Michael R. Galasso, Class of 1961
Former Illinois Appellate Court justice and chief judge of the Circuit Court of DuPage County
Since graduating from Chicago-Kent in 1961, Michael Galasso has led a distinguished career as an attorney and jurist. He spent the first twenty-three years of his career litigating family law cases in DuPage County, representing both men and women in divorce, child custody, property division, spousal and child support and business valuation disputes. He was appointed an Associate Judge in DuPage County in 1984 and went on to serve as Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations and Law Divisions and Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of DuPage County.
As Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations Division, Galasso developed the court annexed conciliation program that requires all custody disputes to be assigned to a court-approved clinical psychologist for mediation and evaluation. He also created the Divorce Evaluation program, which helps families cope with the emotional trauma of divorce. As Chief Judge, the assisted in the renovation of the Juvenile Detention Center and the creation of a literacy program in the detention facility, a court annexed mediation program in major civil cases, an electronic reporting system, the Expedited Child Support and Enforcement Program and a specialized Drug Court. In 1999, he was appointed to the Second District of the Illinois Appellate Court.
Galasso joined the law firm of Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck LLP in 2000. He was named the DuPage Bar Association’s “Man of the Year” in 1987 and received the Illinois Judges Association Outstanding Achievement Award in 2001.
What advice would you give a young lawyer just starting out?
What were you like as a law student?
Well, my first year was very difficult. I was very anxious and very nervous about whether I’d get through the first year. When I went to law school, about 35-40% of the freshman class never made it to the second year.
Who is your favorite U.S. Supreme Court justice, living or deceased?
Thurgood Marshall. Very easy response. He overcame a lot of things in his life to wind up on the Supreme Court and I think not only did he conduct himself well on the Supreme Court, but his whole life was conducted the way anybody would like to live their life.
What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?
Well, when I was a child, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then, when I went to high school, I wanted to be a car salesman. Then when I went to college, I wanted to be a salesman and in my last year of college, I met a professor who was a lawyer and I decided again I wanted to be a lawyer.
What was the greatest challenge you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
Well, I think really as a result of my time at Kent, I didn’t have that many challenges because one thing I learned, which I never learned in school before – and, I guess I have to backtrack – when you’re in high school and grade school, you learn how to memorize, even in college, you do a lot of memorization. In law school, you learn how to analyze and there aren’t always right and wrong answers and that’s what you learn. So you can start meeting challenges by analyzing and realizing that whatever you decide isn’t necessarily wrong. It may be right, but it’s not always critically wrong. So I didn’t feel I faced too many challenges.
What does your future hold?
Well, I’m still a partner in a law firm. After I left the bench, I was given the opportunity to join Schiller DuCanto & Fleck, which is a great firm. And one of the reasons I joined was because it preaches to all of our 40 or 45 lawyers that we are a profession that is out there to help people. And so it just always felt like a very comfortable move for me.