ADR Systems


Hon. Margaret A. Brennan, (Ret.)


Judge Brennan served for 19 years in the Circuit Court of Cook County Chancery and Law Divisions, rising to Supervising Judge, Commercial Section of the Law Division, and cultivating expansive knowledge of commercial cases such as employment matters involving discrimination and retaliatory discharge, construction and legal malpractice disputes. As a lawyer, she served as counsel for a large energy corporation, handled a broad range of general litigation matters and worked on cases regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and National Highway Safety Act. Colleagues commend Judge Brennan’s intelligence, persuasiveness and remarkable patience, which helps her gather information and forge paths to resolution. Judge Brennan’s careful case preparation and boundless energy contribute significantly to her success as a mediator and arbitrator.

Types of Cases Resolved

  • Accounting Malpractice
  • Auto Liability
  • Bad Faith
  • Business Dissolution
  • Condominium Board Disputes
  • Construction
  • Construction Accidents
  • Construction Defect
  • Contract
  • Defamation
  • Directors & Officers (D&O)
  • E-Discovery
  • Eminent Domain
  • Employment
  • Errors & Omissions (E&O)
  • Family Business
  • Fee Dispute
  • Fiduciary Duty
  • Finance
  • Foreclosure
  • Franchise
  • Fraud
  • Harassment
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Landlord-Tenant
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Lender Liability
  • Mechanics Lien
  • Non-Compete
  • Partnership Dispute
  • Personal Injury
  • Premises Liability
  • Professional Malpractice
  • Property Damage
  • Qui Tam
  • Real Estate
  • Restrictive Covenants
  • Retaliatory Discharge
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Shareholder Dispute
  • Stockholder Derivative Actions
  • Storm Damage
  • Subrogation
  • Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
  • Trade Secrets
  • Trademark
  • Unfair Competition
  • Whistleblower
  • Wrongful Termination

ADR Experience and Qualifications

  • Since joining ADR Systems in 2021, Judge Brennan has served as a full-time mediator and arbitrator
  • 19-year judicial career including Supervising Judge, Commercial Section of the Law Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, 2018-2021; Law Division Commercial Calendar, 2013-2018; Law Division Tax and Miscellaneous Remedies, 2011-2013; Chancery Division, 2008-2011; Fifth Municipal District, First Municipal District and Traffic Court 2002-2008
  • 17-year legal career including Assistant General Counsel, Commonwealth Edison/Exelon Business Services Company; Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Chicago, 1989-1994; Legislative Coordinator, American Bar Association/American Prepaid Legal Services, 1985-1989

Representative Cases

  • Contract: landlord sought return of property, past rent due and cost of repair for breach of commercial lease; successfully settled
  • Construction Defect: settled case between homeowner’s association, developer and others resulting in a creative solution of replacing siding on much of the development
  • Defamation: claim involved high school students and their high school; settled case with all parties
  • Employment: settled sexual harassment suit between law firm associate and founding partner of the firm
  • Fiduciary Duty: complicated case with multiple claims settled; case involved issues of converted assets, breach of note, battery, conspiracy and fraud
  • Foreclosure: deficiency judgment of $100M settled between debtor developer and bank group
  • Fraud: homeowner alleged poor workmanship and design in claims against architect and contractor; all claims settled


Professional Activities and Awards

  • Member, Chicago Bar Association (CBA)
  • Member, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois

Presentations and Publications

  • Presenter, “Motions in Commercial Cases,” CBA CLE seminar
  • Presenter, “Motions in Commercial Cases, Jurisdiction, Motions for Summary Judgement,” Motion Practice in Cook County Circuit Court’s Law Division, CBA CLE seminar
  • Presenter, “Trial Preparation and Presentation,“ CBA YLS Tort Litigation CLE Seminar
  • Panelist, “Soup to Nuts,” 7th Annual Symposium with the Judges, Law Bulletin Seminars
  • Presenter, “Driver’s License: Hard to Get, Easy to Lose,” ISBA cable television program
  • Panelist, “The Judges Speak: Civil Court Litigation Do’s and Don’ts,” National Business Institute Seminar
  • Presenter, “Mortgage Foreclosure: The Early Stages,” Illinois Law
  • Former Faculty, “Remedies in Commercial Cases,” Judicial Education Conference
  • Former Faculty, “Contract Cases: Advanced Issues,” Judicial Education Conference



  • JD, Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • BA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



  • Illinois State Bar
  • US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

My mediation at ADR Systems proved to be extremely successful, thanks to the professionalism of our mediator.  Judge Kelley adeptly settled a very complex case involving serious injuries.  His patience, knowledge of the case, and considerate treatment of the parties involved all contributed to reaching a settlement that both sides found acceptable.  Kudos to Judge Kelley and ADR Systems for an experience I hope soon to repeat.

Thomas P Cernek, Esq.Law Offices of Thomas P. Cernek & Associates