JOHN D. NICOLAY has been a partner of the firm since its founding in 2005. Prior to that, he directed state governmental representation at Winston & Strawn LLP for seven years. Previously, he served as general counsel to Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Philip, where his responsibilities included staffing and operations for the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee.
Prior to his work with the office of the Senate President, he served as a legislative liaison for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office where he helped secure passage of more than 50 pieces of legislation, including major sentencing and evidentiary reforms. He also served as an Assistant State’s Attorney and practiced in the area of commercial and governmental litigation at Shefsky & Froelich, Ltd. In addition, Mr. Nicolay served as a Legislative Aide to former Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson, and as a special assistant to Governor James R. Thompson.
Mr. Nicolay has represented major corporations, trade associations, and entrepreneurs in the General Assembly. He also has negotiated and litigated on behalf of clients before municipal and administrative law tribunals. He is a frequent speaker on legislative process and governmental ethics, and served as outside ethics counsel to the Senate President. Mr. Nicolay is the co-author of Effective Dates of Illinois Legislation, in the Handbook of Illinois Administrative Law (Illinois State Bar Association, 2001).
In January 2008, Mr. Nicolay was named as a “Rising Star” in the Illinois Super Lawyers edition of Chicago Magazine, having been nominated by fellow members of the Illinois bar. Since February 2019, he has been named a “Super Lawyer” each year in the area of Government Affairs in the same publication and was the only state government lobbyist so honored.
Mr. Nicolay is past President and serves on the Board of Directors of The Advocacy Group, an international governmental affairs organization. He serves as the Vice-Chair of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association, a not-for-profit corporation which administers the public use of the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield and the Hayes Mansion in DuQuoin. Additionally, John is a member of the Board of Directors of the 100 Club of Illinois, which supports the families of first responders killed in the line of duty. He has also served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of MacMurray College, served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Board of Directors of Intermountain Corporate Affairs Company. He is honored to serve on the Advisory Board of Misericordia/Heart of Mercy Home in Chicago, a residential facility for over 600 developmentally disabled children and adults, which is a pro bono client of the firm.
Mr. Nicolay received a B.S. in history and political science from MacMurray College and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. He is admitted to practice in the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Northern, Central, and Southern Districts of Illinois.
In 2010, Mr. Nicolay was selected by his peers to serve as Speaker of the Illinois Third House, which is the trade organization for Illinois governmental affairs professionals.
TIMOTHY J. DART directed municipal government representation at Winston & Strawn LLP for seven years. He concentrates his practice on legislative and local government matters on behalf of corporations, developers, and property owners.
Mr. Dart has represented clients before the Illinois General Assembly, where he served as a legal counsel for the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. In addition, he served as a member of the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
He also has negotiated contracts with the City of Chicago, represented clients in land-use issues before the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Zoning Board, and contested the assessed valuation of property before the Cook County Assessor, Cook County Board of Tax Appeals, and the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Mr. Dart received a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received a J.D. from the Northern Illinois University College of Law. Mr. Dart is admitted to practice in the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
JAMES E. WOLFE – Of Counsel
Jim Wolfe is an attorney with 35 years of experience in the transportation world. He has served as a lawyer in the public and private sector and run an engineering company. His knowledge and understanding of the transportation world coupled with his experience in the public and private sector gives him a unique perspective to solve problems when those two worlds intersect.
Mr. Wolfe has extensive experience in the rail industry having held both operations and management roles at the Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak. Mr. Wolfe has provided critical assistance to Class I railroads and public agencies in negotiating agreements including those between the Illinois Tollway and the Union Pacific Railroad and the Canadian Pacific Railway allowing for the design and construction of the new $3.4B Elgin O’Hare Western Access.
Prior to private practice, Mr. Wolfe was Chairman and CEO of Knight Partners, LLC (Knight Engineers & Architects) for 25 years until its sale in 2021. When Mr. Wolfe joined Knight in 1997 the company had 38 employees with one office. In 2021, Knight was a 160-person engineering and architectural firm with offices in Chicago, Bolingbrook, Springfield IL and La Crosse, WI. Knight specialized in infrastructure projects (highway, rail, aviation) for the public and private sector.
Prior to running Knight, Mr. Wolfe was Director of Government Affairs for Amtrak Intercity based in Chicago. He was responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with state and local governments in more than forty states. After two years, Mr. Wolfe was asked to take over Amtrak’s Midwest operations as General Manager Midwest Corridor and was responsible for all rail operations in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
Following graduation from DePaul University College of Law, Mr. Wolfe served as Assistant Chief Counsel and Special Assistant Attorney General for the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). He represented IDOT before the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Surface Transportation Board, the Illinois Commerce Commission, and was counsel to the Bureau of Railroads. After one year, Mr. Wolfe was appointed Deputy Director Federal Affairs for IDOT where he developed and implemented IDOT’s federal legislative agenda.
Prior to entering law school, Mr. Wolfe worked for the Union Pacific Railroad Company as a Trainmaster in their Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho operations. Mr. Wolfe also represented the National Carriers Conference in mediation negotiations before the Presidential Emergency Board 219.
Mr. Wolfe’s experience in the public and private sectors of the transportation world allow him to find common ground between highway and rail and public and private where often these competing interests are in conflict. He is known for bringing adverse parties together and finding a solution that benefits all parties.