Kathleen Zellner has the rare distinction of having won major verdicts in civil and criminal cases. Most trial attorneys only try cases in one area of law.  Ms. Zellner has won first degree murder trials, multi-million dollar civil verdicts, criminal and civil appeals, and post-conviction exonerations.

She is the only trial attorney in the United States who has won 5 multi-million dollar record verdicts in the span of 11 months.  She currently has the highest civil rights verdict in the United States calculated per months of incarceration, totaling $1 million per month.  Additionally, she has the highest false arrest settlement, calculated at $15,555 per minute for a total of $1.4 million for a 90 minute false arrest. There is no other civil rights attorney in the United States who has won larger verdicts when the months of incarceration or the minutes of false arrest are calculated. By monthly comparison, a $21 million verdict for 11 years would be $159,000 per month. Another example is a $9 million verdict for 4 years imprisonment, totals $187,500 per month.

The underlying premise of Zellner’s remarkable success is that she is not just “practicing” law, she is getting unparalleled results. Her ability to win in the courtroom, no matter the type of case, is the result of her creative trial strategies to winning for the victims of injustice.

Areas of Practice

  • Civil Rights Violations

  • Medical Malpractice

  • Prisoner Abuse

  • Criminal Appeals

  • Post-conviction and Habeas Actions

Honors and Awards



  • 10 Best Attorneys - American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys (2017)

  • America's Greatest Attorneys (2017)

  • LawDragon's Top 500 Plaintiff's Attorneys in the United States

  • Nations One Percent - National Association of Distinguished Counsel (2017)

  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates (1999-2018)

  • American Trial Lawyer's Association Top 100 Trial Lawyers (2010-2018)

  • Named among "The 100 Most Powerful Chicagoans 2015"

  • Named "Person of the Year" by Chicago Lawyer magazine (2014)

  • Leading Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers

  • American Lawyer Media Ten Most Influential Attorneys in Illinois

  • Super Lawyer- Medical Malpractice (2004-2018)

  • Leading Lawyers The Number One Female Criminal Defense Attorney in Illinois and Top 10 Women Lawyers (2005-2017)

  • Leading Lawyers Civil Rights, Medical Malpractice, and Appeals (2005-2018)

  • Super Lawyer (2004-2017)

  • Leading Lawyers Top 10 Women Lawyers and The Number One Female Criminal Defense Attorney in Illinois (2005-2017)

  • Leading Lawyers Civil Rights, Medical Malpractice, and Appeals (2005-2018)

  • Litigation Counsel of America Ron Perelman Outstanding Service aware for going "above and beyond in commitment and service" to the community (2013)

  • American Bar Association Pursuit of Justice Award (2012)

  • Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Illinois Trial Excellence Award (2011)

  • Illinois State Crime Commission Champion of Justice (2005)

  • Chicago Tribue Most Influential Women in the United States (2003)

  • DuPage County Bar Association and National Law Journal Pro Bono Attorney of the Year (2002)

  • National Law Journal Top 50 Women Litigators in the United States (2001)

  • National Law Joural Ten of America's Top Litigators for Successful Strategies (2000)

  • Peer-rated *AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell (1995-2018)

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow

  • Leading Lawyers Illinois - Board Member

  • American College Trial Lawyers - Fellow

  • Multi-million Dollar Advocate Club - Member

  • American Bar Association - Member

  • Chicago Bar Association - Member

  • Illinois State Bar Association - Member

  • DuPage County Bar Association - Member