Thorn & Associates LLC

Firm Overview

I founded Thorn & Associates in 2010. My goal in establishing the firm was to serve my clients' needs by providing quality advice in a timely and efficient manner, rather than needlessly running up legal fees like some law firms. Our firm focuses on environmental and energy law.

Example cases

I obtained a No Further Remediation (NFR) letter from the Illinois EPA for an industrial property owner while simultaneously help the owner refinance the property. Needless to say, convincing a bank to lend on a contaminated property is no easy matter.

I helped a biotech company's self-disclosure EPCRA violations to US EPA and then helped them conduct a comprehensive environmental audit covering the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and RCRA. After the audit was complete, I worked with them to correct numerous violations that would have led to several hundred thousands of dollars in penalties had EPA conducted an inspection.

I have helped an alternative energy producer negotiate a power purchase agreement.

I have also assisted several start-up companies in negotiating their way through environmental and energy regulations.

Main Office
4255 North Whipple Street
Suite 3
Chicago  IL  60618
  • (773) 609-5320
  • (773) 409-5320


Free Initial Consultation?
Free 30 minute consultation.
Services Offered For Fixed Fees?
I am always open to engaging in flat fee or other alternative billing methods.
Hourly Rates
$200 to $375, depending upon the attorney at the firm and the nature of the work.

Office Information

Office Hours
Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Other hours by appointment.
Emergency After Hours

How did your firm decide on the primary area of practice(s)?

I have always been fascinated by environmental and energy issues. In large part I believe this is because my father was a geography professor at the University of Illinois and he taught several courses on environmental issues and, growing up, I travelled with him to several research sites. In other words I was steeped in environmental issues for as long as I can remember.

What is your firm's point of view regarding clients educating themselves on legal issues?

Clients should always educate themselves on legal issues. That being said, clients should be aware of two potential pitfalls in relying solely upon self-education: 1) you may expend significant effort to learn only 70-80% of what you need to know and it's the remaining 20-30% that you didn't learn that is the key information, and 2) when you are emotionally invested in an issue it can cloud your judgment, resulting in you making decisions that ultimately hurt your case.

Is your firm willing to review documents prepared by clients?

I am happy to do it. Often if you need to use a document in more than one situation, I would advise having the attorney create a template. While there is a greater up-front cost, you save significantly in the long run because future documents require much less, if any, review.

Is your firm willing to coach clients who want to represent themselves?

I can understand a clients' interest in minimizing legal costs and am happy to work with them to do so. At the same time, I advise clients to heed my previous advice and realize that their emotional investment in a case may cloud their judgment. Clients should also consider the risk-reward of representing themselves. For example, is it worth the risk of losing a $150,000 judgment to save $4,000? For most people the answer would be no, but it depends upon the individual.

Stephen Thorn

My career began at the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5 (based in Chicago and covering MN, WI, MI, IL, IN, and OH). While at USEPA, I practiced in all areas of environmental law including:

• The Clean Air Act
• The Clean Water Act
• CERCLA (aka Superfund)

I entered private practice at a large Chicago firm where I expanded my practice to include representing companies before the Illinois Pollution Control Board, counseling companies on environmental real estate issues, and alternative energy issues.

Three main factors set me apart from other environmental attorneys. First, I began my career at US EPA. As a result I was exposed to all of the major environmental laws and regulations and worked with them every day of every week and I am intimately familiar with how the agency conducts inspections and pursues enforcement matters. In contrast, many other environmental attorneys only spent a fraction of their working week as a true environmental attorney. Second, I have an undergraduate and graduate chemistry degree and another graduate degree in natural resources. That allows me to understand the environmental issues at hand in a way that very few other attorneys can and it allows me to communicate very efficiently with engineers and other technical staff. Third, I founded my own law firm in large part because of my distaste for how large firms do business. Some large firms have lost the personal touch and are more concerned about billing their clients as much as possible rather than doing what is best for their client even if it means billing fewer hours.

Other than the obvious environmental and scientific experience, I am an extremely strong communicator. I listen to my clients' needs and advise accordingly. My communication skills also lend themselves well to establishing rapport with government officials, opposing counsel, and other parties encountered in the course of representing my clients. I also have a very well developed network of contacts that I can harness to the benefit of my client when they need someone with particular qualifications but do not know how to find that person.

Personal interests:

I spend a significant amount of my free time outdoors hiking, running, engaging in other sporting events, and gardening. I'm currently thinking about competing in my first triathlon, but given how badly I swim I might not make it out of the water!

  • Bar Number: 6287537
    Illinois , 2005
  • University of Michigan
    Juris Doctorate , 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
  • Yale University
    Bachelor of Science , 1997
    New Haven, CT
  • University of Illinois
    Master's Degree , 2000
    Urbana, IL
    Organic Chemistry
  • School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Michigan
    Master's Degree , 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Resource Policy and Behavior

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