• Illinois
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, C.D. of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, N.D. of Illinois, including the Trial Bar


  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D.
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow
  • Loyola University Chicago, A.B.


Stephen Pugh joined Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella in 2020. He previously served as president of Pugh, Jones & Johnson, a firm he founded in 1991.

Stephen practices in the areas of complex real estate litigation, directors and officers liability, internal and external corporate investigations, general and complex commercial litigation as well as representing major governmental and educational entities in a variety of areas.

Stephen has acted as bond counsel and underwriter’s counsel for local governmental issuers of general obligation bonds, tax anticipation notes, tender notes and certain revenue bonds.  His transactions have ranged from $1 million issues to complex deals involving more than $10 billion. He also has the distinction of having tried the first civil RICO jury trial in the Northern District of Illinois. He served as a hearing officer for the Chicago Board of Education in contractor debarment proceedings.  Stephen has tried numerous jury and bench trials and has argued before the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals and the Illinois Supreme Court and is a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court.

Stephen served as law clerk to the Honorable James B. Parsons, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and as Special Trial Attorney in the Honors Program for the United States Department of Justice.  He was associated with the law firm of Chapman and Cutler for 13 years.

Stephen has lectured and participated as a panel member in many professional organizations.  He has authored several articles and has received numerous awards, including the prestigious 2008 Medal of Excellence and the Francis J. Rooney/St. Thomas More Award from Loyola University School of Law. 

Since 2006, Leading Lawyers Network has selected Stephen as a Leading Lawyer. Stephen has been elected a top 100 Leading Business Lawyer in Illinois from the Leading Lawyers Magazine, and he was elected by his peers as a Leading Lawyer in commercial litigation, governmental, municipal, lobbying and administrative law, and public finance law for 2018. He also has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and Law & Politics Magazines for the years 2005 through 2019. 

The American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law selected Stephen to receive the prestigious Jefferson Fordham Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to state and local government law throughout his career.  Most recently, the United States District Court, in conjunction with the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, presented the Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service to Stephen.



  • Representation of a Fortune 100 corporation in an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court defending the client against the Trustee’s multi-million dollar clawback claim against the company.

  • Led a major investigation for a Big Ten University into highly publicized allegations of hostile racial environment and abusive coaching in its Women's Basketball Program.

  • Representation of the City Council of the City of Chicago in the Shakman patronage-hiring litigation, including presentations to the City Council regarding requirements of the decree and in all phases of resolution.
  • Representation of the Archdiocese of Chicago in connection with a detailed analysis to determine if discriminatory pattern existed in settlements of claims against clergy.
  • Representation of commuter rail line in Title VI class action and allegations of discriminatory funding in the transportation industry.
  • Hearing officer in debarment matters related to the Chicago school system in education-related issues (principal removal, local school elections, etc.).
  • Defense of a major insurance company against §155 claims of unreasonable and vexatious treatment.
  • Representation of an international machine manufacturer based in Beijing, China, for products liability related litigation.
  • Representation of The Chicago Housing Authority in a 7,500+ plaintiff “mass action” seeking over $500 million for damages stemming from environmental claims.
  • Lead counsel for the City of Chicago and various detectives and police officers in multi-million dollar civil rights claims.


  • Represented the City of Chicago in its first public private partnership transaction:  $1.83 billion Lead Real Estate Counsel to the City of Chicago Department of Finance in connection with the privatization of the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge, located in Chicago, Illinois. The Project consisted of the privatization of a public asset to a private consortium via a Concession Lease Agreement having a 99-year Term.  The Lease Agreement provides the Concessionaire (Tenant) with rights to all toll revenue and all rents payable by certain other businesses located on the Skyway Toll Bridge during the Term.  The rent in the amount of $1.83 billion was paid in a single upfront payment at closing.
  • $563 million Lead Real Estate Counsel to the City of Chicago Department of Finance in connection with the privatization of the four publicly held underground parking garage structures, located on Chicago’s infamous Michigan Avenue underneath Chicago’s highly acclaimed Millennium Park. The Project consisted of the privatization of the public assets to a privately held company via a Concession Lease Agreement having a 99-year Term. The Lease Agreement provided the Concessionaire (Tenant) with the rights to all revenues from parking during the Term.  The rent in the amount of $563 million was paid in a single upfront payment at closing.
  • Acted as Lead Real Estate Counsel to the City of Chicago Department of Finance in the effort to privatize Midway International Airport.

Honors & Awards

  • Member, National Black Lawyers Top 100:
  • The National Black Lawyers Top 100 celebrates legal excellence, promoting attorneys as subject-matter experts as part of a national network of top African American attorneys.


  • Committee Member, Justice Anne Burke's Judicial Screening Committee
  • Member, The Salvation Army Advisory Board 
  • Co-Chair, ABLE Business Development Committee of The Business Leadership Council
  • Member, National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • Member, The Executives' Club of Chicago
  • Board Member, Chicago Citizens for Change
  • Member, City Club of Chicago
  • Founding Member and Chairman, Jewish-Black Business Alliance
  • Emeritus Board Member, Emergency Fund
  • American Bar Association
  • National Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Cook County Bar Association


330 North Wabash Avenue, Suite 2100
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3607
T: 312.840.7000
F: 312.840.7900