| Practice Description: |
Sam Cannizzaro goes out of his way to put his clients first, understanding the stress they are under while going through a family law matter. "I’m accessible to my clients at all hours. These are not 9-to-5 problems. When clients call me, I take the call without my staff ever asking, ‘Who’s calling?'"
He finds his greatest satisfaction comes when he is able to benefit clients who didn’t think anyone could help them. In the initial interview with a client, Cannizzaro doesn’t take notes. “Usually clients have a story to tell, and I want to really listen to everything. Very often I ask my clients to pretend I’m one of their close friends when they are telling me about their case. That gives me the unedited version, so the client doesn’t leave something out that may be significant.”
In cases involving minor children, he emphasizes, “I always look at the situation from the children’s point of view. I’ll ask my clients to look at the effect their actions during a divorce might have on their children. I’ve got to give them advice on their cases.”
"Sometimes," he says with a smile, "it even sticks with them." He continues, "I had a client whom I helped get divorced recently tell me, ‘I should have listened to you back then.'"
Cannizzaro’s warm personality and legal success are the products of a life built around family and helping others. His first job lasted 12 years as a singing waiter at Monastero’s Ristorante, an Italian restaurant on the Northwest Side of Chicago where he grew up and still lives today with his family. Sam brags about his daughter in college and his son in high school. "I bought the house next door to my mom. She’s older, and I can help her that way."
Cannizzaro attended Loyola University of Chicago, then entered Loyola’s School of Law. "One of my favorite professors taught Family Law," he remembers, so he volunteered for four semesters in Loyola’s community legal clinic, where he handled six divorce cases to completion before graduation. "That work was exciting to me, and I felt that I really made a difference at a critical time in my clients’ lives. I thought: ‘Hey, this is what I want to do!'"
Although he has been published in legal journals and is a frequent speaker, he finds some of his most rewarding work has been as a Wish Granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where he meets with children who have potentially life-threatening diseases. "I talk with them and learn about their interests," he says, "and we try to be creative, granting their wish in a way that makes it really special for them." In and outside his practice, Cannizzaro has never lost the desire to help people, especially "when they’re going through a rough time."
"And divorce is tough," he observes. "It’s tough on the parties and tough on the children. I make sure my clients know that they are my priority. We owe them a high level of service."
Year of Birth: 1959
Law School: Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, J.D., 1984
Undergraduate School: Loyola University of Chicago, B.B.A., 1980
Bar/Professional Association Involvement:
Chicago Bar Association
Illinois State Bar Association
Awards; Honors; Distinctions:
Leading Lawyers, selected by peers in Family Law since 2008