Level up

Opening Statement

Paul Dailing


March 2019

I’m writing this column in the dreaded depths of winter, when the polars keep vortexing and the weather apps keep swearing at me.

Hopefully, it’ll be warmer by the time these words reach you, because this is one you’ll want to enjoy in comfort.

Before we get to the contents, a moment to praise the wrapping, specifically the beautiful, penny dreadful-inspired cover by illustrator Eugene Smith. It’s not every artist you can send the covers of an 1890 Illustrated Police News and a 1973 Strange Sports Stories comic book and say “Run with it,” but run with it Eugene did.

(I was later able to find out from the British Library Board’s newspaper archives that the monkey gunfight from the Police News cover was between two Parisian circus animals mimicking their dueling owners — I call shenanigans on the story, incidentally — but I couldn’t find any scans online of the full Strange Sports Stories. We may never know the answer to the cover’s illustrated plea, “How did a dinosaur get to run in a modern-day horse race?”)

The centerpiece of this dinosaur-and-monkey-free issue of Chicago Lawyer is the Largest Law Firms Survey, our yearly tally of the ups and downs of firm staff counts. As always, our endless thanks to the marketing and PR teams who scramble to complete our yearly survey, tracking down the data on firm size, associate pay, diversity and office facilities we’ll publish throughout the year.

This issue also takes a look at that quagmire known as D.C. (the capital, not the publisher of Strange Sports Stories). With last year’s midterms giving the nation a Republican Senate and a Democratic House, attorneys who specialize in banking and finance law are in a particular pickle, waiting to see if pro-regulation or anti-regulation forces will take the day. Reporter Tatiana Walk-Morris talked to local experts and representatives to see how you should advise your clients.

For our Q&A feature this month, reporter Dustin J. Seibert sat down with attorney Ross Hersemann, who practices in an industry that has been deemed by SCOTUS to be a form of free speech, did $134 billion in business last year according to analyst Newzoo and struggles to be taken seriously. I’m talking about video games. Photographer Rena Naltsas’ photoshoot took place at Replay Lincoln Park bar/arcade.

Also featuring Rena’s photos are the Spaces profile of Banner Witicoff’s new offices and the Pro Bono Focus on lawyer Laura Bernescu’s volunteer work with victims of sexual exploitation and gender violence. Reporter Adrianna Pitrelli talked with Bernescu to learn how the Skadden associate’s immigrant experience fueled her interest in law.

There are many ways to level up, from growing your firm to put the big in Big Law to taking an art project and really running with it to the more literal leveling up in a video game. You can take shortcuts or cheat codes (up up down down left right left right B A) or you can knuckle down and put in the hard work your task requires.

This issue, from cover to cover, is full of people who did.


Paul Dailing