Matthew O'Hara is a business trial lawyer. He concentrates his practice in the litigation and trial of complex commercial matters in federal and state courts. He has tried cases involving antitrust, the federal securities laws, breach of fiduciary duty, trade secrets, trademark infringement, breach of contract, license agreements, executive employment, the Uniform Commercial Code, and criminal defense. He also litigates cases involving private shareholder and partnership disputes, legal malpractice, the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act 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.
Mr. O'Hara's practice experience includes:
Won dismissal with prejudice of a lawsuit by two members of an LLC in the securities brokerage industry against a National Law Journal 250 law firm 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. The pre-suit demand was $10 million.
- Arguing 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.
- 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.
- Representation of securities issuers, corporate officers, and investors in securities and securities-related litigation, including SEC enforcement actions, class and derivative actions, ERISA fiduciary actions, and arbitrations.
- 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.
- Obtaining a trial verdict for industrial equipment manufacturer against a former distributor for breach of a distribution agreement and breach of a software license agreement. The court subsequently awarded substantial attorneys' fees in addition to damages for lost profits and liquidated damages.
- Defending 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 the reversal of an unfavorable trial court ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and a favorable settlement after remand.
- 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 investors, corporate directors, limited liability company members, and limited partners in cases involving the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act and related claims for successor liability.
- Litigating claims under state franchise and dealership statutes and related Lanham Act claims.
Mr. O'Hara joined Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in January 2010. He serves on the firm's Executive Committee and previously has served as co-chair of the firm's Lawyers Professional Liability practice group, including its Lawyers for the Profession® practice.
Mr. O'Hara 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 and its attorneys on ethical and risk management issues.
Honors & Awards
- Named a Leading Lawyer for Commercial Litigation and Professional Malpractice Defense Law, Legal/Technical/Financial by the Leading Lawyers Network, 2014-2016
- Holds the AV® Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating for ethics and legal ability
- Named to the Super Lawyers list in the area of Business Litigation, by Illinois Super Lawyers magazine, 2012-2016
Mr. O'Hara's reported cases and trial decisions include:
National Material Co. v. GSI Group, L.L.C., 2016 IL App (5th) 140542-U (Ill. App. Ct. 5th Dist. 2016) (won reversal of summary judgment against steel processor client who brought claims under UCC article 2 and for unjust enrichment against industrial customer for breach of long term steel supply contract).
Eclipse Aerospace, Inc. v. Star 7, LLC, Case No. 15 C 1820, 2016 WL 901297 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 3, 2016) (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 under recent U.S. Supreme Court and Seventh Circuit decisions making the tests for personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants more stringent).
Pielet v. Pielet, 2012 IL 112064 (Ill. 2012) (Illinois Supreme Court reversed lower courts’ finding that corporate client was not entitled to judgment as a matter of law under corporate survival statute).
- Harris v. Koenig, 815 F.Supp.2d 12 (D.D.C. 2011) (granting summary judgment in an ERISA stock-drop class action seeking $360 million in damages, finding that client, a former CFO of a Fortune 250 company, did not fraudulently conceal information from the company’s auditors).
- Akoo International, Inc. v. Harris, No. 10 C 1685, 2011 WL 4007686 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 9, 2011) (denying motion by seller of digital advertising for preliminary injunction of clients’ use of
trademark for apparel associated with musical artist, regarding a claim under the Lanham Act for likelihood of causing consumer confusion).
- Krieger v. Boey, No. 08-L-85 (Cir. Ct. 16th Jud. Dist., DeKalb County, Ill., 2011) (won jury verdicts finding no breach of fiduciary duty and awarding damages on a counterclaim for breach of contract where a businessman was sued by his former partner in a commercial real estate business for $3 million plus punitive damages).
- Pielet v. Pielet, 942 N.E.2d 606 (Ill. App. Ct. 2d Dist., 2010) (won reversal of summary judgment against investor and holding company alleged to be liable for debts of a predecessor company invested in through an asset-based transaction).
- Geneva Int’l Corp. v. Petrof, Spol, S.R.O., 608 F. Supp. 2d 993 (N.D. Ill. 2009) (granting motion for summary judgment on claim by distributor against manufacturer for anticipatory breach of trademark license agreement).
- SEC v. Koenig, 557 F.3d 736 (7th Cir. 2009) (court of appeals remanded to trial court because its calculation of disgorgement and penalties in SEC enforcement action was erroneous).
- Midwest Theatres, Inc. v. IMAX Corp., No. 08-5823 (DSD/SRN), 2009 WL 649701 (D. Minn. Mar. 11, 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), 2008 WL 4832598 (D. Minn. Nov. 3, 2008) (defeated motion for temporary restraining order brought by client’s former licensee).
- Baird & Warner Residential Sales, Inc. v. Mazzone, 893 N.E.2d 1010 (Ill. App. Ct., 1st Dist., 2008) (reversing dismissal of client’s claims under a non-solicitation agreement).
- People v. Morgan, 817 N.E.2d 524 (Ill. 2004) (argued appeal in Illinois Supreme Court from denial of successive postconviction petition based on claims of actual innocence).
- People ex rel. Madigan v. Snyder, 804 N.E.2d 546 (Ill. 2004) (successful defense of challenge by the Illinois Attorney General under the Illinois Constitution to clemencies issued by the governor to prisoners whose previous death sentences had been vacated in post-conviction or habeas corpus proceedings).
- Tempco Electric Heater Corp. v. Temperature Engineering Co., No. 02 C 3572, 2004 WL 2931329 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 15, 2004) (trial court opinion after bench trial awarding lost profits and liquidated damages for breach of distribution agreement and software license agreement).
- United States v. Taber Extrusions, LP, 341 F.3d 843 (8th Cir. 2003) (reversing grant of summary judgment to the government under the False Claims Act).
- Long v. Shorebank Development Corp., 182 F.3d 548 (7th Cir. 1999) (successfully argued that the federal courts had subject matter jurisdiction even though the parties had opposed each other in a prior state court proceeding).
- People v. Morgan, 719 N.E.2d 681 (Ill. 1999) (successfully argued in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of a criminal defendant seeking relief under a post-conviction petition from a death sentence).
- "Ethical Issues for In-House Counsel," Practising Law Institute's Illinois Professional Responsibility MCLE Marathon, Chicago, Illinois, April 25, 2017.
- "Guantanamo Bay - The Final Chapter, A Lawyer's Tale," Coalition of Women's Initiatives in Law, Chicago, Illinois, April 5, 2017.
- "Navigating Ethics and Professionalism Requirements for In-House Counsel," Tenneco Inc. Legal Department, June 22, 2016.
"Navigating Ethics and Professionalism Requirements," Practising Law Institute's Understanding the Securities Laws Fall 2015 seminar, Chicago, Illinois, 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, Illinois, February 2015.
- "The General Counsel Forum," Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, 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's 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.
- "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.
- November 7, 2016
- July 13, 2016
- Matthew O’Hara Authors Article on Lawyers Facing Possible Regulatory Scrutiny After the Panama Papers ExposéJune 21, 2016
- May 4, 2016
- April 20, 2016
- March 9, 2016
- October 12, 2015
- Matt O'Hara Quoted in ABA/BNA Lawyers' Manual on Professional Conduct Article on Identifying Client in Corporate MattersMarch 6, 2015
Mr. O'Hara is very active in providing pro bono legal services. In 2008 he was one of the recipients of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago’s "Bill of Rights in Action" Award. He has been quoted concerning his pro bono representations in a variety of publications and on a number of news programs, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, The Wall Street Journal, El País (Spain), ABC (Spain), El Mundo (Spain), Radio Free Europe, the BBC, Radio Nacional Argentina, the American Lawyer, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and the CBA Record.
J.D., Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1996
- Member, Chicago-Kent Law Review
B.A., with honors, English and Economics, Northwestern University, 1983
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar