The Trusted Adviser
February 2017 | Volume 1 · Number 2



Michael K. Brandt, from law clerk to vice president: Years of service 1977-1979, 1983-2017

(See more photos)

In 1977, Ward McDonald and Michael Rooney hired a young University of Illinois College of Law student, Michael Brandt, as a law clerk. Upon graduation, Mike practiced law in his hometown of LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, with his uncle, James Duncan, who was an ATG member and served on the ATG Board of Directors. A few years later, Mike returned to ATG as a Staff Attorney where he answered underwriting calls, assisted member attorneys in closings, and occasionally ran the vacuum cleaner. At that time, the Champaign office had just a handful of employees, including two other lawyers (then Executive Vice President Michael Rooney and Staff Attorney Jerry Gorman), data processing, and secretarial staff. The data processing staff included Mona Stevens, who is currently ATG’s Vice President of Human Resources and ATG’s longest-term employee, having started in 1974. Mona is also known to run the sweeper from time to time. Jerry and Mike formed a long in-house partnership of sorts—a brain trust of risk assessment, procedural matters, and claims analysis. Meanwhile, there was another small group of employees 120 miles north, starting up our Chicago office. Names from the early days at 29 South LaSalle include Doug Miles, Donna Gagliardo Kogut, Peter Birnbaum, and Joanne Elliott.

ATG experienced explosive growth in the mid-1980s, doubling its member base and staff size, adding more staff attorneys, departmentalizing, and building a management structure. Impactful changes like the big IBM mainframe giving way to PCs and wide area networks, voicemail replacing pink message pads, and installing T-1 lines and fax machines helped the young, scrappy staff keep up with growing business demands. Over time, Mike and Jerry each carved out a niche at ATG, in the legal community, and within the title industry. In Mike’s role as Vice President - Claims and Legislation, he oversaw title insurance claims and legislative matters for the corporation, collaborated extensively with outside counsel to litigate claims, served as a lobbyist, served on local and state bar association committees, and was an officer and president of the Illinois Land Title Association.

Central to any insurance company’s success is the prudent and fair management of its claims. Mike intelligently navigated those responsibilities to the company, our agents, and insureds throughout his tenure. Additionally, Mike took on the role of educator to staff and especially our agents through a series of risk avoidance seminars and articles. ATG owes much of its success and a debt of gratitude to Mike Brandt for his long service, his steadiness in risk assessment, and his consistency in legal and claims analysis. Thank you Mike, we wish you the very best in retirement!

We know that many of our member agents who have enjoyed long-term professional relationships with Mike will want to wish him well — send Mike a note.

Michael K. Brandt, from law clerk to vice president: Years of service 1977-1979, 1983-2017

Mike Brandt - Plaid to the Bone
Mike Brandt started at ATG in 1977 as a law clerk.
Mike Brandt with ATG 1977 staff
Seated at left is Mona Stevens, ATG's longest-term employee (started in 1974) and current Vice President - Human Resources; to Mona's left are Mike Rooney and Judi Sawyer. Mike's "Plaid to the Bone" Happy Hour retirement celebration took place in this same room---the ATG Library.
Mike Brand, 1983
At a small company, everyone chips in, 1984.
Mike Brandt with members
Mike Brandt, Peter Canalia, and Van Hante at ATG's Annual Holiday Reception, Butterfield Country Club, 1994.
Mike and Jerry at 1989 Tailgate
Mike Brandt and Jerry Gorman in 1988 at ATG's Annual Illini Tailgate, Champaign...
Mike and Jerry at retirement party [photo to come]
...and at Mike's retirement Happy Hour, 2017. Longtime colleagues and friends.
ATG 1995 staff
ATG's Champaign staff, early 1990s.
Mike and company at golf 1992 outing
Mark Kubica, Augie Butera, Mike Brandt, Dale Potthoff (ATG member from Peru, Illinois), and Mike Maciejewski at ATG's Annual Golf Outing, Oak Brook Hills, 1992.
Law Clerk Reunion at 2004 Tailgate
ATG hosted a Law Clerk Reunion at its 40th Annual Illini Tailgate in Champaign, October 2004. Seated: Tania Stori, Mike Brandt. Mike Rooney, Chuck Kovaleski, Peter Birnbaum, and Ward McDonald. Standing at far left is Steve Thayer, in the center Ed Flynn, and at far right Hank Shulruff.
Mary Beth McCarthy, Jerry Gorman, Mona Stevens, Mike Brandt, Susan McLane in 2005
Mary Beth McCarthy, Jerry Gorman, Mona Stevens, Mike Brandt, and Susan McLane in 2005...
Mary Beth McCarthy, Jerry Gorman, Mona Stevens, Mike Brandt, Susan McLane in 2017
...and in 2017.
image description
Britt Brown, Hank Shulruff, and Mike Brandt — in a Cubs shirt! — at a Top Member event, St. Louis, 2010.
Mike Brandt and Ward McDonald
Mike Brandt and Ward McDonald at the Harold I. Levine Real Estate Institute, Chicago, 2015.
Mike Brand, 1987
Hard at work in 1987....
Mike Brand, 1983
...and in 2010.
Mike Brandt Retirement Party Cake
Plaid cake on a plaid tablecloth --- forever plaid.
Peter, Mike, Augie with cake
Peter Birnbaum, Mike Brandt, and Augie Butera, at Mike's last officer meeting, Chicago, 2017.
Mike and Mary Beth 1987
Mike Brandt and Mary Beth McCarthy, after hours in 1987...
Mike and Mary Beth 2017
...and in 2017.
Brandt Retirement Party 1
Several staff members wore mustaches to the Happy Hour (and to meetings eariler in the day) in honor of Mike. Mary Johansen, Laurie Barbee, Mike, Carol Kalk, Marian Baratta, and Jessica Fish.
Brandt Retirement Party Mike with Leah and poster
Mike and his wife, Leah, watching the "Plaid to the Bone" photo presentation. 
Brandt Retirement Party 2
HIRED IN THE 80s: Current Champaign office employees who've worked at ATG since the 1980s: Suzy Shaw, Lori Ray, Judy Cornell, Mike Brandt, Jerry Gorman, Mona Stevens (hired in 1974), and Mary Beth McCarthy. Missing: Michelle Hildenbrand, Charlie Howard, Greg Miely, and Jan Sadler. 
Brandt Retirement Party 4
BORN IN THE 80s: Mike Brandt with a group of current Champaign office employees who were born in the 1980s: Jessie Tate, Rebekah Songer, Ashli Wike, Becca Roberts, [Mike Brandt], Katie Fidler, Meagan Svymbersky, and Marianne Quinn. 
Brandt Retirement Party 3
Many Champaign office employees wore plaid to honor Mike's 1970s, "Plaid to the Bone," look. First row, kneeling: Ryan Murphy, Vimal Patel, Mona Stevens, Diane Hoffman, Rebekah Songer, and Laurie Barbee. Standing: Jerry Gorman, Becca Roberts, Ashli Wike, Meagan Svymbersky, Marianne Quinn, Mike Brandt, Linda Robertson, Katie Fidler, Ed Sudlow, Mary Beth McCarthy, Yolanda McMullen, and Hiren Panchal.

[Last update: 2-8-2017]

Back to Issue