Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
Christopher S. McCall is the principal attorney at McCall Law Offices, P.C., in Peoria, Ill., where he specializes in criminal defense and family law. He also practices at Halliday McCall, where he specializes in personal injury and worker’s compensation.
Christopher and several other members of the Peoria legal community organize an Order in the Court program for local fifth-to-eighth grade students. The program introduces students to the basics of the legal system through a mock trial in a simulated criminal courtroom.
How do you use technology in your practice?
We utilize phone, email, voicemail, and web conferencing to communicate with our clients and other counsel. I have even worked on cases corresponding with attorneys via social media. Especially in light of COVID-19, web conferencing is great; clients can talk with us over the Internet in lieu of traveling to our law offices.
Both firms use digital means to process and organize our files. We are adept at receiving and transmitting evidence from email, mobile devices, and various database archives. Our firms make use of digital case management software to share documents with paralegals and other lawyers within the firms when necessary.
Our firms have employees whose children were homeschooled last school year. Using case management software was especially convenient because the software was often accessible to staff who worked remotely on mobile devices.
Moreover, I had COVID-19 last year and was a long-hauler; working with case management software was very convenient for me to process matters from home and maintain our billing operation.
Being an attorney is stressful. How do you manage your well-being?
I manage my well-being by playing sports and spending time with friends and family. I am an avid pool volleyball player. I also exercise four days a week and listen to podcasts.
For a fun job, I hang out with our employees at an ice cream shop in which I am a part owner, Yeni’s Palarte. You have had a bad day if ice cream makes you unhappy.
The main struggles I have had with the activities I cherish is determining when to limit one’s access to you. With all of the social media access and difficulty for us to be away from our communication gadgets, it’s important for attorneys to realize that if you don’t have peace of mind, you cannot assist your clients.
One has to pick and choose who has access and the amount of accessibility you allow one to have in your personal life. It should not be commonplace (but it is) for attorneys to discuss their strokes, heart attacks, and various ills and that they rushed back to work. Unless you have peace of mind, you are no good to anyone.
Attorneys must enjoy their evenings, families, hobbies, and workout. Attorneys should also take vacations and utilize their out-of-office email message systems.
When on vacation, call once a day if you must call. Ask staff and colleagues to not contact you unless it’s a real emergency. Just because it’s convenient for you to be physically available, doesn’t equate that you are mentally charged to comply. Respect your peace.
How do you remain civil in tense situations?
I have always felt I had an advantage during tense moments, so I relish pressure. Pressure defines you. I use pressure to separate myself.
I began my law practice in a hallway bridge that had no air conditioning with a wife and a young child. I had no other income or loans to avert risk. My first felony case was a murder trial, and I am happy to say I was victorious. I had no choice but to succeed, so I always found peace in that notion. Pressure can take coal and create a diamond.
How can attorneys advance diversity and inclusion in the legal profession?
The key is to realize that diversity may require one to challenge their comfort zone. I once had a job where many of the employees who received promotions were closely connected to the boss’s friends, and looked like the boss physically or thought like the boss.
I have hired employees whose visible tattoos were odes to cinema and/or sports, ethnically diverse individuals, and employees who battled mental illness, addiction, and abuse. To help citizens in all walks of life, you need employees who have had experiences from all walks of life and tastes that may be unlike yours. I want my businesses to look like America.
How can attorneys further public confidence in the rule of law?
To further public confidence in the law, attorneys must advocate that the law be applied equally regardless of one’s connections socially or politically. Confidence can be increased by attorneys working in the communities to build relationships with citizens and children.
Currently, I do that by volunteering for numerous organizations that are near and dear to my heart. I also do the following: advocate for children learning the arts, encourage HIV testing and services, and assist parents with receiving daycare services.
Our Lawyer Spotlight recognizes attorneys throughout Illinois who are admired for their professionalism and civility. Check out more interviews with attorneys like Christopher S. McCall here.