Peter Katsaros, a litigator in Hahn Loeser’s Chicago office, believes he was born to be a trial lawyer. His highly competitive nature, early interest in public speaking, and deep interest in the law have brought him much success in trial work.
As a lifelong Chicago resident, Peter knows the city well. He attended public school on the city’s South Side, where he was a curious kid who loved learning. Born with a natural sense of confidence and encouraged by his parents, he never shied away from a challenge. At age nine, a teacher at his Greek Orthodox Church asked him to give a presentation to the congregation at Easter. Most kids would have been nervous, but not Peter. He prepared, practiced, and actually enjoyed the pressure. He had found his calling.
Peter developed his gift for storytelling, debate and drama at a young age. He remained active in public speaking throughout high school and college, taking on leadership roles with student government, his fraternity, and several other organizations. Peter attended Indiana University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in economics and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. During college, he developed a strong interest in labor and constitutional law and politics. Before attending law school, he worked as a staff member for both U.S. Senator Adlai E. Stevenson III of Illinois and Illinois Governor Dan Walker.
After receiving his J.D. from the University of Illinois, Peter was immediately drawn to complex litigation and focused his practice on jury work in product liability, commercial and employment matters. Taking cases to trial has always been his sweet spot. “I love practicing law and high-stakes trials,” Peter says. Through the years, he learned that winning trials was all about really good storytelling and mastering the law of evidence. Peter has always admired the late Edward Bennett Williams, who said: “Jury trial work is one of the most creative tasks around, and in doing that work, there is no substitute for knowing everything.”
In order to keep his skills sharp, Peter became an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy and Legal Ethics at Northwestern University Law School, where he recently completed his 31st year of teaching. He also taught trial practice for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) for 16 years. In addition, prior to coming to Hahn Loeser, Peter co-founded and was a principal of Speaking Legally, Inc., a consulting firm that taught public speaking and dramatic skills to lawyers and professionals nationwide, as well as a co-founder and principal of Speaking Freely, Inc., which provided performance-based public speaking workshops. “It was great fun to teach others how to better their presentation skills,” says Peter. “No one wants to listen to a monotone speaker without enthusiasm and a compelling narrative.” In his teaching, Peter has recommended that lawyers study the best narrative non-fiction writers for ideas, metaphors and language skills in developing presentations to judges and juries. Peter’s view is that excellent trial lawyers are the best paid writers and dramatists in town.
A few years ago, Peter was looking for a national platform to take his practice and our Chicago office was looking to add someone with his talents and background. Peter had practiced with Chicago partner Gillian Lindsay at a prior firm and after discussions with her and litigation partners, Ian Fisher and Rob Remington, he knew that Hahn Loeser was the place for him. Three years later, Peter’s practice is thriving. “I am thrilled to have joined a group of so many fine trial and business lawyers,” he says. “This firm has a distinguished past and a great future.”
Peter has an abundance of energy and is a master at networking. He is a member of several local organizations and is very active with the Economic Club of Chicago. The organization is about 75 years old and comprised of CEOs and executives of Midwestern companies. The club hosts educational and social events, and among Peter’s favorite speakers were Microsoft CEO Brad Smith and President Barack Obama.
When not advising his clients, networking or teaching, Peter enjoys writing (he’s a published author) and spending time with his family. A lifelong athlete and long-distance runner, Peter took up tennis later in life and loves to play singles. He thrives on the excitement and rigor and mental challenge of the game. It certainly fits his personality. He is a huge fan of Billie Jean King and subscribes to one of her most famous quotes, “Pressure is a privilege.”
His wife, Joanne, is a clinical social worker, and they have four children: Sarah, who holds a Ph.D. in early childhood education and is a self-employed consultant and adjunct professor; Chris, who holds a Ph.D. in economics and works as a labor economist at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C.; Matt, who is founder and CEO of Wildwood Investments, a Chicago-based commercial real estate development firm; and Kathryn, who is a former professional ballet dancer and now an occupational therapist at the University of Chicago Hospitals. “Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my amazing family,” Peter shared.