Clifford Law Offices is bolstering its medical-negligence practice by adding Kenneth C. Chessick and three associates with his firm.
Chessick, a licensed physician who has also worked as a general surgeon, has run his own firm since 1984 and focused exclusively on representing plaintiffs in medical-malpractice cases.
“By merging his practice into Clifford Law Offices, we’re able to give him a platform to continue his good work,” said Robert A. Clifford, the firm’s founding partner. “But also to pace himself in a way that fits his family and personal needs.”
Chessick said he approached Clifford about two months ago to discuss merging the firms.
“So, I decided to share the load and find a firm that can do well by my clients and do well by me,” Chessick said. “They are a great law firm and I have admired them for many years.”
Chessick is a major booster of Northern Illinois University, whose law school he graduated from in 1984.
Two years ago, Chessick and his wife, Ellen, donated $3 million in initial money for an athletic practice facility at the university in DeKalb.
After last year’s season that led to an Orange Bowl appearance, the NIU football team has an 8-0 record and is ranked 17th in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
The football team practiced at the facility — which will be used for all sports except basketball and gymnastics — before its game last weekend against Eastern Michigan University.
Last weekend, the $9.3 million Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Facility officially opened at a dedication ceremony.
“I just want to give back in general to public education,” Chessick said. “But to NIU in particular because it’s a blue-collar school — my kind of school that reflects the way I was 50 years ago.”
The other three lawyers headed to Clifford Law Offices as associates are Magdalena Dworak-Mathews, Jasna Krupalija Davis and Marta M. Kowalczyk. Chessick joins as of counsel.
With the addition of the four lawyers, which becomes official Friday, Clifford Law Offices will have 22 lawyers. The firm primarily represents plaintiffs in wrongful-death and personal-injury matters.
Chessick’s firm has recovered more than $100 million for clients with catastrophic injuries stemming from medical, hospital, product and other negligence. He’ll close its Arlington Heights office and plans to bring 50 medical-malpractice cases with him.
Clifford is looking forward to working on some of Chessick’s cases and said he has long admired his work.
“He has a unique perspective as a medical doctor as well as a juris doctor,” Clifford said. “We have much to learn from him in the way he’s been so successful in his career to date.”
All of the lawyers at Clifford’s office work on medical-malpractice cases. But three partners — Keith A. Hebeisen, Susan A. Capra and Bradley M. Cosgrove, along with associate Sarah F. King — primarily handle those matters.
Chessick, 69, said he will supervise and work on the cases his firm brings, along with existing cases at Clifford Law Offices.
“The reason I’ve been so successful as a lawyer is because of the combination of the legal training and experience and medical training,” Chessick said. “They get my mind, experience and judgment along with the cases.”
Chessick maintains his medical license but does not see patients and stopped performing surgeries in 2002.
Dworak-Mathews is juggling the move with preparing for a medical-malpractice trial as second chair with Cosgrove. The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, is set to begin Monday at the Daley Center.
For about the last two weeks, Dworak-Mathews spent mornings working in Chessick’s suburban office. She then headed to Clifford’s Loop offices in the afternoon to work with Cosgrove on trial preparations.
Dworak-Mathews won’t be able to settle into her new office downtown until the trial ends.
“I probably will live out of boxes for several weeks,” she said.