2001 Benjamin Grad Jeff Cisowski
Jeff Cisowski, 26, Benjamin District 25 (2001); West Chicago Community High School (2005) was valedictorian, student council president, Future Business Leaders of America state treasurer and played three years of varsity tennis; North Central College (2009 summa cum laude) bachelor of arts in economics, finance and German; Chicago-Kent College of Law (2012 top 2.9 percent of class) juris doctor degree.
Currently working as a litigation attorney for The Collins Law Firm, P.C., in Naperville, Cisowski’s day-to-day work focuses on multimillion dollar cases including commercial foreclosure, breach of note, secured transactions, fraud, officer liability and consumer protection. Previously he researched and drafted litigation documents as a law clerk at the firm.
An impressive professional resume includes work as a health law intern in the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent; researching and writing opinions on motions to dismiss and motions in limine on cases ranging from commercial mortgage-backed securities contract dispute to professional malpractice as a judicial extern for the Hon. Allen S. Goldberg, Cook County Commercial Law Division; and synthesizing and documenting a 70-page comprehensive oral history on the effects of World War II on southern Germany as the Richer Fellowship grant recipient.
Family: Wife (Heather, 26) is employed by ATI as a certified athletic trainer at Community High School in West Chicago, sister (Rebecca, 22, a marketing analyst for Burgess-Norton), mother (Nancy) is a Benjamin D25 substitute teacher, and father (Michael) is Midwest regional claims team manager for Safeco Insurance. During his elementary and middle school years, grandma, grandpa and an aunt were all neighbors, playing a substantial role in educational and personal development.
Career Highlights: As part of a team of lawyers at his firm, Cisowski recently helped obtain a major victory for owners of condominium units at a luxury condominium resort on Hawaii’s Oahu Island.
“At trial, we proved that the defendant, a nationwide home builder which constructed, marketed, and sold the condominium units, breached its contract with our clients and further committed unfair and deceptive acts and practices which damaged our clients,” says Cisowski. “The arbitrator found that our clients were entitled to rescind the purchase contracts for their units, and ordered the defendant to pay our clients more than $5.7 million—approximately $1.7 million dollars more than they originally paid for the units.”
Cisowski says he is proud of his representation of small and medium-sized businesses in transactional matters, where he negotiates and drafts contracts to build new business relationships and strengthen existing ones. “Although not as tangible as the above victories, I find it rewarding and exciting to become “part” of our clients’ businesses—serving not just as a lawyer but as a business advisor,” he states.
Golden Memories: There are many! Animal dissections in science class--- dissecting an earthworm, a crayfish, a sheep’s heart, and a frog---were difficult exercises for Cisowski, not only because of a weak stomach, but also due to the physical skill and mental toughness required. “At the time I suspected I would not become a scientist, but the deductive reasoning skills I acquired in science class play a role today in my career as a lawyer,” he says.
“The Technology Lab was a new addition when I was at Benjamin, and it was quite popular with students,” says Cisowski who recalls completing stations in various practical and technological disciplines. “My wife can attest to the fact that I remember very little from the cooking/baking exercises we completed,” he notes.
Writing a science fiction short story in eighth grade made a lasting impact. “My teacher demanded drafts, re-drafts, and careful attention to each and every sentence and word,” says the attorney who today, writes letters, briefs, and pleadings every day—all day—and says he cannot stress enough the impact that this exercise had on forming a fundamental skill critical to his professional growth.
He admits the “20 minute jog” in gym class---an activity he says was enjoyed by very few students ---was always challenging. “I remember working hard to finish the run without stopping,” notes the Benjamin grad who says today he appreciates the hard work, persistence, and perseverance of the activity which have served him well in both fitness and professional life.
Favorite Teachers: Cisowski says he had wonderful teachers—in all subjects and couldn’t pick just one, because almost all had an impact on developing his fundamental skills. “Whether our lessons were challenging, and, in some cases, fun, I remember teachers who took a genuine interest in my educational and personal development,” notes Cisowski. “I’m truly grateful for their knowledge, skill, and care in teaching all students.”
Most Valuable Lesson Learned in Kindergarten? Treat others how you would like to be treated. Show up, work hard, and try your best.
How District 25 Prepared Me: “My teachers demanded excellence, but they did it with a caring, patient disposition,” says Cisowski, who notes his teachers taught fundamental skills necessary to succeed in high school, with an emphasis on writing, reading, presentation abilities, math and science. “My music, art, technology lab, and physical education classes were also top notch. Perhaps that’s the bottom line: District 25 offers quality education across the board—in all subjects, at multiple levels, every day.”