Joseph E. Tilson is co-chair of the firm's Labor & Employment department and a member of the management committee and board of directors. Joe represents employers in large-scale employment litigation and labor arbitrations. In the past 35 years, he has tried more than 150 jury and non-jury cases before the full range of courts, administrative agencies, and labor arbitrators. His clients include a number of the country’s largest public and private employers, and Illinois’ most prestigious universities, whom he represents in both traditional labor law matters and employment litigation. Joe is nationally known for his knowledge and success in handling large wage and hour class action cases, but he also has vast experience in collective bargaining involving large and complex bargaining units.
In his role as co-chair of the firm's Labor & Employment department, Joe has been instrumental in the growth of the practice, which has more than doubled in size to more than 80 attorneys since 2015.
Joe has been recognized as one of the top labor and employment lawyers in Chicago. He was named the 2018 Chicago Employment Law “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers for the fourth time in the last eight years; he also twice received Lexology's Illinois' Client Choice Award for outstanding client service; he has been named one of the Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys by Human Resource Executive and Lawdragon each year since 2010; and he has consistently achieved a Band 1 Labor and Employment ranking from Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.
Joe is a frequent lecturer, author, and bar association leader. He regularly speaks on labor and employment issues for the American Bar Association, Practicing Law Institute, Northwestern University's Corporate Council Institute, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and many other educational institutions and associations. Joe is a fellow of the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers and is the former chair of the American Bar Association’s Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee. He is the immediate past-chair of the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section, one of the largest sections of the ABA with over 12,000 members. He continues to serve on the ABA's council, the governing body of the ABA's Labor and Employment Section. Joe also serves as vice-chair on the Board of Managers of the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.
Prior to entering private practice, Joe served as law clerk for the Honorable Stephanie K. Seymour, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
Joe earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1976 and his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Michigan School of Law in 1979.
December 03, 2019
Anna Wermuth and Joe Tilson led the ABA Student Trial Advocacy Competition Midwest Regionals in Chicago, Illinois.
November 21, 2019
Joe Tilson will be honored on December 12 with a Distinguished Service Award from the Chicago Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.
August 28, 2019
Best Lawyers selected 138 Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 21 of the firm’s national offices for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.
August 20, 2019
Joe Tilson shared his experience as Chair of the ABA Labor and Employment section with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
June 07, 2019
Four members of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department have been named to the 2019 LawDragon/Human Resource Executive (HRE) magazine’s top Labor & Employment lists.
May 21, 2019
The Leading Lawyers Network has named 17 Cozen O’Connor lawyers to its annual list of Illinois’ top practitioners - including one Emerging Lawyer - in its 2019 survey results.
April 25, 2019
Chambers USA, the leading annual guide to the top lawyers and law firms in the USA, has ranked 57 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields in the Guide’s 2019 edition.
April 12, 2019
Chambers Global has recognized three Cozen O’ Connor attorneys, Susan Eisenberg (Miami – Labor & Employment), Geoffrey Ferrer (New York – Transportation & Trade), and Joseph Tilson (Chicago – Labor & Employment), as worldwide leaders in their respective practices.
January 28, 2019
Benchmark Litigation has named six attorneys from Cozen O'Connor’s Labor & Employment department as Labor & Employment Stars for their respective regions.
January 24, 2019
Super Lawyers has named seven attorneys at Cozen O’Connor to its 2019 lists of top practitioners in Illinois.
November 05, 2018
Chambers Global has recognized Cozen O’ Connor attorneys Joseph Tilson and Susan Eisenberg as two worldwide leaders in labor and employment law. Both Tilson and Eisenberg are also ranked in the Chambers USA Guide.
September 13, 2018
Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor and Employment department, was profiled by The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in an article titled "New ABA section chair wants even more diversity in ranks."
August 22, 2018
One hundred twenty-six Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 20 of the firm’s national offices have been selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.
August 09, 2018
Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, was profiled by Law360 in an article entitled “New ABA Labor Chief Looks to Navigate Changing Landscape.”
August 04, 2018
Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discussed with Bloomberg Law his plans to increase diversity and inclusion as the new chair of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section.
June 16, 2018
Four members of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment Department have been named to the 2018 Lawdragon/Human Resource Executive (HRE) magazine’s top Labor & Employment lists.
April 10, 2018
Joe Tilson, Tom Giotto, and Alex Barbour of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, were quoted in the April issue of Chicago Lawyer Magazine discussing the rewards and challenges of working with team members in cities across the nation.
January 26, 2018
Super Lawyers has recognized 12 Cozen O'Connor attorneys to its 2018 lists of top practitioners in Illinois, including Joe Tilson who was again named one of the "Top 100" Illinois Super Lawyers.
November 29, 2017
Leading Lawyers Network has recognized 22 Cozen O'Connor attorneys as top Illinois practitioners, including 19 "Leading Lawyers" and 3 "Emerging Lawyers" for its 2017 survey results publication.
November 14, 2017
Joe Tilson, Alex Barbour, and Jon Cavalier of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, won a significant decision on behalf of Columbia College in Chicago, vacating an arbitrator's award.
September 29, 2017
Cozen O’Connor is proud to announce that six of the firm’s lawyers have been recognized as “Lawyers of the Year” in their respective practices by Best Lawyers in America,
one of the oldest and most highly regarded peer review publications in the legal profession.
September 25, 2017
Joe Tilson and Tom Giotto, Co-Chairs of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, were featured in Bloomberg Law Big Law Business discussing the firm's aggressive growth of the department.
August 23, 2017
Lawyers were selected for inclusion in the 2018 edition based on a rigorous peer-review that has been developed and defined for more than 30 years.
August 13, 2017
Congratulations to Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor and Employment Department, on his election to Chair-elect of the American Bar Association’s Section on Labor and Employment Law.
August 12, 2017
Joe Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses telecommuting in Crain's Chicago Business.
August 10, 2017
Our Labor & Employment department was featured in an article by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
June 15, 2017
Chambers Global has recognized Cozen O’ Connor attorneys Susan Eisenberg, Paul Dowsey, and Joseph Tilson as three worldwide leaders in their respective practices.
May 26, 2017
Chambers USA recognized 47 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 14 attorneys were recognized nationally and 11 were ranked in the top band.
April 18, 2017
Four members of Cozen O’Connor’s Labor & Employment group have been named to the 2017 LawDragon/Human Resource Executive (HRE) magazine’s top Labor & Employment lists.
April 03, 2017
Joe Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses what's next in labor law in Chicago Lawyer Magazine.
February 23, 2017
Anna Wermuth and Joe Tilson, vice chair and chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discuss their involvement in the higher education industry in this Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article.
February 03, 2017
Super Lawyers represents the top five percent of all practicing lawyers in each state. The publishers of Super Lawyers identify preeminent attorneys based on surveys and interviews with thousands of attorneys, plus consideration of civic service and pro bono activities.
August 16, 2016
Cozen O’Connor is proud to announce that five of the firm’s lawyers have been recognized as “Lawyers of the Year” in their respective practices by The Best Lawyers in America, one of the oldest and most highly regarded peer-review publications in the legal profession.
August 15, 2016
Sixty-two Cozen O’Connor lawyers from 13 of the firm’s national offices have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.
August 01, 2016
Joseph Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment, and Michael Heller, CEO of Cozen O'Connor, discuss the MB&T and Cozen O'Connor merger last summer.
July 19, 2016
Joe Tilson discusses the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act, which will have a significant impact on higher education institutions.
July 01, 2016
The Leading Lawyers Network has named 22 Cozen O’Connor lawyers to its annual list of Illinois’ top practitioners and named 4 others as Emerging Lawyers in its 2016 survey results.
June 16, 2016
For the sixth year in a row, Cozen O’ Connor attorneys Joseph Tilson and A. Martin Wickliff, Jr. have been named to the Lawdragon/Human Resource Executive Magazine list of the nation’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Employment Lawyers.”
June 09, 2016
Joseph Tilson and Susan Eisenberg recognized as worldwide leaders in labor and employment law, Paul Dowsey recognized as a leader in insurance.
June 02, 2016
Joe Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department and chair-elect of the Wage and Hour Defense Institute, discusses downstream issues associated with the May 18 release of the Department of Labor's (DOL) Overtime Rule in the Daily Labor Report.
May 27, 2016
Chambers USA recognized 41 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 12 attorneys were recognized nationally and 11 were ranked in the top band.
February 17, 2016
Joseph Tilson and Kyle Vos Strache were named Client Choice 2016 winners.The Client Choice survey was conducted by International Law Office and Lexology.
February 03, 2016
Super Lawyers has named 15 attorneys at Cozen O’Connor to its 2016 lists of top practitioners in Illinois.
February 02, 2016
Joe Tilson, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses common mistakes in client pitches on Law360.
October 07, 2015
With more than 400 members, the Chicago chapter of FBA offers a wide variety of programs and opportunities for judges and attorneys engaged in federal practice. The mission of the Association is to strengthen the federal legal system and administration of justice by serving the interest and needs of the federal practitioner, both public and private, the federal judiciary, and the public they serve.
August 25, 2015
Joe Tilson discusses the merger of MBT and Cozen O’Connor and explains the Northwestern ruling from his vantage point, offering a vision of how a unionized Wildcats team could have spelled chaos for college athletics.
August 18, 2015
Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment attorneys were successful in thwarting the Northwestern University’s Football Team’s attempt to unionize, when the NLRB declined to assert jurisdiction.
August 17, 2015
Joseph Tilson discusses the meaningfulness of being an employment attorney and the ability for young attorneys to get involved.
August 17, 2015
The current edition is based on more than five million detailed evaluations by the top lawyers of the country. This list will be included in dozens of city and regional publications in the United States including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
August 04, 2015
Joseph Tilson discusses the growing trend of the National Labor Relations Board causing employers to revise their employee handbooks for the digital age as people talk about their workplaces on social media platforms.
August 01, 2015
Tilson’s new position was announced today at the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago, and is effective immediately.
July 07, 2015
Cozen O’Connor attorneys Mark J. Foley, Joseph E. Tilson and A. Martin Wickliff, Jr. have been recognized among Human Resource Executive magazine’s 8th annual edition of “The Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys – Top 100.”
July 06, 2015
Chambers USA recognized 37 Cozen O’Connor lawyers as leaders in their respective fields; 12 attorneys were recognized nationally and 10 were ranked in the top band.
June 02, 2015
Cozen O’Connor and Chicago-based Meckler Bulger Tilson (MBT) are pleased to announce that, effective June 1, 2015, 58 attorneys formerly of MBT have joined Cozen O’Connor.
August 28, 2017
Joseph E. Tilson and Anna Wermuth discuss why Governor Rauner’s veto is good news for Illinois employers.
February 07, 2017
Joseph Tilson and Anna Wermuth discuss the NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin's announced that scholarship football players at Division I FBS private colleges and universities are employees entitled to protection under the National Labor Relations Act.
December 08, 2016
Joseph Tilson, Anna Wermuth, and Jeremy Glenn discuss a recent decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that student athletes are not employees of the college or university they attend and therefore are not entitled to a minimum wage or overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
August 24, 2016
Joseph E. Tilson and Anna Wermuth discuss the NLRB decision yesterday that student teaching and research assistants at private colleges and universities are statutory employees who can unionize under the National Labor Relations Act.
January 06, 2016
The 2015/2016 Labor and Employment Observer looks back at significant developments in labor and employment law over the past year and forward to what employers can expect in 2016.
Events & Seminars
June 06, 2018 - Minneapolis, MN
October 20, 2017 - Dana Point, CA
October 05, 2017 - Chicago, IL
October 03, 2017 - New York, NY
June 14, 2017 - Philadelphia, PA
March 23, 2017 - Fort Lauderdale, FL
September 26, 2016 - San Francisco, CA
April 21, 2016 - Fort Lauderdale, FL
April 15, 2016 - New York, NY
June 28, 2015 - Washington, D.C.