Justin Kay
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Class-action defense
40 Under Class – 2018

Justin Kay has built a thriving class-action defense business at Chicago’s Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

One of his Forty Under 40 nominators knows firsthand just how skilled Kay is. He first worked with him in 2013, when his firm collaborated with Drinker Biddle to defend about a dozen consumer class actions across the country related to a dietary supplement. Kay was the senior associate on the matter, and we worked together on those matters for several years. This past year, the nominator had a long-time client of mine was sued in Illinois state court in a purported class action, and I recommended that the client retain Justin to handle the matter.

“Justin outlined a winning strategy for us based on three things: his understanding of the recent changes in the local rules in the Northern District of Illinois that would adversely impact the costs of defense were we to remove, his understanding of state court procedure that would permit us to employ a strategy not available to us in federal court, and his knowledge of the merits arguments and support for those arguments found in seldom-cited federal agency rulings,” The nominator wrote. “He identified the information he needed from the client and pulled together the law and facts to make a compelling argument that plaintiff's case was dead on arrival.

“Justin correctly predicted that an aggressive motion would provide strong ammunition for early resolution of the case, and after some preliminary discussions with the plaintiff's counsel, also correctly predicted that if we stuck to our guns, they would ultimately walk away for nothing rather than invest additional resources in pursuing the case.”

Another of Kay’s clients described him as a “take-charge attorney.”

“He is well versed in the law, extremely professional at all times, and you cannot argue with the results that he has achieved, whether it be through a settlement or motion practice,” that client wrote.

Kay is the chair of Drinker Biddle’s National Hiring Committee and has been focused on implementing new associate recruiting techniques including behavioral panel interviewing, implementing an interview writing exercise, interviewing at more law schools, and establishing a first-year law student internship program. Kay has also been a committee chair for the board of directors of the Evening Associates at the Art Institute of Chicago, and he is a member of the Chicago Inn of Court.