Senior Counsel

John J. Gearen

REITs, Fund Formation & Investment Management, Distressed Real Estate

"John Gearen stands out for all commentators as a 'top notch deal-maker.' Regarded as a 'real institutional client lawyer' and 'a first-class lawyer's lawyer,' [he] inspired the description of 'pragmatic, thoughtful and scholarly.'"
Chambers USA


John Gearen is a well-respected transactional and corporate lawyer whose practice is focused on real estate matters. John represents commercial banks, national insurance companies and pension funds engaged in negotiating acquisitions, construction and permanent financing for real estate projects and in workout negotiations. In addition, he advises clients regarding government approvals, financing arrangements and architectural and construction contracts regarding projects to develop hotels, offices, residential apartments and single-family residential complexes. John also represents tenants and landlords in office, commercial and industrial leases.

In the course of his corporate practice, John represents private-fund sponsors and investors and counsels parties involved in limited partnerships, joint ventures and other syndicated entities. In Chambers USA 2015, clients say John is “’nothing short of brilliant’ and he ‘understands real estate finance transactions inside and out.’” Chambers USA also notes that John “stands out for all commentators [peers and clients] as a ‘top notch deal-maker.’ Regarded as a ‘real institutional client lawyer’...‘A first-class lawyer’s lawyer’,’ [he] inspired the description of ‘pragmatic, thoughtful and scholarly.’” More recently, Chambers noted that “peers describe him as ‘incredibly smart. He has a wonderful manner and is tough and forceful without being combative’” (2012) and described him as “‘knowledgeable, capable and sophisticated’...‘terrific, civic-minded individual who is a businessman as well as a lawyer’” (2007). John is listed by Legal 500 USA 2009 as “absolutely first-rate, just superb.” Legal 500 also states that John “is at his best with investor clients, and represents a large number of financial institutions and pension funds.”

John has been with Mayer Brown since 1971. Previously (1970–1971), he served as law clerk to the Honorable Spottswood W. Robinson III, US Court of Appeals, Washington, DC. John is listed in such peer-selected professional directories as World’s Leading Real Estate Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Leading American Attorneys, The International Who’s Who of Real Estate Lawyers, and The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers.


  • Yale Law School, JD
    Managing Editor, Yale Law Journal
  • University of Oxford, MA
    Rhodes Scholar
  • University of Notre Dame, BA, summa cum laude


  • Illinois

Professional & Community Involvement

  • Chairman of the Board, Director, Schmitt Foundation
  • Director, Institute for the International Education of Students
  • Director, LINK, Unlimited
  • American College of Real Estate Lawyers
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Chicago Council of Lawyers