Proud alumnus Kerry Lavelle (’89) founded Lavelle Law, based in Schaumburg and with an office in downtown Chicago, more than 25 years ago. He has since taken a step away from management to work more with clients and says there are plans to expand the downtown office. Lavelle recently spoke with the College of Law and discussed how pursuing business law was a natural progression for him. He also highly recommends DePaul College of Law to anyone looking into law school.
Some responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Q: Why did you choose to attend DePaul Law?
Well it started with the desire to go to law school, and when I made that decision I had a target group of law schools that I wanted to go to in the Chicago area and DePaul was one of them. I had just graduated from DePaul’s business school. I have a M.B.A. from DePaul, and I felt very comfortable in the environment. And within the target range of schools that I’d like to have gone to, DePaul was my number one school. I got accepted, and I felt very comfortable there from day one.
Q: What inspired you to go into the area of law that you currently practice?
Coming out of business school, my family has a small business, and I always came up through the ranks taking business classes. I came up with that background, and I wanted to do business work when I got out of law school. I focused on tax and business-related classes.
Q: What do you remember most about your time at the law school?
Truthfully, the interactions with students and friendships, which I still have to this day. We spent a lot of time together, me and the study group guys. We spent Saturdays and Sundays together. We spent late nights together. We started going out with our wives and girlfriends at the time together. There was just three years of really being shoulder to shoulder with a close group of people. I’ve built lifetime relationships, and it’s just a collection of all of those times together that is what you kind of look back on and make you laugh.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your current position and what that entails?
I founded our firm, Lavelle Law, about 26 years ago. On the 25th anniversary I turned over the managing partner role to Ted McGinn. I am back to focusing on client relationships and working as a lawyer again. I still have a role in the business. We now have seven equity partners at the firm, and I still consult with management issues. There’s still some part of the practice that I kind of watch over carefully, but basically, the day to day is turned over to Ted McGinn. I’m back to practicing law and am in a full period of my career.
Q: Are you liking this role better, that you can focus on clients?
Yes, I enjoy it tremendously. We have great partners here at the firm, very responsible, hardworking folks.
Q: What would you consider your top two or three most interesting accomplishments since the start of your career?
I think the number one accomplishment is building a law practice that is community driven and that is a philanthropic kind of practice. We have a very strong devotion and dedication to pro bono work and providing justice for all. That’s probably my number one feel good from a law office I helped build.
The second is a law office where people don’t have to grind out 60 to 70 hours a week. It’s a very family focused practice. Over the years we get to know the families, and it’s just a really good place to be.
Q: In what kind of ways does your law firm participate within the community? Is there anything in particular or any other organizations you partner with?
Well there’s a few things we do. We do provide legal counsel for many of the 501 c-3 non-for-profits in the area. Many of our attorneys, including myself, over time have been on the boards of those nonprofits. We participate in the Rolling Meadows Courthouse help desk where an attorney goes and helps folks with legal problems that can’t afford a lawyer. We have signed up with several pro bono agencies that look for attorneys to take cases.