Apr 01, 2013

Burke and O'Brien bring Chuhak & Tecson's Leading Lawyer population to 40 percent

When Ed Burke was still a boy, he wanted to grow up to wear a suit and tie every day and go to court. Patti O’Brien was just a preteen when she knew her uncle’s suggestion to become a court stenographer wasn’t quite the work she was cut out to do.

Both having pursued the aspirations of their youth, Edmond Burke, a principal at Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., and Patricia Cadagin O’Brien, an associate, are the newest members of the firm to be named to the Leading Lawyers Network in Illinois. They join 25 Chuhak colleagues who already have achieved this distinction, bringing the segment of Leading Lawyers at the firm to a sizable forty percent.

Run by Law Bulletin Publishing Company of Chicago, Leading Lawyers annually recognizes attorneys who have earned the respect of the legal community. With the premise that lawyers themselves are best qualified to identify the stand-outs among them, the network asks attorneys to name peers and competitors they would recommend to loved ones if they were unable to take a case themselves.

Attorneys cannot nominate themselves or colleagues from within their own firms.

“I’m fortunate to work with a number of Leading Lawyers within the firm on a daily basis and am honored to be recognized alongside them,” said Burke, who has practiced law for 11 years—eight of them with Chuhak & Tecson’s banking group.

With a focus on troubled loan portfolios, Burke assists lenders with loan workouts, restructuring and liquidations. He works with banks of all sizes and makes it his business to remain personally involved with his clients at every step of the resolution process, from initial strategy to courtroom litigation.

Burke cut his teeth in banking while still a student, but classes at DePaul University’s College of Law were only half the equation. It was his part-time job in the legal department at JP Morgan Chase Bank that launched Burke’s career with both a law degree and relevant work experience.

“That job absolutely gave me a unique perspective in what I do,” he said. “There are a lot of attorneys that know the Bankruptcy Code back and forth, but who struggle to relate to or understand their clients. Working at Chase, I got to see everything from a client’s perspective at a high level— it was invaluable.

“As an attorney, that helps me understand where the bank is at and where it needs to go so that we can frame how it needs to get there.”

Burke said he appreciates being part of the team at Chuhak & Tecson.

“Part of what differentiates us from other firms is our responsiveness to clients and our ability to turn things around on an expedited basis at a reasonable cost,” he said. “With more than 20 attorneys in our banking group, we’re equipped to meet almost all of our clients’ legal needs, from transactional work to litigation.”

In addition to the Leading Lawyers honor, Burke has been named an Illinois Rising Star four times by Super Lawyers magazine.

O’Brien, who grew up in a family of attorneys and judges, concentrates her own practice in employee benefits. She designs, drafts and advises clients on the administration of qualified retirement plans, and provides counsel on non-qualified plans, as well as a variety of other employee benefit and human resource issues.

Before joining Chuhak & Tecson in September 2012, she practiced law for more than 20 years with a firm in Wheaton, then served as in-house general counsel for a third-party pension administration firm. O’Brien is fluent in ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and enjoys the problem-solving aspects of her job.

"What I like best about a benefits practice is that I have the opportunity to work closely with clients to solve their basic business needs,” O’Brien said. “We often are asked to provide solutions that will assist clients with recruiting and retaining key talent while at the same time providing tax savings to boost the bottom line.

“When representing closely held corporations, I enjoy helping the owners understand employee benefits, which can be a complex area,” she said. “Having served as in-house counsel, I have a thorough understanding of the types of issues that keep business owners up at night, and how to mitigate those issues.”

O’Brien said attorneys who draft retirement plans often draw only from their legal knowledge and never consider how the plan will effectively impact the business.

“Although certain provisions might be allowed under the law,” she said, “one must also analyze whether they will be practical to implement. It’s important to ensure that plans are not only legally compliant, but drafted in such a way that they can be administered practically and efficiently.”

O’Brien earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law and is gratified to see where that degree has led.

"When I look at the list of highly respected attorneys who have previously been named Leading Lawyers, I am humbled to have been selected to join such an esteemed group,” she said. “Knowing that the selection was made by fellow attorneys makes it an even greater honor."