Michael Goldberg grew up the son of working-class parents who, at times, struggled due to the inequities of the corporate world. The need for an education and the importance of protecting the working class were stressed by his parents throughout his childhood. His parents were especially proud to be related to Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, who served as the Secretary of Labor under President John F. Kennedy. Arthur Goldberg, while serving as general counsel for the United Steelworkers of America, has been credited with strengthening organized labor in America by engineering the combination of the AFL with the CIO. With such a strong role model, Goldberg decided to become an attorney and to devote his career to helping the working-class citizens of this country.
Shortly after graduating from DePaul University College of Law in 1974, attorney Goldberg began working for the Illinois Attorney General’s office in the Industrial Commission division. It was there that he developed his extensive knowledge of workers’ compensation law. While representing the state of Illinois in cases involving work-related injuries, he recognized the need for the injured union worker to have a law firm that understood the type of work that union workers routinely performed. He also saw that many small law firms representing injured workers were ill equipped to fight the large insurance companies with their vast financial resources. Wanting to represent injured workers, he left the Attorney General’s office for private practice.
Goldberg had met Larry E. Weisman in law school. Weisman, too, was born into a working-class family with deep union roots. His grandmother, one of the first organizers for the Ladies Garment Workers Union, was proud of her struggles to obtain a fair wage and safe working conditions for her fellow workers. Weisman grew up listening to her stories of struggle and triumph on behalf of the many oppressed workers she organized. Weisman’s first job after law school was with one of the premier defense firms. He represented large insurance companies against injured workers. While he found this side of the practice to be distasteful, it was a great place to hone the skills that later made him one of the premier third-party injury lawyers in the state of Illinois.
In 1978, Goldberg and Weisman began a partnership that continues to this day.
In 1980, a bright, talented law student from Loyola Law School appeared in their lobby looking for a job. Louis C. Cairo had heard about the young, aggressive law firm committed to helping injured workers and he wanted an opportunity to learn from the lawyers at this firm. Cairo not only excelled in trial competitions throughout the United States, but more importantly to Goldberg and Weisman, he had worked in the construction trades throughout high school and college. He understood all facets of construction.
Cairo was the son of an immigrant union carpenter, with a deep and profound respect for his union upbringing. He knew that it was the union wages earned by the father that enabled him to attend college and law school. Cairo was hired as the firms’ first law clerk and he developed into one of the most revered trial attorneys in the practice of Chicago construction accident law.