Recognized by her peers as a "Super Lawyer" and/or “Leading Lawyer” in legal malpractice for every year from 2007-2016, Stephanie Stewart has established a successful litigation practice in the areas of ethics and professional liability, ARDC defense, character and fitness, and commercial litigation.
After graduating from Northwestern University Law School in 1994, Ms. Stewart served as a prosecutor at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (“ARDC”) where she investigated and litigated hundreds of attorney disciplinary cases. In 1999, she was promoted to Senior Counsel to the Administrator of the ARDC, a position she held until leaving the ARDC for private practice in 2002.
Ms. Stewart’s practice largely concentrates on representing attorneys at all levels of investigation and prosecution by the ARDC. Ms. Stewart is committed to providing highly-skilled representation before the ARDC (based on over 20 years of experience) in a cost effective manner. Her successes include:
- In 2010 she won a directed finding and dismissal of the charges against her client at trial before the ARDC Hearing Board, which involved allegations of approximately a half-million dollars in improper fees. She thereafter also successfully argued in favor of the affirmation of the Hearing Board’s decision on appeal before the ARDC Review Board.
- In 2013 she obtained a full dismissal of the ARDC’s complaint against another client before the Hearing Board after utilizing a forensic computer expert to establish that her client had not improperly manipulated information on a website as charged.
- In 2014, she obtained another full dismissal before the Hearing Board in relation to allegations that the attorney had engaged in an improper conflict of interest in relation to a $425,000 gift made by an elderly client to the attorney’s own foundation.
- In 2015, Stephanie successfully petitioned for reinstatement of her client to the practice of law before the ARDC Hearing Board.
- In 2015, Stephanie obtained a recommendation of a dismissal of the charges by the ARDC Hearing Board following a contested hearing in relation to allegations that her client converted escrow funds.
- In 2016 Stephanie obtained a full dismissal of charges before the ARDC Hearing Board that her client engaged in dishonest conduct in his own divorce case.
- Also in 2016, Stephanie obtained a dismissal of all charges before the ARDC Hearing Board that her client neglected immigration matters and lied to the ARDC.
Ms. Stewart has also had significant recent success in relation to her representation of applicants before the Illinois Board of Admissions, Committee on Character and Fitness. In 2015 and 2016, she obtained unanimous recommendations of certification in several matters that proceeded to full hearings before a five-person panel of the Committee on Character and Fitness. She has successfully established the character and fitness of applicants in cases involving multiple criminal issues, mental health concerns, and/or substance abuse problems.
Ms. Stewart has served as both a consulting and a testifying expert in the legal ethics field and regularly advises and represents governmental entities, corporations, law firms, and individual lawyers in ethics matters. For example, she has conducted internal ethics investigations, including Himmel investigations, for some of the largest law firms in Chicago. She has also represented attorneys and law firms in relation to motions to disqualify and for sanctions, fee disputes, and partnership matters. Ms. Stewart also represents judges before the Judicial Inquiry Board and has previously provided successful representation in relation to a 4(d) appearance. She has also represented accountants, physicians, and other professionals before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).
- Iowa State University – Ames, Iowa (B.A., 1991) (with Honors)
- Northwestern University – Chicago, Illinois (J.D., 1994) (Dean’s List Spring 1992, 1993)
- Chicago Bar Association (Chair, Committee on Professional Fees (2010-12); Chair, Professional Responsibility Committee, Young Lawyers Section (1998-1999); Vice-Chair, Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law and Multi-jurisdictional Practice (2006-2007, 2007-2008); Mentor, ARDC Law Office Mentoring Committee (2008-present))
- Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (Secretary, Public Statements Committee (2007-2010); Member (2007-present))
- Appointed to the Transition Team on Education for the Alderman’s Office of the 46th Ward (2011)
Other Honors & Distinctions
- Appointed as a Special State's Attorney for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office regarding ethics matters (2007-2009)
- Appointed as a Special State’s Attorney for the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office regarding ethics matters (2012-present)
- Appointed to the Chicago Bar Association's ARDC referral panel (2007-present)
- Director, Chicago Bar Foundation Board of Directors (2005-2008)
- Member, Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Public Interest Law Scholarship Selection Committee (2006-2008)
Publications & Speeches
- Speaker, Hot Topics in Ethics: Legal Outsourcing, the Anti-Bias Rule, and Advertising, Illinois Professional Responsibility MCLE Marathon, Practising Law Institute (2017)
- Speaker, Attorney Mental Health & Substance Use: A Call to Action, the Kennedy Forum (2016)
- Speaker, Can They Do That? The Future of Legal Outsourcing, Ethics 2016, Law Bulletin Seminars (2016)
- Speaker, Illinois Lawyer's Assistance Program Annual Training (2016)
- Speaker, Getting Paid: Ethical Issues Related to Attorney’s Fees, Law Bulletin Seminars (2015)
- Speaker, Who’s Watching the Store? Protecting Electronic Client Information, Law Bulletin Seminars (2014)
- Speaker, Legal Ethics 2012: Hot Topics in Communication and Technology, Lorman Education Services (2012)
- Speaker, Maintaining Confidentiality and Handling Inadvertent Disclosure, Law Bulletin Seminars (2012)
- Speaker, Conflicts of Interest, Confidentiality, & Technology, Law Bulletin Seminars: Technology & the Rules of Professional Conduct (2011)
- Speaker, Conflicts of Interest: the Principles and the Price of Being Wrong, Law Bulletin Seminars: Rules 2010 (2009, 2010)
- Co-author, Lawyers’ Liability and Discipline, A National Survey, presented at the Annual and Mid-Year Conferences for the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) (February, August 2008)
- Speaker, Attorney-Client Privilege and Related Ethical Issues, Lorman Educational Services (2008, 2009)
- Speaker, Ethical Issues for Government Lawyers, Department of Children and Family Services (2008)
- Speaker, Ethical Issues in Litigation, Sara Lee Corporation (2008)
- Speaker, An Ethical Attorney-Client Relationship, The Law Bulletin Litigation Skills Conference (2008)
- Speaker, Current Developments in Lawyers’ Liability & Discipline, Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) Annual and Mid-Year Conferences (2008)
- Speaker, Issues of Malpractice and Ethics in Divorce, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) & the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) (2008)
- Speaker, Ethical Issues in Communicating with Your Client and Others in the Employment Law Context, The Law Bulletin Employment Law Conference (2007)
- Ethics training, Chicago Housing Authority (2005-2006)
- Faculty Member, Illinois Supreme Court's Professionalism Program for Law Students (2003-present)
- Faculty Member, Discovering the Secrets of Effective Depositions, National Institute of Trial Advocacy (1998-present)
- Faculty Member, National Mock Trial Institute, Northwestern University School of Law (1998-present)
- Guest Lecturer on Ethics, De Paul University School of Law (2002)