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James Epstein

Hon. James R. Epstein (Ret.)

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Case Manager
Brooke Buczkowski
T: 312-655-9191
F: 312-655-0644
71 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60606

Hon. James R. Epstein (Ret.) brings over 35 years of experience to his JAMS practice, including 15 years as an Illinois circuit and appellate judge.  Before his judicial service, Judge Epstein earned recognition as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.  Over his career he has tried, presided over, and settled claims involving complex commercial disputes, class actions, professional negligence, environmental occurrences, and tort claims, among others.

An early proponent of ADR, the Judge believes that mediated solutions serve the needs of lawyers and litigants by easing the time, expense, and risks attendant to litigation.  He values careful preparation and attention to input from the parties as essential to a successful mediation.

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • As a circuit judge presiding over a chancery call and as an appellate judge, Epstein has conducted countless settlement conferences on a broad range of complex business and commercial matters

Representative Matters

Judge Epstein has extensive experience in the following areas:

  • Business/Commercial
    • Dissolution of medical and legal practices: Handled numerous practice dissolution disputes including settling the breakup of a multi-partner divorce law firm
    • Non-compete agreements: Dealt with matters from the injunction stage through enforcement actions involving businesses in dozens of fields
    • Breach of contract: Has experience in trying and settling claims involving commercial real estate joint ventures, purchase agreements, employment contracts, piercing corporate veils, liquidated damages, and a variety of other issues
    • Shareholder's rights: Presided over suits involving shareholders' claims relating to corporate records, as well as challenges to corporate governance
  • Class Actions: Presided over numerous class actions aiding the parties in crafting acceptable settlement terms, as well as adjudication of class certification matters
  • Construction: Tried and settled disputes regarding claims relating to the construction of large commercial properties
  • Governmental Land Use: Settled claim arising out of citizen challenge to construction of sports field in a public park
  • Insurance: Presided over and settled countless declaratory judgment cases involving duties to defend and indemnify, primary and excess coverage, subrogation, bad faith claims, business interruption, environmental exclusions, additional insureds, and other matters. These cases include highly complex cases related to long-term environmental damage and “borrowed” employee issues
  • Intellectual Property: Presided over and settled numerous trade secret cases, including claims related to formulas, protocols, customer lists, and ongoing research and development
  • Professional Liability: Tried and presided over cases of medical and legal negligence claims
  • Personal Injury/Torts: Experience in wrongful death, construction site, product liability, and premises liability cases, among others
  • Speaker, Plenary Presentation: Opening Statements, Guidance on how best to present and opening statement during a jury trial, Labor and Employment Trial Institute, sponsored by the National Employment Law Council and the ABA Labor and Employment Law Section, Chicago-Kent College of Law, September 10, 2017
  • Adjunct Faculty, Foundations of American Legal Thought, Northwestern University, 2014
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Chair, First District Appellate Court Settlement Committee, 2012-2014
  • Member, Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Education, 2003-2012
  • Past President, Illinois Judges Association, 2008-2009
  • Faculty, Illinois Judges Education Conference, 2002, 2004, 2012, 2014
  • Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), Midwest Regional, 1984-1998
  • Adjunct Faculty, Trial Advocacy, Northwestern University School of Law, 1984-1998
  • Coach, Northwestern University Law School Trial Team, 1986-1992; National Champion, 1992
  • Editor, Illinois Judicial Benchbook on Civil Law, First and Second Eds.
  • Frequent lecturer to a diverse set of bar groups, including the Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois
  • Appellate Judge, First District, 4th Division, Illinois Appellate Court, Chicago, Illinois, 2010-2015
  • Judge, Cook County Circuit Court, Chicago, Illinois, 1999-2010
    • Criminal Division, 1999-2005
    • Chancery Division, 2005-2010
  • Partner, Epstein, Zaiderman & Esrig, P.C., 1985-1999
  • Law Offices of James R. Epstein, 1984-1985
  • Assistant Public Defender, Cook County Public Defender’s Office, 1979-1984
  • Associate, Dorfman, De Koven, Cohen & Laner, 1978-1979
  • J.D., Northwestern University, 1978

Counsel Comments

    • “One of the most respected people in Chicago law.”

      - Chicago Tribune, 1/14/2010


Practice Areas

  • Administrative Law
  • Appellate
  • Arbitration
  • Business/Commercial
  • Class Action/Mass Tort
  • Construction Defect
  • Education/Schools
  • Employment
  • Environmental
  • Estate/Probate/Trusts
  • Government/Public Agency
  • Insurance
  • Intellectual Property (Trademark)
  • Personal Injury/Torts
  • Professional Liability
  • Real Property
  • Special Master/ Discovery Referee


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