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Engelman & Smith

Decades of Experience and Legal Counsel

to Chicago, Evanston and the North Shore


Engelman & Smith

Decades of Experience and Legal Counsel

to Chicago, Evanston and the North Shore

No case that we have ever handled has been just like another.

We will help you understand the nuances of your matter, quickly develop a strategy going forward, and navigate the complexities of the legal system. 

We are confident that together we will obtain a successful result.


Our firm concentrates its practice in:

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How we work

How we work

         At ENGELMAN & SMITH, our goal is to establish enduring relationships with our clients, whether solving a particular problem or planning for your future. If you are putting a deal together or unwinding one, our more collaborative approach will start with a thorough investigation of the facts and research of the law.

         We work with you to understand your needs and formulate your goals. As your matter progresses, we will keep you abreast of developments, give you candid assessments of your case strengths and weaknesses and explore alternative paths so that you are not surprised by any turn of events and prepared to make educated decisions.

In an increasingly complex world we offer creative solutions where possible and unparalleled advocacy always.


About Us

About Us

our Firm

Our Story

In 1976, Steve Engelman and Mark Smith saw an opportunity to fill a long unmet need in the legal system. Fundamental changes in the practice of law were happening quickly when the United States Supreme Court removed many bans on the ability of lawyers to advertise (Bates v. State Bar of Arizona) and abolished minimum fee schedules which lawyers were required to follow (Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar).  In a legal heartbeat, lawyers were free to charge what what they thought was fair or reasonable and could advertise their services. 

The young lawyers knew that the wealthy and corporations had deep pockets to hire attorneys and the poor had legal assistance to protect their interests. But the middle class -- until these ground rules changed-- had difficulty finding quality legal services at reasonable and affordable rates.  Working out of an Evanston storefront and utilizing first generation word processing, the firm was able to handle most legal matters for fees substantially less than that charged by other lawyers. As the nation was celebrating its bi-centennial, Steve and Mark were painting the offices of the first suburban-based legal clinic in the Chicago metropolitan area. They never saw, however, the need to advertise and instead have relied virtually exclusively on word of mouth marketing.

Knowledge divorced from justice is cunning rather than wisdom
— Marcus Tullius Cicero

In Our Community

ENGELMAN & SMITH also recognized its obligation to give something back to the community which supported its effort. The firm assisted in the creation and passage of the Evanston Landlord-Tenant Ordinance, an ordinance which became a national model for defining landlord and tenant obligations. It successfully represented the first woman to be hired as a street officer on the Evanston police force, and it won important jury verdicts in civil rights and other claims. As the firm matured, Steve and Mark continued their commitment to the community serving in an array of governmental, charitable, legal and community service capacities.

Nearly forty years ago, several print and broadcast news organizations reported the opening of an innovative new law firm of ENGELMAN & SMITH and its plan to provide quality and affordable legal services.

Throughout its history, the firm has met each individual client with this goal in mind and continues to be dedicated to its original mission.

Truth never damages a cause that is just
— Mahatma Gandhi

Steve Engelman

Steve Engelman received a BA from Dartmouth College and his JD, with honors, from IIT-Chicago-Kent College of Law. Since establishing the firm with Mark Smith, Steve has concentrated his practice in civil law:

  • residential and commercial real estate, including acquisition, leasing, financing, zoning, development, litigation and sale;

  • estate planning, guardianship and probate administration and litigation; and 

  • small business, entrepreneurial formation and management.

Steve has lectured on subjects ranging from agency and business associations to municipal budgeting and real estate taxation. He has published articles on civil rights and tort liability.

Steve provides first rate legal services for his clients. He’s prompt, knowledgeable and easily accessible - a trusted advisor who is outstanding at providing very personalized service to his clients.
— D.B. (Business Owner)

Service and Affiliations


  • Served for eight years as the Evanston Township Assessor

  • Served for twelve years as an Alderman on the Evanston City Council

  • Chaired the City’s Planning & Development Committee, Economic Development Committee and Budget Policy Committee

  • Member of the Chicago Bar Association 

  • Member of the Illinois State Bar Association

  • Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Northwestern University/Evanston Research Park, Inc., 

  • Member of the Legal Service Committee of Metropolitan Family Services  

  • Advisory Board to Northlight Theater.

An Evanston resident, Steve and his wife, Betsy, have raised four wonderful children together, none of whom intend to enter the legal profession.

Mark Smith

Mark has practiced law for more than 40 years having earned his law degree in 1976 from IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law.  He is a member of the Chicago and Illinois State Bar Associations. Mark brings a broad range of civil practice experience to the firm having tried numerous jury and bench trials in both the state and federal courts and has a million dollar plus jury verdict to his credit.

Although adept as a litigator, Mark is also a trained Mediator, a Supreme Court approved Arbitrator, a former member of the ISBA’s alternative dispute resolution ("ADR") and judicial evaluation committee which is charged with vetting applicants interested in becoming a judge or seeking retention as a judge. 

Mark believes that a good lawyer should always be prepared to try your case and always be ready to discuss settlement.  For the past twenty years, Mark has concentrated his practice in Family Law and related areas.

Mark was able to navigate me through a chaotic and challenging divorce process with professionalism and compassion. He supported dignity and respect throughout the process and supported me not only as a client but as an individual.
— L.P. (Divorce Client)

Service and Affiliations

Over the years Mark has devoted service to charitable, youth, political, and community service organizations.  Mark has served as an officer and Board member to The Lilac Tree, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which provides information and resources to women in the process of divorce.  He is the Board Chair of the Lilac Tree and began serving his two year term in 2016. Mark is also a board member of the Evanston Community Tennis Association, and a past Director of the organization’s annual Fourth of July Tennis Tournament.

With his wife Holly, Mark lives in Evanston. His son Aaron is practicing law in Seattle and daughter Jenna is a teacher in Skokie.  Both are testing their wings in related endeavors.