Ernest W. Irons

Ernest W. Irons


(312) 565-8449

Ernest Irons began practicing law as a business litigator, but spent several years in corporate leadership before returning to litigation at Schuyler, Roche & Crisham. As his practice developed, he concentrated increasingly on restrictive covenant and trade secret litigation, employment discrimination and employee benefits litigation.

Ernest acquired in-depth legal experience early, working at a highly successful private law firm where he advised and represented corporate and individual clients as lead counsel in business transactions and litigation involving employee benefits and employment law in state and federal courts throughout the country. He worked closely with client management regarding budgetary concerns and cost containment measures, and in developing legal strategies, corporate policy and procedures to eliminate or minimize loss.

Counseling brokerage firms, insurance companies and employers of both large and small businesses, Ernest concentrates today in employment litigation involving financial industry professionals. 

  • Areas of Practice -
  • Currently

    • Representation and counsel for employers in all phases of the employment relationship, including negotiating and drafting employment contracts, restrictive covenants and employment termination agreements
    • Litigation of employment matters involving restrictive covenants and trade secrets
    • Drafting of personnel policies and manuals
    • Litigation of disputes involving compensation and personnel records


    • Defense of employers in administrative proceedings and lawsuits alleging all manner of employment discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination
    • Counsel for employee pension and welfare plan participants, sponsors, administrators, trustees, investment managers and other fiduciaries regarding the establishment and operation of ERISA pension and welfare plans
    • Counsel for pension and welfare plan fiduciaries in claims concerning plan benefits and the appropriate investment of plan assets
    • Representation in cases of first impression concerning the status of insurers as ERISA fiduciaries and the development of federal common law governing ERISA plans
    • Assistance in variety of other matters, including insurance coverage issues involving comprehensive general and fiduciary liability policies, punitive damage liability, securities fraud and statutory consumer and business fraud claims brought as class actions, as well as trademark and copyright issues
  • Achievements+
    • Successfully defended on appeal an employer with respect to a claim filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
    • Defended on appeal a grant of summary judgment with respect to claims against ERISA, RICO and common law
    • Obtained a summary judgment dismissing a claim of breach of contract by an insurance company for failure to pay proceeds upon the death of an insured person
    • Obtained a summary judgment for an insurance company in an ERISA action on a contested claim for disability benefits and secured a partial rebate
    • Obtained a summary judgment for an insurance company in an action to deny the policy to the defendant due to misrepresentations made in application
    • Represented many of the nation's largest life, health and disability insurers and HMOs in evaluating, litigating and resolving claims
    • Won cases of first impression involving termination of the obligation to pay plan benefits when eligibility for plan participation ended
    • Represented and advised insurers and HMO's in mergers and in regulatory and legislative activities
    • Conducted pre-litigation claims analysis and negotiated settlements
    • Increased revenues by overseeing a contract generating $500,000 in client fees by providing a survey of the long-term care state insurance law and regulations and a searchable information database
    • Saved $350,000 in litigation costs by mediating a dispute concerning a self-insured health insurance plan sponsored by a trade association and achieved a workable compromise
    • Mediated several employee benefit disputes
  • Thought Leadership+
  • Publications

    "RICO: Get Ready For The Onslaught" (The Brief, Fall 1986).

    "Environmental Law: What is "Major" in "Major Federal Action"" (485 Washington University Law Quarterly, 1975).

    Contributing Editor for "SRC Trade Secrets & Restrictive Covenants Blog"

  • Education +

    J.D., Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1976.

    Associate Editor, Washington University Law Quarterly, 1974 to 1975.

    B.A., Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, 1970.

  • Bar & Court Admissions +

    Illinois, 1976

    United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, General Bar, 1976

    Illinois Supreme Court, 1976

    United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Trial Bar, 1984

    United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, 1991

    United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 1991

    New York, 1996

    New York Court of Appeals, 1996

  • Experience +

    Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, P.C.
    Chicago, Illinois

    2002 to Present

    1999 to 2002

    Norfolk Medical Products
    Skokie, Illinois

    Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel
    1997 to 1999

    Davidson, Goldstein, Mandell & Menkes
    Chicago, Illinois

    1994 to 1997

    Peterson & Ross
    Chicago, Illinois

    1984 to 1994

    1976 to 1984

  • Peer Recognition +

    Illinois Super Lawyers, Law & Politics, 2005 and 2006.

    Leading Lawyers Network, Law Bulletin Publishing Company, 2005 and 2006.

    Martindale-Hubbell, "peer review rated for ethical standards and legal ability," since 2005.

  • Professional Memberships +

    American Bar Association