Thomas E. Patterson

Thomas Patterson Litigation Lawyer Chicago, IL
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 My passion for closing sales has been replaced by my desire to win business lawsuits.)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). 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.”

Litigation Attorney Chicago
Thomas E. Patterson in the Rocky Mountains


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


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


7th Circuit Bar Association
Appellate Lawyers Association


Banking, Loan Agreements and Guaranty Contracts

Breach of Contract

Commercial Litigation

Commercial Real Estate Litigation

Construction Disputes

Data Privacy and Cyber Security Practice

Employment, Commission and Brokerage Claims


Insurance Coverage and Contractual Indemnity

Legal Malpractice

Sales of Goods

Shareholder Disputes

Trademark Infringement 

Trading and Financial Malpractice

Unfair Competition


American Bar Association

  • TROs and Preliminary Injunctions: Handling the Business Emergency (American Bar Association, 2021)

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

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
  • Illinois Leading Lawyer: 2019

Martindale Hubbell

  • Highest Possible Rating in Both Legal Ability and Ethical Standards 2020

Participated case
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