History

bskylinechicago1927

Chicago Skyline, c. 1927

In 1934, our founder Leon M. Despres left the ranks of a large Chicago law firm to start his own general practice. Having his own practice allowed him the freedom to handle the labor and civil rights cases that he was passionate about during a critical period in the history of the American labor and civil rights movements. In 1937, he began to represent Willard Saxby Townsend and the International Brotherhood of Red Caps, a fledgling union representing baggage handlers at railroad stations.

From these beginnings, Mr. Despres built a stellar reputation as a labor and civil rights attorney at the forefront of social justice movements in Chicago that lasted until he retired in his 90s. He represented a great number of employee groups, became one of the most prominent and knowledgeable practitioners of real estate law relating to housing co-operatives, and served as counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1940s. In the meantime, Mr. Despres became a Chicago political legend, dubbed the “liberal conscience of Chicago” because of his tireless work on behalf of civil rights and open housing as a member of the Chicago City Council for 20 years.

Thomas Geoghegan joined the firm in 1979. He quickly established himself as a prominent labor lawyer in his own right, representing the United Mine Workers and the Teamsters for a Democratic Union, among others. He also continued to build the firm’s employment law and civil rights practice, as well as its reputation for taking creative approaches to significant and difficult cases.

Like his mentor, Mr. Despres, Mr. Geoghegan also gained recognition for his work outside the law firm. He is the author of a number of books, many of which are about his experiences as a labor lawyer, as well as a plethora of editorials and articles about democracy, labor, civil rights, and constitutional law.

More recently, Carol Nguyen, Michael Persoon, and Sean Morales-Doyle have joined Mr. Geoghegan at the firm. Together, this team of lawyers continues the firm’s tradition of taking an innovative approach to difficult issues and championing social justice. Whether we are fighting against inequitable educational policy, arguing a case before the Supreme Court, or just making sure our client gets their last paycheck, we take on each issue with vigor, but also with a solid foundation of ethics and principles.