Paul J. Berks



Massey & Gail LLP
50 East Washington Street
Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60602

Office: 312.283.1590
Direct: 312.379.0469
Fax: 312.379.0467

Paul Berks has 20 years of experience in complex commercial litigation, regulatory matters, and appellate advocacy. Paul’s practice in state and federal trial courts involves all types of commercial disputes, including trade secrets, business torts, breach of contract, insurance coverage, and claims under the Uniform Commercial Code and the Illinois and Federal False Claims Act, among others.  He is an experienced regulatory lawyer, having written and enforced regulatory rules as well as litigated for and against state taxing authorities, utility regulators, and state licensing boards. Paul has briefed and argued dozens of appeals, involving a wide variety of constitutional and statutory issues, before the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court, and numerous state appellate courts.

In 2020, Paul was recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a litigation star.  His clients describe him as “thorough, effective and intense” and his writing as “clear and interesting.” Because his substantive knowledge of state and local tax law is “based on years of immersion,” and is “truly extraordinary,” he has been asked to counsel the Office of the Illinois Governor on tax-related constitutional issues.

Paul recently represented pro bono a grandmother seeking to terminate the state’s custody over her grandson and return the child to her, leading to reunification. As an appellate advocate, Paul has appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court numerous times, litigating several of the leading Illinois cases on state and local tax law.

Before joining Massey and Gail, Paul was the Complex Litigation Counsel for the State of Illinois and Deputy General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Revenue. He also formerly was an associate at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham (now K&L Gates).

  • Stanford Law School, J.D., with honors, 2000
  • University of California, San Diego, M.A., 1993
  • Northwestern University, B.A., 1991
  • The Honorable Joseph T. Sneed, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • The Honorable Claudia Wilken, United States District Court, Northern District of California
  • Illinois
  • Pennsylvania
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Litigation Star (2020-2023) — Benchmark Litigation
  • Super Lawyer, Business Litigation (2021-present) – Illinois Super Lawyers
  • Hilmer Oehlmann, Jr. Award for excellence in legal research and writing
  • Miriam L. and Nathan R. Berke Fellowship in Labor Law
  • “The Illinois Fair Tax Amendment Is Narrow and Limited,” Law360 Expert Analysis (June 9, 2019)
  • “March Sanity: Can Courts Finesse a Legal Remedy to the NCAA’s Fantasy of Amateurism,” The Recorder (Mar. 29, 2019) (with Jonathan Massey).
  •  “Hartney and Its Aftermath,” Chicago Tax Club (April 14, 2014) (with David Blum and Jim Tauber)
  • “New Rules for Local Sourcing in Illinois,” Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (June 8, 2014)
  • “Transmission Cost Allocation: The Seventh Circuit Decision and the Proposed Corker Amendment,” Harvard Electricity Policy Group Fifty-Seventh Plenary Session (December 2009)
  • Social Change and Judicial Response: The Handbook Exception to Employment at Will, 4 EMPLOYEE RIGHTS AND EMPLOYMENT POL’Y J. 231 (2000)
  • Successfully represented at trial the relators in a multi-million dollar state qui tam action against a nationwide home improvement company for knowingly failing to collect Illinois sales tax on the purchase of certain installed appliances.
  • Won dismissal of complaint alleging business torts against on-line homeshare platform.
  • Secured reversal of orders dismissing complaints alleging violation of Illinois False Claims Act.
  • Won reversal in federal appellate court of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order allocating costs of new transmission lines, saving client over $200 million.
  • Prevailed on appeal in state appellate and supreme courts in $80 million dispute over availability of credits against state income tax.
  • Won reversal in state appellate court of agency orders requiring cost recovery of “smart grid” and other capital expenditures.
  • Directed rulemaking process for state agency, producing administrative regulations governing sales and income taxes.