Hon. Morton Denlow (Ret.) joined JAMS in October 2012 following 16 1/2 years of distinguished service as a Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. During his time on the bench, Judge Denlow presided over thousands of civil and criminal matters. He conducted over 2,000 settlement conferences and tried a number of bench and jury trials, including complex commercial disputes, employment, ERISA, intellectual property and civil rights cases.
Judge Denlow is known as a creative problem solver who will not rest until a case is settled. During his first nine years at JAMS, he achieved settlements totaling over $1.6 billion, including 264 settlements of $1 million or more. He has mediated more than 750 cases since joining JAMS, including more than 200 class action lawsuits.
Judge Denlow is a nationally recognized expert in settling cases. He is a sought after speaker and writer on mediation and settlement techniques. As a faculty member of the Federal Judicial Center, he taught hundreds of federal judges mediation skills and effective impasse breaking techniques.
Prior to his appointment to the federal bench on March 1, 1996, Judge Denlow was actively engaged for 24 years as a trial and appellate lawyer in complex commercial litigation. His breadth of experience as a trial lawyer, a settlement-focused judge, and successful mediator makes him an ideal choice to mediate complex cases.
ADR Experience and Qualifications
As a federal judge, Judge Denlow conducted over 2,000 settlement conferences on the full range of federal cases, including many complex commercial matters. Judge Denlow has handled matters involving the following areas of law:
- Antitrust: experience in settling complex antitrust and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disputes. Since joining JAMS, Judge Denlow facilitated a $97.5 million settlement in a multidistrict antitrust suit against producers of potash, a $4.8 million settlement involving the containerboard and corrugated paper industry and a $39 million settlement involving liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.
- Banking: settled a wide variety of bank related cases including class actions claiming bank fee and loan overcharges; data breach privacy cases; loans in default; wrongful auto replevin claims; and claims brought by the FDIC against former officers and directors of closed banks.
- Business / Commercial: settled more than 250 business/commercial matters of every imaginable type since joining JAMS.
- Civil Rights: as a judge settled hundreds of civil rights claims against municipalities and other government entities. At JAMS, Judge Denlow settled the City of Chicago’s largest ever single plaintiff action, in addition to several multi-million dollar §1983 claims.
- Class Actions: has mediated over 200 class action lawsuits since joining JAMS, including cases under the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act ("BIPA"), data breach, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), securities fraud, Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), antitrust, consumer false advertising and labeling claims, and related attorney fee issues. His total JAMS class action settlements exceed $650,000,000.
- Cyber Security and Privacy: settled numerous Illinois BIPA cases arising out of the finger scanning time keeping systems used by employers and others. Settled data breach suits involving cyber attacks and hacking of personal information.
- Employment: settled hundreds of employment cases involving discrimination claims (age, sex, disability, race, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and retaliation), breach of employment contracts, EEOC, class actions, employment contract disputes, employee benefits, executive compensation, employment-related torts, non-competition agreements, trade secrets, and numerous FLSA class actions.
- ERISA: settled a number of ERISA retirement and employee class actions, disability insurance policy claims, and union trust fund actions.
- Federal: Managed a full docket of federal cases for 16.5 years in Chicago.
- Insurance: settled coverage, property damage, reinsurance, subrogation, bad faith and related disputes under a wide variety of insurance policies.
- Intellectual Property: settled numerous patent cases involving high-tech and low-tech patents; trademark cases involving names, logos, packaging, and licensing agreements; and a full range of copyright infringement cases.
- Professional Liability: settled accountant, architect, directors/officers and legal malpractice claims and fee disputes.
- Real Property: settled a number of real estate partnership breakups, breach of contract, and real estate valuation disputes.
- Securities: securities fraud 10b-5 class actions, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, stock options backdating, and stockholder derivative actions and was an active securities law litigator.
- Special Master: created the methodology and settled over 400 cases in a Truth in Lending multidistrict litigation (MDL) case and settled a 20-party receivership involving numerous claims including Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Department of Labor litigation.
- Training/Teaching: longtime member of the Federal Judicial Center where he lectured and trained hundreds of federal judges in mediation skills, and he is a regular speaker at local law schools and bar association programs on mediation and settlement skills.
- Recipient, Edwin A. Rothschild Award for Lifetime Achievement in Civil Rights, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 2015
- Member, Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judges System of the Judicial Conference, 2005-2012
- Immediate Past President and Board of Directors, Resolution Systems Institute
- Vice President, Jewish Judges Association of Illinois
- Board of Directors, Federal Bar Association and Chicago Bar Foundation, 2006-2012
- Member of Advisory Committee, J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management Dispute Resolution Research Center
- Adjunct Professor in Trial Advocacy, Northwestern University School of Law, 1990-1991
- Senior Lecturer in Law, Loyola University School of Law, 1983-1995
- Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 1988-1998
- Lecturer, American Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, Northwestern University Corporation Counsel Institute, National Employment Lawyers Association, American Intellectual Property Association, International Claim Association, Association of Attorney Mediators, Employers Counsel Network, and PLI Consumer Financial Services Institute
- Judicial Profile published in the Federal Lawyer, December 2012
- Recipient, Seymour Simon Justice Award, Jewish Judges Association of Illinois, 2010
Author of numerous articles including the following publications:
- Magistrate Judges' Important Role in Settling Cases, The Federal Lawyer, May/June 2014
- Settling the Confusion: Applying Federal Common Law in Settlement Enforcement Proceedings Arising from Federal Claims, Northwestern University Law Review, published by Northwestern University School of Law, volume 107, No. 1, p. 127-168, 2012
- Breaking Impasses in Judicial Settlement Conferences: Seven (More) Techniques for Resolution, Court Review, published by the American Judges Association, volume 46 at p. 130, 2011
- Settlement Conference Techniques: Caucus Dos and Don'ts, The Judges' Journal, published by the American Bar Association Judicial Division, volume 49 at p. 21, Spring 2010
- Making Full Use of the Court: Come to Settle First, Litigate Second, Litigation, the journal of the Section of Litigation of the American Bar Association, volume 35, number 1, at p. 28, Fall 2008
- What's an Attorney to Do? Ensuring Federal Jurisdiction Over Settlement Agreements in Light of Recent Seventh Circuit Cases, The Circuit Rider, the journal of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association, condensed version published at p. 24, May 2007
- Settlement Conference Techniques: A Judge's Opening Statement, The Judges' Journal, published by the American Bar Association Judicial Division, volume 45 at p. 23, Spring 2006
- Judicial Settlement Databases: Development and Uses, The Judges' Journal, published by the American Bar Association Judicial Division, volume 43 at p. 19, Winter 2004
- The Motion For a Preliminary Injunction: Time For a Uniform Federal Standard, The Review of Litigation, 22 Rev. Litig. 495, a University of Texas Publication, Summer 2003
- Federal Jurisdiction in the Enforcement of Settlement Agreements: Kokkonen Revisited, Federal Courts Law Review, Fed. Cts. L. Rev. 2, March 2003
- Concluding a Successful Settlement Conference: It Ain't Over Till It's Over, Court Review, published by the American Judges Association, volume 39 at p. 14, Fall 2002
- Preliminary Injunctions: Look Before You Leap, Litigation, the journal of the Section of Litigation of the American Bar Association, volume 28, number 4, at p. 8, Summer 2002
- Settlement Conference Tips for Judges (with a Form and a List of Things Lawyers Should NOT Do), The Practical Litigator, ALI CLE, at p. 19, May 2002
- Effective Mediation Advocacy: Perspectives Around the Mediation Table, co-author, Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice Handbook, published by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Chapter 4, 2001
- Breaking Impasses in Settlement Conferences: Five Techniques for Resolution, The Judges' Journal, published by of the American Bar Association Judicial Division, at p. 4, Fall 2000
- Justice Should Emphasize People, Not Paper, Judicature, the journal of the American Judicature Society, vol. 83 at p. 50, September-October 1999
- Trial on the Papers: An Alternative to Cross Motions for Summary Judgment, The Federal Lawyer, published by the Federal Bar Association, vol. 46 at p. 30, August 1999
- Steps to an Effective Settlement Conference: At the Table, Pretrial Practice & Discovery Newsletter, published by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, at p. 3, Winter 1998
- Steps to an Effective Settlement Conference: Before You Come to the Table, Pretrial Practice & Discovery Newsletter, published by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, at p. 3, Fall 1997
- Mediation of Commercial Disputes: A Useful Tool for Trial Lawyers and Their Clients, Chicago Bar Record, published by the Chicago Bar Association, at p. 30, September, 1995; and in the Dispute Resolution Journal, published by the American Arbitration Association, at page 79, October-December 1995
- Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 1996-2012 (Presiding Magistrate Judge, 2004-2008)
- Partner, Dardick & Denlow, 1984-1993
- Partner, Sachnoff & Weaver, Ltd., 1979-1984 (Of Counsel, 1993-1996)
- Director of Professional Services for Chicago Regional Office, JAMS/Endispute, 1995-1996
- Associate, Rosenthal & Schanfield, 1977-1979
- Law Clerk and Associate, D’Ancona & Pflaum, 1971-1977
- J.D., cum laude, Northwestern University School of Law, 1972 (Order of the Coif)
- A.B., Economics, cum laude, Washington University, 1969
“I wanted to send a personal note to thank you for making the nine-hour Zoom mediation such a pleasurable experience for our client. For whatever it’s worth, your use of the checklist is a competitive advantage for you that separates you from your peers It has wonderful benefits in focusing the parties on the right issues during the mediation and in minimizing the costs associated with preparing the settlement paperwork. This was my first time participating in a Zoom mediation. It saved the parties thousands of dollars in travel costs and the technology was pretty close to flawless. It also allows me to recommend you to lawyers in my office here or parts of the country outside Chicago. Thank you again for your services and I look forward to an opportunity to work with you again in the future.”
“Thank you for your efforts and your staff’s efforts during the mediation process. The entire mediation was efficiently managed and executed, and your checklist proved to be an extremely useful tool.”
“As I’ve said before to you and many others, you are one of the finest mediators in the country. Thank you for another superlative effort.”
"Thank you for showing us how well a zoom mediation could work. Stay safe."
“It was such a pleasure to work with you yesterday. For the past several years, I have heard such wonderful things about you from both the defense side and plaintiffs’ counsel. It was like meeting the “Great Oz” - but this one lived up to the reputation and offers pizza! (What could be better?) Thank you very much for the great effort yesterday, and the successful result. I don’t think we could have reached the end point without your guidance and skill.”
“Based on the positive feedback received by the Council, Judge Denlow is clearly held in very high esteem by the active federal bar. Regarding settlement conferences, attorneys had extremely positive views of his ability to settle cases and similarly praised him for the amount of time and effort he puts into settlement conferences.”
"The parties have reached agreement to settle this case, and the Consent Decree is now pending approval by the Court. On behalf of EEOC, the agency wishes to extend its gratitude to you for your skilled, persistent efforts to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution of the case. In retrospect, it is clear to me that the mediation session you conducted in Chicago was critical to the parties’ understanding of one another’s perspectives and our ability to see a feasible path to resolution."
"I firmly believe we would not have settled without your uniquely effective touch. There were two previous attempts to settle with the assigned Magistrate Judge; they failed. I firmly believe that the [plantiffs] and the [defendants] are people of good will. But they needed help to get to “yes”. Thanks again for continuing to be the very best mediator and a great guy!"
"Judge thank you for all your hard work yesterday. I do not believe this matter would have been resolved without your expertise and experience… JAMS use of the technology was very impressive. This was my first virtual mediation and I thought it was very effective."
"Judge Denlow I know I speak for both sides in expressing our sincere appreciation for your extraordinary efforts yesterday and today in facilitating this resolution. Thank you very much."
"Outstanding, tenacious work, as always. Thank you!"
"Dear Judge Denlow: Thank you again for your assistance during yesterday’s long session. Both we and our client are very appreciative of your patience, your insights and your persistence."
"I wanted to express my sincere appreciation to Judge Denlow and his JAMS team. This was a difficult case with a long history. Judge Denlow’s expertise and professionalism enabled us to overcome those obstacles."
-An Evaluation of the United States Magistrate Judges in Chicago, by The Chicago Council of Lawyers, April 2008
- "Thank you for helping the parties resolve this matter. Your creativity, patience, and determination was key to getting this done for all involved. Given the personalities involved, I was concerned that this would be difficult to resolve through mediation. I felt strongly that we needed someone with your vast experience and ability to command respect from the clients. As usual, you more than delivered - thank you again for all of your effort on this."
- "Thank you for your efforts in helping the parties resolve their dispute. Your innovative approaches were key and we all appreciated your focus and calm manner."
- "Once again, you did an excellent job orchestrating our little symphony to produce the beautiful music of settlement at the end of a long day. On behalf of our tremendously relieved clients, I want to thank you for all of your efforts."
- "The judge granted final approval to the settlement last week. In granting approval, the judge emphasized the fact that the settlement had been mediated by 'one of the finest jurists in this city.' Thanks for all your assistance in reaching resolution."
- "Thank you very much for all your assistance yesterday. My client is very happy and we are both appreciative that your excellent mediation skills resulted in a settlement of this matter."
- "Your help and guidance were crucial assistance to our effort to settle our case. Thanks to you our effort was successful. I enjoyed your sense of humor. It made an Irishman chuckle. Thanks again for your help."
- "Judge, thank you again for your assistance. Your approach, knowledge, demeanor, and patience were greatly appreciated."
"As always, working with you is both challenging and fun -- a rare combination. You are, as they say (and they know), the best."
"Thank you very much for all your work bringing the parties together. I'm confident the case would not have settled without your efforts to find common ground. We appreciate all your assistance and hope we have the opportunity to work with you again."
"It was a real privilege watching you work on Tuesday. I must admit that I didn't enter the mediation with much confidence of a resolution. We both agreed that any other mediator we may not have had the same success. Thank you for your efforts. I now appreciate even more why you came so highly recommended!"
“Thank you for your efforts, patience, creativity, and encouragement. It is a tough dynamic to go from litigation in the course of one day. It is always easier with a good mediator who facilitates that process.”
"We appreciate all of your fine efforts, diligence, and creativity – all of which were needed to arrive at a settlement. It was great working with you."
- "I continue to receive praise from Dana, Michael & Pat for your very skilled mediating, and yesterday I was able to witness that first hand! When we started I was not certain we could get it done, and I believe you’re the reason the two parties eventually came together."
- "Thank you for your dedication and assistance today, and for helping to keep the dialogue open."
- "Your efforts yesterday were greatly appreciated by me and my client. And I am so pleased that we could keep your record intact. I look forward to further opportunities to work with you and won’t hesitate in the least to recommend you to others."
- "Thanks, Judge Denlow. We obviously couldn’t have achieved this settlement without your able assistance. It was a real pleasure to meet and work with you and counsel to get this done. Thanks again."
- "Thank you for your assistance yesterday. Your approach was critical to getting over the lengthy history between the parties."
- "Thanks, Judge, for your help. Your careful and reasonable analysis was tremendously helpful. On a personal note, it was a real pleasure to meet and to work with you."
- "Thank you for your great assistance, persistence, and wise counsel. We all appreciate the skills you bring to the table."
- "Thank you, Judge Denlow, for your persistence and hard work in bringing the parties together. We couldn’t have done it without you!"
- "Thanks Judge. It took a miracle worker to get that one done!"
- "Thank you for your message, and especially for your hard work yesterday in bringing a difficult situation to a definitive end. Only the best are able to settle the very hardest cases."
- "I also wanted to thank you privately for getting this one done. I don’t have nearly the number of mediations under my belt as you, but this was the most frustrating of my career. Your particular skills and demeanor got us there, and I am grateful…"
- "Thank you for your hard work and expert assistance. From plaintiff’s side, I can say with confidence that it would not have settled without your thoughtful and sensitive approach."
- "Thank you, Judge Denlow, for all your help. My client is thrilled with the resolution and to have [the case] behind him."
- "Thank you for your patience and time last night. I know that we interrupted your plans, and we are greatly appreciative of your commitment to help us broker a deal. It would not have [happened] otherwise."
- "Writing to let you know that the parties have executed and exchanged settlement agreements. Thank you for your assistance and persistence in helping to get this matter resolved."
- "First, thank you for your excellent mediation skills last Thursday; the successful result obtained through your efforts was most welcome to those of us on the…team. We thought your professional analysis and skilled 'shuttle diplomacy' was precisely what we sought."
- "I also wanted to let you know that my client ended up being very happy with the result, her qualms about settling have disappeared (which made me feel much better) and is very appreciative of your efforts. She is looking forward to a new life, after being in limbo for several years."
- "Judge Denlow, thank you for working with the parties to get a mutually satisfactory resolution to the issues. Your ability to understand the issues and to communicate the positions of both parties was very helpful."
- "Thank you so much for your time and patience, your knowledge and understanding and especially your incredible skills as a mediator. I was optimistic beforehand based on all I read about you prior to mediation. You proved to make a real impact on our case and I am certain you were the catalyst that brought us to the point of being able to reach a settlement. I sincerely appreciate your hard work and your understanding of the issues (legal AND personal) and your ability to understand what it took to reach a settlement. You have a great talent to recognize what's important and the real goals of each party, each lawyer, each participant in the case. I cannot thank you enough."
- "Many thanks for a successful mediation; a result that is attributable to your widely recognized talent in bringing opposing parties to a realization of the multiple benefits of resolving their differences through the mediation process. We appreciate the time and effort that you dedicated to this matter, and look forward to working with you in the future."
- "I have to concede that I had my doubts at times today regarding whether a settlement could be achieved, and there is no question that it would not have happened without your persuasive guidance. As always, thank you. There is no question that the outcome was in the best interest of all parties."
- "Please accept my sincere appreciation for allowing us to benefit from your skills, experience and your deeply rooted sense of human fairness. But for you, we would not have been able to close on this matter."
- "Once again, I believe that your detailed knowledge and input based on the specific facts of this case resulted in a settlement that was fair to all."
- "On behalf of my client and myself, please accept my thanks for your invaluable efforts today in helping us to resolve this dispute. As always, you were fair, thoughtful, creative and the consummate professional. Thank you again."
- "I want to thank you for your efforts to get our case resolved last night. We really appreciate that you spent the extra hours bringing this difficult matter to conclusion."
- "Thank you very much, Judge Denlow. We very much appreciate all your efforts and stamina, as well of course as the introduction to the 'seven cs'."
- "All of us here at the EEOC want to express our appreciation for your work helping the parties reach this resolution. We know that you were an integral part of the settlement process."
- "The outcome would likely have been different without your skillful facilitation and persistence. Our clients are better off having reached a settlement. It was a pleasure to work with you."
- "Thank you for all of your efforts. Your reputation is well deserved. And thanks to the JAMS staff for all of their help and hospitality."
- "Thank you for all of your efforts in resolving this dispute. I appreciate your patience, as well as your guidance. I took away a number of valuable lessons from our mediation, which I'm sure will come in handy in the future. It was truly a pleasure working with you."
- "The case has fully settled, and I believe we would not have gotten to settlement without your excellent efforts to bring the parties together."
- "Deepest thanks for your help at the mediation. With your good influence, were able to break through a few logjams that had been causing difficulty for months."
- "Thanks again for helping us settle this case. It was a tough one for a few different reasons, and we couldn't have done it without you, that's for sure."
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