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In the Spotlight with Tanner W. Long

Tanner Long
Tanner Long

We’re excited to welcome Tanner W. Long to the WilliamsMcCarthy family. Tanner has returned to the Rockford region after practicing law in New York. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Tanner to our clients, partners, and community by featuring him in this edition of “In the Spotlight.”

When did you decide you wanted to become a lawyer?

The first time I recall thinking that I wanted to practice law was in high school when my sister went to college and shared she wanted to be a lawyer – I think I was a freshman at that point. Up until then, I was drawn to a career in the medical profession thanks in part to a love of the show “House.” However, given that my natural abilities were not in the hard sciences, I thought medical malpractice would be a way to blend those two careers. While that’s not the path I took for my practice, that’s where it started for me.

Have there been any moments in your career so far of which you’re particularly proud?

Yes, as a matter of fact one occurred fairly recently. We know that communities around the nation have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Practicing law in New York City, I saw many of the pandemic’s negative impacts firsthand. Among the issues being faced by communities are those related to the processes for and demands of distributing public benefits. I was contacted by a local nonprofit that advocates for the rights of survivors of domestic violence. They expressed a need for an official response regarding a waiver of some of the requirements for receiving public benefits for these individuals during the pandemic. I drafted a letter to the public health department of New York outlining the need, and I’m proud to share that the initiative passed just recently. I’d like to think I helped play a role in addressing a pressing community need and response.

Having most recently practiced in New York, what made you decide to move back to the Midwest and Rockford in particular?

I’m originally from Rockford and it felt like the right time to come back. I graduated from Rockford Lutheran before earning my undergraduate degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and attending law school at the University of Illinois College of Law. I was originally a summer associate with a national firm in Chicago, but when my fiancé decided she wanted to go to grad school in New York City, I was able to practice at their New York office so we could move there together. However, New York is a tricky place to live, and we both wanted to move back home, be closer to family, and enjoy buying a house with a yard – something our dog particularly loves.

What attracted you to WilliamsMcCarthy LLP?

Being from the area, once I decided to become a lawyer, I started to build a local network. When I served as a summer intern at the 17th Circuit Court, I had the opportunity to see the WilliamsMcCarthy attorneys on a regular basis. They were all very talented and well-respected by the judge. When I returned home, WilliamsMcCarthy was my first choice.

How does an associate benefit from working at WilliamsMcCarthy in your experience so far?

I wanted to work at a firm large enough to benefit from the depth of talent and mentorship available, but not so large as to have silos into which you can inadvertently pigeonhole yourself and limit your practice. As an associate here, I appreciate that I can do both litigation and corporate work.  I’ve been constantly busy in the short time I’ve been here. I’ve gotten the opportunity to work on a wide range of matters with the partners, which have provided valuable learning opportunities.

Are there any areas of focus or projects on which you’re excited to be working?

I’m enjoying the variety of matters on which I’m working, but in general, the area of intellectual property (IP) is fascinating to me, as is labor and employment law. As an economics major in college, entrepreneurial and emerging businesses are so interesting, and some of the biggest challenges they face during their growth and commercialization revolve around IP and employment law. I’m also an avid “gamer” – I love and play video games. As a rapidly growing industry, it faces the same IP and employment law challenges, and I would be thrilled to develop a practice in gaming law.

When you’re not at work, how do you enjoy spending your time?

I’m a gamer at heart, so I love computer gaming. I enjoy all sports, but especially Formula One racing, professional soccer, and baseball. I’m also an avid runner. I’ve completed five marathons and qualified for the Boston Marathon, which was sadly cancelled this year, so if I’m training for a marathon, there’s not much time for anything else.

Having left and now returned home, what are your favorite things about our region?

I have an appreciation for being able to own a home with a yard! It’s a great place to settle down and raise a family. I also appreciate Rockford’s location. You get the perks of a mid-sized city – we’ve got restaurants, great local breweries, and amazing access to nature with our parks and recreation trails. We’re close to Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee for big-city amenities, too. This region checks a lot of boxes. We’re excited for what the future holds.

Tanner Long focuses his practice on employment and labor law, intellectual property law, and commercial litigation. He can be reached at 815-987-8956 or