For the last 25 years Thomas Browne has dedicated his practice exclusively to representing lawyers, law firms and others involved with the legal profession, such as lawyers' E&O brokers and insurers. He has represented and counseled more than 1,000 lawyers and law firms in civil liability, professional responsibility, risk management and disciplinary matters of all sorts. He has tried numerous cases in both federal and state court. His extensive background in complex commercial litigation and business torts provides an additional layer of substantive and procedural experience to meet the challenges of representing members of the legal profession and those upon whom they rely to provide insurance needs.
Mr. Browne joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in August 1976. He is the firm’s General Counsel, and Partner-in-Charge of Hinshaw’s Chicago office. He is a former chair of the firm's professional liability group.
Mr. Browne has been recognized by his peers as a Leading Lawyer in the category of Personal Injury Defense Law: Professional Malpractice. In addition, he holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability.
Mr. Browne teaches regularly for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission's Professional Responsibility Institute. He has lectured at several law schools, and is a former adjunct faculty member of The John Marshall Law School.
Mr. Browne has been instrumental in establishing some of the basic parameters of legal malpractice law. As lead counsel, he has presented and argued imaginative principles of law that have resulted in several seminal decisions limiting the scope of a lawyer's civil liability, such as:
- Goldstein v. Lustig, (1987) 154 Ill.App.3d 595, 507 N.E.2d 164 (establishing the Illinois rule that a lawyer is not liable to his client for mistakes in judgment).
- Sheppard v. Krol, (1991) 218 Ill.App.3d 254, 578 N.E.2d 212 (holding that the plaintiff in an action for legal malpractice must plead and prove collectibility of any judgment he would have received in the underlying matter).
- Buttitta v. Newell, (1988) 176 Ill.App.3d 880, 531 N.E.2d 956 (holding that the court will not lend its jurisdiction to any plaintiff whose action against a lawyer is founded on his own illegal or immoral acts of any sort, including the violation of a statute).
Some of Mr. Browne’s presentations include:
- “The General Counsel Forum — Tight Times for Tightrope Walkers,” Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2013.
- “Ethics for the Corporate Attorney — Transactional Ethics,” panel speaker, Chicago Bar Association, November 2012.
- “The General Counsel Forum,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2012, February 2011 and March 2010.
- “Who Does the Government Lawyer Represent and Who Can the Government Lawyer Contact Directly and Indirectly through Investigators?” American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Chicago, Illinois, June 2010.
- “Top Issues Facing General Counsel in Law Firms Today,” Autonomy IManage International Partner Summit, Chicago, Illinois, May 2010.
- “Laterals as Toxic Assets,” 8th Annual Law Firm General Counsels’ Forum: Risk Management in Troubled Times,” New York, New York, December 2009.
- “Ethical Lawyering in Tough Times,” Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys, Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, October 2009.
- “Engagement Letters and Recent Caselaw Developments,” Chicago Bar Association subcommittee meeting of the Corporate and Business Law Committee, Chicago, Illinois, October 2009.
- “Risk Management and Ethical Considerations Involving E-Discovery,” CPCU Society, Chicago, Illinois, September 2009.
- “How to Mitigate your Damage Exposure as a Defendant,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2009.
- “Legal Ethics: Representing Multiple Parties in Health Care Transactions,” Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys 26th Annual Health Law Symposium, Chicago, Illinois, September 2008.
- “Impaired and Poorly Behaving Partners: Managing the Risks,” Hildebrandt Institute and Hinshaw virtual seminar series, July 2008.
- “The Impaired Lawyer,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 2008.
- “Technology as Risk vs. Technology as a Risk Management Tool,” 6th Annual Law Form General Counsels’ Forum: Managing Risks in a New Paradigm, New York, New York, October 2007.
- “Managing Risk in Lateral Hiring,” and “Managing Information Risk: Enforcing Ethical Walls and Protecting Confidential Matters,” Ark Group USA’s seminar “Risk Management for the Modern Law Firm,” Chicago, Illinois, April 2007.
- “Examining Legal Malpractice Issues in Multi-Disciplinary Environments,” Chicago Bar Association, Adoption Law Committee Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, March 2007.
- “The Law Firm’s E-Data: A Risk Management Nightmare?” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2007.
- “Up the Ladder or Up the Creek: Reporting Up, Reporting Out, Attorney-Client Privilege and Confidentiality as Between Entities and their Constituents,” Hinshaw’s “Ethics Seminar,” Chicago, Illinois September 2006.
- “Up the Ladder or Up the Creek: Reporting Up and Reporting Out When Representing Closely Held Companies,” WestLegalEdcenter live webcast, June 2006 and April 2005.
- “Packing Your Parachute: Preparing for Law Practice Risk,” CNA seminar, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, May 2006.
- “Aiding and Abetting a Breach of Fiduciary Duty – New Worry for Lawyers?” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice & Risk Management conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2006.
- “What’s Driving Risk Management and What IT Needs to Know in Today’s Law Firm,” LegalTech 2006 convention, New York, New York, February 2006.
- “Modern Attorney-Client Privilege Questions,” WestLegalEdcenter live webcast, December 2005.
- “How to Obtain and Document Valid Client Conflicts Waivers,” WestLegalEdcenter live webcast, November 2005.
- “Law Firm Break-Ups, Mergers and Lateral Hiring – Managing the Risks,” Hinshaw’s Professional Responsibility and Risk Management program, New York, New York, October 2005.
- “Attorney Liability to Non-Client Third Parties for Assisting their Clients in Alleged Breaches of the Clients’ Fiduciary Duties to Third Parties,” WestLegalEdcenter live webcast, October 2005.
- “Confessions for the Pocketbook as Well and The Soul?,” panel moderator, American Bar Association’s 2005 National Conference on Professional Responsibility, Chicago, Illinois June 2005.
- “Communications with Represented Parties,” WestLegalEdcenter live webcast, March 2005.
- “Measuring the Effectiveness of a Risk Management Program,” Hinshaw’s annual Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, February 2005.
In addition to frequent speaking engagements, both national and local, Mr. Browne has authored scores of writings on the law of lawyer liability and professional responsibility matters. He is a co-author of “Attorney Liability Risk Management,” a chapter in Attorneys’ Legal Liability, published in November 2007, by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE).
J.D., with honors, The John Marshall Law School, 1974
B.A., Northwestern University, 1971
- Federal Trial Bar
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois