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Thomas Morris combines more than 40 years of practice experience with diversified training and professional activity to provide skilled general, trial and appellate legal services. Mr. Morris is an effective and practical litigator at the federal and state levels, and has a substantial background in administrative and commercial law. In addition to his trial practice, Mr. Morris frequently serves as a hearing officer and arbitrator in Lake County, Illinois.

In the public sector, Mr. Morris counsels schools and other public bodies on contracts, student and staff personnel issues, and handles general business matters affecting municipal corporations. He has worked on the full range of topics and legal requirements affecting elementary and secondary schools, particularly in large urban districts. He frequently advises Boards of Education and school administrators on grievances, business operation issues and special education matters.

Mr. Morris’ private sector clients include contractors, architects and real property developers. He offers them comprehensive guidance on such construction law issues as claims, bid disputes, delays, architects’ and engineers’ design liability, insurance requirements and mechanics’ liens. He is also knowledgeable on real property matters, including land acquisitions, condemnation and preparation, and presentation of annexation petitions. He also works with real estate development activities, including zoning, wetlands, environmental clean-up and general environmental law compliance.

Finally, reflecting his extensive military service, Mr. Morris is conversant with all aspects of federal acquisition law and administrative law for military and government installations.

Professional Background

Mr. Morris joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in December 1996 and is a past leader of the firm's school law practice.

Mr. Morris is an Army Reserve Colonel (retired) who also served as the Staff Judge Advocate for the 86th U.S. Army Reserve Command at Forest Park, Illinois. He served on active and reserve military status during a 28-year military career. He also served as the Staff Judge Advocate for the 416th Engineer Command FEDTA, where he played a principal role in the implementation of the environmental compliance program for the Army Reserves.

Finally, Mr. Morris was a trial attorney at the U.S. Army Contract Appeals Division in Virginia. His military awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters and various service ribbons.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Bar Association, Public Contract Section and Construction Industry Forum
  • Lake County Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Lake County Contractors Association, Education Committee, Member
  • Illinois Council of School Attorneys

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized by his peers as a Leading Lawyer in the categories of School Law and Land Use, Zoning & Condemnation Law
  • Holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability
  • Recognized as a "Super Lawyer" by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine (2005–2006)

Presentations

Mr. Morris has made numerous presentations at symposiums and in-service training programs for school clients in Illinois and Indiana. He also frequently speaks on construction law and related topics, and his representative presentations include the following:

  • "Cyber-bullying, Social Media, and Student Speech," Dominican University, April 2013.
  • "Freedom of Information Act Implications of PA 96-0542," A School Seminar, McHenry County Regional Office of Education, October 2009.
  • “Mechanics’ Lien Law,” Lake County Contractors Association, Waukegan Illinois, September 2010, July 2008, March 2005, October 2002, October 1996, January 1985, January 1979.  
  • "Change Orders," Lake County Contractors Association, May 2002.
  • "School Discipline Policies and Procedures," Waukegan School District Administrators, April 2002.
  • "School Discipline and Special Education Rules," Illinois Association of School Business Officials, September 2001.
  • "Hiring and Firing," Lake County Contractors Association, February 1999.
  • “Problematic Staff Members: How to Effectively Discipline/Manage,” Illinois School Law Symposium, August 1996.
  • “Mechanics’ Lien Law,” Lake and McHenry Plumbing & Heating Contractors Association, April 1996.
  • "Liens and Bonds," Lake County Contractors Association, April 1996.
  • "Contract Claims Instruction," Lake County Contractors Superintendents Training, Waukegan, January 1992.
  • "Government Contract Claims and Defective Pricing,” U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School (TJAGSA), Charlottesville, Virginia, January 1980.  
  • “Board of Contract Appeals Practice,” U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's School (TJAGSA), Charlottesville, January 1975.

Community/Civic Activities

  • Grayslake Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals (1999–2014)
  • Grayslake Police Pension Board, Member (2014)
  • Parish School Board (Eight Years)
  • Grayslake Historical Preservation Commission, Former Member

Education

J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1971

B.A., Holy Cross College, 1968

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