A criminal defense attorney and Saint Viator alum kicked off the Presidential Lunch Discussion Series on Thursday at Saint Viator. The first 20 students who signed up, got to spend 6th period lunch with David Gaeger, ’02 in the third floor Viator Room.
Sitting around large conference tables, arranged in a circle, they enjoyed pizza and cookies while hearing how Mr. Gaeger spends his days. Right from the start, he mesmerized students with his descriptions of some of his clients, who ranged from gang members and weapons offenders, to drug abusers and first degree murderers.
“I loved my time at Viator, and everyone here,” Mr. Gaeger, who played football and basketball at Saint Viator, and also was a member of the Ski Club, said. “But now I’m representing clients who have a different reality, including poverty, gang membership and visiting their parents at the Cook County Jail on Sundays.”
Mr. Gaeger grew up in Elk Grove Village and attended Queen of the Rosary School. After Saint Viator, he attended Carroll College, where he played football, and majored in business administration with a minor in religious studies.
It was always his dream to attend law school, and in choosing John Marshall Law School in Chicago, he learned from law professors who were also practicing attorneys. During his third year, he clerked at the Cook County’s State’s Attorney’s Office, where he worked alongside felony prosecutors.
A government hiring freeze prevented him from joining the prosecutor’s office, consequently he went into private practice and instead used his experience to defend persons accused of a crime.
“I love it,” Mr. Gaeger told the students. “It’s been a really rewarding career.”
Students asked him everything from what to major in before attending law school, to what his typical day is like, and how he feels about defending a client he thinks is guilty.
“That’s the first question everyone usually asks me,” Mr. Gaeger said. “I look at it this way: I have a job to do to be an advocate to make sure the state holds itself up to its standard of proof.”
Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, president, sat in on the lunch session. He described it as the first in a series of informal presentations aimed at exposing students to different career possibilities.
“This school is committed to opening you up to an incredible future,” Fr. Brost said. “Remember, being a Lion is much more than just the four year academic period you spend here.”