A federal prosecutor who helped secure guilty pleas from multiple Illinois politicians for various corruption charges has rejoined McDermott Will & Emery, the firm said Tuesday.
James Durkin has joined McDermott as a litigation partner in Chicago, where the firm was founded. He was an associate at McDermott for more than six years before joining the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Ofice in November 2015.
Durkin “was widely regarded as one of the strongest prosecutors in the office,” said Christopher Stetler, the former deputy chief of the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office and now a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman.
Stetler said he and Durkin prosecuted at least 10 cases together, including ones against former state senators Martin Sandoval and Terry Link.
Both Sandoval and Link pleaded guilty to willfully filing a false tax return; Sandoval also pleaded guilty to federal program bribery.
Durkin and Stetler also worked on the case against former state representative Luis Arroyo, who pleaded guilty to a federal wire charge in 2021.
Stetler said the office’s leadership trusted Durkin “to handle so many [cases] from healthcare fraud to national security to public corruption. He’s going to be a huge success in the private sector.”
Having Durkin onboard will help as government action can sometimes “create a complex web of issues for clients, especially in the cybersecurity, fraud and white-collar crime areas,” Steven Scholes, the global head of McDermott’s litigation practice, said in a statement.
Durkin said a lot of the people he worked with at McDermott are still with the firm.
He also noted he is not related to James Durkin, the former Illinois House minority leader, or Thomas Durkin, a U.S. district judge in the northern district of Illinois.