Jul 02, 2015

Chuhak & Tecson's 2015 elevations: Markus to shareholder, O'Brien and Purtill to principals

For three attorneys recently elevated by Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., the inspiration to practice law came out of a string of business ventures, an uncle’s courtroom and even a cherry farm in Tasmania.

The rest, as they say, is history—especially for Lindsey Paige Markus, who, after clerking at Chuhak & Tecson only a decade ago, has just been named its first woman shareholder. Markus leads the firm’s estate planning and asset protection group, with 22 attorneys.

The firm also elevated Patricia O’Brien, an employee benefits lawyer, and Kevin Purtill, a banking attorney, both to the level of principal.

Markus never set out to become an attorney. Vacillating between theater and economics, she finally chose the career path that satisfied her affinity for business and numbers and soon found herself structuring joint ventures with domestic and international media conglomerates. With her mother, a neuropsychologist, she also created cognitive training exercises and co-authored a book about brain restructuring. NASA was one of their clients.

“The work that I did with my mother trained me to think and solve problems in creative ways,” Markus said. “It still helps me better understand how clients think and makes me a better attorney.”

All the attorneys she met for all the business ventures, book contracts and patent applications captured her interest, and Markus finally turned her own aspirations to law—eventually finding her niche in estate planning and corporate transactions.

Licensed in Illinois and Florida, she is a natural educator who has written more than 40 articles and presented 75-plus seminars about estate planning, wealth protection, corporate law and income tax issues. Local news media have sought out her comments for news segments; she has appeared on NBC5 Chicago, WCIU and several times on Fox News Chicago.

Seizing the opportunity to educate clients and divorce lawyers on the estate planning and estate tax implications of divorce, Markus was one of the first estate planning attorneys in Illinois to become a collaborative law fellow.

“Lindsey truly exemplifies the values of Chuhak & Tecson,” said Andrew Tecson, president of the firm. “She provides sophisticated estate planning and wealth transfer services to our clients. She is passionate about enhancing the firm’s culture and morale, mentoring many of our less experienced attorneys and working with colleagues throughout the firm to implement strategic initiatives.”

“She also is deeply involved in Chicago’s philanthropic community,” Tecson noted. “Lindsey serves both as an enthusiastic member of charitable organizations and as a speaker who educates donors on how to use planned giving tools to optimize their charitable gifts.”

Markus has been a key player in Women Helping Women at Chuhak & Tecson’s Women, both in launching the program in 2009 and in contributing to its continual growth; WHW mix-and-mingles have become full-house events. Held biannually to partner business development with philanthropy, WHW champions organizations that benefit women and their children.

O’Brien’s interest in law was sparked by her three attorney uncles. One had gone on to become a judge; when he was showing her around his courtroom one day, he kindly suggested she might like to be a court stenographer. Still in junior high school at the time, O’Brien decided she’d rather become a lawyer like him.

She began practicing in the employee benefits area when, during her first week of practice with a small law firm, a partner asked her to assist him with restating retirement plans and signed her up for a week-long benefits boot camp/seminar to learn the basics. Today she knows the benefits arena inside and out and has become Chuhak & Tecson’s go-to person for employee benefits. In addition, she meets many other employment and business needs for her corporate clients, including managing myriad governmental compliance issues as they arise.

O’Brien’s skillset makes her a sought-after speaker to business owners, wealth investment advisors and CPAs. Recognized as a Leading Lawyer for each of the past four years, O’Brien tries to keep things practical and simple.

“The area of benefits can be confusing for people,” she said. “There is a lot of technical jargon, but I like to put the language in business terms so the business owner can understand what he or she needs to know to make informed decisions. I worked in-house at two different companies in the past, and I think that having been on the other side of things helps me understand what the business owners need to run their businesses.”

“Patti’s in depth understanding of employee benefit plan design enables her to give clients options for accomplishing their goals,” Tecson said. “Her broad range of business experience helps her to integrate employee benefit strategies with the human resource strategies of clients.”

Purtill came to the practice of law by way of an island farm off Tasmania, where he experienced a vastly contrasting work environment that gave him the time and motivation to consider his future. Enrolling in law school, he intended to develop skills for the business world rather than work as an attorney—but when an opportunity to try banking law came up, he found it suited him well.

Now representing lenders, corporations and real estate clients in transactional work as well as litigation, Purtill loves that no two days are ever the same. He also appreciates that the foundation of his law practice is built on the same principles of a successful business.

“I didn’t know how much of a business the legal profession actually was until I started practicing it,” Purtill said. “But I try to provide super-responsive, personal service as cost-effectively as possible. I understand that clients are concerned about the cost. It’s a business that they’re running, too, and you have to be conscious of that to compete in today’s market.”

“Kevin’s interest in business means that he brings savvy solutions to his clients’ projects,” Tecson said. “He uses his understanding of the financial aspects of complex transactions to get superior results for clients.”

Purtill also is an active mentor for first- and second-year students at his alma mater, The John Marshall Law School, and enjoys speaking on legal and financial topics.