Raymond J. Werner, Class of 1971
Managing partner of Arnstein & Lehr
Raymond J. Werner is the Chairman of Arnstein & Lehr LLP’s Executive Committee, and his practice covers a broad spectrum of activities in real estate law, including the representation of purchasers, owners, lenders and developers in connection with all types of properties. He represents these parties in negotiations and disputes, structuring complex acquisitions, financing, and land development. He is a member of the Anglo American Real Property Institute and the Chicago Bar Association’s Real Property Committee, and is a former chair of both organizations. Werner is also an American Bar Association Advisor to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws Joint Editorial Board for Real Property Acts. Most recently, he was named to The Best Lawyers in America and Best Lawyers in Chicago forhis work in real estate law. Werner is the author of both Real Estate Law and Real Estate Closings, and the co-author of Modern Mortgage Law and Practice.
What were you like as a law student?
I taught by day and was a law student at night. I studied on the El, in the library and on weekends. As a result, the four years of law school were pretty much strictly business. I was also newly married and my wife and I were making our new lives together. It was a great time of our lives.
Describe your career path. What steps did you take to get to where you are currently?
I started as a law clerk for Justice Francis S. Lorenz in the Illinois Appellate Court, a wonderful start for my practice. I then joined the general counsel’s office of Chicago Title and Trust Company where I was mentored by Robert Kratovil. I remained at Chicago Title until 1985 when I joined some friends who were practicing law at Portes, Sharp Herbst & Kraveits. Unfortunately, that firm closed in 1991. In July of 1991, I joined the Arnstein firm where I have been for the last 22 years. In some ways, life takes you where it takes you, but you have to be in the right place at the right time to create and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented.
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
Becoming the managing partner of Arnstein & Lehr LLP. Our firm has a long and noble history in Chicago legal circles and I am proud to be a part of that history. It is also interesting to note that nobody ever went to law school to become involved in firm management. Things happen somewhat by chance and I am honored and fortunate to have served in the roles that I have served.
What advice would you give to young attorneys just starting out today?
Work hard, be alert to developments of all sorts as they will impact both how the law evolves and how the business of law evolves. Make friends and network because that is your ultimate capital. Make sure that the people you deal with, whether you win or lose, whether you are right or wrong, respect how you have dealt with them and respect you as a person. You may not win, but by respecting others, whether or not you agree with them, will always benefit you.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
When I went to law school, I knew virtually nothing about the law and the legal business. I had a business law course in both high school and college. While those courses perked my attention, Kent was my only immersion into the law up until the time of graduation. It set me on a course that led to my life’s path. Without Kent, this would not be possible.