David E. Mendelsohn, Class of 1991

Managing partner of the Chicago office of DLA Piper

David E. MendelsohnDavid Mendelsohn is one of the country’s leading insurance lawyers and the managing partner of the Chicago office of international law firm DLA Piper. He has experience representing many insurers, reinsurers, brokers and other clients on a wide variety of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, complex regulatory, and finite, structured risk and reinsurance matters. His practice also includes providing global regulatory and compliance advice to Fortune 500 and other international companies in a range of industries. Mendelsohn has been selected as one of America’s leading insurance lawyers by Chambers USA and has been nominated by in-house counsel and peers to appear in the Guide to the World’s Leading Insurance and Reinsurance Lawyers. He is also one of the few attorneys in the United States to be named three consecutive years to the BTI Client Service All-Star Team for Law Firms, which includes lawyers who deliver the best client service to Fortune 1000 clients.

Mendelsohn is a member of the Board of the Steppenwolf Theater Company and serves as a Director of the Chicago Bar Foundation and of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago.

What does it mean to you to be one of Chicago-Kent’s 125 Alumni of Distinction?

It means a lot to receive this recognition. It was unexpected. It’s an honor. 

What advice would you give to young lawyers just starting out?

Watch a video of David's answer here.

How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?

Chicago-Kent played a huge role in helping me in my career. I hadn’t been to school in the United States. I hadn’t spent any time in Chicago.  Kent gave me the opportunity to see how the professors taught, to see how the students reacted to the professors, how they thought, how they interacted with one another. It was an exposure on a cultural level as well as an intellectual level that really provided a great foundation for my career.

What has been the greatest challenge you faced in your career?

Changing countries and moving from one culture to another is not the easiest thing to do. The change in writing style was unexpected and pretty significant. Getting to know a whole new system of laws and courts that was very different from the one I grew up with. Cultural changes were also difficult.

What has been your greatest professional achievement?

Two things I would focus on most. The first is something I take a lot of pride in. My clients believe I provide better service than almost any of the lawyers they work with. I’m very devoted to client service. I love that aspect of the job.

The other memorable matter that jumps out was a pro bono matter where I worked to reunite a mother with her daughter that had been taken from her. The gratitude and the emotion that came with that was something that would be very difficult to forget.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

I dreamt every day of my life that I would be a professional soccer player. And that I would score the winning goal in the FA final.

What would people find most surprising about you?

Probably the one thing that people know the least about was that I was a very accomplished French Horn player when I was very young. I passed the highest level of testing at the Royal College of Music when I was about 10 years of age.