Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
Michael J. Hernandez is an equity partner at Franczek P.C., a mid-size law firm in Chicago. His primary practice area is labor and employment law representing management and educational institutions, including collective bargaining, for more than 25 years.
How has your practice evolved during the last few years?
The pandemic changed the legal game. While I was in the office throughout the pandemic, much of our staff worked virtually, as did the Courts and some clients.
[Given the hybrid structure,] we must work smarter and more efficiently to reach all clients’ needs in a timely fashion.
What’s one piece of technology you couldn’t function without?
My smartphone. We are accessible to clients and colleagues 24/7 from any and all locations. It is my mini office. I can text, email, share documents, and, of course, do virtual meetings.
How do you manage your well-being?
Cases are stressful, the workload is stressful, and it can keep you up at night. I spend time off with my family, swim and bike ride, and have been doing transcendental meditation since law school.
How do you remain civil in tense situations?
I grew up mindful of treating everyone with respect. Many opposing counsel are simply doing their job; that has to be remembered.
Never burn bridges, and if someone is less than civil, bring it to their attention. They will usually address the matter because of the attention the bar associations and commissions have spent [educating lawyers] on the subject.
How can attorneys advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels is important. It is a standard of excellence that takes hard work and commitment. We are learning there is much to [be taught] on the subject.
I try to attend and participate in DEI events each month to learn new measures to implement in our office and in my life.
How can attorneys further public confidence in the rule of law?
We are the keepers of the legend of Blind Lady Justice. We must be stewards of this legacy. There must be an equal application of the law and a fierce defense of individual rights.
What’s one piece of advice for young lawyers?
Have some fun. Take on any new assignment you have the capacity for. Every new assignment expands your knowledge and resume.
What’s the biggest challenge impacting lawyers today?
Lawyers cannot be afraid to take cases for fear of being ridiculed or even prosecuted. A lawyer defending their client within the law is a sacrosanct process.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy live entertainment, music, plays, speakers, etc. I’m glad that is available again.
Our Lawyer Spotlight recognizes attorneys throughout Illinois who are admired for their professionalism and civility. Check out more interviews with attorneys here.