Growing up, Michael B. Goldberg (deceased March 2019) was proud to be related to Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, who made many significant contributions towards the organized labor movement throughout his career. In addition to serving as Secretary of Labor under President John F. Kennedy, Justice Goldberg held the position of general counsel for the United Steelworkers of America. He helped engineer the consolidation of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations, forming what we know today as the AFL-CIO. The model Justice Goldberg provided for young Michael factored heavily into his ultimate career path, but it was not the only factor. Despite having a Supreme Court Justice in the family, Michael’s parents were members of the working class. They faced numerous struggles as a result of the inequities of the corporate world, and they instilled in Michael an appreciation of the value of a good education. The examples set by his parents and by Justice Goldberg led Michael to pursue his studies all the way through law school.
Shortly after graduating from DePaul University College of Law in 1974, Michael began working for the Illinois Attorney General’s office in the Industrial Commission division. Through his representation of the State of Illinois in workers’ compensation cases, Michael developed an extensive knowledge of workers’ compensation law and quickly realized that, for the most part, labor was underrepresented in the state. Michael keenly recognized the need for injured union workers to have effective legal representation, and he left the Attorney General’s office to start a law firm devoted to serving injured workers in Illinois.
In 1978, Michael began a partnership with a law school friend, Larry E. Weisman (retired May 2013). Like Michael, Larry 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 fair wages and safe working conditions for her fellow workers. During his childhood, Larry was inspired by his grandmother’s accounts of both the struggles and the triumphs of the oppressed laborers she organized. Similarly to Michael, Larry’s first job out of law school did not entail representing injured workers. Instead, he took a job with a premier defense firm; and while he knew that he did not want to remain on this side of the practice, he used it as an opportunity to develop the knowledge and hone the skills that permitted him to later become one of the leading litigation lawyers in Illinois.
In 1981 – just a few years into Michael and Larry’s partnership – a bright, talented student from Loyola Law School appeared in their lobby looking for a job. As the son of an immigrant union carpenter/general contractor, Louis C. Cairo had a profound respect for his union upbringing. He knew that his ability to attend college and law school was a direct result of his father’s hard-earned wages. Therefore, when Louis heard about this young, aggressive law firm committed to helping injured workers, he wanted an opportunity to be a part of its future. Goldberg and Weisman immediately recognized Cairo’s potential. Not only had Louis excelled in mock trial competitions against law school students across the United States; even more importantly to Michael and Larry, he had worked in the construction trades throughout high school and college and thoroughly understood all facets of the industry. Louis was hired as the firm’s first law clerk. Today, he is the sole owner of GWC Injury Lawyers LLC and one of the most respected trial lawyers in the practice of personal injury law, representing individuals and families of those who have suffered catastrophic losses and death due to the negligence of others.
Louis has the good fortune of working with lawyers who have spent their entire career at GWC. Of particular note are his two esteemed lawyer-children, Deanna Cairo Arthur and Louis Anthony Cairo, who have each worked at the firm in the roles of paralegal, law clerk, and attorney at law. Given their upbringing, respect for the needs of our clients, and relentless work ethic, the future of GWC looks very bright and prosperous.