Some of the highest praise for Colin H. Dunn comes from lawyers who have faced off against him.
These courtroom opponents came away from their litigation battles with the highest of respect for Dunn, a 33-year-old associate at Clifford Law Offices.
"When I need to go against him in court, I bring my 'A' game, because he is always well-prepared and his legal arguments are sharp and on-point," says Daniel Latreille of Mancini, Long & Latreille.
"I am most impressed with his ability to work in a cooperative, respectful manner with defense counsel, while still zealously representing his clients," says Mark S. Susina of Adler Murphy.
Dunn has represented plaintiffs in several complex, high-profile cases, including a set of 21 lawsuits resulting from a deadly fire at the Cook County Administration Building at 69 W. Washington. That litigation, which involved various other law firms, ended in a $100 million settlement for the victims and their families.
Karen G. Seimetz, who represented the city of Chicago in those cases, said Dunn remained calm and effective, even when other lawyers became combative.
"Colin always maintained equanimity and kept on track with what he was trying to accomplish," Seimetz says. "I never saw him lose his cool. He is mature beyond his years."
"He always maintained an encyclopedia-type knowledge of names, dates, witnesses and documents," said Daniel M. Kotin of Corboy & Demetrio, who represented other plaintiffs in the fire litigation.
Dunn has also worked on lawsuits stemming from the crash of Comair Flight 5191 in Lexington, Ky., and a partial collapse during the construction of a new building on the City's Southside which resulted in the death of a husband and father of three.
He earned his law degree from Loyola University Chicago, graduating magna cum laude, eighth in a class of 169. While he was at Loyola, he served on the Law Journal and tutored other students in civil procedure. Today, Dunn continues mentoring law students - since 2004, he has been teaching appellate advocacy as an adjunct professor at Loyola.
"Having worked with many adjunct professors over the years, I am struck by Colin's intellect, dedication and maturity," says Loyola Law Professor Alice Perlin, who supervises Dunn. "Colin tries to incorporate real-world examples and illustrations as much as possible in his teaching."
After graduating, Dunn worked as an assistant state's attorney in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. He also served as an appellate law clerk for Justice Patrick J. Quinn of the Illinois Appellate Court.
Since joining Clifford Law Offices, Dunn has written numerous articles for national and local publications, including columns for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. In a 2009 Law Bulletin article, he questioned whether Illinois courts have correctly interpreted the law when they prevented punitive damages from being awarded in cases in which a tort victim dies as a result of the defendant's conduct. "There does not seem to be any basis in the statute to justify allowing a victim to seek compensatory but not punitive damages," Dunn wrote. "It's time to rid Illinois of this black eye on its jurisprudence."
Dunn's colleagues praise his writing. "Colin is erudite and prolific," says Nicholas J. Motherway of Motherway & Napleton, who was on Dunn's side in an aviation lawsuit, representing separate plaintiffs. "He delivers an impeccable work product."
Dunn's diligence has paid off for many of his clients. Francis J. "Chic" Marasa, who was on the opposing side in a serious death case, said, "Colin Dunn achieved a tremendous result in an extremely difficult case for the plaintiff. If my original evaluation of the case for the plaintiff had been correct, such a result as (Dunn) obtained would have been impossible. ... I view him as one of the best young attorneys I have encountered over the last several years."