Michelle A. Lawless
"Thoughtful counsel, customized strategies, and open communication are the cornerstones to how I work with each client so they can embark on the next phase of their life in the most positive manner possible."
With finely-honed skills in both negotiation and litigation, Michelle has spent her entire career assisting high-net-worth individuals and their spouses protect and preserve their assets during divorce. She has in-depth training and experience in the analysis of executive compensation packages, valuation of closely-held businesses, and other complex, hard-to-value assets and income streams.
As co-author of the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education Family Law Flash Points, Michelle is knowledgeable about the cutting edge trends in family law. She uses this insight and research to negotiate favorable outcomes for her clients and help them make the best decisions based on the current developments in the law.
Michelle works with her clients to clarify and articulate their goals by asking how they would like to see their lives after the conclusion of their family law matter. She knows that the answers will vary widely, as the goals of a business owner nearing retirement will be vastly different from those of a young mother of three children. She also explains the three primary methods of resolving disputes to the client which include mediation, the collaborative model, and traditional litigation, and works with the client to determine which is the most appropriate avenue for their individual case.
While out-of-court-settlement is the primary goal, Michelle’s talent as a litigator makes her a very effective advocate for her clients in court, if such route is necessary. She has successfully prosecuted and defended cases at the trial and appellate levels. Michelle’s representative experience includes:
- Negotiating a settlement involving the distribution of several multi-million dollar marital business entities;
- Achieving a favorable outcome in a high income support case where the interpretation of a compensation agreement played a pivotal role;
- Negotiating an agreement wherein the allocation of assets focused on the most advantageous tax savings post-divorce for both parties; and
- Litigating a jurisdictional dispute in a support modification hearing, including prevailing on appeal.
A graduate of the American Bar Association’s Advanced Trial Advocacy Institute focusing exclusively on business valuations, Michelle has been recognized in Best Lawyers of America (2015), an Illinois Super Lawyer (2013-2015), an Illinois Rising Star Attorney (2012), and by the Leading Lawyers Network (2012-2015). She is also a past recipient of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s “40 Under 40” award. She is a certified Divorce Financial Analyst and also holds certifications in Collaborative Law and mediation.
Michelle is a frequent author and lecturer on family law subjects and currently co-authors the IICLE Family Law Flash Points with Donald C. Schiller. She served as liaison to the committee responsible for reviewing and redrafting the Cook County local court rules which govern domestic relations cases, was appointed to the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council and is a Past-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Domestic Relations Committee.
Awards and Honors
Named one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Illinois for Outstanding Client Service by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys (AIOFLA)
Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, by Neifeh and Smith (2015-2018)
“40 Under 40 Illinois Attorneys to Watch” by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (2010)
Leading Lawyers Network (2013-2017)
Listed as a Top 100 Women Consumer Lawyer by Leading Lawyers Magazine (2016)
Illinois Super Lawyers - Rising Star (2013)
Illinois Super Lawyers (2014-2017)
Family Law Series: Children's Issues in Dual Income Families, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education webcast, October 16, 2013