Worker’s compensation lawyer Garofalo recounts his life and law practice in Chicago.
Born on the North Side of Chicago in 1952, Garofalo grew up in a small, one-bathroom house. His grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all lived on the same small lot in the house in back. After Garofalo’s draft number didn’t come up during the Vietnam War, he finished school, married his childhood sweetheart, and graduated in 1977 from DePaul University School of Law. Afterward, Garofalo survived a brief stint in real estate law until discovering during a foreclosure that he possessed what few in his profession seem to have: a heart and a soul. He quit his job and found a position as an associate at the Chicago law firm of Gifford, Detuno & Gifford, Ltd., where he represented employers in worker’s compensation cases. It was a life-changing association in which he found a common bond among the members of a local bar association dominated by Italian-Americans and a field in which he excelled. Recalling his early life, Garofalo remembers his parents’ divorce two years after their marriage and how his grandfather became his surrogate father. He remembers his grandfather’s service in World War I and his grandfather’s belief that war was “a cruel joke played on mankind….The only thing you could do to survive war was to laugh at it.” Garofalo uncovered his Italian roots, explored winemaking, traveled to Italy, and purchased a vineyard in California. However, after achieving wealth and success, Garofalo concludes that “we all are connected” and ultimate joy is derived from caring for one another. Garofalo’s memoir is filled with personal stories and lessons learned from the dozens of individuals who influenced him as a lawyer and husband. The text is reflective, if intensely personal, supplemented by dozens of black-and-white photographs straight from the family photo album. In particular, stories of his near-death experiences are memorable in what is an otherwise fairly plain account of a good, ordinary life.
Mild lessons and anecdotes from a Chicago man who lifted himself from the middle class.