Hon. Michael R. Panter (Ret.) is a highly regarded senior mediator and arbitrator with close to 40 years of legal experience. While on the bench, Judge Panter won acclaim for his settlement abilities, frequently having been requested to settle cases from other judges’ calendars. He is an experienced litigator, having tried numerous bench and jury trials and arbitrations before going on the bench. The Judge is experienced in tort and commercial litigation and has mediated numerous cases as a judge and trial lawyer.

Judge Panter taught and still teaches settlement strategies to the Illinois judges at their bi-annual statewide meetings. He writes regular columns on mediation and is an often requested presenter. Before going on the bench, Judge Panter founded Litigation Lab which he taught full time at DePaul Law School. This innovative class brought trial lawyers to workshop their cases with law students and received wide recognition. Judge Panter is known for his patience, persistence and creative approach to problem solving.

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As a judge, law professor, and trial lawyer, he’s resolved thousands of cases

  • What Others are Saying...

    "Mike is a unique guy with personality plus. While he has been a judge, teacher, and lawyer, he is not dry or boring. He is high energy and interested in everything around him. His innovation in teaching - Litigation Lab - brought law students into the real world of trial work, to their benefit and to the benefit of us practicing lawyers. He has developed a reputation for settling cases."

  • "You certainly did many things to advance that ball in the Circuit Court of Cook County during your tenure on the bench and had an excellent track record and reputation for getting matters settled while on the bench."

  • "Judge Mike Panter was my professor in two classes in law school before he became a judge. His obvious love and enthusiasm for practicing law was absolutely catching"

  • "Mike has a magical touch in settlement negotiations."

  • "The Attorneys love him, he has a knack for settling cases."

  • "Panter's strengths lie in his deep knowledge of the law, which makes people listen when he offers his view on a case and his ability to bring his 'good personality' which can help when attorneys reach an impasse."


  • DePaul University College of Law, J.D.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.A.
  • St. John's College, Annapolis MD (The Great Books School)

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
    (TIPS: Vice-Chairman to the Dispute Resolution General Committee, Vice-Chairman to the Business Litigation General Committee, Ethics and Professionalism Standing Committee Member, Judicial Section, Section on Litigation)
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • DuPage County Bar Association
  • Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
  • Illinois Judges Association
  • Women's Bar Association
  • Decalogue Society of Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice
  • Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
  • Florida Bar Association
  • West Suburban Bar Association
  • Southern Poverty Law Center

Experience & Qualifications

  • 30-year legal career starting with commercial litigation at Panter, Nelson & Bernfield, Ltd., and often focusing on tort litigation at Michael R. Panter and Associates, 1980-2007
  • 7-year judicial career including Associate Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, where he served in the 1st Municipal District and the Domestic Relations Division, 2008-2010; Law Division Motion Calendar 2010-2011, where he served in the Jury Trial Section, 2011-2015
  • Faculty, Illinois Judicial Conference, "Settlement Strategies", 2016
  • Director of Litigation Lab, DePaul University, 2007-2008
  • Adjunct Professor, DePaul University College of Law, 2007-2008


  • Illinois State Bar
  • Florida State Bar
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the
    Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • Trial Bar for the Northern
    District of Illinois
  • Supreme Court of the United States

Civic Activities and Committees

  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • The Chicago Bar Association, Tort Litigation Committee and Panel
  • DuPage County Bar Association
  • Decalogue Society of Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice (ATLA)
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • West Suburban Bar Association
  • Florida State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation and Judicial Division
  • Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
  • American Society of Trial Consultants
  • Standard Club of Chicago
  • Covenant Club of Chicago
  • Jewish Community Centers
  • Partnership 2000-JUF
  • Young Men's Jewish Counsel
  • Aitz Hayim
  • Green Lake Conservancy
  • Jewish Judges Association
  • Gay and Lesbian Alliance
  • Women's Bar Association of Illinois
  • Jewish Judges Association
  • 2015 New Judge Seminar - Faculty
  • State of Illinois Judicial Conference 2012, 2014, 2016 - Faculty
  • Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Discovery Procedures
  • Cook County Law Division Committee on Mediation of Discovery Disputes
  • Jewish United Fund
  • Sheffield Neighborhood Association
  • Real Men Read
  • Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club