Chuck Wolf, ’75: Loving the Law School Is a Family Matter

Appeared in Record issue: 
Spring 2011

Charles “Chuck” Wolf, ’75, says that he learned important lessons from his parents, who experienced substantial hardships in their younger lives. “They didn’t dwell on the past,” he says. “They lived in the present and looked to the future.”

Wolf’s career and contributions show how well he adopted that wisdom. Focusing on his daily responsibilities as an attorney, he has established himself as a go-to expert in his field; looking to the future, his leadership has affected not only his professional discipline but also his organization, the future of his profession— and the law school he loves.

His practice at Vedder Price, where he has been since he graduated from the Law School, focuses on labor, employment, and employee benefits law and litigation. He has been recognized by National Law Journal as one of America’s top benefits lawyers; he’s perennially listed as an Illinois “Super Lawyer”; and this year, for the fourth year in a row, he was named one of Illinois’s top one hundred attorneys. He also has served Vedder Price in a leadership capacity, as a longtime member of its executive committee.

In addition to having handled many landmark cases in his practice, he’s a senior editor of the BNA (Bureau of National Affairs) book Employee Benefits Law and coauthor of the treatise ERISA Claims and Litigation. He is the current cochair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section, and a former cochair of two important ABA subcommittees.

In honor of his parents, he created the Hilde and Ludwig Wolf Teaching and Research Scholar position at the Law School to help supplement support for younger faculty members. As president of the Walter S. Mander Foundation, he endowed a similar position in memory of Mr. Mander, his late uncle. His parents and uncle all escaped Nazi Germany in the years just before the Holocaust, settling in Hyde Park, where Mr. Wolf and his sister were born. His father and uncle served in the US Army during the Second World War, before beginning careers in the Chicago stockyards. His father’s parents and sister died in a Nazi concentration camp.

The funds that Wolf endowed are helping the Law School secure its future, but he has gone farther to help in that regard by serving two terms on the Visiting Committee, which he currently chairs. He is a very active reunion chair and volunteer.

“I’m glad to give back what I can to the Law School, which prepared me for a wonderfully satisfying career,” he says. “But I also continue to benefit from my involvement. It provides a great opportunity to learn about where our profession is headed and to see important new ideas and viewpoints evolving. I’ve learned a great deal from my interactions with faculty, administrators, and students—I think alumni who don’t stay connected are missing out on something very valuable.”

He can be credited, at least in part, for another contribution that will positively influence the legal profession in the years ahead—his son, Peter, who is now practicing at Drinker Biddle, graduated from the Law School last year.