Karen Conti

Partner

Karen has been a lawyer for 26 years, concentrating in all types of litigation—criminal, civil, and appellate. Karen has excellent and diverse trial experience and has litigated cases across the country in a wide variety of matters including: commercial business real estate litigation, insurance coverage disputes, physician disputes, contracts, probate, defamation, domestic relations, white collar criminal defense, environmental matters, employment discrimination, injunctions, business torts, trade secrets, professional negligence, and civil rights.  At the same time, Karen has exceptional negotiation skills which allow her to quickly and creatively settle matters for clients with the least possible expenditure of time and money. She is formally trained as a mediator and in collaborative law.

A member of the Illinois, California, and U.S., Supreme Court bars, Karen has handled numerous significant cases, including a successful United States Supreme Court appeal on behalf of the Cook County Democratic Party, the death row appeals of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a reversal in the Illinois Supreme Court in an employment discrimination matter, and a wrongful arrest and injury action against the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers arising from the infamous May 2000 brawl in the Wrigley Field stands.  In December 2008, Karen tried a six week jury trial and obtained a $1.2 million fraud verdict against a nationally known home builder, represented by the world's largest law firm.

Karen’s clients include, among others, physicians, medical clinics, internet entrepeneurs, authors, retail establishments, construction companies, and a non-profit animal shelter.

For 18 years, Karen has been an adjunct professor at University of Illinois College of Law teaching a litigation skills course known as “Bootcamp.”  She is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University College of Law and Columbia College and has guest lectured at Stanford University and America University. 

Karen has extensive experience in domestic relations.  In 2008, she was appointed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to assist in redrafting the divorce laws in Illinois.  She was solely responsible for redrafting the statute concerning grounds for divorce, when, if passed, should modernize and streamline the process of dissolving a marriage.  In 2007, she was a headline speaker at the Family Rights Rally at the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C. on the issue of child custody and parental alienation.

Karen has extensive experience and contact with the local and national media.  For 15 years, she has been the designated local Chicago Fox affiliate legal expert giving weekly commentary on diverse issues such as family law, business matters, criminal cases, and appellate decisions.  She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Bill O'Reilly Factor, Montel Williams, Leeza Gibbons, and other television programs.  Currently, she is a regular on Nancy Grace and does a weekly segment on CNN Newsroom with Don Lemon.  For over 20 years, Karen hosted and produced radio talk shows including “Legally Speaking” on WGN for which she has won numerous awards, among others, Achievement in Radio for Best Public Affairs and the Kogan Award.  She currently has a weekly segment on WGN where she discusses current legal events and answers listeners’ questions.

Karen also writes and lectures. Her articles are published in the Chicago Sun-Times, local magazines, and online. She has spoken at many seminars and events, including a death penalty symposium with Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

Karen was voted one of 40 under 40 Illinois Attorneys to Watch by Chicago Lawyer Magazine, One of the 100 Women Making a Difference in Chicago by Today's Chicago Woman, Outstanding Alumni of the Year at University of Illinois College of Law, and the Distinguished Graduate Award. She was voted a Leading Lawyer, part of a network of elite lawyers in the state and received the Impresa Award from the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.  An avid athlete, Karen won the Most Fit Lawyer Competition at the age of 47.

Education
  • J.D. 1986 University of Illinois College of Law
  • Northern Illinois University BA Political Science
    • Magna Cum Laude and with University Honors
  • Certified Mediator
  • Certified in Collaborative Law
Court Admissions
  • Illinois 1986
  • California 1994
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    • including Trial Bar 1990
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 1991
  • United States Supreme Court 1994
Professional Activities
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Moderator of Training Webinar for Newly Admitted Attorneys
  • Board Member Chicago Bar Association Public Affairs Committee
  • National Association of Women Business Owners
  • Professional Women’s Club of Chicago
  • Argued Mock Trial in People v. Drew Peterson in conjunction with Chicago Kent College of Law and WGN Radio.
  • Represented Lincoln assassin conspirator, Mary Surratt, in mock trial sponsored by Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Committee and Lincoln Library