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Thomas H. Geoghegan

Thomas H. Geoghegan, Shareholder

Thomas Geoghegan joined the firm in 1979 and quickly established himself as a prominent labor lawyer. Over the years, Tom has represented labor unions and employee groups in many significant cases in various United States district courts and courts of appeals.

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(312) 372-2511


Thomas H. Geoghegan is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College. He has been a member of the Illinois Bar since 1980. Over the years, he has represented labor unions and employee groups in many significant cases in various United States district courts and courts of appeals. He has argued before the United States Supreme Court in Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, 558 U.S. 67 (2009), in which the firm won a 9-0 decision. He has also brought several constitutional rights cases, including Judge v. Quinn, 612 F.3d 537 (2010) establishing the right of Illinois voters to fill U.S. Senate vacancies by election.

He has represented thousands of workers in plant closings, recovering $19 million for workers at Wisconsin Steel and $6 million for workers at Outboard Marine Corporation. The firm under his direction has also recovered millions of dollars for workers in class actions against employers for violations of the WARN Act, which requires notice prior to layoffs. He represented Teamsters for a Democratic Union in litigation between the Justice Department and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which resulted in establishing the right of rank and file members to direct election of their principal officers.

His labor union clients include the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, General Committees of Adjustment, and the Chicago Teachers Union. In addition to his labor and employment law practice, he has participated in a variety of public interest cases. He successfully settled a class action against Advocate Health Systems to provide more charity care to the indigent and to stop collection cases against those unable to pay. He represented homeless in a suit to require the City to take efficient measures to curb the spread of tuberculosis. He also brought the first litigation challenging hand gun owners for creating a public nuisance by the negligent spread of handguns to young people.

Before starting his current practice, he worked in the policy office of the United States Department of Energy from 1977 through 1979 and was one of the drafters of “National Energy Plan II” by the Carter Administration.

At last count, Thomas Geoghegan has written eight books, including Which Side Are You On? (1991), cited as one of the best five non-fiction books in that year by the National Book Critics Circle. He has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Harper’s, Slate, Bloomberg View, The New Republic, The Baffler, and other publications. In 2004, he was a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. In the fall of 1994, he was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Tom’s latest book, The History of Democracy Has Yet To Be Written: How We Have to Learn To Govern All Over Again, was released in 2021 and is available through Belt Publishing.


  • Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • Harvard College, B.A.

Bar Admissions

  • All Illinois Courts
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar Member)
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin


  • Board, Business and Professional People in the Public Interest (BPI)
  • Board, Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project (FLAP)

Books & Authored Articles

Despres, Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd. represent those who are frequently left without a voice in our legal system.

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