy is one of the most valued attorney agents of our title insurance underwriter. Over the years, we have worked together on many transactions.
“Murphy is one of the most gifted real estate attorneys I have ever known,” Birnbaum says.– Peter J. Brinbaum