RONALD J. GARDINER
Thomas G. Gardiner
- Leading Lawyer, 2016-present
- Illinois Super Lawyer, 2007-present
- Niagara Foundation (traveled with a delegation of judges and lawyers to Turkey, promoting US/Turkish relations)
- President (2001), Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Director, South Suburban Bar Association
- Trustee, Village of Glenwood (Chairman of Police, Judicial and Building Committees), 1985-1994
- Trustee, Prairie State College, 1981-1993 (Chairman, 1984-1989)
- Badger High School District board member, 2006-07
- Town of Linn Plan Commission, 2008-present
- General Counsel, Southland Chamber of Commerce, 2014-present
- Other Positions: Board member for two non-profits; on church council at two churches; advisory boards of other organizations
- Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University School of Law
- Certified Trial Instructor, National Institute of Trial Advocacy
- Former Supervisor of Trial Lawyers, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
- Guest Instructor at various Chicago-area law schools.
- Judge, John Marshall Law School Thirtieth Annual International Moot Court Competition in Information Technology & Privacy Law
- Articles published in Illinois Municipal League Journal, Illinois Tax Financing publication, Chicago Tribune, Screen Magazine, American Bar Association Journal, Association of Community College Trustee Quarterly, and Southland Chamber of Commerce Magazine; forthcoming article on Substitution of Judges in DuPage County Bar Journal
- Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology
- Speaking Engagements: Expert Disclosures in Personal Injury Litigation before the South Suburban Bar Association; “Employment Issues” before the Will County Bar Association; The Implications of the Nichols Case Before the Illinois Waste Water Treatment Association; speaking on various subjects before the Illinois Municipal League; Open Meetings Act before the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, “When It Rains, It Pours” held by Horton Insurance Group
- “Consent to Search in Response to Police Threat to Seek or Obtain Search Warrant: Some Alternatives,” 71 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 175 (1980)
After graduating from the Northwestern University School of Law in 1981, Tom worked at a series of important positions before launching GKWW with Jim Koch in 1992. Tom Gardiner has successfully represented individuals, municipalities and business entities in an exceptionally encyclopedic variety of contexts, all the way up to the Supreme Court, where he collaborated with his GKWW partners on the case of Illinois v. Wardlow.
Tom’s myriad other accomplishments have not gone unrecognized. Every year since 2007, Tom’s peers have selected him as an Illinois Super Lawyer, placing him as one of the top lawyers in his practice areas. He has also been chosen as a Leading Lawyer by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and his peers. Tom holds membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum–a distinction limited to trial lawyers who have demonstrated exceptional skill, experience, and excellence in advocacy by achieving a trial verdict, award or settlement in the amount of $1 million or more.
Tom’s work on behalf of injured individuals covers matters from medical malpractice, personal injury, products liability, wrongful death litigation and nursing home litigation to civil rights actions. Over the course of his sterling career, Tom’s efforts have resulted in the awarding of many millions of dollars to his clients: for instance, the Richmond case. In this case, John Wrona and Tom achieved a $2.75 million settlement for a motorist who had to drive off the interstate to avoid colliding with an overturned 18-wheeler.
Tom’s scope of expertise extends far beyond the advocacy he engages on behalf of individuals. Tom has also demonstrated remarkable success representing municipalities in matters of housing and employment discrimination, retaliatory discharge claims, police brutality, malicious prosecution, harassment, false arrest and constitutional rights. An excellent example: the summary judgment that Barry Owen and Tom secured in Nichols v. City of Chicago Heights, a multi-million dollar class action suit brought against the city. The case, which was brought in connection with a record rainfall that took place across the Chicago area in April of 2006, hinged on questions of municipal responsibility and immunity. GKWW’s defense of the city carried the day in both the trial and appellate courts.
In representing a person wrongfully convicted, Tom was part of a team of lawyers that won a $21 million dollar jury verdict. Tom is also certified in collaborative divorce. Private entities also seek Tom’s counsel in matters involving both transaction and litigation. From the formation of new companies to navigation of the thorny corporate issues that mark a successful company’s day-to-day, Tom’s advice keeps many of Chicago’s wealthiest businesses on a steady course. Tom’s expertise covers contracts, acquisitions, sales of shares, real estate, business asset purchases and sales and succession, as well as general contract and employment matters. On the litigation side, Tom’s representation has supported his corporate clients in matters ranging from contract disputes to complex commercial, employment, restrictive covenant and intellectual property cases.
Tom also feels strongly about his role as an educator outside the halls of GKWW–both of law’s next generation and of the public at large. He has served for many years as an Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy at his alma mater, the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and welcomes the opportunity to teach on a guest basis at other institutes of higher learning. A prolific author, Tom’s work has been extensively published in industry journals, magazines, and newspapers.
James B. Koch
- New Trier School Board, Winnetka, IL, 2003 – 2011; President-2005-06;2008-09; 2009-10
- Executive Committee and Board of Governors, North Suburban Special Education District, 2003 – 2011 (President 2008 – 09)
- Adjunct Professor, Northwestern University School of Law
- Northwestern University Graduate School of Education and Social Policy
Over the course of more than three decades as a trial and appellate attorney, GKWW co-founder James B. Koch brought scores of clients to resoundingly successful resolution in both settlement and litigation. Jim’s straightforward, practical approach and comprehensive trial experience conspired to position him as one of the most effective, respected securities and commodities attorneys in the country.
This respect is by no means unfounded. Jim successfully defended over $500 million in claims in state and federal courts across a wide range of entities: individuals; institutional and individual investors; owners; upper management; employees of securities firms and brokerages.
He argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court and briefed a third. Jim also successfully tried hundreds of trials in state and federal court–as well as before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC), the National Futures Association (NFA) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). As a lawyer in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Public Integrity Unit, Jim handled dozens of high-profile jury and bench trials. He was also specially appointed as a special United States Attorney in connection with the prosecution of a former Chicago alderman.
In addition to representing his clients before these regulatory organizations, Jim also counseled them on compliance policies and related issues (such as statutory interpretation of regulatory issues, including fraud and racketeering). For example, Jim obtained a permanent injunction–and a $652,000 judgment–in the Southern District of New York for an international securities firm in a case of first impression brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Jim was frequently called into court to deal with the most contentious of divorce cases.
For his successes in these diverse areas, Jim enjoyed membership in Elite Lawyers of America. This distinction is strictly limited to prosecutors and trial lawyers who have tried more than 100 bench and 25 jury trials, argued more than 25 cases in the appellate court, argued before the United States Supreme Court, have practiced law at least 25 years and have successfully tried more than 100 arbitrations and reparations. These are rarefied ranks indeed.
Outside the work he engaged for clients, Jim was a powerful voice in the sphere of higher education. Having earned several degrees (an undergraduate degree from Loyola University, a law degree from the IIT-Chicago-Kent College of Law and a Master’s Degree in Education from Northwestern University), he was passionate about contributing to the growth of the next generation of attorneys. He served as an adjunct trial advocacy professor at Northwestern University School of Law and taught part-time at the Northwestern University Graduate School of Education and Social Policy (as well as The Latin School).
Lynn N. Weisberg
- Executive Vice President and Board Member, Community Foundation for Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago, 2001
- Member, Board of Directors, The Enterprising Kitchen, 2003-2005
- Member, Board of Directors, American Judicature Society, 1997-1999 Published Author
- Illinois Super Lawyer, 2013 & 2014
- Leading Lawyer, 2016 to present
- First-prize winner: Lowden-Wigmore Prize for Legal Scholarship, 1993
- Appointed as Child’s Representative in the Circuit Court of Cook County in more than 75 cases.
- Drafted brief in U.S. Supreme Court case of Illinois v. Wardlow
- Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology
- Co-Author: “Shared Parenting in the Determination of Child Support,” Inside the Minds: Strategies For Family Law in Illinois
GKWW Partner Lynn N. Weisberg joined Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona in 1993 as the firm’s very first associate. Lynn joined the firm after graduation from the Northwestern University School of Law, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Northwestern University Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Prior to attending law school, Lynn graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and subsequently earned a Master’s from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Upon joining us at GKWW, Lynn quickly established herself as the firm’s family law expert, wielding her considerable experience in a diverse scope of related matters: divorce, custody, spousal support and visitation matters, adoption, paternity actions, and pre- and post-marital agreements, as well as other areas affected by divorce: estate planning, real estate, and general litigation. She is certified in Collaborative Divorce and has been trained and approved as a mediator by the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Lynn is on a court-approved list of child’s representatives and is appointed by judges to represent the interests of children in cases involving contentious custody and visitation litigation. So far, she has logged over 75 child rep appointments by over one dozen judges.
John R. Wrona
- Leading Lawyer, 2016-present
- Illinois Super Lawyer, 2012-present
- Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum
- Co-Executive Director, Naperville Jaycees 2008 Last Fling Labor Day Festival ($200,000 raised for local charities)
- Adjunct Professor of Law in Trial Advocacy, Northwestern University School of Law, 2007-present
Partner John R. Wrona focuses his practice on righting wrongs. In doing so, he represents severely injured persons and their families, bringing longed-for closure to some of the most trying circumstances one can imagine facing.
John established himself as a seasoned trial lawyer at a young age. After graduating from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and earning his law degree from the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, John began his career with other firms from 1997-1999. John joined GKWW in 2000–the same year in which he brought the first of his many million-dollar resolutions. Based upon his tremendous record of success, John was made partner in the firm in 2005 and became a named partner in 2008.
During his tenure with GKWW, John has played the lead role in obtaining over $50 million in recoveries on behalf of clients in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases (as well as business, municipal and commercial litigation cases). The content of these cases extends from negligence, medical malpractice, wrongful death, stillbirth, nursing home neglect, vehicular accidents and battery to product liability, prison medical staff malpractice and excessive force.
To all these cases, John brings not only the force of his comprehensive experience but a sense of steadfastness and empathy where these qualities are direly needed. For example: in Farissier vs. Northwest Oncology, John obtained a jury verdict of $5.42 million representing the family of a 55-year-old woman who died due to medical negligence during the treatment of her cancer. In Egan vs. Clune Construction, a young electrician sustained significant and permanent injuries as a result of a fall from the second floor at a Chicago commercial building; John obtained a $2,325,000 settlement in cash for him, in addition to the waiver of a $400,000 workers compensation lien. In Louis Prosecky v Peterson, John Wrona won a $2.75 million dollar settlement for an electrician who suffered serious burns on his arms in the workplace. Recently, John filed Roeder vs. Casey Transportation, on behalf of the estate of a 17-year-old boy who was killed when he was rear-ended by a semi.
Outside client advocacy, John is proud to share his extensive knowledge and experience in the academic setting. He has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law in Trial Advocacy at Northwestern University School of Law for more than ten years and enjoys many opportunities to teach as an invited lecturer at continuing legal education seminars.
Jennifer N. Airato joined Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona as an associate attorney in 2006 and was made partner six years later. Ms. Airato practices exclusively in the area of family law and handles all aspects of dissolution of marriage and parentage proceedings, including the allocation of parental responsibility (colloquially known as “custody”), parenting time, child support, maintenance, division of assets, orders of protection and post-judgment proceedings.
Ms. Airato is a wife and mother of three. The valuable resultant insight into family dynamics helps her to guide healthy custody arrangements–as well as parenting schedules that are practical, and which place the children first.
Ms. Airato’s mentality is always settlement-oriented; she firmly believes that, if possible, it is better to resolve issues outside of the courtroom rather than having a judge decide. After all, the involved parties know their family better than anyone else. Moreover, settlement allows the client to craft their own agreements and remain in control of their lives. With that being said, sometimes settlement is not possible; in those situations, Ms. Airato confidently represents her clients in the courtroom.
Ms. Airato was named as an Emerging Lawyer by Leading Lawyers in 2015 and 2016. Emerging Lawyers have been identified by their peers as the top lawyers who are age 40 or younger. Less than 2% of all lawyers licensed in Illinois have earned this distinction.
Ms. Airato received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law in 2006. While in law school, she participated in the Civitas Child Law Clinic, where she represented children in custody proceedings and child protection cases.
Partner Barry C. Owen concentrates his flourishing practice in municipal litigation and civil rights litigation in state and federal courts. He joined Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona in August 2009, and we were proud to name him as a partner just five years later.
Barry’s accolades are considerable and well-earned: For instance, he was recently recognized by Leading Lawyers Magazine as an Emerging Lawyer, an honor that fewer than 2% of lawyers under the age of 40 receive.
Such honors owe in great part to Barry’s hard-driving determination to achieve the best possible result for his clients–and he does just that, with an extensive list of examples thereof. Recently, Barry led a team that successfully defended a multimillion-dollar class action flooding suit in the case Nichols v. The City of Chicago Heights.
Barry earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Marquette University in May 1999, graduating with a double major in Classical Studies and Political Science. Barry went on to work in politics and publishing in Chicago and London before tackling the demanding program at the Loyola University Chicago Law School. There, he made Dean’s List, earning his Juris Doctorate degree and a Certificate in Trial Advocacy. After graduation, Barry clerked for Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Hogan and was an extern for United States District Court Judge Ronald A. Guzman.
Prior to joining us at GKWW, Barry practiced law at a boutique civil litigation firm in Chicago. There, he defended government employees in civil rights litigation at the trial and appellate levels, represented corporations involved in complex commercial litigation and employment disputes and represented companies and individuals before various local government agencies.
- The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act: Solution or Mere Paper Tiger?, Loyola University Chicago International Law Review, Volume 4, Issue 2 (co-author).
• Obtained appellate decision in favor of municipality on issue of first impression after oral argument and successfully obtaining two summary judgments at the trial court level.
• Successfully represented healthcare company regarding fraud and embezzlement matters against executive director.
• Successfully represented trading firm in investigation by regulator regarding disruptive trading activity.
• Successfully represented trader in investigation regarding high frequency trading.