The word retirement is not in Miles Beermann’s vocabulary.
His firm has come a long way since it began as a modest storefront business at 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park – operating out of founding partner Nathan Swerdlove’s father’s sewing machine business. Swerdlove’s mother, Bessie, sold needles, machine oil and other products while Beermann and the other attorneys worked from the other half of the storefront. Beermann said the building’s basement had a dirt floor and the second floor was filled with less-than-ideal apartments.
Beermann LLP is now a firm of 40 top Family law and corporate lawyers in two locations – Downtown and north suburban Bannockburn.
Beermann, a Lakeview native who worked as a Wrigley Field vendor, is a longtime Highland Park resident and a DePaul Law School graduate. He said he still loves coming to the office via the Metra every workday. “I love interacting with all the great people here who practice law and give much needed help to all of us who do,” Beermann said. “And retirement, it’s not a way to live your life, to have no place to go, to not care when you wake up. I have no intention of retiring.”
Beermann, a Senn High School graduate, said he decided to found the firm with original partners and law school classmates Swerdlove, Ralph Stavins and Michael Gitlitz, because they weren’t satisfied with their situations out of law school. Beermann is the last original partner at the firm – Stavins lives in the Washington, D.C. area; Gitlitz, since deceased, left the firm after a few months to go to another firm; and Swerdlove died about five years ago.
The firm moved Downtown in 1963 – shortly before President Kennedy was assassinated – because Beermann said he wanted to be closer to the city’s courthouses. The firm, which has represented in their divorces, big-name clients like Michael Jordan, Mr. T, Bill Murray, Frank Thomas and the wives of William Daley, Brian Urlacher, Eddy Curry and Saul Bellow, has been at several Downtown spots: first at 30 N. LaSalle St. and now at the current 161 N. Clark Street.
Beermann has never forgotten his roots – he has photos of himself with other founding partners from the Milwaukee Avenue location hanging in his current 26th-floor corner office. He noted that he’s never lost his hunger to engage with the next client and case.
“You’re always wondering where your next case is coming from,” Beermann said. “Taking things for granted, it’s not in our vocabulary.”
Beermann is one of many attorneys in his family. His father, Arthur, was a probate lawyer who practiced until he was 88 years old. Arthur Beermann, who died when he was 90, worked out of his son’s office in his later years. Beermann’s brother, plus his son, daughter, daughter in law, nephew and two cousins are all attorneys.
He said his greatest gratification from the law has been watching younger lawyers and his students (Beermann taught at DePaul Law School for nearly 15 years) — “mature into the fine professionals they have become.”