Jennifer Gilbert
Stowell & Friedman
Employment law
40 Under Class – 2015

Jennifer Gilbert, a partner at Chicago’s Stowell & Friedman, Ltd., has achieved a series of impressive victories during her legal career while earning a reputation as a steadfast and creative advocate for employees, especially women and minorities.

Drafted as a professional softball player prior to attending law school, Gilbert’s work ethic with respect to the practice of law is the same as it was on the softball field. She does not shy away from hard work or heavy lifting and works tirelessly to perfect her trade. As a result, Gilbert has developed the instincts and judgment of a lawyer with many more years of experience.

According to Stowell & Friedman’s managing partner, Linda D. Friedman,it was these character traits that first caused Friedman to solicit Gilbert to “trade teams” after the two lawyers spent many months as opposing counsel during a lengthy arbitration. When Gilbert finally accepted Friedman’s challenge long after the arbitration concluded, Gilbert seamlessly made the switch from representing corporations to suing them.

Not surprisingly, one of Gilbert’s greatest assets as a plaintiffs’ employment lawyer is her ability to understand what motivates corporations, drawing on her experience as a defense lawyer to craft creative and meaningful resolutions for her clients.

Michael Hallerud, partner with Nixon Peabody’s Chicago office, pointed to one case that demonstrated this. Gilbert took what Hallerud calls a holistic approach to guiding her client to a resolution in a sensitive sexual harassment dispute after sitting down with Gilbert to discuss the matter. “While all lawyers are licensed, not all are professional,” Hallerud said. “Jennifer subordinated her own interests to those of her client and earned my respect.”

Gilbert earned one of her biggest successes in court as class counsel in Martignago v. Merrill Lynch. In this national wage and hour collective and class action, Gilbert worked with class members to build the case and led the attorney team in both the class-based discovery efforts and the negotiation of a $12 million settlement.

Gilbert applies the same energy and creativity in her personal life. For example, she was instrumental in founding TEB’s Troops, a non-profit dedicated to funding the fight against melanoma cancer. Gilbert named the non-profit after her dear friend and fellow attorney,Tricia E. Black, who was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. TEB lost her battle to cancer in 2006, but her memory lived on through Teb’s Troops, which was acquired by Melanoma Research Foundation in 2013.

“Jennifer’s professional achievements are evidence of a tireless advocacy that is consistent with the activities that I see from Jennifer in her personal life,” said Matthew Kellam, Global Lead IP counsel for Surface Chemistry with AkzoNobel Inc. “Jenny’s persistence in obtaining critical results for her clients is the same persistence that she exhibits in the community, with her family and with her friends.”

Gilbert resides in Lincoln Park with her husband, children (ages 9 and 7) and two golden retrievers.