There had never been a lawyer in my family but I think as early as grade school I loved advocacy, public speaking and critical thinking. I don’t think I ever considered a different profession after age 10. It’s just what I always thought I would do. As I approached adulthood, nothing happened to make me reconsider my singular focus.
What is your primary practice area?
The day I was sworn in as a lawyer in 1980 I hung out my shingle as a solo practitioner with a general practice. For the first decade or so, I had a very equally balanced practice of real estate, divorce, personal injury and criminal defense, however my workload gradually increased to the point where I could no longer handle all the cases that were coming through the door.
As the years went by I quit taking divorce cases, I quit taking real estate transactions, and the personal injury cases quit coming to me. I selectively stopped practicing in these fields because I did not find them as rewarding, interesting or lucrative as I previously had before.
This however opened many doors to criminal defense work. Eventually, my reputation as a criminal defense attorney caused me to get even more referrals and the community came to know me as a person who did criminal law.
How has your practice evolved in the last few years?
To my surprise and to my delight, two of my children decided to go to law school and I have been honored to have both of them join with me in my practice. Now there are three Brunos in our firm and we all focus on the defense of serious criminal cases in the state and federal courts.
If you could offer one piece of advice for young lawyers, what would it be?
Listen to your clients, treat them with respect and learn about their lives. Be honest with them and communicate promptly, frequently and clearly. I guess that’s not one piece of advice, but it’s a style of practice that will earn you the respect and loyalty of your clients.
How has civility made a difference in your practice?
It has become apparent to me that being kind and civil to everyone I encounter in the practice of law not only makes my day much more pleasant, but is a very good strategy for getting positive results and brings repeat business through my front door.
Be known by the courthouse clerical staff, the waitress at the diner, and your clients as the lawyer who treats him/her respectfully and politely. Incivility erodes the benefits we can enjoy by being liked, trusted and respected.
I specifically remember one instance when I had been practicing law just one or two years. An older local practitioner saw me stumbling through a situation with a Worker’s Compensation arbitrator. After it was over, he took me aside and gave me some good advice on how to work through it.
I will never forget that unsolicited act of kindness and I have always tried to pay it forward whenever I see another lawyer who appears lost, confused or in need of help.
What do you do for fun?
I am proud to be a Hall of Fame member of the World Famous Lawn Rangers of Amazing Arcola.
We are a precision drill team that pushes lawnmowers while marching in parades and tosses brooms back-and-forth as part of our routine. I have been the frequent broom-tossing partner of humorist Dave Barry and had the joy of marching in President Obama’s inauguration parade January 20, 2009 with both of my sons and law partners.
Bruno Law Offices was founded by Thomas Bruno in Urbana, Illinois in 1980 and concentrates in the defense of serious criminal and DUI cases in the state and federal courts.