161 N. Clark

Chicago Title & Trust Center is an office tower located in Chicago designed by the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Before completion in 1990 the twin tower design was awarded The Chicago Athenaeum's "Best Building" Architecture Award, the award was received by one of the lead designers- Kevin Flanagan    (View PLP Architects). The fifty-storey building rises 756 feet in the Loop and was completed in 1992, on the site of Chicago's Greyhound Bus Station. One of the tower's most notable features is its eastern-facing slanted roof at upper levels. At night, the top of the building facing east and west is flooded with light, creating a memorable presence on the Chicago skyline.

Our Win-Win Firm Model


By choosing to share modern office space with some of the top attorneys in Chicago, Thomas J. Ramsdell & Associates avails itself of significant resources and facilities the vast majority of small firms simply do not have. Those resources include electronic research, accounting and billing capabilities and software, Martindale-Hubbell® “AV” rated attorneys, full copying and reproduction facilities, an office suite with highly experienced lawyers, and modern courtroom technologies. But unlike all large firms, Thomas J. Ramsdell & Associates is not saddled with huge overhead expenses that are inevitably passed on to the client. Instead, when the need arises and with the client’s consent, we selectively collaborate with our colleagues to effectuate the best and most cost-effective results for our clients. 


Our “new economy” business model provides clients with a win-win situation. You get the individualized attention and reasonable fees that only a small firm can provide, along with an array of legal knowledge, acumen and facilities that rivals the largest and most prestigious of firms. Please feel free to visit us at the Chicago Title Tower at 161 N. Clark Street, Suite 2550.

Firm Overview


Thomas J. Ramsdell & Associates is dedicated to the protection of property rights and challenging the often abusive tactics of municipalities in illegally attempting to control those rights. The concept of property is amorphous. It includes, amongst other things, real property, advertising signage, intellectual property, parks and lands belonging to the public and held it trust by elected representatives, and tax dollars. The Firm focuses its practice on protecting its clients from abuse of their property rights by those who seek to usurp them – be those actors private or public.


We often bring constitutional challenges on behalf of property owners to the restrictive land use policies of various Chicagoland municipalities. Our cases frequently involve zoning and outdoor advertising disputes, special use and variance applications, landmarking, condemnation, and disputes over the transfer of real property. Our practice also includes challenges to the private use of public land, TIF ordinances, and other taxpayer claims. Our land use practice is by no means limited to disputes with governmental entities. Oftentimes disputes arise between residents and developers who fail to abide by applicable zoning and building codes.  When that occurs residents’ property rights are infringed and values diminished. We have extensive experience negotiating and litigating resolution of those disputes and take advantage of Illinois law which provides for an award of attorney’s fees to prevailing neighbors.


We also have extensive counseling and litigation experience in private business and commercial disputes. The attorneys of Thomas J. Ramsdell & Associates have successfully represented clients in matters involving breach of contract, theft of trade secrets, copyright, business torts, consumer fraud, deceptive business practices, and attorney malpractice.


We hope you enjoy perusing our website and reading about some of our recent successes. We look forward to many years of partnering with our clients to help them protect their rights and achieve their goals.

Thomas J. Ramsdell
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Thomas J. Ramsdell is the owner of Thomas J. Ramsdell & Associates, a law firm dedicated to the representation of private property owners, community organizations, and the real estate development community in land-use litigation. He has represented clients in the trial and appellate courts, both federal and state, in zoning, landmarking, outdoor advertising, vested rights, mandamus, and other proceedings invoking constitutional law. He also appears regularly before municipal zoning and planning bodies.


Prior to re-opening Thomas J. Ramsdell & Associates in May 2015, Mr. Ramsdell was a shareholder in the law firm Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC, which he joined after founding and owning the law firm Ramsdell & Hind from 2005-2010. He was previously a partner in the law firm Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, LLP, where his practice focused on land-use and intellectual property litigation. Mr. Ramsdell’s focus on municipal law and land-use litigation began under the tutelage of Jerome H. Torshen. He has practiced in Chicago since 1992.


Mr. Ramsdell is licensed to practice in the State of Illinois, and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeal for the Seventh and Federal Circuits, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar), and the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.

Representative Cases


Hanna, et al. v. City of Chicago et al., 2013 IL App (1st) 121701-U (in this first ever and watershed historic preservation decision, obtained reversal of trial court’s dismissal of complaint challenging the constitutionality of the City’s enactment of two landmark districts and overcame the City’s “rational basis” argument).


Hanna, et al. v. City of Chicago et al., 388 Ill. App. 3d 909 (1st Dist. 2009) (obtained reversal of trial court dismissal of complaint challenging vagueness, ambiguity and abuse of the Chicago Landmark Ordinance; appellate court found Chicago Landmark Ordinance unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous).


Cribbin, et al. v. City of Chicago, 384 Ill.App.3d 878 (1st Dist. 2008) (affirmed trial court victory invalidating illegal “aldermanic hold” on clients’ permits for multi-unit residential development; trial court ordered City to issue permits).


Hanna v. City of Chicago, Appeal No. 01-3093 (1st Dist. 2004) (affirmed trial court victory invalidating downzoning of 9-block neighborhood in Lincoln Park).                                                                         


XCO Int'l, Inc. v. Pacific Scientific Co., 369 F. 3d 998 (7th Cir. 2004) (obtained reversal of trial court's grant of summary judgment and prevailed on claim that liquidated damages provision of subject contract was not an unenforceable penalty clause).



Noted Media Articles and Comments


Plans for housing in Pullman monument draw fire


Challenge to Landmarks Law Worries Preservationists, The New York Times


Lawyer Makes City a Repeat Rival, Crain’s Chicago Business



Northwestern School of Continuing Graduate Studies, The Impact of Hanna v. City of Chicago on Historic Preservation

The John Marshall Law School, Legal Implications of Hanna v. City of Chicago

The Chicago Bar Association, Constitutional Law Committee, Legal Implications of Hanna v. City of Chicago


Bar Association Memberships


Chicago Bar Association (Chair, Commercial Litigation Committee, 2014-2015)

Illinois State Bar Association


Civic Involvement


Economic Club of Chicago
Republican Nominee, Illinois State Comptroller, 2002




American University, Washington College of Law, J.D. (cum laude), 1992
Columbia University in the City of New York, B.A., 1989
New Trier High School

Thomas J. Ramsdell



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