Michael L. Gallagher
Burke Wise Morrissey & Kaveny
40 Under Class – 2016
Before joining the Chicago law firm of Burke, Wise, Morrissey and Kaveny, Michael Gallagher served as the youngest supervisor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, where he was responsible for defending Cook County and its nearly 22,000 employees in state and federal court.
As supervisor of the Torts and Civil Rights Division, Gallagher oversaw 19 attorneys and the defense of more than 650 state and federal lawsuits. His clients during this time included the nation’s largest single-site jail, second-largest sheriff’s department and second-largest public health system.
And Gallagher did not disappoint during his time leading the office. In one memorable case, Gallagher was assigned as lead counsel to retry a matter that had previously resulted in a $35 million verdict against the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. On retrial, Gallagher and his legal team achieved a not-guilty verdict for all defendants.
Gallagher also successfully defended Cook County and 18 individual sheriff’s department officers in a four-week wrongful-death jury trial. The plaintiff in this case demanded $31 million. The jury, though, returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.
Gallagher has thrived, too, since joining Burke, Wise, Morrissey and Kaveny. In his first jury trial as a plaintiff’s attorney, Gallagher helped secure a “bad faith” jury verdict against Illinois’ largest provider of medical insurance for a record $14.3 million. This included $13 million in punitive damages.
In all, Gallagher has successfully defended 25 of 26 jury trials in state and federal court, including those involving reckless homicide, wrongful death, medical malpractice, civil rights and class-action claims. He has secured more than $95 million in plaintiff and defense verdicts during the last 10 years.
Judge Paul Biebel Jr., the retired Chief Judge of the Cook County Criminal Division, stated that “over my 46 years as an attorney, I have worked with, supervised, or presided over thousands of lawyers from around the country. As I sit here today, I consider Michael one of the brightest attorneys of his generation with a breadth of experience and level of success that is unparalleled.”
Another, judge within the Circuit Court of Cook County Law Division, said that he expects Gallagher to continue earning such results in the future. He is just that talented, dedicated and smart, the Judge said.
“Michael’s preparation is second to none. e,” the judge continued. “His knowledge of the law, procedure and his exhibition of the highest level of professionalism place him in an elite class of attorneys who appear before me. Michael is absolutely deserving of this award.”
Michael also prides himself on his research and persuasive legal writing skills. During his still-young career, Gallagher has argued before the 7th Circuit and Illinois Appellate courts on four occasions. He has also drafted more than 3565 federal and state court appeallate briefss and motions for summary judgment. These appeals and motions have dealt with such issues as wrongful death, medical malpractice, medical deliberate indifference, premise liability and 1983 civil rights claims.
“Michael’s accomplishments and diverse legal background embody the ideals promoted by the Law Bulletin’s 40 Under 40 recognition,” said Timothy Tomasik with Chicago’s Tomasik Kotin Kasserman. “I have no doubt he is a deserving recipient of such an award.”