Michael D. Freeborn

Partner Emeritus

[email protected]

Phone: (312) 360-6502

Fax: (312) 360-6520

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery



In more than 47 years as a trial lawyer, Michael Freeborn has tried nearly every type of complex case - from utilities to supermarket bar codes. He represents companies in business litigation at both the trial and appellate level and has extensive experience in antitrust, commercial, employment, environmental, product liability and securities litigation.

He is the only lawyer in history to win a jury trial for a company in a "fraud on the market" securities class action, despite evidence that directors and officers of the company were selling shares prior to a disappointing earnings announcement. Grassi v. Information Resources, Inc., 63 F.3d 596 (7th Cir. 1995). The defendant's successful use of a "shadow jury" during trial of the case was featured in a front page article of the National Law Journal.

During another trial, the district court abruptly dismissed the case even before the plaintiff had rested.  On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recounted that the plaintiff’s luck suddenly “went south” only after being subjected to a  “withering cross examination.”  Michael conducted that examination.  Hrobowski v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 203 F.3d 445 (7th Cir. 2000) (reversed and remanded for further proceedings).

The publisher of Chicago Lawyer magazine honored Michael as one of 10 lawyers who, during the preceding decade, "raised the bar" in the Illinois legal profession. "From the courtroom, to complicated transactions, each attorney selected made an impact on the legal profession, as we know it," according to the award summary.

Based on a peer review process conducted by Leading Lawyers, a division of Law Bulletin Media, Michael has repeatedly been recognized as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the state of Illinois. 

As a founding member of Freeborn, Michael helped grow the Firm from six lawyers in 1983 to more than 130 today. Through these experiences, he came to see firsthand the value of pro bono work and how individual lawyers and their law firms can change the world through strategic alignment with important causes.

He is a co-founder of the Willow Creek Legal Aid Ministry, a pro bono organization in suburban Chicago which serves more than 1,000 low-income clients per year.

Michael is no longer a Partner in the Firm. However, in recognition of his accomplishments, the Firm has conferred upon him the honorary title of Partner Emeritus, the first ever to be so honored. He continues to serve as an ex officio member of the Firm's Executive Committee.

Representative Matters

Representative Matters

  • Successfully defended a large home improvement chain and its owner against multi-billion dollar claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment and promissory estoppel, in state court in Wisconsin.  

  • Successfully represented a large privately-held company in the food industry against a hostile takeover attempt by a minority shareholder, through enforcement of a disputed buy-sell agreement.

  • Served as lead counsel on a team of lawyers successfully defending more than 100,000 asbestos lawsuits in nine Midwestern states.

  • Successfully represented the owner of an ethanol plant in “true lease/disguised financing” litigation in a chapter 11 case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Kansas.

  • Successfully defended employers in multiple cases of alleged employment discrimination in federal court in Chicago.

  • Successfully represented an electric utility in breach of contract, fraud and RICO litigation against the supplier of a computerized payment processing system that was defective.

Honors & Awards

Honors & Awards

  • Illinois Super Lawyers - 2021, Business Litigation (cited in multiple years)
  • Leading Lawyers magazine - The Top 100 Attorneys in Illinois
  • Fellow - Litigation Counsel of America
  • Martindale-Hubbell legal ability/ethical standards rating (“A-V”) - Highest possible rating
  • Benchmark Litigation - 2019 Local Litigation Star

Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America