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, Baxter, AbbVie and IBM.
Christa has served as trial counsel in a number of high-profile cases. She was recently named “Litigator of the Week” by The American Lawyer for winning a jury trial in a race discrimination case brought in Chicago (“Kirkland Trial Team That Fought Off … Racial Discrimination Claims”). After a two-week trial, with COVID restrictions in place, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of all eight claims. Christa also successfully tried a discrimination case in what is believed to be one of the longest running civil cases in Ohio state court history. The case was ultimately tried five times: the first trial resulted in a significant verdict for the plaintiff and the final trial, where Christa played a lead role, resulted in a unanimous verdict for the defense. 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.” In a breach of contract and fraud case for IBM, Christa also helped lead the team to victory at trial. IBM turned a $400 million claim against it into a $14 million award for it, which the National Law Journal claimed it would be “an understatement” to call a win. Christa also successfully led the team to a victory in a massive products liability case on behalf of 3M. In what is believed to be the largest MDL in U.S. history, Plaintiff alleged she was injured by 3M's earplug and sought over $1 billion in damages. After a two-week jury trial, Christa led to the team to a complete defense victory and received a Litigator of the Week runner-up acknowledgment for the win.
Christa acts as lead counsel in a number of high-stakes matters with billions of dollars at stake. Currently, Christa represents 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 commercial litigation and antitrust issues, 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 Secretary. 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 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, 2021–2022
Recognized in The Legal 500 United States — Antitrust: Civil Litigation/Class Actions: Defense, 2018, 2020, 2021 & 2022 and Antitrust: Cartel, 2021
Recognized in Benchmark Litigation’s “40 & Under Hot List,” 2020
Memberships & Affiliations
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