mcooney@zrfmlaw.com

PRACTICE AREAS:

  • Divorce & Family Law
  • Estate Trust & Tax
  • Land Use
  • EDUCATION:

    University of Illinois (J.D. 1991)
    Kent State University (M.A., 1987; B.G.S., 1985)

    ADMISSIONS:

    Illinois, 1991
    U.S. District Court, N.D. of Illinois, 1991

    FOLLOW:

    Melissa J. Cooney

    Melissa J. Cooney practices primarily in the areas of estate planning and family law. Cooney’s family law practice involves such matters as:

    • marriage dissolution
    • paternity-related issues
    • adoption cases
    • prenuptial agreements that segregate assets

    Cooney’s practice in estates and trusts includes:

    • counseling clients on estate planning
    • drafting and counseling clients on wills and trusts
    • counseling clients on powers of attorney
    • counseling clients on guardianship issues
    • representing clients in probate proceedings
    • acting as an attorney for estates
    • acting as a guardian ad litem for minors and disabled adults
    • acting as an attorney for estate claimants

    Her love of nature drew Cooney to the field of conservancy, including conservation easements. She represents The Land Conservancy of McHenry County and has provided legal assistance to the Barrington Area Conservation Trust. Cooney also represents the McHenry County Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public foundation established in 2001. She also serves as an arbitrator for the 22nd Judicial Circuit.

    From January 2016 to December 2018, Cooney will serve as an appointed member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Character and Fitness. She is one of six appointees representing the Second District of Illinois, which encompasses most of the state’s far northern counties. The committee determines whether prospective attorneys are suitable to practice law in the state and whether their applications for legal certification present issues related to moral character.

    From 1997 to 2009 Cooney was an adjunct faculty member at McHenry County College, where she has taught several courses on the practice of law, including a class titled “Law for the Legal Secretary.” A longtime resident of Woodstock, she enjoys reading, traveling in Europe and cheering for the Chicago Cubs.

    Cooney began her career at Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle in 1991, following in the footsteps of her late father, the Hon. James Cooney, who joined the firm as special counsel after he retired from the bench.

    HONORS AND AWARDS

    Cooney has been recognized in 2012 by her Illinois peers as a Leading Lawyer in the field of family law. The distinction of being a Leading Lawyer has been earned by fewer than 5 percent of all lawyers licensed to practice in Illinois.  It is the result of a statewide survey of peers and is not a distinction that may be purchased.

    On April 30, 2010, McHenry County Judge Joseph Condon presented Cooney with the Distinguished Service Award from the McHenry County Bar Association. The association presents the honor annually to an attorney in recognition of dedicated service and contributions to the citizens of McHenry County.

    On May 26, 2015, Cooney was honored for her commendable work rendering outstanding pro bono service to clients of Prairie State Legal Services.

    PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

    McHenry County Bar Association (Law Day committee member, 2000-present; president, 1999-2000; former vice president, secretary and treasurer), Illinois State Bar Association

    PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

    • Speaker, “Civil Unions,” PFLAG, May 10, 2011
    • Speaker, “Conservation Easements,” McHenry County Farm Bureau, March 30, 2011; Aug. 19, 2010; July 24, 2009; Aug. 26, 2008
    • Speaker (with Ryan P. Farrell), “Estate Planning,” Hearthstone, Sept. 10, 2009
    • Speaker, “Trusts and Estates,” PFLAG, Sept. 8, 2009
    • Speaker, “Conservation Easements,” McHenry County Farm Bureau, July 24, 2009
    • Speaker, “Trusts and Estates,” Centegra, March 19, 2009
    • Speaker, “Trusts and Estates,” Sun City, March 18, 2009

    CIVIC AND CHARITABLE

    Cooney is a former president of the Woodstock Professional & Business Women, a board member and vice chairman of Hearthstone Communities, and the president of the Victorian Village Condo Association. She is a board member and vice chairman for the Family Health Partnership Clinic, which provides health care to underinsured and uninsured patients.

    PRO BONO

    Cooney drafts and reviews conservation easements for lands donated by private landowners, developers and others wishing to leave a legacy of open space. She has provided pro bono legal services for disabled children and to individuals referred by Prairie State Legal Services and Turning Point.