John C. Gekas
SAUL EWING ARNSTEIN & LEHR LLP
40 Under Class – 2017
John Gekas, a commercial litigator with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, is routinely praised by his colleagues and peers as possessing that rarest combination of skills: he is a fierce advocate for his clients without alienating the opposing side.
Meanwhile, his clients point to his integrity, hard work, and most of all, ability to resolve cases successfully and economically as traits that set him apart from other litigators.
“John combines his former ‘big-firm’ experience with a mid-sized firm’s client attention,” said Justine Dial, an attorney at Motorola Solutions. “Although he is economical and attentive to budget concerns, he does not take short cuts in representing his clients. He quickly identifies a client’s goals, and then collaborates with the client to determine the various means by which those goals can be achieved, not all of which may involve filing a lawsuit.”
Rachel Lei, the Assistant General Counsel of GATX Corporation, remembers working with Gekas when he was an associate at a large, international firm. Even then, early in his career, Gekas had a sense of calm and wisdom about himself, Lei said. “John was wise beyond his years,” says Lei. “He is able to stand back from a complex set of factual and legal issues and boil them down to their essential truth. He is a straight shooter. [Now,] as a client, I have never felt like he was milking a file. Quite the opposite. I nearly always think that I am getting a huge bargain in hiring him.”
Gekas is also a committed volunteer and advocate for social justice. Since 2011, he has been a member of the board of directors for HOW, an organization that provides housing and support to the most vulnerable members of society, serving as the board President from 2015 to 2016. He is also one of his firm’s two liaisons to the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and was a moving force behind the firm joining that organization.
Crate & Barrel General Counsel and former HOW Board member, Vicki Donati, says that Gekas works tirelessly for causes he believes in. “Many lawyers do pro bono work and sit on various boards. John’s commitment to community service goes far beyond that,” Donati said. “John has the ability to energize others. He takes care to wrap his efforts in cordiality, collaboration and genuine caring so as to be able to drive forward respectfully yet effectively.”