Michael Foradas, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, has been practicing since 1981, having joined Kirkland after graduating from Northwestern University.
He has a litigation practice which includes both products/mass tort and commercial disputes. He said his practice is national, and at any given time he is unlikely to have more than one or two cases in Chicago.
What do you find most interesting about your practice?
Undoubtedly, trying cases. All trial lawyers have heard about the “vanishing trial.” I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of trials over the last few years. If you fancy yourself a trial lawyer and don’t relish trying cases above all else, it’s probably time to find a new line of work. I also really enjoy the fact that being a lawyer lets you learn about a wide variety of businesses and industries. In my own practice, I’ve represented clients ranging from chemical companies to hedge funds. You learn a lot about what makes business tick, and you get immersed in a variety of corporate cultures.
What makes a good lawyer?
Two things: being a good listener and being flexible. Too many lawyers are impressed with their own ideas, and they don’t take time to listen to clients, colleagues, judges and even opposing counsel. A good lawyer takes it all in and is willing to adjust his or her strategy and thinking based on new ideas and new developments. Litigation is fluid and dynamic, and a good trial lawyer is willing to adjust, sometimes on the fly.
What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?
Health care reform. Is this a “legal” issue? Perhaps not, strictly speaking — at least right now. But what happens with the legislative agenda concerning health care reform, especially the so-called “public option” if it is adopted in any form, is bound to create a huge amount of legal uncertainty and spawn seismic changes in the legal relationships among doctors, hospitals, patients and, yes, the government.
For litigators, this will likely be a bonanza — and one that neither Congress nor the public will welcome — as all of the constituents jockey for position and fight over the rights and duties created by any legislative reforms. I’m willing to bet that a lot of health care lawyers are devoting huge amounts of time developing their strategy on how to address these changes on behalf of their clients.