Chicago can be a cold, hard place. Crime, corruption, taxes. Brutal winters.
Why would one choose to live and work in Chicago? I’ll tell you my story, below.
But first, and more to the point of this article, why would you select a Chicago lawyer to handle a case of national scope—such as a patent infringement case—when you have the opportunity to select lead counsel based in any city in the U.S.?
Here are five top reasons to choose a lawyer based in Chicago.
5. Central location and size. Chicago has the largest metropolitan population—about 10 million—of any city between the coasts. It is smaller than New York and Los Angeles, yet significantly larger than the metropolitan populations of Dallas, Houston, and Washington, D.C., and substantially larger than its two closest Midwestern rivals, Detroit and Minneapolis. Chicago has a bustling central business district, famous for world class architecture. It is a city fit for the biggest deals and cases.
4. Chicago O’Hare International Airport. O’Hare offers more flights per day than any other airport in the country, surpassing Atlanta for the first time since 2014, according to federal data. O’Hare is embarking on an $8.5 billion dollar modernization project to serve existing and new customers. It already serves 83 million passengers a year, and crosstown Midway Airport serves another 22 million. A single busy day at O’Hare sees more than 2,800 flights arriving and departing. O’Hare has non-stop flights to 218 destinations in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania. You can get anywhere from Chicago, and you can get to Chicago from anywhere.
3. Center for Business. Carl Sandburg’s words still ring true: Chicago is the “City of the Big Shoulders,” the “Stacker of Wheat,” the “Player with Railroads,” the “Nation’s Freight Handler.” It is the nation’s third largest city for conventions, behind entertainment capitals Orlando and Las Vegas. It is one of the few cities in the world to offer 100,000 hotel rooms. Restaurants abound. Chicago is home to many of the world’s leading lawyers and law firms. It is an intensely competitive market. You have to be on top of your game to succeed in Chicago.
2. Great Lakes Megaregion. The Regional Plan Association, which identifies clustered networks of American cities, ranks the Great Lakes megaregion, or megalopolis, as the largest in the U.S., at about 60 million people and still growing. Second largest is the Northeast (Boston—New York—Washington DC). Other megaregions, such as Southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast, are small in comparison. Chicago is the capital of the Great Lakes and all the trade that the region commands. See Wikipedia entry on Megaregions of the United States. The Great Lakes megaregion ranks among the largest population clusters in the world, including those of China. See Wikipedia entry on Megalopolis.
1. Northern District of Illinois. Some 22 active federal district judges plus 11 active circuit judges and additional senior judges and magistrates decide cases in the Everett Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago. The City hosts one of the nation’s largest concentrations of federal judicial power. The Circuit Court of Cook County is no lightweight, either. Its 400 judges handle 2.4 million new cases every year. A powerful bench is a reflection—and a maker—of a competent bar. The federal Court’s practice of requiring that all motions be noticed for hearing permits considerable “face time” for lawyers and their cases and clients. The result is that the Court has the opportunity to sound out lawyers on the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, which in turn leads to more informed decision-making and dispensation of justice.
I promised to tell my story. In the fall of 1986, one year into a two-year judicial clerkship with the Hon. Edward S. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to accept employment with any number of top law firms in any city in the country. In making my decision, I recognized that there is no such thing as a perfect city. I considered the five factors outlined above, and I chose to base my practice in Chicago. I practiced with five prominent law firms before starting my own firm. It has been and it continues to be a good ride.
Chicago is a tough place. It is every bit as gritty as described by Nelson Algren is his classic Chicago: City on the Make (1951).
Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.
When you need a lawyer to handle a case of national scope, you may well find a real lawyer in Chicago.