Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
Timothy S. Tomasik is a founding member of Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, LLC., a Chicago-based personal injury firm. His primary practice area is plaintiff’s personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, trucking litigation, and transportation. Before his personal injury practice, he spent more than eight years as a prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Timothy is president of the Chicago Bar Association for the 2022-2023 term.
How has your practice evolved during the last few years?
I have committed to focusing on the fundamentals that my mentors emphasized many years ago. I have regular and routine meetings and conversations with my clients who all have my cell number and email. I make sure that they know that I am available after hours and on weekends.
While virtual technologies like Zoom are beneficial, there are many circumstances where there is simply no substitute for in-person meetings and depositions. We need to preserve the professional art of lawyering, and make sure young lawyers learn the “soft skills” of conducting face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and courthouse communication.
The quality of lawyering will diminish if young lawyers practice behind the comfort of computers and handheld devices. This often leads to incivility, as problems do not get solved and “electronic tigers” create unnecessary confrontations that would otherwise be avoided if people were actually meeting and talking.
What’s one piece of technology you could not function without?
I believe it is critical for lawyers to be up-to-date with all current local, national, and world events. Having a busy trial practice, I rely on satellite radio in my car to and from work to absorb as much news as I can.
Also, because I spend so much time on the phone talking to lawyers, witnesses, experts, and clients, I have learned to rely heavily on AirPods for phone calls. They are great!
How do you manage your well-being?
Attorney well-being and mindfulness are critical to success and happiness. I am committed to fitness and train several times a week. Of course, I enjoy playing golf when I can (which doesn’t always contribute to my well-being).
How do you remain civil in tense situations?
My approach has always been very simple. The case, trial, or deposition is never about me. It is about my client, the law, and the facts.
I find that by adhering to this fundamental premise, I avoid the pitfalls of uncivil behavior and personal confrontation with lawyers or witnesses.
How can attorneys advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession?
I think it is an absolute responsibility of every lawyer to be committed to a bar association or legal organization that exposes them to peers with different perspectives and experiences.
To truly advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, I would encourage attorneys to take on leadership roles in these organizations, understanding that one of your primary responsibilities is to advance diversity, inclusion, and engagement at all times.
What is an attorney’s role in furthering public confidence in the Rule of Law?
Unfortunately, our citizenry does not understand the true importance and services that lawyers provide to clients and the public. At all times, I take the opportunity to discuss with neighbors, friends, and people I meet the importance of the Rule of Law.
There has been no other time in American history when the Rule of Law has been under attack as blatantly as it is now. Fundamentally, the vast majority of people do not understand that lawyers and judges get along with one another quite well and that we understand due process. We embrace the reality that our system of justice truly works.
I routinely emphasize that verdicts and the appellate decisions of our higher courts are just and that our system of justice is the best in the world.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
For more than 30 years, I have told law students and young lawyers that you truly need to enjoy the law, which means working exceptionally long and difficult hours.
Of course trials can be exciting, but young lawyers need to understand that to effectively try a case, hundreds of hours goes into reviewing documents, deposing witnesses, researching the law, and legal writing. This requires a commitment to the concept of good, old-fashioned hard work.
Too many young people are attracted to the law because of the allure of becoming a professional, rather than understanding that the true commitment is to your client. You can only protect a client’s rights through hard work.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my wife Jennifer and two daughters, McKenzie and Maeve. I love to travel with my family when I can.
I also enjoy reading and studying history, especially World War II, as it changed the face of the world as we know it today.
Our Lawyer Spotlight recognizes attorneys throughout Illinois who are admired for their professionalism and civility. Check out more interviews with attorneys like Timothy Tomasik here.