My primary practice area is family law. Prior to practicing family law, I was an Assistant State’s Attorney in Will County, where I had a voluntary assignment in the Domestic Violence Unit.
How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
Certainly since my days at the State’s Attorneys’ Office, I have grown professionally, in immeasurable ways. I have always been committed to civic responsibilities, having always been very involved in multiple organizations, but now, as the owner of Lakeside Law Group, I find that it gives me a platform to really affect change in my community. Being an entrepreneur, and an African-American one, at that, has afforded me the opportunities to enter into positions of leadership and influence, which I am honored to have, and take full-advantage of. In the future, and over the next few years, I see my practice growing by leaps and bounds, I see myself continuing to be actively involved in my community, and most importantly I see myself continuing to be an agent for change and advocacy (for women and children, which is where I focus my energies), on a much larger scale.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Build your network. Be civil. Ask for help. Give help where it is needed. And never ever miss an opportunity to use your law license to help those less fortunate than yourself.
What’s one technological device, application or tool you could not function without?
My answering service. As the business continues to grow, having an answering service has enabled us to keep track of calls and contacts. We would be lost in a sea of unanswered phone calls if it were not for that!
How has civility made a difference in your practice of law?
I have had two back-to-back pregnancies, in 2014 and 2015. During those last few months and weeks, counsels and the court were particularly understanding about any continuances I requested and often times, even when I was still actively working from the office, opposing counsels would cover the court dates (even on contentious matters), so it is difficult for me to pinpoint one example. The instance that stands out the most, was in June 2014, when I was very close to the end, I couldn’t stand, sit, walk, etc. and I had a hearing at the Daley Center. I had made it through everything else I had on my court schedule, with the exception of this final hearing. And this particular case was one of the most difficult and contentious cases in my caseload. I just could not make it one more day in court, so I sent my law partner on an oral motion to continue; Judge Sharon Johnson granted same, and opposing counsel, and Attorney Rhonda Sallée, with whom I had had some fairly intense exchanges during the pendency of the matter, was very accommodating.
But mostly, when I think of civility, I think of my time as an Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) in Will County. Now, that I have practiced in other circuits, I know that relationship between the Public Defenders (PD) and the ASAs, and all the practitioners and judges in Will County was unique and special. We regularly assisted one another, especially the new ASAs and PDs, to make sure they were doing the same level of work, and offering and entering into similar plea bargains, as the more experienced assistants. To this day, 10 years after I started at the office, I still have close friends and colleagues on both sides of the prosecution and defense, Bench and Bar. And that camaraderie, and idea of the collective group working together to make sure our justice system works, is the foundation that has shaped my entire career.
What do you do for fun?
Well, I have two babies under 2 years old, as well as a 9 year old and 13 year old. So, fun is relative. For fun, I sleep, when I can. Otherwise, my time right now is quite consumed. In a perfect world, where I have leisure/me time, I would read endless romance novels…on a beach…eating lots of chocolate…with no kids in sight.
Masah Renwick is a sole practitioner and the founder of The Renwick Firm, Inc.