Sara Hess is counsel in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office and a member of the Banking & Finance practice. She practices in the areas of infrastructure development, public law and public finance, representing clients in a variety of transactional, legislative and regulatory matters.

Sara advises public and private sector owners, bidders, developers and contractors in connection with complex government transactions and construction projects, particularly with respect to public-private partnerships (P3s) and alternative project delivery methods in the infrastructure sector. She has extensive experience negotiating and preparing concession agreements, EPC contracts, design and construction agreements, consulting contracts and project management agreements. Sara also advises project owners with respect to procurement laws, policies and practices.

In addition to her transactional work, Sara counsels governmental and private clients on a wide array of state and local government matters, including in the areas of election and campaign finance law, legislative drafting and statutory interpretation, and government relations and ethics. She represents candidates for office and political action committees in forming political committees and complying with federal, state and local campaign finance and disclosure rules. Sara also represents not-for-profit organizations on corporate formation, governance, tax exemption and regulatory compliance issues.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Sara administered federal research grants for the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining Mayer Brown in 2010, Sara worked in the Office of the General Counsel to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Spoken Languages

  • English


  • Advising the Illinois Department of Transportation on the development and procurement of various projects using public-private partnership (P3) delivery methods. Projects include the proposed I-55 Managed Lane Project and the Illinois portion of the Illiana Corridor highway project.
  • Advising the Texas Department of Transportation on the SH 288 Toll Lanes Project, a design-build-finance-operate-maintain toll concession P3 project in the Houston metropolitan area. The project, valued at over $815 million, is being financed by the private developer with a federal TIFIA loan, private activity bonds and equity contributions, and is the first US toll lane or managed lane project for which the procuring authority received a concession payment.
  • Counsel to the Texas Department of Transportation in the procurement, negotiation and contract administration of design-build and capital maintenance agreements for various other highway construction projects, including the design-build agreement for the $798 million Horseshoe Project through the heart of downtown Dallas.
  • Counsel to the Chicago Transit Authority on the development of the Red-Purple Modernization Project to rebuild the northern portions of the Red Line and Purple Line, including advice with respect to P3 and other delivery methods, as well as drafting legislation authorizing “transit TIF” value capture financing.
  • Advises various large, multi-office corporations on design, design-build and construction contracts, developing template contract forms and representing clients in project-specific contract negotiations.
  • Counsel to the lenders for the winning bidder on the Indianapolis Consolidated Justice Facility project, a proposed design-build-finance-operate-maintain social infrastructure P3 project, and for a short-listed bidder on the Pennsylvania Rapid Bridge Replacement Project, a design-build-finance-maintain transportation infrastructure P3 project.
  • Advised Crestwood in EPC negotiations to bid for the construction of a gas pipeline in Texas.
  • Advised a Japanese company in its EPC negotiations to build a gas pipeline in Mexico for a Mexican utility.
  • Advised various private financial institutions regarding late vendor payments by Illinois State agencies and the Illinois Vendor Payment Program operated by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), including negotiating with CMS to obtain client's designation as a qualified purchaser under the program.


The University of Michigan Law School, JD, cum laude
Articles Coordinator, Michigan Journal of Gender & Law

Carleton College, BA, magna cum laude
Phi Beta Kappa


  • Illinois