Gould & Ratner LLP - The premier law firm for family businesses, entrepreneurs and investors.
For more than sixty years, the lawyers at Gould & Ratner have counseled family businesses, investors, entrepreneurs, wealthy individuals and families, and key executives on a broad range of complex legal, tax and business issues. Gould & Ratner LLP combines experience and sophistication with an attitude of teamwork, responsiveness and care. We believe that every client deserves, and Gould & Ratner LLP is committed to provide, sophisticated legal advice, delivered cost-effectively and with a personal touch.
Practice Areas Introduction
Gould & Ratner LLP has a broad-based practice, encompassing areas ranging from tax to litigation matters, from real estate to commercial transactions, allowing us to address a wide variety of our clients' needs. Many of our attorneys have practical experience in more than one area, permitting Gould & Ratner to offer our clients a cross-disciplinary approach to managing their questions and concerns. Please choose from among the areas listed for more detailed information on the services offered.
Business and Personal Tax
Estate Planning and Administration
Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights
Labor and Employment Law
Family Business Group
Family businesses are unique. Beyond the challenges inherent in running any sophisticated company, family-owned businesses bring an additional layer of complexity — complicated family relationships that must be considered, understood, and nurtured, kinships that strengthen many businesses and destroy others. The most successful family businesses understand these issues and use professionals who understand them just as intimately.
Gould & Ratner LLP is unique too — in its understanding of, and experience in, this subtle dynamic. Our firm was created nearly seventy years ago to service the legal and business needs of one of Chicago's most prominent families. In the six decades since then, our lawyers have learned the nuances of representing families in the full range of their businesses.
Although many of our lawyers have developed a strong and recognized expertise in important core areas of our business practice, unlike other firms, our lawyers do not concentrate exclusively in a narrow specialty area. G&R lawyers are cross-trained in different legal disciplines to open them to more options and solutions to our clients' situations. Our historic tradition as a family-business law firm means we train our people to wear many different hats simultaneously.
The legal profession is full of talented attorneys who can perform accurate legal work. Rarer is the lawyer who can anticipate the multigenerational needs of a fourth-generation family business, having handled the issue for hundreds of previous family businesses. We can help first-generation family businesses anticipate and avoid the problems that wearied their predecessors. We bring the solutions of hundreds of similar family businesses to their problems. And we do it every day in every one of our practice groups, from Corporate, Tax, and Estate Planning to Litigation and Real Estate.
Gould & Ratner LLP's Family Business Group is one of the legal profession's largest practices devoted to family businesses. We have dozens of lawyers, with hundreds of collective years of experience, who counsel and advise family businesses and understand their unique complexities.
We have been fortunate to represent several wealthy and prominent families through three or four generations. These prominent families have interests in a wide range of industries including high-technology, telecommunications, movie theaters, commodity mining, distribution of various products, truck trailer manufacturing, furniture manufacturing and a variety of services.
Family businesses' needs do not end at our nation's shores. Gould & Ratner LLP is a key member of an international law firm network, LawExchange International. This organization enables Gould & Ratner to provide virtually seamless geographic coverage throughout many nations in the world. LawExchange International is comprised of top quality law firms with members in fourteen European countries, Australia, Canada and two other U.S. cities. Correspondents exist in twenty or so other countries in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Referrals to LawExchange International members provide the client with comfort to know that its matter is in top quality hands, and will be well orchestrated and coordinated with Gould & Ratner.
Family businesses manifest themselves in a number of differing forms. The Gould & Ratner LLP Family Business Group serves and understands the unique needs and demands of family businesses in all of these forms.
The Gould & Ratner LLP Family Business Group serves and understands the unique needs and demands of family businesses in all of these forms in several ways. The legal services we provide to family businesses are as wide and varied as their needs.
There is a bear loose in the woods. Most of us see danger, and run from the menacing grizzly. Not entrepreneurs. They see opportunity in bear meat, furs, or a circus act. They scoff at the potential peril and calculate how to accomplish their goals while minimizing personal risk. Successful entrepreneurs pursue these dreams and use professionals who understand them just as intimately. Entrepreneurs are unique.
Gould & Ratner LLP is unique too — in its understanding of, and experience in, these unique individual. Our firm was created nearly seventy years ago to service the legal and business needs of one of Chicago's most prominent entrepreneurs. In the six decades since then, our lawyers have learned the nuances of representing entrepreneurs in the full range of their businesses.
Although many of our lawyers have developed strong and recognized skills in important core areas of our business practice, unlike other firms, our lawyers do not concentrate exclusively in a narrow specialty area. G&R lawyers are cross-trained in different legal disciplines to open them to more options and solutions to our clients' situations. Our historic tradition as the entrepreneur's law firm means we train our people to perform many different roles simultaneously. An entrepreneur's fast pace and faster demands in a wide range of areas necessitates our lawyers to have quick reflexes, broad command of, or access to, sophisticated issues and strong intestinal fortitude, in addition to a diverse range of traditional legal services. All in a day's work for a G&R lawyer.
The legal profession is full of talented attorneys who can perform accurate legal work. Rarer is the lawyer who can help entrepreneurial clients anticipate and avoid the problems that wearied their predecessors. We bring the solutions of hundreds of similar entrepreneurs to their problems. And we do it every day in every one of our Practice Groups, from Corporate, Tax, and Estate Planning to Litigation and Real Estate.
Gould & Ratner LLP's Entrepreneurs Group is one of the legal profession's largest practices devoted to such dynamic individuals. We have many lawyers, with hundreds of collective years of experience, who counsel and advise entrepreneurs and understand their unique complexities.
We have been fortunate to represent several entrepreneurs, some with net worths of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, in the formation and growth of their businesses, as well as in the planning and transfer of that wealth through multiple generations. These prominent entrepreneurs have interests in a wide range of industries including high-technology, telecommunications, movie theaters, commodity mining, distribution of various products, truck trailer manufacturing, furniture manufacturing and a variety of services.
Entrepreneurs' needs do not end at our nation's shores. Gould & Ratner LLP is a key member of an international law firm network, LawExchange International. This organization enables Gould & Ratner to provide virtually seamless geographic coverage throughout many nations in the world. LawExchange International is comprised of top quality law firms with members in fourteen European countries, Australia, Canada and two other U.S. cities. Correspondents exist in twenty or so other countries in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Referrals to LawExchange International members provide the client with comfort to know that its matter is in top quality hands, and will be well orchestrated and coordinated with Gould & Ratner.
Entrepreneurial-driven businesses manifest themselves in a number of differing forms. The Gould & Ratner Entrepreneurs Group serves and understands the unique needs and demands of entrepreneurs in all of these forms.
Tax laws, with all the intricacies created by the federal government, together with fifty states and hundreds of municipalities and taxing authorities, are a particular specialty of Gould & Ratner LLP. In dealing with tax issues, we strive for a thorough understanding of our clients’ overall objectives. Creative solutions are developed and implemented in the context of family and business goals as well as tax and economic considerations.
The lawyers in our tax group have a strong business orientation and extensive experience in corporate, commercial, real estate and transactional matters. Most are also CPAs, and all are experienced in business planning. Our goal is not just to minimize a particular tax obligation, but to devise a strategy for coping with every aspect of the tax burdens which confront our clients. We often collaborate with business executives and their accountants, insurance agents and other professionals to ensure that plans and strategies in these related fields are consistent and are properly implemented for legal, tax and financial purposes.
Tax-related services, many of which are provided jointly with other practice areas, include:
The Corporate/Commercial Department provides sophisticated legal and business advice to clients in a wide range of activities, from business formation through ultimate disposition. Our eleven partners and four associates have substantial practical experience in providing business and legal counseling to family businesses, entrepreneurs and investors, as well as wealthy individuals and key executives. We take a broader view and often become part of our client's transactional "team" to assist with:
Gould & Ratner LLP’s representation of a number of family groups for three or more generations has given us a unique perspective on the issues that confront families and family-owned businesses. Careful planning is the essential element that determines whether a family’s assets remain intact and productive, capable of sustaining the personal needs and charitable inclinations of multiple generations.
Effective plans must integrate legal intricacies with the wishes and needs of all individuals involved. Our attorneys have mastered the art of listening. We search beneath the surface for unarticulated goals and hidden motivations, and encourage open communication on emotional and financial issues that are often difficult for people to address. This understanding and appreciation of clients’ most cherished desires is combined with our attorneys’ thorough comprehension of legal and business concerns that is fundamental to our practice.
Creating and implementing a plan to promote family unity, minimize estate taxes and maximize long-term financial security is an ongoing process that may span many years. It may involve as few as one or two people, or multiple generations including the unborn. Development of a plan begins with a frank discussion, accompanied by probing questions that help clients refine and focus on long-term goals. For many clients, the most revealing element of the planning process is our creation of a diagram that provides a visual representation of the flow of assets and responsibilities through a family’s generations. We discuss and explain every nuance of a family plan, will or trust and its implications before presenting any document for signature.
Clients often benefit from our assistance in engaging a team of experts, including insurance professionals and investment managers, and accountants, who play key roles in achieving financial goals. We offer expertise in strategies for current and deferred charitable giving, including identification and evaluation of non-for-profit entities whose missions relate to clients’ personal interests. In addition, we assist families in establishing private foundations which accomplish family charitable goals while providing a vehicle for successive generations to work with each other for the benefit of worthy causes.
A thoughtfully constructed family financial plan must be accompanied by capable administration. A trust that provides for the grantor’s wishes to be carried out during life and after death is successful only with ongoing administration that effectuates the intent and spirit of the instrument. Our clients know that they can rely on us for expert administration of estates and trusts that matches our personal, precise and strategic approach to planning.
Many aspects of this practice have little to do with the law, but much to do with life, feelings, and the personal concerns of our clients. Our greatest sense of success comes from the vision of a family unified and moving forward in the same direction, free of the fears and misconceptions that often accompany the transfer of wealth.
Gould & Ratner LLP’s nationally recognized real estate practice has a multidimensional orientation, characterized by thorough familiarity with every aspect of the acquisition, development, financing, zoning, leasing and sale of real estate. Our extensive experience in complex transactions includes representation of lenders, borrowers, developers, equity investors and owners.
Our expert counsel on real estate matters is valuable not only to businesses actively involved in real estate development and management, but also to clients who own or lease real estate in the normal course of their businesses. We represent owners, developers, equity investors, lenders, lessors and lessees in matters regarding commercial, industrial and residential real estate. Consistent with our collaborative philosophy, a tax expert, as well as a real estate specialist, may be involved in each transaction to ensure that documentation and reporting are accurate and that appropriate consideration is given to tax concerns.
Our substantial real estate experience includes all facets of real estate and tax law, with extensive involvement in:
Gould & Ratner LLP's Litigation Department is a young, dynamic group of trial lawyers with substantial experience representing clients in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies. The lawyers in the group are also highly skilled in alternative dispute resolution, having appeared on behalf of many clients before court appointed and privately selected arbitrators and mediators. Our litigation skills are not limited to the trial level, however. The department has an extensive history of appellate advocacy, with most of our lawyers having frequently argued cases to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and other state and federal appellate courts.
The Firm's litigators are trained and experienced in handling traditional corporate and commercial disputes, such as business acquisition disputes, corporate and partnership governance issues, and contract matters, which comprise the department's fundamental practice. Additionally, however, each lawyer specializes in at least one particular area of the law, such as labor and employment, environmental, bankruptcy, insurance, real estate matters or product liability. In this manner, the group has a common base and consistent approach to litigation, but also has the talent, the knowledge, and the experience to handle a variety of disputes in a variety of forums.
The Gould & Ratner LLP Litigation Group's significant expertise includes the following areas:
Through weekly meetings of our closely-knit group to discuss pending litigation and legal developments, our litigation philosophy is communicated and shared by the department members. Our philosophy dictates no less than excellent work and aggressive advocacy – whether in the courtroom or in settlement negotiations. We are always cognizant of the client's desire to achieve the best possible result with the least negative financial impact, and know that aggressive advocacy from the beginning tends to produce that result. We also educate our clients about settlement alternatives, including the benefits of alternative dispute resolution and advise them on when these alternatives can be used efficiently and economically.
The litigation attorneys at Gould & Ratner LLP do not operate, as many litigators do, in a vacuum, making an appearance to solve one discrete problem and then disappearing. We represent the continuing litigation needs of our clients, including advice on avoiding litigation and on business practice adjustments after litigation. We are requested to appear not only in the courtroom, but in the boardroom as well.
Like the firm’s other service areas, our bankruptcy practice was developed to meet the needs of clients, particularly those who are creditors of firms undergoing reorganization. Gould & Ratner represents both debtors and creditors in all aspects of formal bankruptcy proceedings, out-of-court workouts and restructurings, and in developing and negotiating overall financial strategies.
Services in this area include:
Over the last twenty-five years, mounting public concerns over clean air, clean water, contaminated land and wildlife habitat have resulted in a proliferation of environmental laws. As governmental regulations have become more pervasive and increasingly complex, few business activities are unaffected. Potential responsibility for environmental problems, both past and future, dominates many transactions. Gould & Ratner LLP’s experience, expertise and the positive results we have achieved for our clients who encounter environmental issues are sources of justifiable pride for the firm.
We have successfully resolved a wide range of environmental issues involving air emissions, water quality, noise pollution, mine reclamation, disposal of hazardous waste, leaking underground storage tanks, oil spills, wetlands permits, and the allocation of multi-party liability for superfund site remediation. We have extensive experience in coordinating transactional due diligence, handling state and federal investigations, and defending all types of civil enforcement proceedings at federal, state and local levels of government.
Our clients are in diverse industries including mining, trucking, building materials, manufacturing and real estate development. In addition to representing them when problems occur, we are actively involved in planning for environmental matters and providing counsel regarding regulatory compliance and preventive measures, including environmental management systems and risk reduction.
Gould & Ratner LLP's Labor and Employment Law department provides top-quality, well-considered advice to management on a broad array of employment matters and state and federal labor laws. Our practice focuses upon the following areas:
Litigation: Our attorneys represent employers of all sizes in employment-based lawsuits in both state and federal court and before various governmental agencies, in the following matters:
Training: Our attorneys frequently make presentations to local/national trade associations, employers and employees on a variety of employment-related topics and draft articles for magazines and newsletters. They are available to give presentations and draft employment-related articles tailored to a company's particular needs.