On an ongoing basis, the Law Bulletin, an Illinois lawyers’ publication, publishes articles and lists of what its surveys indicate are the leading lawyers in the state. Its December 2009 edition, “Leading Lawyers Network: Consumer Edition,” lists Tony Licata prominently and appropriately.
This publication conducts extensive research in collecting and compiling the information contained in its feature articles. Within the legal community it is understood that one is not undeservingly highlighted and recognized in this publication. Lawyers strive for such recognition, and to be included among the most respected in the Illinois legal community is a tremendous honor.
This month we introduce, a recognized and acclaimed “leading lawyer.”
Licata is a shareholder and managing partner of the respected Chicago law firm Shefsky & Froelich Ltd. For many years he has been a leading “mover and shaker” in the arenas of real estate law and development and their various aspects. He enjoys his real estate practice because it allows him to work on so many projects that are essential to the fabric of the city.
Licata serves as department head for the firm’s real estate group, which in the past three years alone has handled transactions with an aggregate dollar value of more than $2 billion. His practice focuses on major commercial real estate transactions and on private equity venture capital matters. In addition to his professional practice, he is a principal in numerous real estate investments.
Real estate and development is in Licata’s blood. His father, a civil engineer, worked for a highway contractor that built a significant portion of the interstate highway in southern Illinois. The company also built the dam and reservoir project involving Rend Lake.
Tony graduated from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., in 1976 and Harvard Law School in 1979. As a law student seeking to broaden his horizons and hone his skills, he worked in the legal department at Bechtel Corporation in San Francisco. Also while a law student, he worked for the prominent national law firm Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis. Rotating from department to department, he learned that he did not enjoy litigation work. Ultimately, the courtroom’s loss proved to be to the benefit of Chicago’s real-estate development community.
Sidley Austin LLP, one of the largest, most respected law firms in the country, recruited Licata in his third year at Harvard. He met the renowned lawyer Newton Minow, who became a mentor to him. Licata started doing real estate work for Minow in 1979 and, through him, met Jack Guthman, a Chicago legend in the field of zoning law. He worked with Guthman at Sidley until the firm decided to focus on serving Fortune 100 clients.
The real estate practice no longer fit with Sidley’s goals, Licata says, because it tends to comprise mostly individual, entrepreneurial clientele. Guthman took his significant real estate/zoning practice and prominence to Shefsky & Froelich, and Licata followed him in 1995.
They have worked together for more than three decades. After running the real estate group for three years, Licata was asked to become the firm’s chief operating officer, a position he accepted, he jokes, “in a fit of stupidity.” Under his leadership, Shefsky & Froelich has become a major, respected law firm not only in Chicago, but in Illinois at large.
Tony’s law partner, the community leader and highly respected former president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers, John Sciaccotta, says: “Tony Licata represents the best that our ethnic community and the Illinois legal profession have to offer. Highly respected and highly skilled, Tony is always there for the younger lawyers in the firm as well as younger lawyers in the profession. He leads tutorially, and by example. I have learned more from Tony Licata as a professional than in all the years I spent in law school and in legal training. I have also learned from Tony Licata how to be a gentleman and a professional.”
Tony’s family traces its roots to Campobella di Mazara. His grandfather had the unusual distinction of serving in the Italian army in World War I, and being drafted into the United States Army to fight again in the same conflict after immigrating to the coal-mining communities in Southern Illinois, by way of New Orleans. Tony and his beautiful wife Susan live in Highland Park, and have a daughter, Haley.