Christa Cottrell is a trial lawyer in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP who focuses on complex commercial litigation. Her clients include some of the nation’s largest companies, such as 3M, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Abbott Laboratories, CF Industries, Dow Chemical, Kering, Novartis, AbbVie and IBM.
Christa has successfully tried cases to a full verdict for clients such as Abbott, IBM, PwC and 3M. She has been repeatedly recognized by The American Lawyer for her ability to win difficult trials in commercial disputes, products liability and discrimination matters. By way of example, Christa led the team to victory in a trial for 3M in what is believed to be the largest MDL ever filed. In this case, the plaintiff sought $1 billion in damages but the jury found for 3M on all counts. The American Lawyer selected the win flagging that “the plaintiff showed significant hearing loss,” but the Kirkland trial team successfully made the case that 3M was not at fault. The prior year, Christa also led a trial team to victory in a high-profile retaliation and discrimination matter. After a two-week trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict on all eight claims, leading to Christa being named the “Litigator of the Week.”
Likewise, Christa and her team won what is believed to the longest running case in Ohio history: the case was ultimately tried five times. The first case led to a large verdict against the client, considered one of the largest single plaintiff verdicts at the time. Christa and the team took over the case, won on appeal, and on every issue after a two-week jury retrial. The American Lawyer likened the case to “Groundhog Day” given the number of trials but found plaintiff’s persistence was “not working” any longer, as Kirkland “handily dispatched the case.” As far as commercial matters, Christa and the team took a $150 million claim against her client and, after a bench trial, won a counterclaim for $14 million for her client.
Christa acts as lead counsel in a number of high-stakes matters with billions of dollars at stake. Christa represented Sanderson Farms, the third largest chicken producer, in three different class actions, and over 100 individual actions, as well as government investigations. She has represented Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in what is believed to be the largest class action ever filed. And she has won or successfully resolved a number of high-stakes class action matters, including for General Motors, Baxter Pharmaceuticals, to name a few.
As far as other commercial litigation, Christa has won dispositive motions on behalf of IBM, AbbVie and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. She also has favorably resolved a significant number of disputes including, most recently, obtaining a settlement in excess of $100 million on behalf of a Fortune 500 company.
Within the legal community, Christa has presented on a number of topics concerning MDL trends and commercial litigation including Trends in Litigation, Northwestern Law School, E-Discovery Issues, Women in Antitrust, Trends in Antitrust Litigation and Government Investigations & Civil Litigation Institute. She is also involved with a number of Firm committees, including the Kirkland Institute for Trial Advocacy, Recruiting and Mentoring through Kirkland’s Leadership Council. As far as community service, Christa has served on the board of directors of the Center for Conflict Resolution for the past three years where she currently serves as Vice President. Christa has represented numerous pro bono clients, including successfully arguing a full reversal before the Seventh Circuit on behalf of a federal inmate and handling the subsequent trial.
Recognized in “Chicago’s Notable Women in Law” by Crain’s Chicago Business, 2024
Recognized in Lawdragon’s “500 Leading Litigators,” 2024
Recognized as “Elite” by Illinois by Global Competition Review 100, 2022
Recognized as a “Litigator of the Week” by The Am Law Litigation Daily, 2021
Recognized as "Up and Coming" in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business for Antitrust, 2021–2023
Recognized in The Legal 500 United States — Antitrust: Civil Litigation/Class Actions: Defense, 2018, 2020–2023 and Antitrust: Cartel, 2021 & 2023
Recognized in Benchmark Litigation’s “40 & Under Hot List,” 2020
Memberships & Affiliations
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
American Bar Association
Illinois Bar Association
Admissions & Qualifications
- United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- University of Michigan Law SchoolJ.D.2005
Order of the Coif
Associate Editor, Contributing Editor, University of Michigan Law Review
- University of MichiganB.A., English & Political Science2002University Honors