Law Offices, Robert E. Lehrer

Firm Background / Attorney Profile

Robert E. Lehrer

Robert E. Lehrer, a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, both with honors, has more than 45 years of experience in the conduct of plaintiffs' civil rights litigation, as defined above, and in both individual and class action cases.

From 1973 to 1996, Mr. Lehrer was affiliated with what is now Legal Aid Chicago, the legal services office for all of Cook County, Illinois, including Chicago. At Legal Aid Chicago, he was, successively, a staff attorney, supervisory attorney, and, from 1982-1996, the agency's deputy director and litigation director. As deputy director and litigation director, he supervised a staff of dozens of attorneys and was a principal counsel in dozens of major civil rights cases, covering areas as diverse as public benefits, such as Social Security and Medicaid, employment, children's rights, reproductive rights, public housing, and prisons and jails.

When Congress eviscerated the legal service programs in 1996, burdening it with restrictions on the type of work they could do, Mr. Lehrer formed a public interest law office, Lehrer & Redleaf, with a Legal Aid Chicago colleague. The firm (1996-2005) specialized in plaintiffs' civil rights litigation. Among the many successful cases he, with co-counsel, litigated during this period were Dupuy v. McDonald, a federal court (Illinois) class action challenging the investigative and appeal hearing practices of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and People Who Care v. Rockford Bd. of Educ., a federal court (Illinois) school desegregation case.

Mr. Lehrer established his own law office in 2005. Among the major cases he, with co-counsel, has worked on since then are, in addition to the Dupuy case, Duran v. Dart, a long running Federal court (Illinois) class action involving conditions at the Cook County Jail, and Comas v. Schafer, a federal court (Missouri) class action under the Americans With Disabilities Act challenging the State of Missouri's delivery of mental health services to deaf persons throughout the state. Both Duran and Comas ended with the entry of settlement agreements that were very favorable to plaintiff case members.

In his law office practice, from 2005-2017, Mr. Lehrer concentrated his practice on the conduct of plaintiffs' civil rights litigation, as defined above, but took on other types of cases as well. Since March 2017, however, he has restricted his practice to plaintiffs' civil rights litigation.

Click here for a list of representative published opinions in federal and state cases in which Mr. Lehrer has been a principal counsel.

Since 2004, Mr. Lehrer has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where he has taught Remedies.

Since 2018, Mr. Lehrer has been a board member of the Chicago Council of Lawyers("CCL") a public interest bar association that undertakes a variety of initiatives directed at ameliorating unfairness in the justice system (criminal and civil), particularly unfairness affecting low income and minority communities.

As a CCL Board member, initiatives Mr. Lehrer has personally undertaken, in cooperation with other Board members and CCL staff, have included one to limit the prevalence of lawyer "pay to play practice," which is the practice of donating to elected officials' campaigns in the expectation that the official, if elected or reelected, will confer a contract or appointment on the donor lawyer or the lawyer's client or decide a contested case in the lawyer or client's favor. Another such initiative is one promoting the centralized adjudication of many types of state administrative law cases, rather than fragmenting their adjudication by separate panels of administrative hearing officers, with the myraid Illinois state agencies each having separate panels.

Mr. Lehrer has also been a hearing officer for two Illinois state agencies ( Illinois Board of Education; Illinois State Toll Highway Authority) and one Missouri state agency (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).

Mr. Lehrer is a member of the bars of Illinois, Missouri, the District of Columbia, Vermont, and Massachusetts (though his bar status is active only in Illinois). In Illinois, his practice, at the trial court level, is concentrated in the Cook County courts (for state court cases) and in the Northern District of Illinois (for federal court cases). Mr. Lehrer is also a member of many federal district court bars (including the trial bar of the Northern District of Illinois), the Courts of Appeals for the Third, Sixth, and Seventh Circuits, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Lehrer has litigated several cases in the United States Supreme Court.