Congratulations to Matthew Heinlen, our new partner! We thought we’d learn more about the man whose name is now officially on our letterhead. We sat down with Matthew to ask him a few questions. Read on for personal insight from Matthew Heinlen – including why he began to practice law, the lessons he’s learned, and what motivates him today.
What inspired you to enter the legal profession?
The legal profession was always in my blood. I just didn’t know it until college.
When I was coming out of high school, I was accepted into the engineering program at the University of Illinois. Over four years, I toiled away in lecture halls, labs, design projects, and internships. I appreciated the analytical rigor required to excel at engineering. But when I took elective classes, I felt myself drawn to law-related topics.
I realized that the law required not only analytical skills but a passion for people, and this appealed to me. So, while I was proud to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from one of the premier engineering colleges in the country, I knew that when it came time to take my next step, law school was what I wanted to do.
My engineering degree gave me a strong foundation to sharpen the problem-solving skills needed to be an attorney. But the University of Illinois College of Law is where everything clicked – where I could combine analytics with my interest in serving people. I knew that the legal profession was my future.
You spent more than seven years with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office after law school. How did that experience shape you?
There is no better proving ground for being an attorney than the criminal courtrooms of Cook County, Illinois. I developed skills there that I put into practice every day. I also developed an empathy for people. I worked with hundreds of victims. Victims of physical and emotional crime, business owners victimized by crime, countless family members and concerned citizens desiring justice, and many more. I began to understand what it means to be hurt by someone else’s wrongdoing. That empathy stays with me today when I represent our clients at Capron Avgerinos, and Heinlen.
Working in the state’s attorney’s office also honed my skills as a trial lawyer in a fast-paced environment. When you take a case to trial, you need to bring your A-game every time. Doing that means managing many complex moving parts and interacting well with different people, including victims you represent, witnesses, police officers, judges, and attorneys that you practice with and against. The analytical and people skills I developed in college were taken to a whole new level of learning.
Why did you join Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen?
When I left the state attorney’s office and considered what my next step would be, the one thing that I kept coming back to was the desire to continue to represent victims of wrongdoing. In our practice, I still feel I wear the white hat. I am able to represent people who need help. Not victims of crimes, but people who have been wronged by someone else or who need to be represented in a workers’ compensation claim.
Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen gave me the opportunity to stand up for people who are not in a position to stand up for themselves without getting legal help.
What lessons have you learned as an attorney at Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen?
My biggest takeaway is seeing the extreme contrast in power that exists between petitioners and plaintiffs and the insurance companies that they have to deal with after accidents and injuries – especially in workplace accidents.
The systems are already foreign and overwhelming to an injured person. Having an attorney allows the injured person to even the playing field. But the pressure that employers put on their employees to toe the company line and “be team players” leads to a reticence to do so.
Oftentimes, someone filing a workers’ compensation claim is taking on a boss or a former boss. They may get pressure not to file a case. Or the employee might be pressured to accept a less-than-ideal result. These experiences have strengthened my resolve to help our clients achieve the outcome they deserve.
I’ve also learned how to listen and understand the reasons someone might call on an attorney for help. Behind every case is someone with human wants and needs. Like getting their lives back. Achieving closure when a loved one dies. It’s important to listen first and show empathy. There is no script for being a good attorney.
What inspires you now?
I am motivated every day to be empathetic to our clients and pursue justice on their behalf. I hope that every time a client talks with me that they hear in my voice that they are more than just a file in my file drawer. That I care deeply for what they are dealing with. I am motivated to do right by them, and obtain the best result possible on their behalf.
Where do you see Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen headed? What’s your vision for Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen?
Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen has an amazing foundation, and one that does not need rebuilding. My vision for the future of our firm is continued modernization and growth in technology, while continuing to provide the same excellent service and representation that we have for the last 30 plus years to our clients.
The world has changed during the pandemic. The entire legal profession has been affected by the uptake of virtual technologies. We were already headed in this direction. We’d long ago learned how to develop a rapport with a client when you cannot meet face to face. Now we’re harnessing technology in a more fluid way, whether we’re having a videoconference, texting, communicating with secure emails, or talking on the phone. We’re also getting nimbler with the use of the cloud to retrieve and analyze information quickly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The days of reviewing paper-intensive files are done.
Technology needs to support how we work by delivering personal service. Clients tell us all the time that they cannot believe how quickly they can talk with someone here. Some companies rely on intake specialists to screen all queries from potential clients. We don’t do that. When you call us with a case, the person who answers the phone may very likely be person who will handle your case. We like to hear from our clients. We like to know what is going on with your case. Technology needs to support that personal and responsive way we work.
What are your personal interests?
My personal interests mostly revolve around my family. I have an amazing wife and three wonderful children who have their own busy lives. So, when I have free time, it is typically focused on them, and being the best father I can be. I also love sports – particularly my Fighting Illini and the White Sox. I play 16” softball and try and golf when time allows. I love to learn, and to that end I read a lot and listen to a varied assortment of podcasts.
What’s the last good book you read, and why?
The last good book of fiction that I read was called “How Lucky,” by Will Leitch. It is a wonderful story about a severely handicapped man. He is one of the more dynamic, interesting, and inspiring characters that I have had the opportunity to discover in a novel. I was heartbroken to finish his story.
The last great nonfiction book I read was “The Baseball 100,” by Joe Posnanski, my all-time favorite author. If Joe writes something, I read it. I have a deep love the game of baseball, its impact on our country’s history, and its impact on fans young and old. This book “hit it out of the park.” Posnanski attempts to rank the Top 100 baseball players of all time, and in doing so writes 100 essays that go so much deeper than an examination of their baseball reference page would allow. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Thank you, Matthew, for taking the time!
Clients and friends, Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen is determined to do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) while ensuring that all of your legal needs continue to be met.
Due to the unprecedented situation the community now faces, and in accordance with the guidelines set by the CDC and state, we have temporarily changed the way we do business in an effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We believe these steps are in the best interest of our valued clients, employees, and our community.
At this time, Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen has transitioned to a remote work environment for our Chicago office. We are confident that our clients will not see any disruption to the legal services we provide. Our office has the technology in place to continue work at a normal pace and volume even though circumstances prevent us from working together onsite. We are hopeful that the virus is contained quickly and that we will resume normal business operations. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions or concerns regarding matters related to your current case; or if you have questions regarding a new potential case. We will respond.
As we work together to efficiently navigate this ever-evolving situation, we want to keep everyone updated with the current court operations. The Federal Court, the Circuit Court of Cook County and the surrounding counties as well as the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission have all announced shutdowns until at least the end of March. Until normal operations resume, the only matters that will be heard will be emergency motions and rare, remote hearings. All other status dates, hearings, and trials are being continued. The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commission remains open. However, until at least June, all hearings will be conducted by video conference remotely.
Rest assured that our lawyers and staff members will respond to voicemails and emails, answering your questions and addressing your needs to make certain your legal matters continue to be aggressively pursued. We will continue to do everything in our power to advance your interests. The work does not stop.
We have faced difficult circumstances in the past, and we have always come through with a combination of teamwork, compassion, and perseverance. We have no doubt that we will overcome this challenge as well.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Very truly yours,
CAPRON AVGERINOS & HEINLEN , P.C.
Dan tells a powerful story about what it means to stand up for what is right.
After 20 years, our own Dan Capron has retired as an on-field official for the Big Ten Conference. His final game was the Big Ten Championship on December 7, 2019, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
What a run! Dan has officiated more than 200 Big Ten games and has had many memorable moments, including the Sugar Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Orange Bowl, two Big Ten championships, and the 2018 National Championship.
As he said in this blog post, “A good official is in charge of the game without being arrogant or haughty” — a good way to describe Dan as a partner at Capron Avgerinos & Heinlen.
Congratulations, Dan, on a distinguished career on the field!
We are proud of our co-founder Nick Avgerinos, who was inducted into the Dubuque Area Labor Hall of Fame as a friend of labor on March 2, 2019.