The Success Story of John Nicolay '90
"My MacMurray education enabled me to think critically, read with comprehension, write cohesively, and speak clearly. These are critical job skills and areas where a liberal education became an advantage and MacMurray was my ace in the hole. Whether you are a nursing major, a criminal justice major, a business major or a history major, the fact that you can read, write and speak about a wide variety of issues may make the difference in your first job interview. Employers know that if you have been educated, rather than trained, in college, they have a fantastic canvas on which to paint. An education at MacMurray promotes qualities of leadership, and leaders tend to hire and promote leaders. This has been pivotal to my success."
Attorney John D. Nicolay was a senior representative of the class of 1990, speaking at graduation before he received a bachelor of science degree in history and political science. He then attended DePaul University College of Law, from which he obtained his juris doctor degree. He is admitted to practice in the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois.
After law school, Nicolay joined the Cook County States Attorney’s Office as an assistant state’s attorney, prosecuting in various divisions and serving as legislative liaison for the office with the Illinois General Assembly. He then served as general counsel to the Illinois Senate President, and staffed the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee. Nicolay had previously served as a legislative aide to then-Senator Frank Watson and as a special assistant to Governor James R. Thompson. Following his service on the Senate staff, he practiced law with fellow MacMurray alum Anthony Licata ’76 at Shefsky & Froelich Ltd. in Chicago. Nicolay then rejoined his mentor Governor Thompson at Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, where he directed state governmental representation for seven years, earning a partnership in 2003. He currently practices law as partner of the firm Nicolay & Dart LLC in Chicago, concentrating in legislative lobbying and administrative law.
In January 2008, Nicolay was named as a “Rising Star” in the Illinois Super Lawyers edition of Chicago Magazine, nominated by fellow members of the Illinois Bar. He also co-authored Effective Dates of Illinois Legislation in the Handbook of Illinois Administrative Law (Illinois State Bar Association, 2001).
In December 2009, Nicolay was named Speaker of the Illinois Third House, a professional organization representing over 2000 Illinois governmental affairs practitioners.
Nicolay serves as vice-chair of the MacMurray College Board of Trustees, and as a board member and past president of The Advocacy Group, an international governmental affairs organization. He is vice-chairman of the Illinois Executive Mansion Association and serves on the Advisory Board of Misericordia/Heart of Mercy Home in Chicago. He previously served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce and also served on the Board of Directors of Intermountain Corporate Affairs Company.