Keck, Mahin & Cate

Keck, Mahin & Cate was a law firm based in Chicago, Illinois that was founded in 1886 and stopped operations in 1997.[1][2]

The firm worked in general practice, banking and bankruptcy law, corporate finances, mergers and acquisitions, and the like. By 1985, it employed 95 lawyers.[3]

The firm had branches in nine other cities, including San Francisco, Houston, New York, and Washington, D.C. In the early 1990s, former Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro was a managing partner of its New York office.[4][5] During the 1980s, Victoria Reggie worked at and became a partner in its Washington office.[6][7] Former Governor of Texas Mark White worked in its Houston location after he left office in 1987.[8]

By the mid-1990s, Keck, Mahin & Cate had grown rapidly to have some 350 lawyers and faced financial difficulties.[5] In 1994, it was found guilty of having to conspired to defraud investors in a Texas jail construction project and was liable for a share of a $36 million judgment.[8] By early 1996, the firm faced being cut off from a $10 million line of credit from its chief lender, Northern Trust Company.[1]

By summer 1997, the firm had lost more than 90 attorneys in four years, and key defections to Chicago rival Rudnick & Wolfe and Chapman and Cutler LLP occurred.[9] The firm considering halting its operations, and vacated its Chicago Loop offices on Wacker Drive.[10]

Keck, Mahin & Cate effectively ended later in 1997,[2] as in December 1997 several creditors filed an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy action against it.[11] By the end of the month, this was converted to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[11] It remained there for a number of years.[11] In 2002, the bankruptcy court ruled that some former partners could not escape liability for the firm's debts.[12] That year Bracewell & Patterson successfully defended Keck remnants against a legal malpractice claim dating back to 1992.[13]


  1. 1 2 Crown, Judith (1996-05-27). "The mess at Keck: one law firm's slide" (fee required). Crain's Chicago Business.
  2. 1 2 Neil, Martha (2003). "Fired...". ABA Journal.
  3. Robert Frank Cushman, John P. Bigda (1985). The McGraw-Hill Construction Business Handbook: A Practical Guide to Accounting, Credit, Finance, Insurance, and Law for the Construction Industry. McGraw-Hill.
  4. "President Names Ferraro to UNHRC" (Press release). The White House. 1993-10-22.
  5. 1 2 Lattman, Peter (2007-02-01). "Law Blog Q&A: Geraldine Ferraro". The Wall Street Journal.
  6. Kahn, Joseph P. (2009-02-19). "An untidy private life, then a turn to stability". The Boston Globe.
  7. Gliatto, Tom (1992-03-30). "Time to Marry? Right, Said Ted". People.
  8. 1 2 Wallstin, Brian (1996-03-28). "The Brothers Graham (Part I)". Houston Press.
  9. Balu, Rekha (1997-08-04). "Keck staggers as rainmakers bolt" (fee required). Crain's Chicago Business.
  10. Balu, Rekha (1997-09-01). "Ailing Keck weighs closing shop" (fee required). Crain's Chicago Business.
  11. 1 2 3 "In Re: Keck, Mahin & Cate" (PDF). United States Bankruptcy Court Northern Division of Illinois. 2002-03-06.
  12. Fortney, Susan Saab (January–February 2003). "High Drama and Hindsight". Business Law Today.
  13. Robbins, Mary Alice (2003-02-05). "Firm Not Liable in Insurer's Legal Malpractice Suit". Texas Lawyer.
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