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Thomas E. Patterson

Managing Partner
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Phone: (312) 223-1699
Fax: (312) 223-8549

200 West Monroe Street, Suite 2025
Chicago, Illinois 60606
United States


My as yet unwritten memoir is going to be called Confessions of a Trial Lawyer.  I don’t know if they will be more interesting than St. Augustine’s, but they will be less mysterious than St. Patrick’s.  Until then, I briefly note a few relevant background facts.

Early leadership
Twice elected President of the Student Senate in college, I learned how to debate opponents, choose winning political issues, and efficiently manage an organization of independent-minded representatives. (Today I debate opponents in court in every case, select themes to appeal to juries, and despise meetings that drag on and accomplish nothing.)

Straight commission salesman
After graduation, I became a straight commission salesman to earn the money for law school.  We were trained in the salesmanship principles of Xerox Corporation: how to accent benefits, use directive and non-directive questions, and rebut easy and difficult objections.  (Today I use the same questioning techniques in depositions and the same structure for answering objections during legal arguments. My passion for closing sales has been replaced by my desire to win business lawsuits.)

Law Review
Selected as an Editor of the Law Review in Law School, I published this Note, Ex Parte Contacts in Informal Rulemaking Proceedings:  Home Box Office v. FCC, 27 DePaul Law Review 489 (1978), which the bar association administrative law committee said was “unusually perceptive.” (The written word is the lawyer’s stock in trade:  court papers have to be well-researched, concise, and lucid to persuade.)

An insider’s view
The late Justice William G. Clark of the Illinois Supreme Court designated me as one of his two Law Clerks upon graduation.  While researching and writing memorandums for the court, I received a priceless insider’s education in the working of our system of justice from a man who was uniquely qualified to teach it.  (Such was his influence that 37 years later I still recall many of his stories and observations verbatim.)

Big firm experience
Putting this education into practice at a large Chicago law firm, I prepared and tried lawsuits and appeals, winning several that became famous. 

After conducting an estimated 100 trials, evidentiary hearings, and arbitrations, representing everyone from the Boy Scouts to a murderer, I have strong opinions about how to win business lawsuits.  I shared some of them in a book— Handling The Business Emergency: Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions-- published by the American Bar Association in 2009—and others in speeches and articles (listed below). 

My partners forbid me from revealing all of our secrets, but I would be happy to put our principles to work for you on any assignment within our competence.

A new approach
When I started my own firm and then hired other lawyers to help me, I wanted to be more than a collection of individuals. We have different personalities and backgrounds, but a unified point of view, high standards, and an aggressive and creative approach to solving client problems. 

“What’s he really like?”
President Kennedy once told a friend that the journalist’s job was to reveal what someone was really like.  Biographical sketches try to do that, and often end up as a compendium of personal matters:  childhood achievements (Eagle Scout), favorite books and movies (too many to list), place of worship (Fourth Presbyterian Church), avocations (hiking, camping, rafting), or even accomplishments of children (my son is a Major in the United States Army). 

Tom in mountains
 Thomas E. Patterson in the Rocky Mountains 

More relevant might be the results of the DiSC personality test that our group of CEO’s took at a Vistage meeting.  I tested as a D and C.  D’s tendencies include “getting immediate results,” “causing action,” “accepting challenges,” “managing trouble,” and “solving problems.”  C’s tendencies include “concentrating on key details,” “thinking analytically,” “checking for accuracy,” “analyzing performance critically,” and “using a systematic approach.”

If you think I can help you, get in touch with me by phone at 312.750.1822 or email.


J.D., DePaul University School of Law, 1979
Illinois Wesleyan University, 1975

Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice

United States Supreme Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois
United States District Court of the Northern District of Indiana
United States District Court of Massachusetts
United States Court of Federal Claims

Professional & Bar Association Memberships

7th Circuit Bar Association
Appellate Lawyers Association


American Bar Association

  • Handling the Business Emergency: Temporary Restraining Orders and Preliminary Injunctions (2009)       

Lectures, Articles & Recognition

Apex CLE:

  • Online Continuing Education Course on the Attorney-Client Privilege
  • Online Continuing Education Course on Temporary Restraining Orders and and  Preliminary Injunctions

Asian-American Business Expo:

  • Shareholder Disputes and Employee Contracts

Chicago Bar Association:

  • Shareholder Disputes
  • You have a Trial Date, Now What? Practical Advice for Trying Your Case

Hospitality Law Conference:

  • Insurance and Confidentiality Issues in the Hospitality Industry

National Business Institute:

  • Breach of Contract
  • Restrictive Covenants
  • Indemnification Contracts
  • Ethics in Business Acquisitions

RIMS Conference:

  • How to Keep Secrets: The Attorney-Client Privilege
  • When is an Expert Not an Expert?
  • How to Avoid Legal Pitfalls of E-Commerce

InsideCounsel Op-Ed Column:

  • Preliminary Injunctions and Temporary Restraining Orders
  • Shareholder Disputes   

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Bi-Monthly Co-Columnist:

  • Non-pattern Jury Instructions


  • AV Preeminent Rated™ Lawyer (highest ranking in competence and ethics), since 2003

SuperLawyers Magazine

  • SuperLawyers: 2009, 2010

Leading Lawyers

  • Illinois Leading Lawyer: 2016
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