Roger O’Reilly (1934 – 2000)

The example of one lawyer’s admirable qualities of professionalism civility and ethics inspired the creation of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.

Roger O’Reilly was born November 8, 1934, and raised by his Irish immigrant parents on Chicago’s west side. He attended Fenwick High School in Oak Park and Notre Dame University. After graduating from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1959, he worked as a defense trial lawyer for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and as an associate at Baker & McKenzie.

In the late 1960s, O’Reilly ventured out to a small Wheaton law firm where he practiced insurance defense and personal injury law. In 1975, he founded what soon became one of the most prestigious insurance defense law firms in DuPage County. Although his practice was primarily comprised of insurance and medical malpractice defense litigation, he was described by a former partner as having the soul of a plaintiff’s lawyer.

O’Reilly was a member of the DuPage County Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, where he participated extensively as an instructor in its educational programs. He was a member of the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and authored articles and made presentations on its behalf.

O’Reilly was selected as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, and a member of the Society of Trial Lawyers of Illinois.

At the time of his death on August 20, 2000, O’Reilly was a partner in the O’Reilly Law Offices, a midsize firm that has been a springboard for many on the DuPage County Circuit Court and the Illinois Appellate Court. Over the course of his 40-plus year career, he tried over 150 cases to jury verdict and was often described as a “trial lawyer’s trial lawyer.”