Fay Clayton



Fay recently retired from RCC and the practice of law. For more than 30 years, Fay practiced civil litigation for a wide range of clients from major corporations to individuals in cases involving fraud, RICO, securities, general commercial matters, contract disputes, officer and director liability, and shareholder and partnership concerns. Her decades of experience included numerous trials, appeals, mediations, and arbitrations in tribunals including the United States Supreme Court. In one case, the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois called her trial work "impeccable," and praised her closing argument as "a masterpiece of Courtroom advocacy."

Before Robinson Curley & Clayton, where she was a founding shareholder since 1989 until her retirement in 2016, she was a partner in Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, and before that, a partner at Sachnoff, Weaver & Rubenstein (n/k/a Reed Smith).

Awards & Recognitions

  • Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc., Edwin A. Rothschild Award for Lifetime Achievement in Civil Rights (2013)
  • American Constitution Society, The Ruth Goldman Award (2009)
  • Illinois Institute of Technology, Julia Beveridge Award (2007)
  • Today's Chicago Hall of Fame(2002)
  • Independent Voters of Illinois, Legal Eagle Award (1998)
  • American Jewish Congress, Distinguished Leadership Award (1997)
  • Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Civil Rights Award (1995)
  • Illinois House of Representatives, Certificate of Recognition (1994)
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law, Law School Association Professional Achievement Award (1993)
  • Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc., Pro Bono Award(1993)
  • HOPE Fair Housing, Inc., Hope for People Award (1991)
  • ACLU of Illinois, Defense of Civil Liberties Award (1987)
  • Illinois "Super Lawyers": Ten consecutive years as "Super Lawyer" in Business Litigation (2004 - 2014)
  • Best Lawyers®: Twenty years as "Best Lawyer" in Commercial Litigation and Employment Law (1994 - 2014)
  • Lexis-Nexis Martindale-Hubbell: "AV Preeminent Rated™ Lawyer" (2012); "Top-Rated Lawyer" (2013)
  • American Lawyer Media: "Top-Rated Lawyer" (2013)
  • Selected as one of "Chicago's 30 Toughest Lawyers" by Chicago Magazine (2002)

Memberships & Activities

  • Chicago House, TransLife Center, Impact Litigation Advisory Team, 2013 - 2016
  • American Constitution Society, Chicago Chapter, Board of Advisors, 2012 - 2016
  • Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. (National), Washington, D.C.
    • Honorary Lifetime Trustee
    • Board Member, 1997 - 2014
    • Executive Committee, 2003 - 2007
    • Employment Discrimination Project Support Committee
      • Co-Chair, 2007 - 2008
      • Chair, 2009 - 2011
  • Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc.
    • Board Member, 1983 - 2010
    • President, 1996 - 1997
  • Chicago Foundation for Women
    • Board Member, 1993 - 1999
    • Alumnae Council, 1999 - present
  • The Chicago Network
    • Member, 1992 - 2013
  • Chicago Commission on Human Relations
    • Hearing Officer, 1991 - 2013
  • National Association of Securities Dealers (a/k/a FINRA)
    • Arbitrator, 1989 - 2008
  • Women's Issues Network
    • Founding Board Member, 1990 - 1995
  • New College Foundation
    • Trustee, 1987 - 1995
  • The Fund for Justice, Inc.
    • Board Member, 1987 - 1993
    • Chair, 1989 - 1991


  • IIT/Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, J.D. with High Honors (first in class), 1978.
  • Member, Law Review; Moot Court Society; Legal Services Center
  • New College, Sarasota, Florida, B.A. (charter class member), 1967.

Publications & Presentations

Fay has spoken and published on civil litigation topics ranging from RICO and complex litigation to gender issues and civil rights, as well as trial and appellate practice, including:

  • Kaplan Higher Education Legal Department Retreat, "Public Interest Litigation for Corporate Lawyers" (Speaker) (2009)
  • Greater Chicago Anti-Defamation League, Summer Associate Research Program, "Social Justice" (Speaker) (2009)
  • Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago, "Civil Rights Litigation" (Speaker) (2008)
  • Personal PAC, "The Current Status of Reproductive Rights" (Speaker) (2007)
  • John Marshall Law School, "Breaking the Glass Ceiling" (Panelist) (2007)
  • Appleseed Fund for Justice, "Bridging the Gap" (Keynote Speaker) (2006)
  • Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, "Perspectives on the Supreme Court" (Speaker) (2005)
  • Chicago Foundation for Women, "A Conversation with U. S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg" (Moderator) (2005)
  • Illinois CPA Society, Business & Technology Show, "Legal Landmines: Employment Law for Non-Lawyers" (Speaker) (2005)
  • Appellate Lawyers Association of Illinois, "Arguments at the U. S. Supreme Court" (Panelist) (2004)
  • Chicago Humanities Festival, Mock Appeal in DiCaprio v. R.M.S. Titanic (Presenter with Dawn Clark Netsch) (2003)
  • Illinois Human Rights Commission, "The Current Status of Agency Practice" (Speaker) (2003)
  • ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession, "The Status of Women's Rights" (Panelist) (2003)
  • AT&T Litigation Department, "Working with Inside Counsel" (Speaker) (2001)
  • Cornell Law School, "Advanced Civil Procedure" (Guest Speaker) (2000)
  • HOPE Fair Housing Center (Featured Speaker) (1999)
  • "NOW v. Scheidler: Protecting Women's Access to Reproductive Health Services," 62 Albany L. Rev. 967 (1999)
  • UCLA Law Faculty Rounds, "Applications of Civil RICO" (Luncheon Speaker) (1998)
  • U. S. House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee, Hearings on FACE Act (1998)
  • New College, Sarasota, Florida (Graduation Speaker) (1995)
  • "RICO Reaches Non-Commercial Racketeers: NOW v. Scheidler," published in Civil Rights Litigation and Attorneys' Fees Handbook (Clark Boardman & Callahan) (1995)
  • "The Supreme Court's Decision in NOW v. Scheidler," 18 Private Antitrust Litigation News (American Bar Association, Section on Antitrust Litigation Law) (August 31,1994)
  • John Marshall Law School Fair Housing Seminar, "Race Discrimination in Mortgage Lending" (Speaker) (1993)
  • "The Legality of the Chicago Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Ordinance," 17 Loyola Law Journal 553 (1986)

In addition, Fay has taught trial advocacy at the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Chicago, and at Northwestern University College of Law, Loyola Law School, and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.