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Graham C. Grady

GRAHAM C. GRADY helps clients solve problems they encounter with units of local government. With a focus on the city of Chicago and Cook County, he helps secure necessary approvals for land developments in the Chicago metropolitan area. A consensus builder and negotiator, he maintains excellent relations with community organizations, local elected officials and other stakeholders.  Graham provides legal counsel for compliance, regulatory, public policy and encompasses zoning, land use, licensing, construction agreements, government contracts, procurement and legislative approvals.  In the land use area, his experience includes securing all types of land use entitlements through planned developments, zoning map amendments, special uses, variations, text amendments and public way approvals. He represents property owners, real estate developers and every classification of real estate including retail, residential, commercial, industrial and myriad specialized land uses. In addition, he has obtained approvals through boards and commissions, including the:

  • Chicago Plan Commission
  • Committee on Zoning
  • Chicago City Council
  • Commission on Chicago Landmarks
  • Community Development Commission
  • Zoning Board of Appeals

Graham also serves as legal counsel to one of the five annuity and benefit funds of the City of Chicago, advising in a broad range of areas including compliance with the Illinois Pension Code, investment management agreements, open meetings and freedom of information act compliance and the fiduciary obligations of the trustees of the pension fund.

Graham gained government industry experience through his prior professional roles in municipal government, serving as:

  • Commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Buildings managing the revisions of the Chicago Building Code, a staff of 500 regulatory employees and a budget of $34 million.
  • Zoning Administrator of the City of Chicago Department of Zoning directing revisions of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance, managing a team of building permit review staff in the review of permit applications seeking zoning conformance, managing a team of field inspectors and reviewing applications for zoning map amendments, planned developments, special uses, variations, exceptions and appeals.
  • Ex-officio member of the Chicago Plan Commission.

Graham has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America, 2010-2017 and Illinois Super Lawyers, 2017 for land use and zoning law. He has been awarded a BV® Distinguished™ Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.  He has been selected as a Top Ten Leading Lawyer in Illinois in Land Use & Zoning and a Leading Lawyer in Illinois in Governmental, Municipal, Lobbying & Administrative Law and Real Estate Law: Commercial. Graham was honored as a recipient of The Chicago Bar Association’s 2017 Earl Burrus Dickerson Award.

Graham has lectured on land use law and development at Northwestern University School of Law, Northwestern University Graduate School of Management, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Roosevelt University and DePaul University.

Graham has been listed in Crain's Chicago Business' "40 Under 40" and Ebony's "30 Leaders Under Age 30." In 2011, Chicago United selected Graham as the Business Leader of Color. Graham was a speaker at the Aspen Institute on the challenges facing public housing in Chicago and nationally.

Graham received his. B.A. from the University of Illinois where he was a student member of the Board of Trustees. He earned his J.D., with honors, from Northwestern University School of Law. Graham is a frequent speaker on land use, zoning and green and sustainable development issues. He is a former faculty member of the ALI-ABA Land Use Institute.

Representative Projects


  • The Admiral at the Lake continuing care retirement community in Chicago, Illinois
  • Highland Park Hospital redevelopment in Highland Park, Illinois
  • Northwestern Healthcare redevelopment in Evanston, Illinois 
  • Northshore Medical Group, Lincolnwood, Illinois

Commercial and Residential:

  • Solstice on the Park (Proposed in Hyde Park) luxury condominium designed by Jeane Gang
  • City Hyde Park mixed-use retail and residential project designed by Jeanne Gang
  • Gateway Plaza 31-acre mixed-use retail shopping plaza
  • Holy Family Village unincorporated Cook County


  • Waste Management Calumet Industrial Disposal, bioremediation facility and Materials Recycling and Recovery Facilities
  • University of Chicago Planned Development amendment
  • Clark Oil Refinery, Blue Island, Illinois
  • USX South Works 120 acre mixed-use planned development


  • Navy Pier redevelopment for the New Shakespeare Theater
  • McCormick Place West Building, MPEA Corporate Center and Conference Center
  • Loyola University Planned Development

Civic and Philanthropic Affiliations

  • Lloyd A. Fry Foundation (Trustee and Treasurer)
  • Chicago Community Trust, African-American Legacy (Founding Member)
  • Council on Foundations (Committee on Diversity & Inclusion)
  • Leadership Greater Chicago (Fellow)
  • Lambda Alpha, Honorary Land Economics of Illinois (Member)
  • Lawyers Club of Chicago (Former President)
  • Art Institute of Chicago, Architecture & Design Committee; Leadership Advisory Committee (Member)
  • Chicago Zoological Society (Trustee)
  • Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (Member, Board of Directors)
  • The Economic Club of Chicago (Member)
  • The Realty Club of Chicago (President)
  • Chicago Parks Foundation (Member, Board of Directors)
  • Chicago Public Library Foundation (Member, Board of Directors)
  • Window to the World Communications, Inc., WTTW/WFMT (Trustee)