Schiff Hardin LLP

Private Wealth Law Department

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"Schiff is a great firm with a deep bench of highly seasoned attorneys; they are my first call for most matters," states an interviewee. The firm can offer expertise in business succession, trusts and estates planning and administration and contentious private wealth matters. Another interviewee reports that "it is a very solid group of talented lawyers."

"They have a great team and are a great firm," notes one source, who explains: "They have a really good niche between the very large firms and the smaller firms - they have the sophistication but they are reasonable in terms of cost. They have a very practical approach and they try to figure what the client's goals are."

Notable practitioners

David Blickenstaff is lauded as "one of the best litigators in Chicago" by a source, who describes him as "incredibly practical and focused." Blickenstaff heads the firm's trust and estate litigation practice and brings a wealth of experience assisting clients with trusts disputes and contested estates. "He is attentive, gives good practical advice and is incredibly responsive," says a source, continuing: "He has an ability to settle things with agreements. He is extremely professional, and is able to get the parties to have a meeting of the minds and do it professionally."

David Hodgman is a trusted adviser to wealthy individuals and families, assisting with estate and tax planning and probate matters as well as trust administration and fiduciary litigation. He is regarded as a "very solid attorney" by one of his peers, who says he is "very experienced and knows his stuff." Another source describes Hodgman as an "excellent lawyer," explaining: "He excels at client relationships, he has a calming and soothing effect on the client."

Sarah Kerr Severson acts for wealthy individuals and families on estate planning and business succession as well as wealth transfer planning. She is praised for her "excellent intuition and instincts with clients." One source states that "she is a very smart lawyer who is an excellent counsellor to her clients." Another interviewee enthuses: "Sarah is far and away the best attorney I have ever worked with. She is smart, understands the law and isn't afraid to look at out-of-the-box solutions."

Susan Bart is "one of my favourite lawyers in the city," enthuses a source, who explains: "She is unbelievably smart. She can do the most complex planning but she looks at each client and tries to accomplish their goals. She has an unbelievable range of knowledge, she can do it all." Bart is highly respected for her work with clients on estate planning, wealth transfer and estate administration matters. One interviewee reports that "Susan is a very, very capable attorney, particularly on the technical side. She is very gifted and thoughtful in thinking about non-tax issues."

Thomas Abendroth is "on the top of our list," reports an interviewee, adding: "He is a true adviser and a good strategic planner, he thinks about the long term." Abendroth has a wealth of experience advising high net worth families and individuals on a range of estate planning matters. "He gives sound, level-headed legal advice," states a source, adding: "He understands this practice, how some days you are a psychologist, some days a tax adviser. He gives well-measured, comprehensive advice and is a good listener. Being a private client lawyer is more than being a tax lawyer, and he embodies all of that."