Carmen D. Caruso

Trial Attorney

Carmen Caruso serves as lead trial counsel in high stakes, high profile cases in Illinois and across the U.S.  In over 35 years of practice, Carmen has honed a tough, no nonsense approach enabling Carmen D. Caruso Law Firm to engage in legal combat against many of the world’s largest law firms for clients large and small.

Carmen is one of the best trial lawyers in the dynamic franchise and dealership field. His cases have expanded legal protections for franchisees and dealers against anticompetitive, abusive, and bad faith conduct.  He is one of very few trial lawyers named to the exclusive Franchise Times Legal Eagles Hall of Fame and he is consistently named one of the “Best Lawyers in America” among many other honors.  Franchisees and dealers from coast to coast call Carmen every week and he has represented clients from almost every state and many foreign countries. He is the former general counsel for the  National Owners Association of McDonald’s franchisees, one of the world’s largest franchises.

Carmen thrives in challenging cases confronting serious misconduct. He was victorious in the United States Court of Appeals striking a blow against glass ceiling discrimination against women in c-suites and was part of a New York City trial team that recovered substantial money from Fox News, the late Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly for sexual harassment and retaliation against a female Fox News Reporter. He has fought to expand the protection of minority franchises under federal civil rights laws and to protect underserved communities from racial steering.  He forced a Monsanto subsidiary to clean up its PCB contamination in the Milwaukee River in Wisconsin and forced the U.S. Customs Service to return property wrongfully seized from U.S. citizens traveling abroad. He has recovered millions of dollars for clients and won trials ranging from a recent victory for a terminated equipment dealer to the acquittal of the grandson of a Chicago alderman in a state court murder trial. He has taken on powerful interests including a former Illinois governor.

Carmen is frequently called when clients have reason to question whether other lawyers have been unethical or incompetent.  He represents aggrieved clients or defends other lawyers in legal malpractice cases, fee disputes, sanctions litigation, and in proceedings before the Illinois Attorney Regulation and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC), and he has handled many similar cases in medical fields.

Prior to creating his own firm, Carmen was privileged to be a partner in two of Chicago’s premier firms and he continues to work with leading lawyers in Chicago and across the country.

Carmen holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Marquette University. He also successfully completed the Master Advocates program at the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). Carmen is a member of the American Association for Justice, the American Bar Association, Federal Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar Association. He is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Military Appeals and many other courts.

Professional Recognition

Carmen D. Caruso has received widespread professional recognition for many years, including:

  • Selected by his peers for several years in a row to be included in The Best Lawyers in America for his franchise and dealership litigation practice in Illinois and across the United States.
  • Selected as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA).
  • London-based Chambers and Partners annual Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business named Carmen for Franchising: Mainly Franchisee nationwide since 2016.
  • Named an Illinois Leading Lawyer by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in each year since from 2006 based on the recognition of his peers, and selected to serve on the Advisory Board of the Illinois Leading Lawyers Network in each year.
  • Named an Illinois Super Lawyer by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine and Law & Politics for franchise and dealership and business litigation each year from 2005 to present.
  • Consistently named a Legal Eagle by Franchise Times, a Crain’s publication focused on the franchise industry, in 2001 and 2002 and then consecutively from 2005 to present; and named to the Legal Eagle Hall of Fame in 2015.
  • Received an AV rating by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating available for both legal ability and ethics, each year for over twenty years, and named a member of the prestigious Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers.
  • Recognized in “Who’s Who Legal Illinois,” published by the International Bar Association.

Family & Community

Born and raised in Chicago, Carmen has been married to Ellyn Caruso since 1983, the principal of Caruso Communications LLC/Caruso PR. They have three grown sons and reside in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago.

Bar Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Illinois Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (including Trial Bar) and several other districts.
  • U.S. Court of Military Appeals


  • Loyola University of Chicago School of Law (J.D. 1983)
  • Master Advocates program of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) (1996)
  • Marquette University (B.A. Psychology, cum laude, 1980); Member, Alpha Sigma Nu (National Jesuit Honor Society)
  • Brother Rice High School (Chicago)

Bar Associations

  • American Bar Association (Sections of Litigation, Antitrust and Dispute Resolution; and Forum on Franchising)
  • Federal Bar Association (Sustaining Member)
  • Illinois State Bar Association (President’s Club Member)
  • American Association for Justice


Carmen Caruso has been interviewed, or his cases have been profiled by publications including the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, Crain’s Chicago Business, WBBM-TV Chicago, AP, Forbes, Blue MauMau, Franchise Times and more.

For media inquiries about Carmen’s cases, or about legal topics of interest, please contact:


We stand out from the crowd based on our
dedication to our clients and our ability to get
our cases to trial and to win.

Carmen D. Caruso

I look forward to discussing your case, call me today.

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