FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
April A. Otterberg

April A. Otterberg

Jenner & Block LLP

Chicago, IL, USA


April A. Otterberg concentrates in professional responsibility litigation, focusing on defending lawyers and law firms in pending or threatened legal malpractice and related claims.  Ms. Otterberg also represents large corporate clients in breach of fiduciary duty and related claims under ERISA, and she has experience representing corporations and employees in trade secret and restrictive covenant cases.

Ms. Otterberg has represented clients in a range of civil litigation matters, including putative class actions, several appellate matters, and two cases litigated successfully at trial.  She is a member of the Firm’s Professional Responsibility, ERISA Litigation, and Trademark, Advertising and Unfair Competition practices.  Ms. Otterberg also serves as Co-Chair of the Firm's Associates Committee.

Ms. Otterberg has focused her pro bono efforts on criminal defense matters, including her longtime representation of a client on federal death row in connection with his appeal and post-conviction proceedings.  She is co-author of the Illinois portion of the American Bar Association’s 50-State Survey of Legal Malpractice Law and of the Firm’s outline of Illinois trade secrets law.  Ms. Otterberg also regularly assists in presentations and seminars on professional responsibility topics.

Ms. Otterberg has represented a number of clients in a range of professional responsibility matters, including the following:
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice, and then settled on appeal, malpractice claims asserted against an international law firm concerning its handling of a litigation matter and seeking in excess of $20 million
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice of malpractice and related claims asserted against an international law firm and several of its lawyers concerning the firm’s handling of certain transactional matters
  • Member of the team that successfully settled through pre-litigation counseling, mediation, and negotiations a matter against an international law firm in which the plaintiff sought in excess of $500 million arising out of alleged improper tax advice
  • Provided litigation counseling on matters of U.S. legal malpractice law in relation to claims asserted abroad against an international law firm
  • Represented an in-house patent attorney before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for alleged “inequitable conduct” before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Ms. Otterberg also has experience in all phases of other complex litigation matters and in developing trial strategy, as shown by the following representative matters:
  • Member of the trial team that represented the plaintiff, a nuclear utility, in a three-week bench trial in federal court on a breach of contract matter related to the U.S. Department of Energy’s failure to dispose of spent nuclear fuel from the utility’s reactor.  This case resulted in a $56.8 million judgment for her client, the majority of which was upheld on appeal.
  • Member of the trial team that successfully prosecuted a patent infringement claim brought by a refrigerator shelf manufacturer in a one-week jury trial
  • Obtained dismissal with prejudice of ERISA claims seeking to impose non-fiduciary liability against third-party plan service provider
  • Member of the team that successfully settled a complaint against a non-profit organization for alleged trade disparagement and related claims
Ms. Otterberg also has developed experience on appellate matters and has drafted and filed a number of appellate briefs in federal and state court, including the following representative matters:
  • Primary drafter of the brief in the appeal of a class action suit by Blue Island, Illinois residents that reinstated a $120 million verdict in favor of the Firm’s clients against a refinery
  • Argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and drafted appellate briefs seeking the reversal of a criminal conviction in a pro bono bank robbery matter
  • Primary drafter of a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in a pro bono criminal matter, seeking review of questions related to the denial of expert assistance to indigent defendants and the use of a defendant’s silence to establish the death penalty aggravating factor of lack of remorse

Awards
  • Illinois Super Lawyers - "Rising Star," Professional Liability: Defense – 2012-2014
Community Involvement
  • Juvenile Justice Initiative, Member, Board of Directors - 2013-present
  • Mental Health America of Illinois, Secretary and Member, Junior Board - 2012-2013
  • Women Everywhere: Partners in Service Project, Member, Planning Committee - 2007, 2008

Service to the Bar
  • American Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Illinois State Bar Association, Standing Committee on Professional Conduct

Publications
  • “Defending Against Joint Defense Agreement Pitfalls: Ethical & Related Issues Arising In the Joint Defense Context,” part of “PLI Ethics Programs: Chicago 2013,” Practising Law Institute, Spring 2013
  • Co-author, “Loss Prevention for Associates: Good Habits You Can Establish Now (And Reminders for Everyone Else),” ALAS Loss Prevention Journal, Winter 2013
  • Co-author, “State of Illinois,” The Law of Lawyers’ Liability, American Bar Association, June 2012
  • Co-author, "(Possible) Good News For ERISA Fiduciaries," Law360, May 03, 2011
  • Co-author, “Ethical Issues Regarding Lateral-Entry Attorneys,” Practising Law Institute, Spring 2011, Spring 2010
  • Co-author, Client Advisory: Supreme Court Broadens Interpretation Of ERISA Attorney Fees Provision To Reject "Prevailing Party" Standard, Concluding That Only "Some Success On The Merits" Is Required, May 25, 2010
  • Co-author, "Legal Malpractice Law: State of Illinois," 50-State Survey of Legal Malpractice Law, American Bar Association Section of Litigation, Professional Liability Litigation Committee, 2010
  • Co-author, Understanding and Litigating Trade Secrets Under Illinois Law: An Outline For Analyzing The Statutory And Common Law Of Trade Secrets In Illinois, Jenner & Block Practice Series 2009, October 2009
  • "GPS Tracking Technology: The Case for Revisiting Knotts and Shifting the Supreme Court's Theory of the Public Space Under the Fourth Amendment," Boston College Law Review, May 2005, Vol.46, No. 3, pages 661-704, May 2005

Speaking Engagements
  • “Identifying and Dealing with Misbehaving, Unethical, and Impaired Lawyers,” 2013 Firm Administration Conference, Attorneys’ Liability Assurance Society, Inc., August 19, 2013
  • “Defending Against Joint Defense Agreement Pitfalls,” CBA Professional Responsibility Committee, May 17, 2013
  • "Defending Against Joint Defense Agreement Pitfalls" at “Ethics for Litigators 2013,” Practising Law Institute, May 01, 2013
  • "Ethical & Risk Management Issues Related to Lateral-Entry Attorneys," Chicago Bar Association's Attorney Malpractice Committee, June 02, 2011
  • “Overcoming ERISA’s Ethical Issues: Establishing Representation with Proper Parties, Preserving Privilege, and Limiting Discovery of Privileged Documents,” American Conference Institute, San Francisco, CA, April 13, 2011

Practice Groups

Litigation, ERISA Litigation, Professional Responsibility, Trademark, Advertising and Unfair Competition Practice

Education

Boston College Law School, J.D., 2006; summa cum laude; Order of the Coif; Salutatorian; Managing Editor, Boston College Law Review
Loyola University Chicago, B.A., 2003; summa cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

Illinois, 2006

Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, 2010
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2006
U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, 2007
U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 2008
U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 2012
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