Donna Welch is a Kirkland trial lawyer, who has tried complex cases involving a broad range of business and commercial issues before federal and state courts. Her practice includes public nuisance claims, breach of fiduciary duty, pharmaceutical litigation, government investigations, class actions and litigation involving fraud and civil RICO. Donna was recently recognized as an American Lawyer “Litigator of the Week” for achieving a complete defense win in a $50 billion public nuisance suit against opioid manufacturers in a six month trial in Orange County, California. Courtroom View Network named it the “#1 Most Impressive Defense Verdict” of 2021. Donna’s practice also includes plaintiff-side litigation, obtaining the largest civil verdict then recorded in Wisconsin and a Top Ten National Jury Verdict involving breach of fiduciary and RICO claims. Donna also serves as pro bono coordinator for Kirkland’s Chicago office.


Thought Leadership

Press Mentions

“Winning the ‘Credibility Battle’: Kirkland’s Donna Welch on Cross-Examining Expert Witnesses,” The American Lawyer Litigation Daily's, September 8, 2022

“Settlement agreement mandates that Chicago public schools provide interpreting and translation services for IEPs,” MultiLingual, July 2, 2022 

Speaking Engagements 

Panelist, Duke Law School MDL Certificate Program, 2020

Panelist, George Washington University Law School MDL Certificate Program, 2022


Named a “Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation (2024)

Recognized in “500 Leading Litigators” by Lawdragon (2024)

Recognized in “Notable Litigators & Trial Attorneys” by Crain’s Chicago Business (2023)

Recognized by Law360 as a Product Liability MVP (2022)

Recognized in Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Consumer Products (including Tobacco); Product Liability, Mass Torts and Class Actions: Defense: Toxic Tort; and Product Liability, Mass Torts and Class Actions: Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, The Legal 500 U.S. (2022–2023) 

Named as a “Litigator of the Week” by The American Lawyer Litigation Daily (2021) 

Named as one of “Chicago’s Notable Women in Law” by Crain’s Chicago Business (2020)

Memberships & Affiliations

International Association of Defense Counsel

American Bar Association

Illinois State Bar Association

Chicago Bar Association


Admissions & Qualifications

  • 1994Illinois


  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • 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 Seventh Circuit


  • DePaul University College of LawJ.D.1994

    Order of the Coif

    Editor-in-Chief, DePaul Law Review, 1993–1994

  • University of ChicagoB.A., Philosophy1988

Pro Bono & Community Service

Board of Directors, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (2023)

Board of Directors, Just The Beginning (2022–present)

Member, Dean's Advisory Council, DePaul Law School (2022–present)

Recipient of the Edward J. Lewis Pro Bono Service Award from the Chicago Bar Association/Chicago Bar Foundation (2012)

Recipient of The Scott C. Solberg Award for commitment to pro bono service from Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services (2011)

Board of Directors, Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (2006–2010)

Board of Directors, Leadership Greater Chicago Fellows Association (2006–2009)

Fellow, Leadership Greater Chicago (2006)

Board of Directors, Housing Opportunities for Women (1997–2008; Board Chair 1997–2003)