In less than a decade Erin Wilson has emerged as one of Chicago's top young divorce lawyers, already a tough and experienced presence in family-law courts and a key practitioner at O'Connor Family Law, itself one the city's standout and fast-rising divorce firms. Hands-on, with a no-nonsense demeanor and a determined sense of fairness, Wilson in many respects helps define her firm's culture and reputation - for skillful management of divorce cases and for a non-theatrical, results-oriented approach. In a relatively short time - she joined the firm in 2008 - Wilson and founding partner Gail O'Connor have attracted clients of all backgrounds, from teachers and police officers to business and corporate executives to stay-at-home parents; their caseload is remarkably robust for what today is a four-lawyer firm. Wilson - measured, unflappable and confident - projects many of the best qualities of the great litigators, and her litigation skills are regarded as both an asset and a deterrent: "If I'm in court the judge knows I'm there for a very good reason." She is by all accounts a well-known fixture in the courtrooms at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago. "People know me as someone who doesn't go to court on a whim - we always try to resolve matters out of court first," she says.
Wilson grew up in Arlington Heights, and graduated from college preparatory high school at Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisc., and went on to Michigan State University. A rewarding sideline in college: Tutoring Spartan athletes. "I was always a pretty serious student" and that showed early on: She was near the top of her class as an undergraduate, earning her BA in three years. She majored in developmental psychology, contemplating a career in counseling and advocating for children of divorce. It was in law school that she met O'Connor; she joined O'Connor straight out of law school.
Professionally O'Connor and Wilson are much alike: Neither tolerates unprofessional behavior and they never resort to bravado. They let their legal positions on behalf of clients and their track record speak for themselves. She says the firm seeks to resolve issues amicably without litigation, but they are always ready to take a case or issue to a hearing or even a trial. More than most young lawyers, Wilson has gained valuable early-career experience as a divorce litigator and her practice includes a large portion of child-custody litigation. Wilson is certainly one of the up-and-coming custody litigators in Chicago today. "Some have described me as aggressive and tenacious - and I really don't have a problem with that." She adds: "After all, I'm being hired to advocate for my client. In many cases people lose their voices after years of a bad marriage or relationship. I help restore that voice." Two associates work directly with Wilson, reflecting "a team approach on all our cases."
Today, as the mother of two young children, Wilson keeps up an energetic pace. Away from the office she enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, and updates a cooking blog (vegetariankidscooking.com) when she can. They are steadfast Chicago sports fans, and she says she'll always love the Spartans. She and her family live on Chicago's North Side.