Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.
Municipal Law
Municipal Law

Chicago, Illinois Education and Municipal Law Firm Protecting Public Entities

A Chicagoland school law firm since 1935

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. represents educational programs, school districts, cities, towns and villages in Illinois. Our attorneys serve as general counsel and provide advisement on specialized services and projects.

Providing guidance for a host of legal issues pertaining to municipalities

Our highly skilled attorneys advise clients in an efficient and effective manner. Our experienced attorneys are prepared to assist clients in the following areas:

  • Finance and economic development. We assist you with financial planning, taxes, debt financing and other financial issues, including bonds, assessments and developer incentive contracts.
  • Zoning and development. We counsel clients in matters related to annexation, zoning, subdivision, construction, general municipal growth, infrastructure installation and maintenance.
  • Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act. We advise clients with questions about the Sunshine laws in Illinois.
  • Board practices and procedures. Our attorneys possess extensive experience with the regular practices and procedures that apply to the basic operations of local government in Illinois.
  • Labor and employment law. We counsel clients as to the most effective manner in which to comply with the legal requirements related to personnel policies and handbooks. In addition, our labor and employment law attorneys provide guidance regarding the measures required to hire, discipline and remove employees. Furthermore, issues or claims related to compliance with state and federal laws, which include employment discrimination, personnel records, prevailing wage requirements, overtime, family and medical leave requirements, HIPAA and the Americans with Disabilities Act, are topics about which our attorneys are well versed.
  • Election law. We assist municipalities with complying with the Illinois Election Code and related statutory requirements.
  • Litigation. Our litigators have experience in administrative proceedings, federal and state litigation involving municipalities and school districts, and alternative dispute forums, including mediation and arbitration.
  • Property issues. We routinely assist clients with property issues, such as the purchase and sale of both publicly owned and private real property.
  • Property tax litigation. Our property tax litigation attorneys regularly provide guidance to clients about addressing the legal complexities and requirements associated with property tax litigation.
  • Construction law. Our attorneys have experience in public sector construction law and litigation, including the contract process, acquisition and development, mechanics liens, letters of credit, leasing, lending, foreclosures, financing, and surety bonds. 

Meet with a highly skilled municipal law attorney in Illinois

The legal team of Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. represents municipalities throughout the Chicagoland area. Please contact our firm’s office in downtown Chicago at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 708.349.1506 or online to schedule an initial consultation.

For questions regarding Municipal Law, please contact Terrence M. Barnicle, James P. Bartley, Thomas P. Bayer, Anthony G. Becknek, Elizabeth F. Brogan, Sheryl H. Churney, Patrick J. Collins, Caitlyn R. Culbertson, Gerard E. Dempsey, James V. Ferolo, Carmen P. Forte Jr., E. Kenneth Friker, Matthew S. Guerrero, Jason A. Guisinger, Everette M. Hill, Jr., Howard C. Jablecki, Michael T. Jurusik, Patrick A. Lucansky, Lance C. Malina, Michael A. Marrs, Thomas M. Melody, Mallory A. Milluzzi, Scott E. Nemanich, Donald E. Renner III, James A. Rhodes, Anne M. Skrodzki, Gregory T. Smith, Scott F. Uhler, George A. Wagner, John Allen Wall and Dennis G. Walsh

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Finance & Economic Development

Chicago Attorneys Guide Municipalities and Educational Institutions with Finance and Economic Development Issues

Our firm provides counsel to address the issues associated with budgets, tax levies and debt financing

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., our attorneys assist clients with finance and economic development issues. Whether the issues involve bonds, tax increments, downtown redevelopment projects or tax rebate agreements, we provide every client with a customized strategy.

Understanding a development agreement

In advising municipality and educational institution clients seeking to participate in a development project, we confirm that the agreement includes the necessary components to safeguard their interests. A development agreement delineates the duration of the agreement, the permitted uses of the property, the density of use, the maximum height and size of the proposed buildings, and provisions for reservation or dedication of land for public purposes. Our attorneys confirm that the agreement provides a construction timeline and includes the terms and conditions relating to applicant financing. Our attorneys also provide assistance with these areas:

  • Bonds
  • Tax increments
  • Financing districts
  • Special assessments
  • Designation of special service areas and bus
  • Tax rebate agreements

Tax increment statute guidance

Tax increment financing statutes authorize a municipality to adopt a plan providing for the redevelopment of a designated area. Under municipality and educational law, the locality or school district is authorized to issue bonds or other obligations. The purpose of tax increment financing is that by encouraging development projects, the value of real property in a redevelopment area should increase. Our attorneys provide guidance and protect a municipality or school district’s best interests.

Ensure your finance and economic development legal concerns are addressed by contacting our skilled attorneys in Chicago and Orland Park

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. helps municipalities and school districts with development issues. Contact our firm’s office in downtown Chicago at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 708.349.1506 or online to schedule an initial consultation.

Zoning & Development

Assisting with Zoning and Real Estate Development Matters in Chicago and the Surrounding Areas

Experienced lawyers help municipalities address zoning codes

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd.’s experienced attorneys assist municipalities with zoning codes. It is critical to retain a seasoned law firm when dealing with land use and planning issues to maintain the return on investment of a municipality’s budget. We counsel our clients regarding the issues pertaining to finance and economic development.

Issues arising from defining zoning districts

Although a standard zoning ordinance consists of a text and a map, complex issues related to zoning often arise. Our firm assists with all zoning and real estate development matters. On the zoning map, the various use districts are delineated, usually in three general categories: residential, commercial and industrial. The division of the land area under the jurisdiction of the local government in accordance with some type of comprehensive plan is the essence of zoning. The text of an ordinance is divided into these parts:

  • Zoning district standards
  • Provisions for change
  • Nonconformities
  • Definitions

The most critical components of a zoning ordinance are the zoning map and the applicable zoning district regulations. Typically, a zoning ordinance text incorporates a map of the municipality showing the boundaries of the various districts. We are intimately familiar with Illinois zoning ordinances and regulations.

In Chicago, zoning district regulations are often found at the beginning of the text of a zoning ordinance. Recurrently, our attorneys serve as counsel to the zoning boards of our municipal clients and provide counsel in many land use legal matters, including:

  • Annexation
  • Real estate development
  • Construction
  • Zoning
  • Subdivision
  • General municipal growth
  • Infrastructure installation and maintenance

Because it is critical to complete development projects in a manner that maintains a municipality or school district’s return on investment and complies with municipal law, our experienced law firm ensures adherence to budgetary constraints.

Consult with an accomplished municipal law attorney in Illinois

The attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. assist clients with zoning and development issues. Consult with an experienced law firm in downtown Chicago at 312.984.6400 or in Orland Park at 708.349.1506 or online to schedule an initial consultation.

Freedom of Information Open Meeting Act

Chicago, Illinois Law Firm Assists with Freedom of Information Act Matters

Our firm protects municipalities and educational institutions

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we have extensive experience assisting governing bodies and educational institutions with matters related to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Open Meetings Act (OMA). There are certain matters that are sensitive and should be duly protected. The solicitation of information under these acts should be properly supervised, and any discrepancies that arise must be accurately handled. We provide the advice and guidance you need to ensure that you are in compliance with the law.

A straightforward translation of the Freedom of Information Act

In addition to the federal FOIA, Illinois has enacted the Illinois FOIA. The goal of both FOIA statutes is to allow citizens to obtain information about their government. Anyone has the right to make a FOIA request. In Illinois, a public body has five business days after receiving the FOIA request to respond to it, but that timeframe can be extended under certain circumstances. Additionally, certain information is exempt from FOIA requests, including:

  • Matters that must be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy
  • Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency
  • Private information, such as Social Security numbers, addresses, personal financial information and other unique identifiers
  • Law enforcement records that would disclose a confidential source or otherwise impair an ongoing investigation
  • Information that if disclosed could endanger or impair an individual’s life
  • Business trade secrets
  • Requests that are “unduly burdensome”

There are other exclusions that may apply as well. We can help you interpret the exclusions and how they apply to your municipality or educational institution and the request being made.

Our firm translates and applies the Open Meetings Act

The Illinois Open Meetings Act (OMA) was created to prohibit secret discussions and action on matters significantly affecting the public that should be discussed in a public forum. Providing advance notice to citizens of actions to be taken is part of the policy of the OMA. All meetings are subject to the OMA, unless specifically exempted. The OMA specifically applies to municipalities and school districts. There are numerous exemptions, which are strictly construed, that our attorneys can help you understand and determine if they apply to your meeting. We provide important advice regarding your municipality or educational institution’s compliance with the act.

Obtain the guidance you need in FOIA and OMA matters

When a municipality or educational institution has a question regarding FOIA or OMA issues, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has the answers. Contact us at our Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or at the Orland Park office at 708.349.1506. We can also be reached via our website.

Board Practices

Providing Guidance in Board Practices and Procedures in Chicago, Illinois

Our attorneys help clients comply with the law

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has provided legal services to municipalities and educational institutions since 1935. We have extensive experience assisting a wide variety of boards with their practices and procedures. We can ensure your compliance with the law and establish effective and efficient tools to make your board more productive.

Creating proper board practices and procedures

While each type of board is unique, its effectiveness is usually directly related to the use of certain prescribed board practices and procedures. In an effort to promote efficiency and compliance with the law, we provide the following services:

  • Board manuals
  • Selection criteria for board members
  • Evolving board practices and procedures
  • Agendas for board meetings
  • Written policies regarding attendance
  • Board self-evaluations

Adhering to the Open Meetings Act

Municipal law and the Open Meetings Act require the majority of government meetings to be open to the public. There are exceptions to this general rule, but these exemptions are strictly construed. Meetings that are allowed to be closed to the public include:

  • The employment, compensation, discipline or dismissal of specific employees of the municipal body or educational institution
  • The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body
  • Student disciplinary cases
  • Other matters related to individual students, such as placement in special education programs

There are numerous other exemptions that may apply to your meetings. It is important to confer with attorneys to determine how the OMA applies to you and your meetings.

Defining the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides citizens the right to know the actions of the governing bodies within their district. A FOIA request allows a person or entity to obtain certain documents and other pieces of information regarding the actions of the government. Complying with FOIA requests can be overwhelming. A municipality or school has the duty to provide permissible information, but also must claim exemptions for protected information. We can assist with all matters related to FOIA and ensure that you are complying with your legal obligations in responding to FOIA requests.

Schedule an initial consultation to discuss board practices and procedures

Our attorneys continue to execute our firm’s tradition of experience, expertise and efficiency. Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has an office location in downtown Chicago near Lyric Opera and another location in Orland Park to serve our clients in the suburbs. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 708.349.1506 or online to schedule a consultation.


Chicago, IL Litigation Lawyers Fighting for Your Best Interests

Providing strong advocacy in the courtroom

Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has experience in all areas of federal and state litigation involving municipalities, school districts, other units of local government, corporations and individuals from the simplest cases to the most complex. Our litigators also have experience in administrative proceedings and alternative dispute forums, including mediation and arbitration. We have applied this experience and unique skill to the benefit of private sector clients, insurance companies, self-insured groups and pools.

Offering comprehensive litigation services

We have been successful advocates for corporate and individual clients in a broad range of areas such as:

  • Personal injury, wrongful death and torts
  • Labor and employment law matters
  • Student discipline and residency hearings
  • Special education issues
  • Constitutional and civil rights
  • Administrative review actions
  • Zoning, real estate, development and land use
  • Condemnation and eminent domain disputes
  • Construction law disputes
  • Demolition of unsafe structures and lien foreclosures
  • Business disputes
  • Injunctions and other equitable remedies
  • Environmental issues
  • Insurance disputes
  • Contract disputes and fraud
  • Finance
  • Engineering and architectural matters
  • Tax exemption issues
  • Probate, trusts and estate matters
  • Election, voting and campaign disputes

We handle cases at the post-trial and appellate stages in all levels of the state and federal court systems. We not only handle post-trial proceedings in cases already assigned to us, but we also help to formulate and pursue post-trial strategies in cases tried by other firms. Indeed, our appellate attorneys have served as judicial clerks to Illinois Supreme Court and appellate court justices and have argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court and all five districts of the Illinois Appellate Court.

Proficient in handling administrative litigation

Our attorneys also serve as local prosecutors in the circuit court and administrative adjudication systems for several municipalities. We also represent intergovernmental risk management programs as special litigation counsel for the:

  • Illinois Risk Management Agency (IRMA)
  • Suburban Library System
  • Park District Risk Management Agency
  • Illinois Municipal League Risk Management Pool

We have obtained several landmark rulings to the benefit of our clients, and we have also obtained countless final judgment rulings in our clients’ favor via dispositive motion practice and trial. In all of our litigation matters, including education law issues, we strive to achieve results in the most cost-efficient manner possible while maintaining a standard of excellence.

Contact skilled Illinois litigators for an initial consultation

For your convenience, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. has two locations. We have an office in downtown Chicago near Lyric Opera, which is accessible by mass transit, and another location in Orland Park to serve our clients in the suburbs. Contact our downtown Chicago office at 312.984.6400 or the Orland Park office at 708.349.1506 or online to schedule a consultation.

Property Issues

Helping Chicago-Area Municipalities Make Sensible Real Property Policy

Orland Park attorneys active in school financing since 1935

Responsible development is a key to any city’s growth, as the tax base must expand to keep pace with the population base. As downtown areas begin to attract new residents and suburban areas continue to grow, an adequate infrastructure is more important than ever. Schools and related facilities cannot be built without precious real estate. How can your city secure the rights to the real property it needs to serve its citizens?

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., our attorneys are experienced in all types of property issues affecting schools. We can provide both innovative and traditional solutions to ensure that your community is able to achieve and maintain sustainable growth.

Our attorneys provide assistance via a Naperville ordinance

A Naperville ordinance may be the ideal vehicle for your municipality to secure the land it needs at a reasonable cost. Some areas grow so fast that by the time parks, school and other public places are needed the land has been subdivided and is too expensive to acquire. Other cities experience uneven growth; one area of the city expands while other areas contract.

A Naperville ordinance can cure both these maladies. In 1972, Naperville, Illinois passed a city ordinance that all builders must donate either land or cash to the city to be used for schools and parks, either 5.5 acres or $15,000 per acre. The attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. possess specific knowledge in this area and can help you draft an ordinance with an excellent chance of withstanding any legal challenge.

Guidance in purchase and lease issues

In some cases, it can be more cost-effective to acquire and renovate existing structures or existing vacant lots and convert these spaces to parks or schools or any other needed facility. Such activity must conform to special laws in Illinois, including the Public Construction Contract Act. All activities on the site, from accepting bids to negotiating the contract terms to construction and renovation to the final cleanup, must be in strict compliance with these laws.

Adept in handling financing issues

The attorneys at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. can assist with many forms of municipal bond campaigns to raise capital for needed improvements:

  • Types of bonds. Most municipal construction bonds are general obligation bonds, meaning that repayment is guaranteed by the issuing taxing authority. Revenue bonds are linked to a revenue stream, such as user fees or tolls.
  • Bond issuance. The majority of bonds are issued after a referendum giving the taxpayers the chance to vote on whether to approve the measure. Non-referendum bonds are directly tied to existing tax revenue.

Other construction and finance issues may be involved in a bond campaign as well.

Call attorneys providing experience, expertise and efficiency to clients in Chicago and all of Illinois

At Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., we use our experience to craft cost-effective solutions to your financing and election needs. Contact Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. at 312.984.6400 or online to schedule your confidential consultation at either our downtown or suburban office.


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