Kirk Watkins is an Associate in the Litigation Practice Group.

Kirk concentrates his practice on complex commercial litigation, including corporate and securities litigation, ERISA litigation, post-closing disputes, shareholder and derivative disputes, fiduciary liability matters, and class action defense matters. Kirk has acted as trial and appellate counsel in federal and state courts throughout the country, representing corporations, businesses, directors, and officers in all phases of litigation. Kirk has also successfully mediated and arbitrated cases on behalf of his clients.

In addition to his trial and dispute resolution experience, Kirk has conducted internal corporate investigations and advised clients facing investigations before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other governmental bodies.

Prior to joining Freeborn, Kirk was an Associate in the Chicago office of McDermott Will & Emery LLP in both the Trial and White-Collar & Securities Defense Groups. While in law school, Kirk served as a judicial extern to Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Representative Matters

  • Represented a corporate director and shareholder in a three-month federal court bench trial in a breach of contract and fiduciary duty matter brought by the corporation’s bankruptcy trustee and seeking over $500 million in damages
  • Defended an independent bank trustee of various company pension and “top hat” plans in multiple ERISA class actions, each alleging over $200 million in damages. 
  • Represented an investment advisory firm and associated broker-dealer in an SEC investigation and series of related lawsuits arising from the alleged theft of $15 million by a former associated person.
  • Defended several manufacturing companies in separate class actions brought by former union employees seeking to enjoin the companies from making changes to post-retirement healthcare benefits. 
  • Conducted an internal investigation of a real estate investment company in connection with shareholder derivative demands alleging accounting fraud and conflict-of-interest issues. 
  • Co-Author, "U.S. Supreme Court Will Review the Sixth Circuit's Yard-Man Inference that Retiree Health Insurance Benefits are Vested," Bender's Labor and Employment Bulletin (July 2014).
  • Co-Author, "A Dramatic Change in Multiple Damage Calculations Under the False Claims Act," BNA Federal Contracts Report (June 25, 2013).


J.D., Northwestern University School of Law, cum laude, Executive Articles Editor, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology
B.A., Northwestern University

State Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Federal Bar Admissions

  • United States District Court for the Northern and Central Districts of Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Circuits