Lydia Wahlke
Chicago Cubs
Corporate law
40 Under Class – 2015

A baseball team is more than just slugging first basemen and risk-taking managers. An entire army of professionals, everyone from the Crackerjack vendor to the scouting directors, works together to make a baseball club a success.

That’s where Lydia Wahlke comes in. Wahlke is one of those behind-the-scenes professionals working to make the Chicago Cubs a success. She serves as vice president and general counsel of the Chicago Cubs Baseball Club.And in this role, she negotiates complex contracts, manages litigation and counsels the Cubs in a wide range of advertising, intellectual property, employment and corporate governance issues.

Rising to such a position is an impressive feat for any attorney. For one who is still under 40? That’s even more remarkable.

“Although Lydia has practiced law for a mere 10 years, her achievements are astonishing,” said Amy St. Eve, a judge with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. “In my opinion, she is one of the most remarkable young lawyers in Illinois.”

It’s not surprising, though, that Wahlke has made this jump. She established herself as one of the top corporate, finance and intellectual property attorneys in the Chicago area long before the Cubs tapped her talents.

Wahlke starred while working with Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis.There she notched several big victories for her client. For instance, she acted as the primary associate on an advertising challenge before the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. In the case, a competitor of Wahlke’s client charged that the client made false claims in its advertising. Wahlke drafted the substantive submissions to the National Advertising Division and helped argue the case in front of the division’s director and a staff attorney.

“Normally, an associate with Lydia’s lack of seniority would not argue an NAD challenge,” said Ross Weisman, with Kirkland & Ellis.“However, because of her maturity and oral skills, the client agreed to Lydia’s significant participation in front of NAD.”

That turned out to be a wise decision.Thanks largely toWahlke’s talents, her client obtained a successful result.

Wahlke has only continued her success while with the Cubs. Wahlke, for instance, has played an instrumental role in the $575M 1060 Project, which includes the most extensive restoration of Wrigley Field in its 101-year history, as well as redevelopment of the area surrounding the ballpark.

Wahlke’s peers also credit her commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others. She works more than 200 hours of pro bono hours a year for the Cubs Charities, which has raised and donated millions of dollars to health, education and fitness organizations serving young people.

For five years, Wahlke has also been an annual contributor to and member of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Bard Circle and is a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Sports Law Association.

“Lydia is a true rising star of law in Illinois,” said Mark Whitaker with Chicago’s DLA Piper. “Her work enables the Ricketts family to be a great steward of the Cubs franchise. With her tremendous passion for the Cubs and the fans, her understanding of what the Cubs mean to Chicago and her visionary achievements for the organization, she is one of the most admired and successful young lawyers we know.”