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; 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,” Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology.
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 many years of litigation experience and ability to connect with judges and jurors has allowed has allowed him to achieve tremendous results for those who have experienced catastrophic injuries. Teaming up with John Wrona and other members of the GKWW team has led to tremendous results for the families of those who have died or for individuals who have survived the accident.
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 truck driver who had to drive off the interstate to avoid colliding with an overturned 18-wheeler. Tom’s litigation experience has caused clients to seek his services in areas beyond catastrophic injury cases. For example, Tom was part of a trial team that won a $21 million wrongful conviction verdict – at the time, one of the largest civil rights verdicts ever awarded by a jury.
Private entities 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 most successful 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 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.
Tom was recently featured in the 2019 Consumer Edition of Leading Lawyers Magazine.
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 representing severely injured persons and their families, bringing longed-for closure to those experiencing the most trying circumstances one can imagine facing.
John focuses his practice on medical malpractice, birth injuries, construction injuries, nursing home neglect, aviation and boating cases, auto and trucking accidents, product liability, and excessive force/civil rights cases.
To all these cases, John brings not only the force of his comprehensive experience but a sense of empathy where that quality is direly needed. He steadfastly discovers and gathers the evidence to prove his clients’ cases. 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 obtained a $5 million settlement in Roeder vs. KC Transportation, on behalf of the estate of a 17-year-old boy who was killed when his vehicle was rear- ended by a semi. He also settled a transplant negligence case against a Chicago area hospital for $1.5 million for the death of a 66-year-old woman.
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. John has also been named a Super Lawyer for the last 6 years and a Leading Lawyer for the last 4 years, selected by his legal peers.
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.
- 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.
Michelle M. LaGrotta is an attorney with extensive experience litigating commercial, municipal and securities matters. Her experience includes the representation of municipalities on a range of issues including contract, surety, and TIF Act disputes. She defends individuals and trading firms in investigations and enforcement actions before regulatory agencies such as the CFTC, SEC, FINRA, FINCEN, the United States Attorneys’ Office, and the Department of Justice. Additionally, she represents individuals and businesses in commercial disputes and business torts.
Michelle received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she graduated cum laude and earned a Certificate in Child and Family Law. During her law school career, Michelle participated in the Civitas Child Law Clinic, where she represented children in child custody and child protection cases. Ms. LaGrotta also interned at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office and Family Defense Center.
Michelle received her Bachelor’s of Science in psychology from Loyola University Chicago, where she graduated summa cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Kellie J. Sellman is a partner at Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona and has extensive experience in commercial and business litigation matters in both state and federal court. Due to the significant growth of the condominium practice since she joined GKWW in 2011, Kellie now largely concentrates her practice in the area of Common Interest Community Associations law and represents Boards in a variety of matters, including governance, litigation and collection matters, and the amending of governing documents. Kellie provides strategic legal counsel to her clients and works closely with both property managers and Association Boards to achieve the best results for each Association.
Prior to joining Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona, Kellie practiced law at a boutique family law firm where she spent four years handling family law litigation matters. Kellie received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2007, where she earned a Certificate in Child and Family Law. During her law school career, Kellie was a member of Loyola’s Family Law Moot Court team, where she received the 8th place Best Oralist Award in the National Moot Court Competition in Child Welfare & Adoption Law, and co-authored an article in the Loyola University Chicago International Law Review.
Kellie received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, graduating with a double major in Political Science and Sociology.
Vincent A. Lavieri has over 30 years experience representing clients in state and federal courts in general real estate, corporate, business, and commercial litigation. He also provides general representation to condominium and homeowners association. Vince also has significant experience in prosecuting and defending appeals. He has represented clients before federal and state agencies including the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, and the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation.
Vince also served on the Hearing Board of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (2004 – 2013). Vince graduated with high honors from the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he was a member of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. After graduation, he served as a law clerk to Justice Calvin C. Campbell of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, before entering private practice.
Dick joined GKWW in October of 2012, as a senior associate. He has over 25 years experience in the field of personal injury and has concentrated his time, efforts and litigation skills representing injured persons, workers, their spouses and families in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. He was born and raised in the Chicago area. He graduated from DePaul College of Law with Honors in 1985, while employed full time as a union worker. He was admitted to the Illinois Bar that same year.
Dick has successfully represented clients at the trial level in Cook, DuPage, Lake, and Will Counties. He has prosecuted appeals on behalf of his clients before the Illinois Appellate Court for both the First and Second Districts, and he has argued successfully before the Illinois Supreme Court.
Dick has been married for 34 years and is the proud father of four grown children.
Shannon V. Condon joined Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona as an associate attorney in March 2013. Ms. Condon concentrates her practice in the areas of general civil litigation, as well as medical malpractice and personal injury litigation. Since joining GKWW, Ms. Condon has played an integral role in recovering millions of dollars for injured clients in medical malpractice and catastrophic injury cases. She has tried a number of cases to verdict both via jury and bench trials.
Additionally, Ms. Condon has been very involved in several complex receivership matters at GKWW, representing individuals appointed to act as business receivers. She has also served as a court-appointed Special Master in relation to discovery disputes and other similar matters.
Prior to joining GKWW, Ms. Condon practiced law at a boutique commercial litigation firm in Chicago. Ms. Condon received her Juris Doctorate from The John Marshall Law School. Throughout her law school career, Ms. Condon spent several semesters working with Judge James E. Sullivan, a trial judge in the Law Division at the Circuit Court of Cook County. While there, she helped manage the adjudication of over 400 consolidated cases. During law school, Ms. Condon also worked at several civil litigation firms and interned with the Homicide Task Force at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office.
Donald D. Gardiner joined Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona in 2004 after serving as a suburban police officer and with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. He frequently handles real estate, personal injury, general court cases and estate planning matters. Don graduated from The John Marshall Law School and holds degrees from Lewis University (Master of Science) the University of Illinois Police Training Institute (Law Enforcement Certification) and Illinois State University (Bachelor of Science, Criminal Justice).
He is a former secretary and a former member of the board of directors of the South Suburban Bar Association.
Stephen D. Pauwels
Member, American Constitution Society Chicago Chapter Board of Directors; Member, Chicago-Kent College of Law Young Alumni Council
Laundry and Cable Television: How the Seventh Circuit Preserved Consumer Protection Class Action Litigation from Washing Down the Tubes, 9 Seventh Circuit Rev. 234 (2014).
Stephen D. Pauwels is an associate with GKWW litigating commercial, municipal, and employment matters. Before coming to us, Stephen represented clients ranging from international corporations in complex commercial litigation to individual and collective clients in employment disputes in federal and state trial courts, appellate courts, and administrative agencies. In the summer of 2012, Stephen served as a judicial intern for the Honorable James G. Carr of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. An alumnus of Chicago-Kent College of Law, he was Executive Articles Editor of the Chicago-Kent Law Review and Staff Editor of the Seventh Circuit Review. Stephen was an active member of the Moot Court Honors Society which awarded him the Mark A. Grinker Award in 2014 and the Edmund A. Burke Alumni Award in 2015
Before law school, Stephen worked in local government handling zoning, planning, and economic development matters. He has a B.A. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he was a Charles ‘Chick’ Evans Scholar and double-majored in Political Science and History.
Bar Admissions: Illinois, US Dist. Ct. Northern District of Illinois.
Daniel Hollis is an attorney in the firm’s Chicago office. His practice focus is personal injury, car accident, wrongful death and medical malpractice litigation.
Prior to joining Gardiner Koch Weisberg & Wrona, Daniel worked as a law clerk at a Chicago-based personal injury law firm. As a law clerk, he wrote several successful oppositions to dispositive motions integral to assisting attorneys in the recovery of millions of dollars for clients in personal injury cases.
Prior to law school, Daniel worked for two years at a personal injury law firm in Los Angeles where he gained valuable exposure to the nuts and bolts of litigation.
Daniel earned his JD with a Certificate in Advocacy from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. While in law school he was named to the Dean’s list and served as a Student Articles Editor of the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal. He also volunteered with the Loyola Community Law Center where he represented clients from the initial interview through courtroom appearances in child custody related matters.
Daniel has a Bachelor’s Degree from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, majoring in both Political Science and History.