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Office of Chief Counsel

Michael Prater - Chief Counsel

Michael Prater was named chief counsel in 2024 after nearly two decades in the Office of Chief Counsel, first serving as an attorney before being named deputy chief counsel and then acting chief counsel. He brings a wealth of experience in handling myriad legal issues, including litigation, Highway Code interpretation and administration, and personnel, outdoor advertising, fiscal, procurement and legislative issues. Prior to working at IDOT, Prater worked as a litigator in Illinois and Missouri trial and appellate courts for firms in Belleville and Edwardsville, handling cases including workers’ compensation and employment law. Prater has a bachelor’s in English from the University of Missouri St. Louis as well as a Juris Doctorate from Southern Illinois University.

Office of Chief Counsel

The Office of Chief Counsel is responsible for providing legal counsel to the Department on both policy issues and proposed actions affecting any of its operating division or staff offices.  The Office is also responsible for the prosecution of all departmental litigation in cooperation with the Attorney General.  The Office of Chief Counsel administers tort liability claims, property damage claims and uncollectible receivables.  It also processes lien and bond claims against contractors.  In addition, the Office coordinates the purchase and service of all insurance policies and administers the Department’s self-insurance program.

  • The Bureau of Legal Services advises other divisions and offices within the agency concerning all legal matters and represents the Department in legally related matters with the Governor’s Office, other state agencies, federal and local governmental offices and the general public. Legal Services reviews the legal aspects of the Department’s legislative program; reviews new federal and state legislation, court decisions and Attorney General’s opinions for the legal aspects of their effect on departmental operations; and drafts and negotiates contracts with outside entities.  In conjunction with the Attorney General, Legal Services directs the Department’s position and strategy in all major judicial and administrative proceedings.
  • The Bureau of Claims represents the Department in the areas of property claims, third party torts, uncollected accounts receivable, claims against contractor performance and payment bonds and liens against public funds, including the processing and pretrial preparation of actions filed against the Department in the Court of Claims. The Bureau is responsible for the administration of risk management for the Department including coordinating insurance purchases, managing self-insurance programs and approving indemnity or hold harmless agreements in various contracts.