Bio: Michael Metnick

Michael Metnick - Lighting the Path

By Scott Sabin
Partner, Metnick, Cherry, Frazier & Sabin

If you ask Michael Metnick about his youth he might take poetic license and share with you a story of how he was a streetwise kid who grew up in the rough and tumble streets of Chicago. In reality, his world was a safe Jewish enclave defined by the few short blocks between California and Devon forming the east-west border of West Rogers Park. With penny candy stores, delicatessens, schools and synagogues at every turn, it was not the hard scrabble life Michael sometimes romanticizes.

Mike did not always have a burning desire to become a lawyer. As a kid, Michael had a passion for girls, the White Sox and craps . . . in no particular order. Michael eventually found his way to the University of Oklahoma where he attended school with his cousin Melvin. There, Michael was introduced to the concept of civil disobedience. In 1967, there was no dearth of “isms” to take issue with on campus - sexism, racism, classism. A social revolution was occurring and Michael wanted in. Never afraid to take on a fight Mike arranged his first protest. He took on “the Man” and the corporate predatory pricing of retail food products at the local convenience store where he worked. Michael’s mantra, “Hostess Twinkies to the people,” and his sharing of the delectables for no charge did not go unnoticed by his employer. Michael was fired but the seed of a future defense lawyer was sown.

Next, Michael attended John Marshall law school. There he witnessed the Chicago Seven trial of Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden and others charged with conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention held in Chicago. This too inspired Michael to defend those accused of crimes. Now one’s talents can never best be measured by class rank or GPA alone. Tell that to the big city, big firm recruiters. Mike did and soon found himself on a Greyhound headed south for Springfield where he worked as a lawyer for the City of Springfield.

Municipal work was dry and boring. Mike’s true passion lay in criminal defense work. His defense career took off as an Assistant Sangamon County Public Defender. Fairly quickly, Mike gained a reputation as a street smart, fearless, advocate. He gained the respect of his peers, mentors, judiciary and most importantly, his clients. With his practice bursting at the seams, Michael entered private practice. An incarnation of his original firm exists today, nearly forty years later as Metnick, Cherry, Frazier & Sabin.

The nature and breadth of Michael’s practice is beyond discussion here. As Michael is accustom to saying, “he represents Individuals.” His clients run the gamut from the homeless, indigent and downtrodden to lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and elected officials and every profession in between. He has tried hundreds of cases to verdict -from speeding to DUIs; from shoplifting and theft to armed robbery and home invasion; from sexual assaults and battery to home invasions and capital murder.

For the past 40 years, Michael Metnick has been “fighting the fight” throughout downstate Illinois. He has been a longtime outspoken advocate for the criminal defense bar at large and is very proud to be one of founding members of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.