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John Shonkwiler











  • Closely Held Corporation Disputes
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Construction Litigation
  • Energy Disputes
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • Trademark Litigation


John F. Shonkwiler concentrates his practice in commercial litigation matters, principally those involving contract actions, business torts, construction and real estate disputes, regulatory matters and professional service collection actions.

John has represented leaders in the real estate development business, including the Trump Organization and Toll Brothers, in various lawsuits concerning large residential developments.  John also has represented clients in the entertainment business.  He recently prosecuted high-stakes lawsuits for an international music distributor and a group of local restaurateurs.  John and fellow partner Steve Novack obtained a significant victory for Chicago’s Millenium Park Grill, persuading the Cook County Circuit Court, the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court to strike down a property tax levied by the Cook County Assessor on the grounds that the County had exceeded its taxing authority.

John has written and spoken extensively on e-discovery, particularly the timely issue of “reflex” emailing and how better email habits and organization can reduce litigation costs and exposure. A sample of his presentation on this subject can be viewed by clicking on the arrow at left.    John was identified in 2009 as one of the “40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch.” He was recognized as a “Super Lawyer” in 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and as a “Rising Star” in 2009 and 2008.

Recently, John has helped the Trump Organization earn a string of victories in purchase and construction disputes relating to the Chicago Trump Tower. On Oct. 16, 2013, he received a Trial Lawyer Excellence Award from the Jury Verdict Reporter. He was recognized for the victory in the federal jury trial of Jacqueline Goldberg v. 401 North Wabash Venture LLC and Trump Chicago Managing Member LLC. The verdict on May 23, 2013, in favor of Donald Trump’s companies, garnered national headlines. Link.

John was part of the team that obtained a $70 million judgment for Pentech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. against Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. in a federal trial here in Chicago. The dispute concerned how a contract between Pentech and Par applied to Par’s revenues from sales of a generic alternative to the blockbuster antidepressant drug Paxil.

John also helped obtain an $18 million settlement, reached during arbitration, of a liquidated damages claim in favor of a coal purchaser against a large coal producer for the producer’s failure to deliver low-priced coal as market prices rose.

John was a member of the team that successfully represented Night Vision Corporation (“NVC”), inventors of a “Panoramic Night Vision Goggle” that the U. S. Air Force hailed as a revolutionary piece of military equipment.  According to NVC’s suit, the Air Force was on the verge of awarding NVC a contract to produce thousands of goggles when NVC’s chief subcontractor misappropriated the technology and took the contract away from NVC. John prepared a partial summary judgment motion on a key issue in the case that was successful and helped lead to a settlement the night before the jury trial was to begin in federal court in Virginia.

John also defended a world-renowned NASCAR racing team against a lawsuit in federal court claiming misuse and conversion of racing equipment, and got the case dismissed on the pleadings for lack of personal jurisdiction.

In a case in the Northern District of Illinois involving patent and trademark infringement claims, John litigated the trademark side of the dispute and, together with patent co-counsel, defeated all claims brought against the firm’s client PFE International (“PFE”).  Immediately following Plaintiffs’ case-in-chief, PFE moved for judgment on all counts. The court granted the motion and found that Plaintiffs had failed to prove any act of infringement by PFE.

John serves on Novack and Macey’s Hiring and Marketing Committees.  John is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) and Chicago Bar Association (CBA). He is active in the CBA Judicial Evaluation Committee where he is a Hearing Officer.

John is a member of the Board of Directors of Chicago Lights. He was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1970, and now lives with his wife and two kids in Flossmoor, Illinois.


      • University of Michigan (B.A. 1992)
      • University of Illinois College of Law (J.D. 1998) Magna Cum Laude; topics editor for the University of Illinois Law Review


      • Illinois
      • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
      • United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
      • United States District Courts for the Northern and Central Districts of Illinois


      • “Improve e-mail habits, cut legal bills and exposure,” Closing Argument Column, Chicago Lawyer, February 2014. Read More.
      • “Bad Reflexes: How Improving Your E-Mail Habits Can Help Reduce Litigation Costs and Exposure,” an Interview in Smart Business Chicago, January 2012. Read more.
      • “Clean Up your Electronic Junkyard: How Organizing E-mails Can Save You Time and Money in Litigation,” an Interview in Smart Business Chicago, November 2010.  Read more.
      • “Trademark Infringement/Dilution,” Illinois Causes of Action—Elements, Forms & Winning Tips, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2011, 2008, 2003.


      • Burke v. 401 N. Wabash Venture, LLC, No. 08-5330, 2009 WL 2252194 (N.D. Ill. July 28, 2009).
      • Millennium Park Joint Venture, LLC v. Houlihan, 241 Ill.2d 281, 948 N.E.2d 1, 349 Ill.Dec. 898 (2010). Read more.
      • Pentech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., 597 F. Supp. 2d 758 (N.D. Ill 2009).
      • Pentech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., No. 04 C 3149, 2004 WL 2390088 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 21, 2004). Read more.


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