Mike Hanahan is a lawyer with a keen eye on his clients' business. Unlike many attorneys, Mike is regularly involved in both negotiating major construction contracts and representing clients in project-related disputes. In all types of matters, Mike looks for common-sense legal solutions that best serve his clients’ business.

With his training in architecture and broad experience representing owners, contractors, design professionals and specialty consultants, Mike has a unique perspective on all sides of the construction industry. As a result, he can assert his client’s position and anticipate responses from the other side. He can then advise his clients on their options well in advance of any given situation.

Mike makes his clients active participants in the cases he handles, whether they involve contract negotiations, a dispute or overall project management. This approach ensures that the legal tactics best serve the business goals – and that the business people understand their legal options.

In addition to his extensive construction experience, Mike has a strong background in procurement for both government entities and private organizations. Having worked for several public bodies in Chicago on projects big and small, Mike’s understanding of requests for proposals, vendor selection, and negotiation of contracts is an asset to any entity entrusted with taxpayer dollars. In the private sector, Mike was involved in preparing or negotiating more than $2 billion worth of procurement contracts in the last three years alone.

Mike loves his work, having set his sights on being a construction lawyer at the age of 14 and never looking back. He strongly believes that design professionals need to be proactive in protecting themselves and their work so they can be free to exercise their creative passions. He sees his work as supporting that mission.

  • Experience

    Mike has assisted with the creation and implementation of the procurement process and ensuing contract negotiations for numerous governmental agencies and commercial clients for project that include:

    • Power plant construction
    • Green energy construction (wind, solar)
    • High-rise residential construction
    • Hotel construction
    • Arena/event-center construction
    • Multi-use parks and recreation facilities
    • Theaters

    Michael regularly helps prepare and negotiate construction and design professional contracts for owners, architects and engineers, contractors and subcontractors for:

    • Design-build projects
    • Master installation agreements
    • Renovations of existing facilities
    • Freestanding projects
    • Landlord/tenant build-outs
    • Assisted-living and low/medium income facilities

    Michael has successfully prosecuted and defended a range of construction claims both in court and through ADR, including:

    • Complex construction defect and payment dispute claims
    • Construction delay and acceleration claims
    • Design malpractice/professional liability claims
    • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims
    • Mechanics liens
    • Economic loss issues
    • Personal injury disputes

    Michael regularly advises design professionals on copyright and trade secret matters, including the:

    • Registration of architectural copyrights and infringement claims
    • Protection of trade secrets inherent to the design process
  • Credentials


    • Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D., 1990
    • University of Notre Dame, B.Arch., 1987

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
    • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association, Forum on the Construction Industry
        • Chicago Bar Association
        • Illinois State Bar Association, Construction Law Section Council
        • Society of Illinois Construction Attorneys

        Teaching Appointments

        • Adjunct Professor – Construction Law/Professional Practice II, Graduate School of Architecture - University of Illinois at Chicago
        • Guest Lecturer, School of Architecture - University of Notre Dame
        • Guest Lecturer, School of Architecture - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
        • Guest Lecturer, American Society of Interior Designers
      • Insights

        News Release

        Three Practices Recognized in The Legal 500 for Fourth Year in a Row

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that three of the firm’s practice groups have been recognized for the fourth year in a row in The Legal 500 United States 2019 guide, which provides a nationwide analysis of law firms that provide cutting-edge and innovative advice.

        News Release

        2019 Leading Lawyers Lists Recognize 95 Schiff Attorneys

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to have 95 attorneys named to the 2019 Leading Lawyers list.

        News Release

        Super Lawyers Names 39 Schiff Attorneys to 2019 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars Lists

        Two partners were recognized among “best of the best” on 2019 Illinois Top Lists

        News Release

        Hanahan Appointed ISBA Construction Law Section Council Chair

        Partner Michael Hanahan has been appointed as chair of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Construction Law Section Council for the 2018-2019 term.


        Navigating Contracts

        Black Spectacles: ARE Live


        What’s New: Updates to the American Institute of Architects Contract Documents

        Illinois State Bar Association, Construction Law Section

        News Release

        95 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 Leading Lawyers Lists

        Ninety-six Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2018 Leading Lawyers lists for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        40 Attorneys Named to 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, and Top Women Lists

        Forty Schiff Hardin attorneys have been recognized on the 2018 Illinois Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.

        News Release

        99 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to 2017 Leading Lawyers List

        Ninety-nine Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2017 Leading Lawyers list for Illinois and Michigan.

        Other Publications

        • The Construction Contracts Book, (associate editor and author) American Bar Association Forum on the Construction Industry (Oct. 2004)
        • “Hitting a Moving Target: How Innovation and Modern Day Fears Impact the Standard of Care for Design Professionals and Contractors” (May 2004)

        Speeches & Presentations

        Mike has spoken at over 25 conferences and seminars on issues in the construction industry relating to construction procurement; construction and design standards of care; contract delivery methods; design and construction defects; construction warranties; “green” construction, LEED, and sustainable design; architectural copyrights and licensing; construction insurance and indemnity; and the use of standard construction industry form agreements.

        • “Navigating Contracts,” (podcast) Black Spectacles: ARE Live (Mar. 6, 2018)
        • “What’s New: Updates to the American Institute of Architects Contract Documents,” Illinois State Bar Association, Construction Law Section (Feb. 14, 2018)
      • Citizenship

        Civic and Charitable Memberships

        • New Group of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
        • Young Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago