By Dustin J. Seibert
Chicago Lawyer correspondent
Personal-injury firm Tomasik Kotin Kasserman thrives on being a small practice that allows its attorneys to provide plenty of attention to its clients. But even the 5,600 square feet at its former office at 10 S. LaSalle St. was getting a bit snug for the staff.
So, after four years at the LaSalle Street location, the firm moved to 161 N. Clark St. on May 1. Founding partner Timothy Tomasik said the list of buildings they looked at for their new quarters is “longer than that of the one we didn’t.”
“This space has commanding views of city,” Tomasik said. “We’re really blessed to have the lake on the east and be next to the Daley Center, City Hall and the Thompson Center. We’ve paid attention to every detail and the building [staff] was very supportive.”
The war room
The new offices have 9,000 square feet, and the firm has the option to take on another 4,000. Though it’s not a huge change in square footage from the former office, it’s enough to alter staff movements a bit.
“The old space was no different than a smaller house — you could say a name anywhere and someone will likely hear you,” Tomasik said. “Now it’s a bit more of a walk to get to others.”
Tomasik said the goal of the partners was to develop a “state-of-the-art law firm that’s high-tech and can support elite trial lawyers as well as a great team of support staff.”
“What we’re really designed to do here is try cases,” he said. “We have space to set up a war room and we have high-definition monitors in conference rooms that allows for real-time imaging. We can plug in a trial electronically and support at least two trials at the same time.”
Tomasik said the partners were very conscious about the design of the new office, giving thanks to partner Daniel Kotin’s wife Jean, who played a role in designing both TKK offices.
“She put a lot of time and creativity in our design from furniture to carpets to floors while maintaining our brand throughout,” Tomasik said.
The most eye-catching design in the office is the fact that each partner’s office is designed with a nod to their personality. Tomasik’s has an old propeller and tchotchkes to represent his aviation practice; Daniel Kotin’s office is full of dark wood and large furniture that gives his office an anachronistic feel. Each partner office contains a comfortable seating area for clients.
“While we all like traditional design, we wanted traditional along with high tech,” Tomasik said. “For example, we looked for cleaner lines, and rather than having hardwood, we have washed walnut wood.”
The early days
Tomasik said he co-founded the firm with partners from Corboy & Demetrio after “15 fantastic years with my mentor and great friend Bob Clifford at Clifford Law Offices,” he said. During the firm’s first month, he said, they were “literally working out of banker’s boxes, folding tables and chairs.”
“It wasn’t planned this way but we ended up with two cases set for jury trial in first three weeks,” he said. “We had two trial teams and our office looked like a cross between a John Grisham novel and a Saturday Night Live skit with our copy machine, temporary desks and signs all written with Sharpies.
“We tried significant cases and got one nice verdict. We’ve been fortunate to continue growing the practice with a nice upward trend for all these years.”
The firm started with four partners and one associate. It now has two associates, including James McKay Jr., who is of counsel after a 30-year career with the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. The new office has the space to add more attorneys and law clerks.
“Our intention to maintain the design of the practice itself, in which we can really give clients individual attention from both partner and associate,” Tomasik said. “We’re always available after business hours.”
Tomasik attributes the success of the firm to the “true partnership” among the firm’s employees.
“We put clients first and the profession right along with that,” he said. “We’re all committed to the legal community, bar associations and charities we support. While were always trying to generate revenue, lawyer income is not what were focused on. Having the priorities that we do has helped drive our success.”
Photos by Rena Naltsas