Overview

Mr. Godfrey, a litigation partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP for over thirty-five years, has been described as “an exceptional trial lawyer” and “stellar example of outside counsel,” having an “extraordinary, encyclopedic knowledge of the law,” “who relishes the challenge and can be counted on to deliver a first-rate product every time.” (Chambers 2017, 2006, 2008, 2011) “The classy stalwart of Kirkland’s powerful litigation team has excelled at representing corporations at the trial and appellate level in all types of complex cases,” (Lawdragon 500 Hall of Fame, 2017), including in some of the nation’s largest, most high-profile litigation matters, such as his representation of General Motors in the Ignition Switch Vehicle Recall Litigation (MDL 2543) and BP in the Deepwater Horizon litigation (MDL 2179).

Mr. Godfrey also routinely advises senior management and corporate Boards regarding litigation risks and strategy. His “undeniably wide-ranging practice” (Chambers 2006) includes defending against class actions and individual suits involving mass torts, antitrust and trade regulation, contracts, consumer fraud, fraud and false advertising, discrimination and employment discrimination, ERISA, environmental, franchise and distribution, insurance, products liability, trade secrets, tax and others. As was reported in Chambers’ 2020 review: Mr. Godfrey “is highly strategic and has vast experience;” “[t]here’s nothing he hasn’t seen–he’s an avid litigator.”

Mr. Godfrey served as a litigation member of Kirkland’s Global Management Executive Committee from 1999 through 2015, having reached his maximum term limit. In addition to his practice, Mr. Godfrey is a Trustee of various cultural and educational institutions, including Boston University, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Augustana College, The Newberry Library and The American Air Museum in Britain, among others. Mr. Godfrey also serves as Chancellor for The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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Thought Leadership

Seminars & Publications

Duke Law: Future of Multidistrict Litigation Conference, May 2-3, 2013: Panel 3: Selection of Counsel (held at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, outside of DC)

Duke Law: Class-Action Settlement Conference, July 23-24, 2015: Panel 5: Class-Action Objectors (held at the Crystal City Marriott Hotel, outside of DC)

The Public Interest Law Project, Lewis and Clark Law School, February 16, 2016: Panel 2: Defending High Profile Class Actions (held in Portland, Oregon)

“Women Lawyers in the Courtroom” Symposium, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, April 21, 2016: Panel: Getting Real World Trial Experience: Tips From Experienced Trial Lawyers

Seventh Circuit Bar Association Annual Meeting, May 2, 2017: Panel Participant: “Class Action Settlements and Fairness”

Baylor Law School L.L.M. in Litigation Management, November 13, 2019, “Considerations of Strategy & Tactics in Multi-Forum Litigation”

Baylor Law Executive L.L.M. National Advisory Panel, January 29, 2021

Co-author, with Catherine L. Fitzpatrick and R. Chris Heck of a chapter in Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts Third Edition, (Robert L. Haig ed.) (Thomson/West 2011); also co-author with Catherine L. Fitzpatrick and R. Chris Heck of the same chapter in the Fourth Edition, which is currently under pre-publication review

Recognition

The AmLaw Litigation Daily

  • Litigator of the Week (April 3, 2020)
  • Litigator of the Week (January 28, 2016)

Chambers USA (2003–2021)

  • Band 1, Litigation: General Commercial: Illinois (2011–2021)
  • Band 1, Product Liability: Consumer Class Actions: Nationwide (2021)

Benchmark Litigation

  • National: General Commercial (2008–2021)
  • Illinois (2008–2021)

The Best Lawyers in America, U.S. News and World Report, Best Lawyers®

  • Lawyer of the Year, Litigation - Antitrust in Chicago (2022)
  • Litigation: Antitrust (2011–2022)
  • Bet-the-Company Litigation (2015–2022)
  • Commercial Litigation (2006, 2010–2022)
  • Product Liability Litigation - Defendants (2022)
  • Litigation: Environmental (2011)
  • Litigation: Labor & Employment (2011)

The BTI Client Service “All Stars” Survey (2006, 2013, 2014)

Lawdragon Hall of Fame (2017)

  • The Power Brokers

Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America (2008–2009, 2014–2016)

Lawdragon Guide to World-Class Lawyers (2005–2007 and 2010–2013)

Legal 500 U.S.

  • Hall of Fame: General Commercial Disputes (2020–2021)
  • Hall of Fame: Industry Focus: Energy Litigation: Oil and Gas (2020–2021)
  • Hall of Fame: Industry Focus: Energy Litigation: Conventional Power (2020)
  • Named to “Inaugural Hall of Fame” for Energy: Litigation (2017)
  • Listed as a “Leading Lawyer” in the areas of General Commercial Disputes (2015–2019) and Energy Litigation: Oil and Gas (2011–2019)
  • Industry Focus: Energy Litigation: Oil and Gas (2010–2021)
  • Industry Focus: Environment: Litigation (2011–2012, 2016–2019)
  • General Commercial Disputes (2015–2021)
  • Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Toxic Tort - Defense (2012–2017, 2020–2021)
  • Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Automotive/Transport (2018–2020)
  • Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Consumer Products (2017–2020)
  • Industry Focus: Transport (2017)
  • Supreme Court and Appellate (2011)
  • Antitrust (2010)

Leading Lawyers (2003–2017)

  • Civil Appellate Law
  • Commercial Litigation

Who’s Who Legal: Illinois (2006, 2008)

Illinois Super Lawyers (2005–2018)

  • Business Litigation
  • Appellate

Marquis, “Who’s Who in American Law” (2018)

Marquis Who’s Who, Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award (2017–2018)

Irish Legal 100 (2018–2020)

Martindale-Hubbell (2000–2022)

  • Commercial Litigation, AV Preeminent 5/5 Rating

PLC Which Lawyer? (2011–2012)

  • Illinois: Dispute Resolution

Pillars of Justice Award, Appleseed Foundation (2013)

10 for Ten: Ten Attorneys Who Raised the Bar Over the Last Decade, Law Bulletin Publishing Company (2010)

Member, Warren E. Burger Society, National Center for State Courts (Williamsburg, VA) (Inducted 2008)

Law360 Distinctions

  • Product Liability MVP (November 30, 2018 and again on October 28, 2020)
  • Law360: “Trial Pros: Kirkland & Ellis’ Richard Godfrey” (February 25, 2016)
  • Law360 Practice Group of the Year — Class Action (2011, 2012, 2014)
  • Mr. Godfrey’s inclusion in the 2013 BTI Client Service “All Stars” Survey was highlighted in “GCs Name Cream of the Crop Litigators,” Law360, February 15, 2013.
  • Mr. Godfrey was recognized for his “…responsiveness, his analytical mind, and his ability to think quickly on his feet” in “5 Insights From ADM General Counsel Cameron Findlay,” Law360, May 6, 2014.
  • Mr. Godfrey’s representation of BP in the Deepwater Horizon case was highlighted in “Product Liability Cases to Watch in 2012,” Law360, January 1, 2012.

Press Mentions

Excerpt from the May 1, 2015, Bloomberg BNA publication, “Archer Daniels Midland GC: Be Responsive, Keep the Steak,”

"Q. [To Cameron Findlay] With your background you’ve had the chance to be around some very talented people. Who is someone you looked up to?

A.…on the litigation and investigation side, there’s a guy named Rick Godfrey at Kirkland. I got to see him in action during our Spitzer matter. He is just 100 percent client responsive, brilliant, hard-working, and always precise and to the point in terms of his advice."

Excerpt from the May 6, 2014, Law360 publication, “5 Insights From Archer Daniels Midland GC Cameron Findlay,”

"Q. Outside your own company, name an attorney who has impressed you and tell us why.

A. …We were given a very short deadline to seek guidance on this question [relating to the possible interaction between a proposed settlement and a pending class action litigation being handled by Kirkland], and so over the lunch break we managed to reach Rick Godfrey of Kirkland, who might have been distracted because he was himself on a lunch break from a multi-week trial for a different client. Without any opportunity to prepare, Rick calmly set forth a proposed solution to our complicated legal problem. The solution satisfied both Aon’s needs and the AG’s needs, and we were able to wrap up the settlement very quickly after that. I have always been impressed by Rick’s responsiveness, his analytical mind, and his ability to think quickly on his feet."

  • Named to “Inaugural Hall of Fame” for Energy: Litigation (2017)

Memberships & Affiliations

Trustee, Augustana College (Rock Island, IL: 1996–2003, 2005–2012, 2015–current)

Trustee, Boston University; also Member, Dean's Advisory Board, Boston University School of Law

Life Trustee, Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Trustee, The Newberry Library

Chancellor, The Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church

Member, Board of Directors, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

Member of The Commercial Club of Chicago; former Member of the Civic Committee (2007–2021)

Member of the American, Illinois, Chicago, 5th and 7th Circuit Bar Associations; Member, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation

Fellow, The American Bar Foundation

Member, The National Association of Distinguished Counsel

Member, Chicago Inn of Court

Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America

Trustee, The American Air Museum in Britain

Member, Baylor Law Executive L.L.M. National Advisory Panel

Former Member, Board of Governors, The Mid-America Club (IL)

Former Member, Board of Directors, The Churchill Centre; formerly a Trustee, American Friends of the Churchill Museum (War Cabinet Rooms, London)

Former Member, Board of Directors, The Appleseed Foundation (Washington, D.C.)

Former Member, Board of Directors, National Center for State Courts (2009–2015); also current Member and former Co-Chair, Lawyer’s Committee, National Center for State Courts (Williamsburg, VA)

Former Member, Kirkland Global Management Executive Committee (1999–2015)

Credentials

Admissions & Qualifications

  • Illinois

Courts

  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • United States Court of Federal Claims
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  • United States Tax Court

Education

  • Boston University School of LawJ.D.magna cum laude

    Note & Case Editor, Law Review

    1998 — "Silver Shingle Alumni Award" for "Distinguished Service to the Law School"

    2006–2008 — Annual Fund Chairman for the Law School

  • Augustana CollegeB.A.magna cum laude
    Phi Beta Kappa