40 Under Forty 2023

T ina Wills has earned a reputation as an empathetic, thorough, dedi- cated and talented litigator, one who consistently earns top results for her clients. She’s also known for her pro bono work, including her representation of immigrants seeking asylum. Jennifer Huelskamp, an attorney with Porter Wright, said that though immigration law is not Wills’ main area of practice, she has been able to use her skills as a commercial litigator to effectively represent these clients. When it comes to commercial law? Huelskamp said that few attor- neys are as skilled at handling the nuances of this field as Wills. She pointed to a case in which Wills successfully represented a for- mer employee who was being threatened with legal action after leaving her job. With what Huelskamp calls a bit of creativity and critical think- ing, Wills realized that her client had the superior claim for damages. Because Wills was able to threaten a countersuit, the employer aban- doned its threats, allowing Wills’ client to avoid litigation. Eric Dorkin, an attorney with Clark Hill PLC, pointed to the work Wills did while representing him in a lawsuit. Dorkin said that Willis diligently pursued discovery against a recalcitrant opponent, including obtaining an order compelling the production of certain documents. This order prompted the opponents to voluntarily dismiss their claim. These opponents refiled their claim a year later. Wills then draft- ed a compelling motion to dismiss, challenging both the substance of the claims and the procedure by which they were brought. The court indicated that it seemed inclined to grant the motion. This prompted the opponents to seek mediation and ultimately to settle on favorable terms, Dorkin said. “Tina’s grasp of the rules of procedure positioned the claim for a valid basis for dismissal on the pleadings. Tina diligently pursued discovery in order to position the claim for summary judgment, and ultimately helped enable a favorable settlement.” In another recent case, Wills negotiated severance for a former em- ployee even though that worker’s employer claimed that Wills’ client was fired for cause. This resolution came after extensive negotiation, a negotiation that Wills handled masterfully. When not representing her commercial clients, Wills remains dedi- cated to her pro bono work. She is an active volunteer pro bono attor- ney with the National Immigrant Justice Center and has represented several asylum seekers, including acting as lead counsel on two depor- tation proceedings/trials. During her career of more than 16 years at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP/Freeborn & Peters, she also played for and ultimately managed the firm’s slow pitch softball team in a league made up of law firms. “Tina is an exceptional attorney and her breadth of knowledge, her expertise and tenacity has been instrumental in achieving favorable out- comes,” said one nominator.


AGE 3 8

FIRM Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP

LAW SCHOOL DePaul University College of Law

AREA OF PRACTICE Commercial litigation


Tina is an exceptional attorney and her breadth of knowledge, her expertise and tenacity has been instrumental in achieving favorable outcomes.”



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