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Need a lawyer in Chicago? Once you have determined that you need legal help, the next step is to choose a specific lawyer to take care of your legal needs. You need to seek legal services from a top-notch law firm in Chicago with a proven track record and a solid reputation to match.
While the state of Illinois is home to hundreds of thousands of practicing lawyers, selecting the right Chicago law firm can be the difference between a frustrating legal experience and a smooth one. But finding and hiring the right firm from the myriad of legal services providers in Chicago can be a challenging assignment.
To help facilitate your search, Cool Things Chicago has put together this list of the top Chicago law firms, ranked based on a variety of factors, such as reliability, experience, recommendations, ability, and quality. We curated the list following a lengthy and comprehensive research process.
Why Is Chicago a Good City for Lawyers?
Chicago is a fantastic place to live, work, and play. Good food, great people, awesome vibe, and mesmerizing skyscrapers are some of the things that put the Windy City on the map. But did you know Chicago plays host to well over 30,000 lawyers?
As a client, it always feels great to hire a professional who’s happy doing what they love in a place where they feel right at home. The fact that Chicago is an attractive city that appeals to many legal practitioners means that you can pick from an excellent talent pool. After all, it’s a big commitment to entrust someone with your case and your hard-earned money.
Lucky for you, Chicago is hands down one of the best cities in which to practice law or find a lawyer, and it’s easy to see why:
Clients galore: Although probably unsurprising to many, Chicago is home to close to three million people. For lawyers, that’s 3 million potential clients. No matter their practice area, lawyers in Chicago can sleep easy knowing there’s no scarcity of clients.
According to a CBS News investigative report, Chicago ranks among the top 50 American cities with high crime rates, so criminal defense attorneys are sure to find lots of clients in and around Windy City. The same is true for DUI lawyers, as Chicago is ranked third in the nation regarding the percentage of drivers on the road with Driving Under the Influence violations.
Numerous factors contribute to the happiness of injury defense attorneys in Chicago, as well. For one, most insurance firms have offices located centrally in the city, making it easy for lawyers to do their job. Besides, no client wants to make a long, stressful trip to see their attorney.
Not just that; most immigration cases, professional regulation hearings, license reinstatement proceedings, corruption cases, and disability lawsuits in the state of Illinois often take place in downtown Chicago. In saying so, lawyers and their clients are proximate to the courts, which provides them with additional convenience and may also help reduce some of the costs.
It’s easy to network and advance your career as a lawyer: Did you know that there are six world-class law schools nestled in the City of Chicago? This means that the city provides you with lots of opportunities to intern, network, find clients, and grow your practice as a lawyer. For a client, having some of the most respected law schools in the vicinity translates to more, better connected, and well-trained lawyers from which to choose.
Finding the right support staff is easy: Many well-trained, educated, and enthusiastic people live in Chicago, making it easy for lawyers in the city to find and hire the best secretaries, clerks, paralegals, and other staff members.
More career opportunities beyond lawyering: If you decide that practicing law isn’t your cup of tea at any point in your career life, you’ll be glad to know that many different top-paying organizations and companies are looking to hire you in Chicago. They have the perception that having someone with a background in law is an excellent fit.
What Are Some of the Top Law Schools in Chicago?
For many years, Chicago has produced some of the best law professionals in the US, partly thanks to the top law schools located in the city. So, if you want law firms with talented attorneys from some of the best law schools in the Second City, you’re in luck. Whether you are looking for property law offices or IP litigation, these schools produce lawyers across all of these fields and many stays in Chicago.
DePaul University College of Law: The law school at DePaul University is regarded as one of the top legal, educational institutions in Chicago and all of the US. The law school has been an active part of the city’s legal community for well over 100 years, boasting an alumni network of more than 10K professionals in and around Chicago. The College’s graduates connect with one of the most robust alumni networks in the country and also go on to become prominent District Attorneys, lawyers, lawmakers, and much more.
Northwestern University’s Pritzker Law School: This landmark legal education center offers a range of well-recognized MSL, LLM, and JD programs. The legal center has earned a reputation for turning out highly regarded and qualified lawyers over the decades. What’s more, the location of Pritzker Law School’s prominent campus is in the heart of Chicago. Its 93% bar-passage rate isn’t too shabby, either.
Loyola University Law School: Situated close to Chicago’s iconic Water Tower, Loyola University Law School has gained an excellent reputation for producing some of the best politicians and trial lawyers. Another thing that makes the law school stand out from the competition is its wide variety of programs, including a doctorate-equivalent called SJD. Diversity at the institution is also notable.
Kent College of Law: Part of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Kent College of Law is one of the oldest colleges in the state and the US. It’s the only law school in the US to earn the coveted A+ rating from the preLaw magazine in employment and labor law. The highly respected law school is a crux of theoretical learning coupled with hands-on and leading-edge skills training.
University of Chicago Law School: If you’re looking for a top-notch law school in Chicago that lives up to its hype with top recommendations by former students, then look no further than the University of Chicago Law School. It boasts one of the highest placements in the US court system, with nearly a quarter of the institution’s graduates finding judgeships at the state level. 97.3% of its law school graduates pass the bar.
John Marshall Law School at the University of Illinois Chicago: The law school has one of the highest graduation rates in the country, and its pass rate for the bar exam is among the top in Illinois. Moreover, the employment rate of its graduates is above 70 percent.
If you’re looking for legal help, choosing the right attorney is the primary decision that can feel daunting. However, just knowing that your lawyer is a graduate of one of these elite law schools in Chicago means that you can hire them with confidence.
Are There Prestigious Law Firms in Chicago?
Chicago is home to the greats in almost every industry, ranging from food and beverage to pharmaceutical and healthcare, and law is no different. You’ll find some of the most prestigious law firms in the city, bringing best-in-class legal services to the table. The good thing is that all of our top picks are considered some of the most elite law firms in the US and worldwide.
These prestigious law firms have not only taken on some of the most groundbreaking cases. Still, they are also recognized for their restructuring, private equity, litigation, legal advisory, intellectual property, and governance work. When you hire a lawyer from these top-shelf law firms, you can rest easy knowing that the best professionals are on your side.
What Is the Difference Between an Attorney and a Lawyer?
Lawyers, legal counselors, and attorneys are terms that most people use interchangeably, and maybe justifiably so. But do they actually mean the same thing? There’s nearly no distinction between an attorney and a lawyer in the US, although a subtle difference existS.
A lawyer is an individual who is learned, trained, or educated in law, so essentially a graduate of law school. In other words, a lawyer is someone who has earned a JD, law degree, etc., from an accredited school of law but hasn’t been admitted to practice law. The person may choose not to practice law and seek employment outside of the legal sector, but they’d still be a lawyer.
An attorney takes it one step further by passing the bar exam and obtaining the necessary license to practice law. So, in essence, an attorney is a trained and licensed lawyer who provides legal advice and counsel and represents clients in court.
With that in mind, to become a practicing attorney in Chicago (and the rest of Illinois), a person must meet the following minimum requirements:
How Many Attorneys Are in Illinois?
Recent estimates show that more than 30,000 attorneys are actively practicing in the City of Chicago. This accounts for nearly a third of all lawyers currently registered to practice law in Illinois.
According to a report from the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), around 70% of the registered lawyers in the state live in Chicago and the greater Cook County area. In comparison, the remaining 30% are spread across the state.
Not all of these registered lawyers are currently practicing in the state. The same ARDC report confirms that roughly 68% of them are active in Illinois, while the rest are stationed out of the state, as they list jurisdiction outside of Illinois as their primary place of residence.
About two-thirds of these legal professionals are in private practice, while 14% of the attorneys in Chicago work in corporate environments. The judicial and government sectors employ roughly 12% of attorneys in the region, while the rest work in academic, not-for-profit, and other legal settings.
Focusing the lens on private practice, where you’ll find most lawyers in Chicago, more than half (or 56 percent to be exact) of these attorneys work in small-scale settings. Moreover, approximately 27 percent of Chicago attorneys are in private firms comprising between 2 and 10 lawyers. Solo practitioners account for more than 29 percent of all attorneys in private practice in the area.
On the flip side, almost a quarter of Chicago lawyers in private practice belong to larger law firms with over 100 attorneys.
How Can I Check If My Law Firm or Lawyer Is Legitimate?
There are tons of law firms in Chicago, covering everything from estate planning and personal injury to criminal defense to family law. However, as with everything else in life, these law firms in Chicago aren’t equal in skills or experience.
So, how would you go about choosing the right lawyer or law firm to help handle your legal matter? To find the best law firms in Chicago, we urge you to keep the following factors and tips in mind:
– Check the credentials – It pays to work with a lawyer, attorney, or law firm with proper expertise and knowledge. And one of the best indicators is the number of years the firm/lawyer has been in business or practicing law. Yes, everyone has to start their career somewhere, but you really don’t want a fresh, inexperienced graduate handling your million-dollar lawsuit.
More than that, you’d want to make sure your target lawyer or law firm has worked on many cases similar to yours. This will come in especially handy when putting together a strong case. In any event, it’s essential to check the lawyer’s credentials, including industry certifications, business licensing, awards, and other things that vouch for their expertise.
– Ensure the law firm/lawyer is legitimate: Lucky for you, we only have legit ones for this list. But what really makes excellent law firms in Chicago? How would you know if your lawyer or law firm is the real deal? For your benefit, the most effective way to ascertain the legitimacy of a law firm is to get in touch with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).
The ARDC has been granted the power to conduct disciplinary action against attorneys registered in Illinois and grant lawyers the license to practice law in the state. This regulatory agency also has oversight over all law firms operating in Chicago and Illinois.
The ARDC’s website is a great place to start, as it provides quite a bit of information on law firms and attorneys registered in Illinois, including their licensure, disciplinary standing, and much more. Also, be sure to check with the Illinois State Bar Association.
– Do your homework: As a general rule of thumb, it’s crucial to research your law firm or attorney before hiring them. As mentioned, the ARDC is the disciplinary agency whose task is to monitor lawyers, consumer complaints, and attorney licenses. By doing some homework on the attorney discipline, you can:
– Consider your comfort level with the attorney or law firm: Most law firms and lawyers offer a no-obligation consultation. Use this opportunity to get a feel for how they work. You must be comfortable enough to tell the attorney personal information and trust that they will professionally handle it. Does the attorney seem interested in dealing with your legal matter?
– Convenience: Is the law firm’s office located in a convenient place? Thankfully, most lawyers and attorneys in Chicago have their offices downtown. You’ll probably find hundreds of law firm offices in the Loop alone.
– Don’t hesitate to ask the right questions: There are several questions that you can ask law firms in Chicago to ascertain if you’re a good fit. The most recommended include:
The goal here is to establish a rapport, see if you’re a good fit, and ensure all of your concerns are addressed before hiring the lawyer.