About Me

I am a business attorney who accepted a corporate client’s invitation to run one of its divisions as general manager. That move to the other side of the lawyer / client table changed my understanding of how attorneys help — or hurt — the companies they represent.

After the University of Pennsylvania Law School, I practiced with the Wall Street law firm of Cleary Gottlieb, then tried cases to juries as Assistant District Attorney in the Major Offense Career Criminal Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office under Robert M. Morgenthau, and later served as associate general counsel in a Fortune 500 company called PacifiCorp (now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy).

I then served as Managing Director, Asset Management Division (workouts and restructurings), and later as Managing Director, Capital Markets Division (leading a capital markets innovation in aviation finance and doing conventional single-aircraft and multi-aircraft leases and purchases).

Then I served as Vice President, Business Development (M&A) with GE Rail Services, and as Vice President, Equity Investment (transportation sector) within GE Capital.

After Whirlpool Financial and GE Capital, I returned to practicing law. I founded Joel A. Webber, P.C., where I practiced commercial and regulatory law on behalf of transportation clients until December 2019.

As of January 2020, I re-directed my law practice: I have begun to advise executives on how to apply management disciplines to corporate legal risk:

(1) To prevent legal problems from happening in the first place, by systematic, proactive work with front-line employees to identify and avoid liability and regulatory pitfalls before they become legal catastrophes, and

(2) To cut corporate legal budgets, by replacing the hourly billing, overstaffing, and reliance on inexperienced lawyers tolerated by most in-house counsel and pursued as a business model by most law firms.

Affiliations outside of law practice:

  • Teaching international transactions and transportation law as adjunct professor in The Center for International Law of the University of Illinois at Chicago / John Marshall Law School.
  • Peer-reviewed scholarship commissioned by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (Washington, D.C.) and Fraser Institute (Vancouver, Canada) on transportation policy.
  • Served for five years as Vice Chair (transportation) of the American Bar Association’s Homeland Security Committee.
  • Pro bono legal representation of people who could not afford to pay an attorney, with successful federal and state court judgments in family law, housing, and civil rights.

I am admitted to practice in Illinois and New York, am admitted to the Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), and am admitted to the bars of other federal district courts.

I am a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, and of its Sections on Federal Taxation, Civil Practice & Procedure, and Business & Securities Law.

I am a member of the Society for the Advancement of Consulting.

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