Michael F. Braun
As a litigator, Michael Braun is driven and precise; as a counselor, he strives to keep his clients out of court, saving them the time and expense of litigation while still protecting their interests. A consummate professional, he believes an attorney can deal cordially with opposing counsel without sacrificing a client's goals, the result often being to further the client's interests. His colleagues are confident his respect and sensitivity contribute to his rate of success. His clients praise him for his listening and problem-solving skills—analysis and persuasion the tools he employs to effect positive outcomes. He believes his good fortune has been to work throughout his career with attorneys who have stressed, both directly and by example, the importance of collegiality, preparation and creativity in case management.
Mike was attracted to a legal career as an undergraduate studying economics and political science at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he enjoyed analyzing the complexities inherent in those fields. During law school he worked for a legal aid office. After earning his J.D., Mike spent a year as a legal aid attorney, followed by more than six years with the Office of the State Appellate Defender in Elgin, Illinois, where he briefed and argued criminal appeals and presented more than 50 oral arguments to the Illinois Supreme and Appellate courts. As an assistant appellate defender, he also supervised the summer associates program and helped establish an appellate advocacy course at Northern Illinois University College of Law, which he taught for three years as an adjunct instructor.
Today Mike is a seasoned litigator and trial attorney with an impressive list of victories. While litigation and preparation for trial still constitute a substantial portion of his practice, counseling clients about avoiding or resolving litigation has become an increasingly important aspect of his representation. Obviously winning a trial is satisfying, he says, but preventing a problem from reaching the point where litigation becomes necessary is often more rewarding. Few clients, after all, welcome the prospect of going to trial.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
Mike's areas of expertise include litigation and counseling in the following areas: employment and benefits, business and commerce, securities and commodities, and intellectual property. As a successful litigator, Mike knows that diligence and preparedness before a case reaches a courtroom lead to victories once there. He believes he best serves his clients' interests through zealous advocacy and by creating an atmosphere of mutual respect, which, he has proven, often ensures favorable outcomes.
Mike's responsiveness and deft negotiating skills have proved particularly important in a realm of law he finds fascinating, one where employment issues have become increasingly important to business owners in the wake of surging discrimination claims and the enactment of such legislation as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. His work for the securities industry, with its own unique practices and customs, also requires substantial knowledge of employment law, particularly regarding areas of Mike's expertise—non-competition, non-solicitation and trade secret issues. Mike also:
- helps negotiate and draft employment and severance agreements for individuals and small businesses
- counsels individuals and businesses on various ways to avoid employment-related litigation and claims
- serves major corporations by counseling, negotiating and supervising local counsel and by conducting litigation and arbitrations
- provides consultation to human resource departments about employment issues
- has spoken at various H.R. seminars about a variety of relevant issues, from discrimination to violence in the workplace.
Noteworthy cases for which Mike helped secure positive results and on which he played a significant role include:
- Gordon v. Degelmann, 29 F.3d 295 (7th Cir. 1994)
- Willis v. Bell, 999 F.2d 284 (7th Cir. 1993), 726 F.Supp. 1118 and 784 F.Supp. 1360 (N.D. Ill. 1992)
- Bordelon v. Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees, 8 F.Supp.2d 779 (1998)
- Blessing/White v. Zehnder, 329 Ill.App.3d 714, 768 N.E.2d 332, 263 Ill.Dec. 572 (1st Dist. 2002), appeal denied, 201 Ill.2d 560, 786 N.E.2d 180, 271 Ill.Dec. 922 (2002)
- Midwest Decks, Inc., v. Butler & Baretz Acquisitions, Inc., 272 Ill.App.3d 370, 649 N.E.2d 511 (1st Dist. 1995)
- Dolezal v. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, S.C., 266 Ill.App.3d 1070, 640 N.E.2d 1359 (1st Dist. 1994)
- Prior Plumbing & Heating Co. v. Hagins, 258 Ill.App.3d 683, 630 N.E.2d 1208 (1st Dist. 1994).
From his work in public service to his success in saving corporations millions of dollars, Mike has served a wide spectrum of clients confronting equally diverse challenges. His reputation for providing vigorous and efficient representation—whether he is working independently or on a team—is well deserved. In April 2000, for example, Mike and a colleague tried a four-day arbitration in Dallas that won the client permanent injunctive relief and compensatory and punitive damages exceeding half a million dollars. The case, tried less than three weeks after being filed, sought compensation from two former employees of Schuyler, Roche & Crisham's client for business disparagement and breach of fiduciary duty, among other improprieties performed before they had resigned and joined a competing firm.
Of the numerous cases Mike has successfully tried, either alone or as a team member, highlights include:
- having personally defended an insurance company and others from a claim brought by a former officer concerning ownership of a related company; had the former officer prevailed, Schuyler, Roche & Crisham's client would have suffered disabling financial consequences
- saving millions of dollars on behalf of an insurance company being sued in a class action for breach of contract and securities fraud; after a two-and-a-half week trial in which Mike was a member of the courtroom trial team, the jury found for Schuyler, Roche & Crisham's client, a finding later affirmed on appeal
- representing a physician and his professional corporation in a dispute with a former colleague who claimed breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty; together with another Schuyler, Roche & Crisham attorney, Mike helped defeat the claims and enforce a non-competition agreement contained in a contract with the former colleague; this victory was affirmed on appeal
- assisting on an insurance liquidation case headed by Michael B. Roche in which—for the first time in Illinois history—an insurance company fended off the state's efforts at liquidation and emerged from the court proceedings as a viable entity
- obtaining a summary judgment for a prison inmate against the City of Chicago in connection with a police department policy; in this case, where a judge had appointed Mike and an Schuyler, Roche & Crisham colleague to act as counsel, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals not only upheld the decision, the trial judge in two separate published opinions praised Schuyler, Roche & Crisham's pro bono work.
Stressing preventative counseling as the logical way to combat the incalculable cost of litigation—but always ready to fight to protect a client's interests—Mike welcomes your call.