Principal Lindsey Markus honored as one of ‘40 Under Forty’ Illinois attorneys to watch

October 12, 2012

Chuhak & Tecson, P.C., is proud to announce that principal Lindsey Paige Markus has been named to the 2012 roster of “40 Under Forty” – 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch, a highly selective honor sponsored by Law Bulletin Publishing Company to recognize talented young attorneys from across the state.

Markus concentrates her practice mainly in estate planning and wealth protection and also enjoys advising not for profit organizations.

This is the 13th year for the 40 Under Forty awards, and more than 13,000 nominations were received. To maintain the program’s integrity, nominating attorneys may not put forward their own names or those of colleagues from within the firms where they work.

“Right now there are over 60,000 attorneys in Illinois, and only 520 have received this award in the last 13 years,” said Adam Hrejsa, program director. “That means less than one percent of the attorneys in Illinois have been selected.”

Principal Mitchell Weinstein became the first Chuhak & Tecson attorney to make the 40 Under Forty list in 2005, followed by Mitchell Feinberg, another principal, in 2007. Weinstein mentored Markus when she first joined the firm as an associate.

“What stands out most is her skill in networking and marketing and her ability to go out, meet people and bring in business,” Weinstein said. “She’s got a knack for doing that.”

“From the get-go, Lindsey has had a very strong overall level of confidence that is unusual in young lawyers,” he said. “She doesn’t just have confidence; she can back it up. For a young lawyer learning a new field, she has been competent in learning the technical skills and marketing skills, and she’s also been very interested in writing articles and giving speeches to help educate the public like nobody I’ve seen before.”

Markus said her passion for public speaking springs from years of theater productions during her youth. She seriously considered an acting career before deciding to pursue an economics degree from Brandeis University. A second degree followed—a master’s in international economics and finance—and out of that came work that involved the structuring of securities transactions and joint ventures with domestic and international media conglomerates.

Markus studied cognitive restructuring and guided top engineers and scientists through the Critical Thinking Skills Project that her mother, Dr. Donalee Markus, was invited to provide for NASA.

During this time, Markus co-authored a book, Retrain Your Business Brain: Outsmart the Corporate Competition, published by Dearborn Press in the United States and Asia.

After a few years in these pursuits, Markus began to notice the attorney present at every critical juncture, and she recognized the need to acquire legal skills. In 2006, Loyola University Chicago School of Law awarded her a juris doctorate.

The zigzag path Markus took to a successful law career is exactly what fuels her success, she believes.

“I think I bring a unique set of skills to the table—finance, business development and clinically applied neuroscience—which allow me to feel comfortable with numbers and understand how clients think and process information,” Markus said. “I appreciate the fact that not all clients have a natural affinity for numbers and complex corporate structures, and I use stories, analogies and diagrams to get the message across. My number one goal with every client is to make sure they understand what we’re doing and how the numbers and structures relate to their plan.”

Weinstein believes Markus has exactly the temperament needed for the kind of law she practices.

“In the field of estate planning, where you get to know people on an intimate level, she has a good rapport and a good working relationship with her clients,” he said.

When Weinstein received his own 40 Under Forty distinction, the greatest honor was knowing that the recognition comes from other attorneys.

“It is much harder to earn respect from peers outside the office, who in some cases may be your adversary or even your competition in trying to get business, than doing so inside your firm,” he said. “For Lindsey, I think she will be very honored to be recognized by her peers in that way.”

Hrejsa said the selection committee puts great stock in the strength of the nomination submitted, not on the number of endorsements any one attorney may receive.

“We look at the whole body of work,” he said, “so it goes from what they’ve done in their practice to being willing to work pro bono in the community to being an active member of the bar associations. Someone whose clients or peers have commented on the excellence of their work. It’s the total package we’re looking at.”

Community service is one of the most important aspects of Markus’ life. She participates actively on Advocate Health Care’s Charitable Foundation Gift Planning Advisory Committee, the Between Friends Bubble Ball planning committee and The Standard Club membership committee. A founding member of Women Helping Women, the Chuhak & Tecson group mixing networking with philanthropy, Markus also is organizing a Wills for Heroes event as part of the firm’s “25 Ways to Give Back” service initiative.

Sitting on two committees for the Jewish United Fund, and a former Executive Board Member of the JUF Young Leadership Division, she was named to the first-ever “Double Chai in the Chi: 36 Under 36” list of Jews striving to make the world a better place this year by the JUF Young Leadership Division and Oy!Chicago. Markus has also been named an Illinois Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine for three years running.

Markus said that while she considers her recent accolades to be a “tremendous honor,” this is not a time to rest on her laurels. Instead, the honors motivate her to find more ways to add value to colleagues, clients and the community.

One way she does that is by teaching a continuing legal education seminar “on the basics of estate planning that every attorney should know,” she said. Markus offered the program first at Chuhak & Tecson and hopes to take it on the road to other firms that don’t have their own estate planning groups.

Determined to remain a lifelong learner herself, she recently completed training necessary to become a fellow in collaborative law, a legal process that encourages divorcing couples to reach amicable settlements without litigation.

Every client in a divorce needs a new estate plan, said Markus, anticipating many opportunities to consult on the implications.

“I’d love to shake up the collaborative law world,” she said. “I think I will be the first estate planning attorney to become a Collaborative Law Fellow in Illinois, and I’m anxious to carve out my niche.”

Hrejsa has no doubt that 40 Under Forty award winners will make a mark on the world in the days ahead. That’s why they’re identified as up-and-coming professionals to watch.

“When we pick an attorney, it’s the fact that they’ve done very well,” Hrejsa said. “They’re getting ringing endorsements from their peers in their practice area as well as from their clients.

“Many of these past honorees are firm leaders,” he said, “and some are federal judges. When I look back at this list and look forward to where they are now, it’s really foretelling of the future success they will achieve.”