Shawn S. Kasserman
Shawn S. Kasserman

A Chicago-based plaintiff’s lawyer has been elected as third vice president of the Illinois State Bar Association, putting him in line to serve as president in three years.

Shawn S. Kasserman, a partner at Tomasik Kotin Kasserman LLC, won a three-way race after ballots were counted Monday.

Kasserman earned 1,961 votes in the three-way race, besting Ava George Stewart’s 1,508 votes and Nora Ann Devine’s 1,165 votes.

Kasserman will take the reins of the statewide bar group in June 2023. Starting next month, he’ll be third vice president, and in the next two board years he’ll serve as second vice president and president-elect.

The ISBA’s annual meeting, which was scheduled to be held June 18-20 at a St. Louis hotel, was canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with the Daily Law Bulletin, Kasserman said he enjoyed his time campaigning — a six-month process starting when the candidates could formally announce on Oct. 1, 2019.

“It’s actually a really fun process,” he said. “You cross paths with old friends. It’s a lot of work, it’s a long time.”

As COVID-19 cases started to climb and event cancellations cleared social calendars, the campaign changed, Kasserman said.

That meant no more leaving TKK’s Loop office at 4:30 to work crowds at bar association cocktail gatherings and plenty more time in front of a computer screen.

“I really enjoyed the interaction with people, and I tried to do that when we were in our houses.”“It slowed it down physically and moved it to an electronic format.”

Kasserman joined the ISBA in 1990, the same year he started as an associate at Corboy & Associates. He’s currently the organization’s treasurer, a position elected by members of the ISBA Board of Governors.

Kasserman was president of the ISBA’s Young Lawyers Division in 1997-98 and was president of the Illinois Bar Foundation board in 2015-16. He’s also the current vice president of the Illinois chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Along with partners Daniel M. Kotin and Timothy S. Tomasik, Kasserman founded TKK in April 2013.

Kasserman said his campaign message was centered on making the ISBA relevant and meaningful to the incoming generation.

“My focus was to expand the ISBA’s utility for younger lawyers.”

He spoke about building relationships with law students around the state and formally reaching into the law schools.

In an era before the internet, bar associations were the best way to meet others in the profession and learn the ropes. That can still be true today, he said.

“It’s really going to help develop the legal and emotional capability of younger lawyers,” Kasserman said. “They are kind of united with new technology, new ideas, new energy.”

And as the economy stumbles, the bar association will adjust to tend to its membership, he said.

Kasserman, a former associate of influential plaintiff’s lawyer Philip H. Corboy, said he was “blessed with mentors early on” and that Corboy “pretty much demanded” active participation in the broader legal community.

Kasserman also said his view of ISBA was shaped early on by his late grandfather, George W. Kasserman Jr., who served as a judge in southern Illinois from 1958 through 1987, including eight years as a justice on the 5th District Appellate Court.

In the early ’90s, the ISBA honored the retired justice for his 50 years as a lawyer. The younger Kasserman traveled to St. Louis for the occasion.

“We walked through those local hotel halls, and my granny and granddad knew everyone.”

He said his deep family ties to central and southern Illinois — and his childhood summers spent in downstate Newton — make him very comfortable engaging attorneys from all parts of the state, even as a native of the suburbs west of Chicago.

Down the ballot

ISBA members had two competitive elections for seats on the Board of Governors, the administrative and managing body of the organization.

In a three-way race to fill two seats representing Cook County on the Board of Governors, voters picked Julie A. Johnson and Stephen M. Komie for three-year terms.

In an interview with Komie, the Chicago-based criminal defense attorney said this election is his seventh to the Board of Governors, though not all of them have been consecutive — ISBA bylaws impose term limits.

And he said his 19th year on the board sets a record for the 142-year-old association.

“I’m sort of the institutional director,” he said.

Komie said he’s from a generation of attorney who joined bar groups right out of law school as a key way to network, socialize and learn the profession.

“I got into the habit, and I’ve never broken the habit,” he said. “With friends throughout Illinois, it allows me to go in and appear and not be treated as though I’m an alien.”

In a Cook County seat designated for a governor under the age of 37, ISBA members picked Jennifer A. Haase, a partner at Pirok & Haase.

Also, 21 lawyers from Cook County were elected to the ISBA Assembly, the legislative body of the association.

They are: F. Michael Alkaraki, Patrice Ball-Reed, Joel L. Chupack, Christopher B. Cohen, Sandra Crawford, Umberto S. Davi, Jessica R. Durkin, Sharon L. Eiseman, Gail Tuler Friedman, Jesse Gonzalez, David P. Huber, Stephen M. Komie, Lori G. Levin, Jeffrey G. Liss, Bruno R. Marasso, Emily N. Masalski, Erica Crohn Minchella, Megan F. Monty, J. Damian Ortiz, Alan Pearlman and Chloe G. Pedersen.

•Kane County Assistant Public Defender Nicholas J. Feda won an uncontested race for an ISBA Assembly seat representing the 12th, 13th, 16th 21st, and 23rd judicial circuits.

•Heather A. McPherson of McPherson Law Offices in Freeport won an uncontested race for an assembly seat representing the 10th, 14th and 15th judicial circuits.

•J. David Sanders, law clerk to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, won an uncontested race for an assembly seat designated for a member younger than 37 who works outside of Cook County.