Bar leaders, dear friends exemplify what giving, sharing are all about

Balancing Life and the Law

June 21, 2022

Chicago Law Bulletin – June, 2022
by Jeffrey J. Kroll
Jeffrey J. Kroll is a founding partner of Kaveny + Kroll LLC. He has achieved settlements and verdicts in a wide range of cases, from trucking accidents to medical malpractice to sports safety cases. He can be reached at

Practicing law for more than three decades has benefited me in so many aspects. Sure, like many, I have had some success, some failures and pretty much everything in between.

Yet, as I reflect on my career, what I will take to my grave are the friendships and camaraderie I have made with my brethren on the bench and colleagues in the trenches.

I can proudly say many of my friendships have taught me more about life than the practice of law. Three individuals come to mind: Shawn Kasserman, Tim Tomasik and Patrick Salvi II.

I met Shawn on my first day of law school. To say it has been a remarkable journey knowing Shawn, his wife, Dawn, and their family, would be a colossal understatement.

We stood up in each other’s weddings. He is probably the funniest man I have ever met. I still think back to a day when we attended a bar program in New Orleans. Naturally, we had to go to Pat O’Brien’s Bar to consume a few Hurricanes. Needless to say, we had so many Hurricanes, I thought one of us would wind up on the Weather Channel.

Shawn would do anything for anyone. Need an example? When we were law students, Shawn helped me get my car back after it was repossessed. Yes, repossessed. No questions asked, he was there. Sadly, that probably does not crack our top 10 life experiences. In 2023-2024 Shawn will be the president of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Tim Tomasik and I had adjacent offices when we were both at Clifford Law Offices. I do not know of any days in which we did not discuss life, have lunch or drinks after work.

I spent countless hours with Tim on weekends, often on a golf course or with our families. Tim would fall on a grenade for his family and friends. I was fortunate enough to stand up in his wedding. Some of my funniest adult moments revolve around times with Tim. On June 23, Tim will be the president of The Chicago Bar Association.

Like Tim, Patrick and I had offices next to each other for a number of years. We tried five cases together. It felt like it was in rapid fashion. Not a day went by when we were not in each other’s office discussing a myriad of different topics.

I remember the joy in his eyes and the quivering of his voice when he told me he and Julianna were expecting their first child. They now have three lovely children. He has a heart of gold. Yet, I defy anyone to find someone who has enjoyed more success in the courtroom as he has at the tender age of 39 years old.

He is only going to get better, which is a scary thought. Patrick is now the president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

While all three of them have achieved record-breaking jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of their clients, what separates them, in my opinion, from other lawyers, is their ability to share their time in giving back to the legal profession. The commitment that these gentlemen have displayed throughout their respective careers is truly remarkable.

There is that adage when camping, “always leave the site in better shape than when you found it.” It’s a point which resonates with me on how these three view our profession.

I know when they collectively leave the practice of law, our honorable calling will be in a better position than when they entered it because of their commitment to each and every one of us.

They are tethered to the reality of knowing that the more they give back to our noble profession, the more others will benefit. Thus, why I love being a lawyer is because of people like Shawn, Tim and Patrick.

Too many of us stand on the sidelines. We do not mentor. We do not give back. We do not lead by example. We are just biding time waiting for others to act. Time is the enemy of action. These three leaders are all action, and we should all be proud of their devotion and dedication.

I know this probably sounds a bit corny and “Fourth of July-ish” (that phrase was a Bob Clifford staple in his closing arguments back in the day), but I do love being a lawyer.

I love taking a case to verdict. I like writing articles. But what I love most are the friendships. I truly cherish and value these three friendships and will for the rest of my life. What you choose to water will be the greenest part of your life. In addition to their families, I am thankful they chose to “water” giving back and self-sacrificing countless hours to help others and make us proud to be lawyers.

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