Richard J. Phelan

Retired Partner


Richard J. Phelan is a retired partner in Foley & Lardner LLP's Litigation Department and former managing partner of the firm's Chicago office. Formerly a founding partner of the Chicago firm of Phelan, Pope & John, he has represented clients for more than 40 years in a trial practice that includes products liability, public law, intellectual property, and reinsurance.

From 1990 to 1994, Mr. Phelan was president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, where he oversaw the largest unified court system in the world, together with a budget of $2 billion and 27,000 employees. From 1988 to 1989, he served as special outside counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, in the matter of Speaker James C. Wright, Jr. Following his investigation of Speaker Wright, the speaker resigned from office, an event which had never previously occurred in U.S. history.

Mr. Phelan is an adjunct professor at Lake Forest College, a former trustee of Knox College and currently serves as a member of the Board of Visitors, John Marshall Law School; the Board of Directors for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago; the Board of Directors of The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago; and both the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago. In 1998, he was appointed to the Professional Advisory Board of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Mr. Phelan is past president of the Chicago Bar Association and has served as chairman of the Upstate Illinois Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers and dean of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has written and spoken extensively in the areas of products liability, corporate law, public interest law and constitutional rights.

In recognition of his achievements, Mr. Phelan was Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system.

He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law School and the University of Notre Dame.