Matthew O'Hara is a Partner in the Litigation Practice Group and Co-Leader of the Complex Litigation Group.
Matt is a business trial lawyer who concentrates his practice in the litigation and trial of complex commercial matters in federal and state courts and the representation of law firms and lawyers. He has tried cases involving the federal securities laws, antitrust, breach of fiduciary duty, trade secrets, trademark infringement, breach of contract, contract reformation, unjust enrichment, license agreements, executive employment, the Uniform Commercial Code, fraud, and criminal defense. He also litigates cases involving private shareholder and partnership disputes, legal malpractice, fraudulent transfers, defamation, and other commercial matters. He has represented clients in investigative proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He is also experienced in briefing and arguing state and federal appeals. In the legal industry, Matt represents law firms and lawyers in litigation, counseling, and disciplinary defense, and serves as an expert witness in cases involving legal ethics and professional liability.
Prior to joining Freeborn, Matt was a Partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, where he served on the Firm's Executive Committee and as co-chair of the firm's Lawyers Professional Liability practice group.
Matt began his legal career in 1996 at Sachnoff & Weaver, Ltd., which merged with Reed Smith LLP in 2007. He served as a deputy general counsel to Reed Smith, advising the firm on ethical and risk management issues.
- Won jury verdict for steel processor client, proving a two-year contract for the sale of steel when no formal written contract was signed, based on the parties’ writings, conversations, and course of dealings and performance under Article 2 of the UCC, after an 11-day trial. National Material Co. v. GSI Group, L.L.C., Circuit Court of Christian County, Ill., Case No. 10-CH-64 (Sept. 2018). Previously, in the same case, won reversal of summary judgment against client on claims under UCC Article 2 and for unjust enrichment against industrial customer for breach of long-term steel supply contract. National Material Co. v. GSI Group, L.L.C., 2016 IL App (5th) 140542-U (Ill. App. Ct. 5th Dist. 2016).
- Won dismissal with prejudice of a lawsuit by members of a securities brokerage firm organized as an LLC against a National Law Journal 250 law firm seeking $10 million for alleged malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and unlawfully aiding and abetting and conspiring with other members of the LLC. The court found the claims were time-barred at the pleadings stage and entered judgment for the law firm.
- Won dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction for a commercial construction contractor, its owner, and a related company for claims of breach of contract, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and piercing the corporate veil. Eclipse Aerospace, Inc. v. Star 7, LLC, Case No. 15 C 1820, 2016 WL 901297 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 3, 2016).
- Argued a successful appeal in the Illinois Supreme Court resulting in summary judgment for a dissolved corporation based upon a statutory defense under the Illinois Business Corporation Act concerning accrual of claims before dissolution. Pielet v. Pielet, 2012 IL 112064 (Ill. 2012).
- Won summary judgment for client who was former CFO of a Fortune 250 company in an ERISA stock-drop class action seeking $360 million in damages. The court found that the CFO did not fraudulently conceal information from the company’s auditors. Harris v. Koenig, 815 F.Supp.2d 12 (D.D.C. 2011).
- Won a defense verdict on a claim for breach of fiduciary duty by a partner in a general partnership in a commercial real estate business. The jury also awarded damages on a counterclaim for breach of contract after a 13-day trial. Krieger v. Boey, No. 08-L-85 (Cir. Ct. 16th Jud. Dist., DeKalb County, Ill., 2011).
- Defeated motion by seller of digital advertising for preliminary injunction of entertainment industry clients’ use of trademark for apparel associated with musical artist, regarding a claim under the Lanham Act for likelihood of causing consumer confusion. Akoo International, Inc. v. Harris, No. 10 C 1685, 2011 WL 4007686 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 9, 2011).
- Won summary judgment on claim by distributor client against manufacturer for anticipatory breach of trademark license agreement. Geneva Int’l Corp. v. Petrof, Spol, S.R.O., 608 F. Supp. 2d 993 (N.D. Ill. 2009).
- Court of appeals vacated remedies award in SEC enforcement action against public company CFO because trial court’s calculation of disgorgement and penalties was erroneous. SEC v. Koenig, 557 F.3d 736 (7th Cir. 2009).
- Won dismissal of tort and contract claims against individual executives of corporate client. Midwest Theatres, Inc. v. IMAX Corp., No. 08-5823 (DSD/SRN), 2009 WL 649701 (D. Minn. Mar. 11, 2009).
- Defeated motion for temporary restraining order brought by client’s former trademark licensee. Midwest Theatres, Inc. v. IMAX Corp., No. 08-5823 (DSD/SRN), 2008 WL 4832598 (D. Minn. Nov. 3, 2008).
- Won reversal of trial court order dismissing client’s claims under a non-solicitation agreement. Baird & Warner Residential Sales, Inc. v. Mazzone, 893 N.E.2d 1010 (Ill. App. Ct. 1st Dist. 2008).
- Argued appeal in Illinois Supreme Court from denial of successive post-conviction petition based on claims of actual innocence. People v. Morgan, 817 N.E.2d 524 (Ill. 2004).
- Defeated challenge by the Illinois Attorney General under the Illinois Constitution to clemencies issued by the Governor of Illinois to prisoners whose previous death sentences had been vacated in post-conviction or habeas corpus proceedings. People ex rel. Madigan v. Snyder, 804 N.E.2d 546 (Ill. 2004).
- Obtained a trial verdict for industrial equipment manufacturer against a former distributor for breach of a distribution agreement and breach of a software license agreement, winning substantial attorneys’ fees in addition to damages for lost profits and liquidated damages. Tempco Electric Heater Corp. v. Temperature Engineering Co., No. 02 C 3572, 2004 WL 2931329 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 15, 2004).
- Defended a large privately-held company against claims brought by the U.S. Department of Justice under the False Claims Act; coordinated nationwide discovery and depositions concerning financial, accounting, and regulatory issues, won reversal of an unfavorable trial court ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. United States v. Taber Extrusions, LP, 341 F.3d 843 (8th Cir. 2003).
- Successfully argued in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of a criminal defendant seeking relief under a post-conviction petition from a death sentence. People v. Morgan, 719 N.E.2d 681 (Ill. 1999).
- Successfully argued that federal courts had subject matter jurisdiction over client’s wrongful eviction claims even though the parties had opposed each other in a prior state court proceeding. Long v. Shorebank Development Corp., 182 F.3d 548 (7th Cir. 1999).
- Successfully tried the defense of a claim by a sales executive for unpaid commissions against a technology consulting company and a counterclaim for overpaid commissions in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
- Representation of owners of closely-held entities in disputes with fellow owners over the dissolution of the parties’ business relationships and the value of their business interests. Obtained favorable settlement involving the sale by a minority shareholder of equity and debt interests in a privately-held trucking company.
- Representation of investors, corporate directors, limited liability company members, and limited partners in cases involving the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act and related claims for successor liability.
- Litigates claims under state franchise and dealership statutes and related Lanham Act claims.
Leading Lawyer for Commercial Litigation and Professional Malpractice Defense Law, Legal/Technical/ Financial by the Leading Lawyers Network, 2014-2018
Holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability
Super Lawyers list in the area of Business Litigation, by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine, 2012-2018
- "There Is Middle Ground For US Lawyers On AML Regimes," Law360, April 13, 2018.
- "New Ninth Circuit Case on SOX Clawback Leaves Unresolved Issues," Bloomberg BNA's Securities Regulation & Law Report™, November 7, 2016.
- "Will Lawyers Face Regulatory Scrutiny after the Panama Papers? (Perspective)," Bloomberg Law, June 21, 2016.
- "SEC Enforcement of the Sarbanes-Oxley Clawback Statute: Increased Enforcement Pressure in an Undeveloped Area of the Law," chapter in Inside the Minds: SEC Compliance Best Practices (Aspatore Books 2015).
- "Do Lawyers Enjoy Immunity In Drafting Orders For Judges?," Law360, November 21, 2014.
- "Firms to See Shift on Unfinished Business Claims," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, September 3, 2014.
- Business Torts: A Practical Guide to Litigation, chapter on "Trial Preparation," Business Torts & Unfair Compensation Committee, American Bar Association, First Chair Press, June 2014.
- "7th Circuit Opinions on State Corporation Laws Follow Precedent," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, October 11, 2012.
- "Staying Private Avoids SEC, but Not All Regulation," Business Torts Litigation, Volume 19, No. 3, Spring 2012.
- "State Deceptive Practices Laws Accompanying Lanham Act Claims for Likelihood of Confusion—Considerations as to Remedies and Applicable Law," co-author, DRI Business Litigation and Intellectual Property Conference, Chicago, Illinois, April 2011.
- "Managing Conflicts in International Law Firms: Can the Oceans Serve as Ethical Screens?" Bloomberg Law Reports, "Law Firm Management," Vol. 1, No. 2, August 2010.
- Contributor, The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law, edited by Mark P. Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz, New York University Press, 2009.
- "Ruling Goes Against Minority Shareholder on Costs," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, August 21, 2009.
- "Would a Prudent ERISA Fiduciary Invest in Subprime Mortgage Securities?" First Focus: The Subprime Crisis (Thompson West 2008).
- "Justice is Languishing Behind Bars at Guantanamo," Chicago Sun-Times, December 5, 2007.
- "New Amendments to the Illinois Business Corporation Act Favor Minority Shareholders," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, October 18, 2006.
- "Minority Shareholders May Be In For a Better Deal," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, July 27, 2005.
- “Lawyers Love to Talk: Claims Based on Lawyers’ Speech,” Legal Management Resources, LLC, Large Law Firm General Counsel Roundtable, Dallas, October 22, 2018.
- “Lawyers Love to Talk: Claims Based on Lawyers’ Speech,” Legal Management Resources, LLC, Mid-Sized Law Firm General Counsel Roundtable, Wilmington, Delaware, October 15, 2018.
- “Navigating Ethics and Professionalism Requirements,” Practising Law Institute’s Understanding the Securities Laws 2018 Seminar, Chicago, September 27, 2018.
- “When Does Zealous Advocacy Cross the Line?,” Law Bulletin Publishing’s Ethics 2018 seminar, Chicago, June 5, 2018.
- “Navigating Ethics and Professionalism Requirements in Securities Law Practice,” Practising Law Institute’s Understanding the Securities Laws 2017 seminar, Chicago, September 28, 2017.
- “Ethical Issues for In-House Counsel,” Practising Law Institute's Illinois Professional Responsibility MCLE Marathon, Chicago, April 25, 2017.
- “Guantanamo Bay - The Final Chapter, A Lawyer's Tale,” Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law, Chicago, April 5, 2017.
- “Some Observations on Global Law Firms Organized as Swiss Vereins,” Legal Management Resources Large Law Firm General Counsel Roundtable, Los Angeles, January 12, 2017.
- “Navigating Ethics and Professionalism Requirements for In-House Counsel,” Tenneco Inc. Legal Department, Lake Forest, Illinois, June 22, 2016.
- “Navigating Ethics and Professionalism Requirements,” Practising Law Institute's Understanding the Securities Laws Fall 2015 seminar, Chicago, October 28, 2015.
- “Preparing a Business Torts Case for Trial,” ABA Section of Litigation Roundtable, October 2015.
- “Conflicts: Who Is Your Client?”, Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, February 2015.
- “The General Counsel Forum,” Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, March 2014.
- “Defending Disqualification Motions,” Chicago Law Firm Management Roundtable, April 2013.
- “Consolidation, Collaboration and Competition—An Antitrust Perspective for Today's Healthcare Industry,” Hinshaw & Culbertson Annual Health Care Conference, November 2012.
- “Government Investigations—How to, and How Not to, Respond,” Chicago Law Firm Management Roundtable, April 2011.
- “Illinois' New Rules of Professional Conduct,” Abbott Laboratories Legal Department, North Chicago, Illinois, February 2010.