Steven F. Pflaum



  • University of Michigan Law School (J.D., 1979), magna cum laude
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (B.A., 1976),

    Phi Beta Kappa

Related Services

Steve is co-chair of the firm’s Litigation Department. He represents clients in complex civil litigation matters before state and federal courts throughout the country. He has considerable experience with commercial disputes, constitutional challenges, statutory interpretation issues, and defamation and invasion of privacy suits. He is skilled at defending municipalities in cases involving so-called “locally undesirable land uses” such as airports, music amphitheaters, jails, or landfills. A past President of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association and a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, he regularly handles state and federal appeals involving a broad range of civil and criminal issues, often serving as lead appellate counsel or consulting counsel following an unfavorable result in a lower trial or appellate court.

He devotes a significant portion of his practice to representing Illinois hospitals in property and sales tax exemption controversies. He assisted with the drafting of 2012 legislation covering this unique area of law and has argued two appeals before the Illinois Supreme Court regarding that legislation. His unique, and uniquely extensive, experience litigating these issues, guiding hospitals in related administrative proceedings before the Illinois Department of Revenue, and participating in the drafting of the governing legislation enables him to develop comprehensive and successful strategies for hospitals facing property and sales tax issues.

Steve is a founding member and current chair of the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee, a former member and two-term chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility, a former General Counsel of The Chicago Bar Association, and an appointee of the Illinois Supreme Court to, and chair of, the legislatively created Statutory Court Fee Task Force. Although primarily intended as a form of public service, Steve’s involvement with professional ethics and liability issues has increasingly led to his retention by lawyers and law firms as an expert witness or as counsel regarding those issues.

Clients rely on Steve to assemble and lead litigation teams in high-stakes or potentially precedent-setting situations. They appreciate his hands-on approach, which often includes major drafting responsibility for important briefs, as well as the care with which he develops multipronged strategies for pursuing his client’s objectives.

Steve is the chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. In that capacity, he collaborates with the members of the Committee and lawyers throughout the firm to implement the firm’s innovative and ambitious pro bono policy.

  • Served as lead counsel for a not-for-profit hospital in a case of first impression in which the Illinois Appellate Court upheld the hospital’s right to seek a judicial determination regarding its entitlement to property tax exemptions without first seeking exemptions from the Illinois Department of Revenue
  • Successfully represented pork producer in landmark Illinois Supreme Court decision regarding land use regulations applicable to so-called “mega-hog farms”
  • Drafted municipal noise ordinance intended to control noise from outdoor music amphitheater and successfully defended ordinance at trial in ensuing federal court constitutional challenge 
  • Obtained dismissal of multiple lawsuits across the United States, including putative class actions, against candy manufacturer arising out of advertising promotion 
  • Obtained jury verdict in favor of manufacturer accused of copyright infringement and Lanham Act violations 
  • Obtained dismissal of numerous lawsuits against media defendants for defamation and/or false light invasion of privacy 
  • Prepared amicus curiae briefs in various federal and state appellate courts, including United States and Illinois Supreme Courts, on behalf of corporations, associations, and other clients 
  • Received rare appointments by Illinois Supreme Court to represent clients in (1) an appeal addressing the application of Miranda v. Arizona to interrogation of someone who is incarcerated, and (2) an original habeas corpus and mandamus proceeding in the Supreme Court raising constitutional issues concerning the defendant’s sentence.
  • Chicago Bar Association Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award, 2019
  • The Illinois Judges Association Award for Esteemed Service on the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee, 2018
  • The Best Lawyers in America, recommended in “Commercial Litigation Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy)” since 2011
  • Illinois Super Lawyers, recommended in “Business Litigation” since 2005

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • California