Business litigation and securities law doesn’t often lend itself to a personal touch or even recognition that there is a person behind the mountains of documents.
But Christopher “C.J.” Krawczyk, 37, has an advantage over many others in his field: three generations of attorneys in his family who kept their focus on community while practicing law.
It’s that background that drives Krawczyk to prioritize a client’s all-around needs and to make sure he always is available to them, even at odd hours and sometimes to his wife’s dismay.
That focus was front and center when Krawczyk and his team took on a case representing five southeastern Wisconsin public school districts against the Royal Bank of Canada and heavyweight financial firm Stifel Nicolaus. The ongoing suit has involved years of sifting through information from multiple financial interests that went belly up during the recent recession.
Krawczyk credits the personal, practical approach with the school districts as vital in the case as they’ve racked up motion wins, a settlement, and Securities and Exchange Commission actions against the defendants.
“Oftentimes in commercial cases, when it’s a corporation fighting against another corporation, it’s not that justice gets lost, but you don’t have a direct opportunity to make a difference,” he said. “But if you’ve ever been in on one of these school board meetings and you see the public input and the criticism these school boards took, it really motivated you … and energized you to put responsibility on the right parties.”
When Krawczyk was growing up, he didn’t have to go far to witness that commitment to making a difference. His grandfather, Edmund, was a south side Milwaukee stalwart at the law firm he started there in 1958. The firm has since moved to Brookfield and was carried on by Krawczyk’s father, Gary; brother Matthew; and uncle John.
Krawczyk’s intention to join the family practice took a different turn with his interest in securities litigation. After graduating from Marquette University, he joined what was then called Kravit & Hovel. Within four years, he was the firm’s youngest-ever shareholder, and in 2003 he was named partner.
But the family connection remains. His career in law has placed him before judges and against lawyers who graduated with his grandfather and father.
After Krawczyk introduced himself in one courtroom, the judge perfectly annunciated the consonant-heavy Polish surname and, upon confirming Krawczyk is the grandson of Edmund, said, “Now that was a lawyer.”
“When you’re carrying around his legacy,” Krawczyk said, “it certainly motivates you every time you step into the courtroom or pick up that phone for a client to be prepared and be the best at your job.”