Steve Hartmann is a Partner in the Litigation Practice Group and is the Leader of the Firm's Employment Group. He also serves as the Firm's long-standing General Counsel, making him the proverbial “lawyer’s lawyer.” 

For over 30 years Steve has handled and served as lead trial attorney on a variety of complex business litigation matters.  He has successfully tried to verdict dozens of jury and non-jury commercial cases in federal and state courts throughout the country, as well as appeals, arbitrations and mediations.

Commercial Loans. Steve represents secured lenders in the enforcement of commercial loan agreements in various contexts such as work-outs, foreclosures, receiverships, lender liability and prepayment premiums.

Insurance. Steve represents life insurance companies in litigation involving sales practices, disputes with agents, and policies including claim disputes, rescissions and interpleaders.

Employment. Steve represents employers in single-plaintiff and class action litigation involving claims alleging discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, sexual harassment and whistle-blower retaliation.

Bankruptcy. Steve represents bankruptcy trustees in investigations and fraud and director and officer litigation.

Steve also counsels company presidents, CFOs and other senior executives with respect to employment agreements, executive comp and separations, and serves as outside general counsel to a number of closely-held businesses.

Representative Matters

  • Defeated multiple chapter 11 “cram-down” reorganization plans proposed by commercial borrowers on behalf of secured lender clients.
  • Prevailed on summary judgment on a whistle-blower retaliation claim brought by our client’s senior executive.
  • Obtained a defense jury verdict in favor of our client on Title VII gender discrimination and retaliation claims brought by the company’s female vice president of operations.
  • Prevailed on summary judgment on behalf of a major railroad in a case alleging that the client’s policy to exclude persons with a felony conviction within 7 years from access to its hub operations constituted race discrimination in violation of Title VII.
  • Obtained dismissal of claims against our client, a steel fabrication company, for indemnification and contribution in a large construction defect case involving construction of an ethanol plant.
  • Obtained a $3.7 million judgment on behalf of a bankruptcy trustee against a bankrupt company’s president based on breach of fiduciary duty and fraud.
  • Prevailed on summary judgment on behalf of the firm’s commercial mortgage lender client in multiple cases brought by borrowers that attempted to challenge the enforceability of prepayment premium provisions in their loan documents.
Honors & Awards: 
  • Illinois Super Lawyers – Business Litigation - 2015 (cited in multiple years)
  • Leading Lawyers – Commercial Litigation, Creditors’ Rights/Commercial and Bankruptcy & Workout Law/Commercial
  • Illinois Leading Lawyers - 2019 (cited in multiple years)
  • Author, "Lawyers as Employees: Rights and Responsibilities," Illinois Institute of Continuing Education’s Employment Termination–2008 and 2013 Editions.
  • Author, "Revisiting Till: Has a Consensus Emerged in chapter 11s?" ABI Journal (July/August 2008). 
  • Author, "Seventh Circuit Decision Enforcing Contractual Loan Prepayment Fee Reaffirms Sanctity of Contract in Illinois," American Bar Association Business Litigation Newsletter (Winter 2008). 



J.D., University of Illinois College of Law, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif; Honor Society; Editor, Recent Decisions Section of the Illinois Bar Journal
B.A., Northwestern University, with honors

State Bar Admissions


Federal Bar Admissions

  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh and District of Columbia Circuits
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (including Trial Bar) and Central District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

Teaching experience

  • Lecturer, The John Marshall Law School, Center for Real Estate Law. Presented bankruptcy section of Real Estate Finance course as part of LLM program