WCLA 2019 Officers

James B. Hardy - President
Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC
25 West Wacker Drive, Suite 1750
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Tel: (312) 586-1700
Fax: (312) 586-1701

Jim was born in Chicago and currently lives in the city with his wife, Joey Christine, and their two sons, James and Brooks. Jim graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. In addition, Jim attended Law School at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Jim has spent his entire legal career helping injured workers and their families. He has argued vigorously on behalf of his clients before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Cook County Circuit Court, and the Illinois Appellate Court.

Jim is proud to be a part of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association (WCLA), where he has served on the Board of Directors since 2009 and was elected to the Officer position of Treasurer in January of 2016. In addition, Jim is honored to have served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois chapter of Kid’s Chance of America, since its inception in 2014. Kid’s Chance is a national organization that provides college scholarships for the children of workers that were seriously or fatally injured on the job. Jim is currently the managing partner of the Workers’ Compensation department at Taxman, Pollack, Murray & Bekkerman, LLC.

Laura Hrubec - Vice President 
Garofalo, Schreiber & Storm, Chtd.
55 W. Wacker Dr. , 10th Fl.
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Tel: (312) 670-2000
Fax: (312) 419-1336

Laura D. Hrubec is a partner with Garofalo, Schreiber & Storm PC, a mid-sized firm in Chicago, Illinois. Laura primarily practices workers’ compensation defense claims in Illinois and is also licensed in Indiana. Laura’s experience spans across the realm of employment law and workers’ compensation law. She vigorously advocates for the defense of claims on behalf of both employers and insurance companies. She has successfully represented the interests of employers before the Commission and Illinois Circuit and Appellate courts.

Given her experience and reputation in the community, Laura has presented numerous seminars before insurance companies, employers, arbitrators and commissioners alike. Mindful of the expense of lengthy legal battles, Laura strives to resolve cases in the most economically efficient manner. She provides preventative counseling to aid in mitigating employers’ exposure in potentially complex legal issues. Defense work with municipal clients, school districts and private entities alike, both insured and self-insured, has given Laura an in-depth understanding of many complex legal issues in workers’ compensation and employment law.

Laura graduated from North Central College in 1998, cum laude, with a Bachelor of Art’s degree in political science. She graduated from DePaul College of Law in 2002 with her Juris Doctorate. She is involved with many professional associations including the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association (WCLA). She was elected to serve on the Board of Directors in 2012. In 2017 she was elected to serve as WCLA Secretary. She is also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Michelle L. LaFayette - Secretary 
Ganan & Shapiro, P.C.
120 N.LaSalle St., Ste. 1750
Chicago, IL 60602
Tel: (312) 822-0040
Fax: (312) 321-1114

Michelle L. LaFayette is a partner with the Ganan & Shapiro, P.C., a mid-sized-workers’ compensation defense firm with offices in Peoria and Chicago, Illinois.   Michelle handles workers’ compensation claims on behalf of employers and insurance companies in Illinois.  Michelle received a B.A. in history/political science from Illinois College in 1995 where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Michelle earned her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 2000.  Michelle was admitted to the Illinois Bar in November, 2000.  Michelle is a past-member of the Illinois State Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Law Section Council, having served as a past-Chair to the Council.  She is currently a member of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association Board of Directors.  Outside of work, Michelle is an avid reader, has interests in history, especially American history, and is a big fan of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks and Green Bay Packers.

Vitas J. Mockaitis - Treasurer
Costa Ivone
311 N. Aberdeen, Ste. 100B
Chicago, Illinois 60607
Tel: (708) 400-0000
Fax: (312) 940-5914

Vitas J. Mockaitis has 32 years of experience handling Illinois workers’ compensation claims.  Respected as a leading trial lawyer, Vitas has briefed and successfully argued many cases before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission during the course of his distinguished career.

With his extensive knowledge and experience in workers’ compensation law and related fields of legal practice, Mr. Mockaitis has presented numerous seminars on the theme of injured workers’ rights and benefits, addressing unions and labor organizations throughout the state of Illinois.  In addition, he has authored and co-authored several guidebooks and information pamphlets concerning workers’ compensation issues as they relate to injured workers in Illinois.  Subjects of the publications have included repetitive trauma and overuse injuries and injured workers’ medical rights, among other topics.

James B. Hardy,  President | Laura Hrubec, Vice President | Michelle Lafayette, Secretary | Vitas Mockaitis, Treasurer

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