Jim Hurst is a nationally recognized trial lawyer. He’s been trying cases for over 30 years and has argued dozens of appeals including before the United States Supreme Court. 

'Kirkland’s Hurst Wins, and Then He Wins Some More—How Does He Do It?'

Chambers ranks Jim a Band 1 National Trial Lawyer, noting that he’s “one of the country’s most prominent trial lawyers” who is “widely revered as a stellar trial lawyer” with “a rare combination” of an “incredible intellect” and being “able to form a great rapport with the jury,” making him “one of the best trial lawyers in the country.”

The American Lawyer has likewise recognized Jim’s “extraordinarily successful record of winning at trial” by honoring him twice in its biannual “Litigator of the Year” contest. He's one of only two attorneys honored twice in the contest's history—once after “six straight trial wins, all in huge cases” and once “after eight wins in a row.”

In his most recent “Litigator of the Year” recognition in January 2018, The American Lawyer honored Jim as one of eight nationwide finalists, stating that “when James Hurst goes to trial, he wins.” The article highlighted six straight “trial victories in six big cases,” including the successful defense of “Abbott Laboratories in a $1 billion False Claims Act suit” and a “$94 million” win “for AbbVie in a breach of contract suit.”

In its 2012 “Litigator of the Year” contest, The American Lawyer honored Jim based on a feat it called “astounding”— eight straight trial wins during the contest period. It highlighted “a huge win” for a Fortune 100 company in a “history-making” antitrust case where Jim defeated a claim for $1.7 billion in damages and another win concerning a $7 billion transaction. 

As a five-time recipient, Jim has also achieved the highest number of honors as The American Lawyer's “Litigator of the Week”—an achievement shared with only a small handful of others—including most recently for winning a $600 million trade secrets trial (“It’s No Secret That Kirkland Trio Crushed This Case"), an important race discrimination trial for a leading healthcare company (“Kirkland Trial Team That Fought Off … Racial Discrimination Claims”), and an equally significant False Claims Act case (“Kirkland’s Hurst and Kassof Claim Massive Win for Albertsons”).

In 2019, Benchmark named Jim “Trial Lawyer of The Year,” highlighting his wins in “high impact” trials. His clients have included some of the nation’s largest companies, such as Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, Google, Medtronic, Sears, Verizon, AbbVie, Eli Lilly, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Jim and his trial wins are often profiled in the press. For instance, The American Lawyer recently profiled him in an article entitled, “Kirkland’s Hurst Wins, and Then He Wins Some More—How Does He Do It?” and in another entitled, “Sleep is Overrated, Kirkland’s Hurst Wins Second Mega-Trial In Three Weeks.”

Other articles in The American Lawyer have emphasized his trial successes, including, for example, articles entitled “Hurst Keeps Up Trial Winning Streak,” “Trial Ends With Stunning Cross by Hurst,” and 2019 “Trials Group Of The Year: Kirkland & Ellis.” He shared various methods and strategic tips for bench trials based off of his own experience in “How To Win Over Bench Trial Judges Post-COVID.”

Law360 has also profiled Jim in many articles over the years, including recent articles entitled “Trial Ace: Kirkland’s Jim Hurst,” and “Rainmaker Q&A: Kirkland & Ellis’ James Hurst.” Jim has also been honored as a Law360 Trial MVP many times.

Jim’s commitment to providing opportunities to young attorneys was profiled by The Am Law Litigation Daily in an article entitled, “A Key to Training Up New Trial Lawyers: Pass on the Opportunities when You Can.” 

Jim is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an elite honor bestowed only after “rigorous investigation” to the “very best” trial lawyers with “exemplary” “ethics, moral standards, [and] collegiality.”

For his appellate practice, Jim successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court in a patent case (9-0), and has argued dozens of other appeals before federal appellate courts, including the Federal Court, Seventh Circuit, the D.C. Circuit and the Ninth Circuit.

  • Best Lawyers® named Jim the 2023 “Lawyer of the Year” for Intellectual Property.
  • Best Lawyers® has recognized Jim for his work in:
    • Commercial Litigation (2017–2024)
    • Litigation - Intellectual Property (2019–2024)
    • Litigation - Patent (2020–2024)
    • Patent Law (2019–2024)
  • Benchmark Litigation named Jim to its 2021–2023 list of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America.”
  • Lawdragon 500 has named Jim a “Lawdragon Legend” and has also described him as “one of the toughest trial lawyers in the nation.”
  • LMG Life Sciences named Jim “General Patent Litigator of the Year – Midwest” in 2020 and has called him a “brilliant courtroom strategist,” describing him as among the “best in the business,” and one of the “best trial attorneys” some have “ever seen in a courtroom.”
  • Managing Intellectual Property has named Jim an “IP Star” for many years.
  • Law360 has named him an “MVP” many times, including an “Intellectual Property MVP of the Year” who has been “racking up” major victories.
  • Intellectual Asset Management says Jim’s “natural playground is big-ticket, bet-the-company patent litigation,” describing him as a “leading player” nationally.
  • The Legal 500 U.S. says Jim has an “excellent track record” in “high stakes patent cases,” and is “technically and strategically brilliant” with “an enormous depth of experience.”

Northwestern University School of Law has named him the William M. Trumbell Adjunct Professor of Law, an appointment awarded for excellence in teaching. He has taught an appellate advocacy course and has regularly lectured on a variety of other topics, including trial skills.



Admissions & Qualifications

  • 1989Illinois


  • University of Pennsylvania Law SchoolJ.D.cum laude1989
    Member, National Moot Court Team
  • University of DelawareB.S.magna cum laude1986