Martin Roth
Kirkland & Ellis
Commercial and mergers-and-acquisitions Litigation
40 Under Class – 2020

At the age of 38, Kirkland & Ellis' Martin Roth has earned a reputation as a leader in his field. That's impressive for a lawyer with such a relatively young career. 

Just ask Michael Chapman, general counsel for the cleaning products company Diversey in Fort Mill, South Carolina. He worked with Martin and Kirkland & Ellis on a post-deal indemnification dispute. Martin was impressive throughout the case, Chapman said. And he helped the client earn a result that exceeded its expectations. 

"Martin always kept the team on track and focused on the end goal," Chapman said. "He was calm and assured throughout. His intellectual analysis of the legal issues is second to none, but he also has an innate business understanding, enabling the legal advice to be perfectly positioned in a commercial context."

What are the secrets to Roth's success? His peers point to his fearlessness. He's not afraid to try major cases for big-name clients. And when he tries cases he's prepared. He has a long track record of notching positive verdicts and settlements for his clients. 

Roth also isn't afraid to tackle cases focusing on a wide variety of issues. While many younger litigators focus on just one or two industries, Roth's diverse trial practice spans the private equity, real estate, pharmaceutical and oil and gas businesses. 

During his career, Roth has tried and won cases for BP, Sycamore Partners and Bixby Bridge Capital. He recently won his first jury trial as a first-chair trial lawyer in California state court, besting another Chicago firm and a trial team led by lawyers nearly twice his age. He's earned winning results for clients such as Delta Airlines, Rio Tinto and former NBA player Derek Fisher. 

Back when Roth was just 32, he led a matter against the City of Ridgeland, Mississippi, that involved a discriminatory attempt to rezone and phase out apartment complexes occupied by minorities without paying their owners or tenants just compensation. After aggressive litigation, resulting in the intervention of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city revoked the offending zoning provisions and agreed to send its employees to fair housing and anti-discrimination training. 

Neal Reenan, with Latham & Watkins, worked with Roth when the young attorney assisted him on a challenging contractual dispute for a major Kirkland client. He said that Roth displays legal skills and knowledge that bely his young age.

"Over the course of seven months, Martin helped me and our clients understand the complex legal, regulatory, commercial and practical issues involved, and together we were able to reach a productive business settlement," Reenan said. "The client and I were very impressed with Martin’s skill as a litigator, but equally importantly, as a business-minded lawyer who knew how to call balls and strikes and advise our clients on strategy."

Roth has also established himself as a leader at his firm. He is actively involved in the development and growth of Kirkland’s transactional risk insurance practice and is also a member of the Kirkland Institute of Trial Advocacy and the firm's recruiting committee. 

When not serving his clients, Roth devotes significant time to community service. He served as pro bono amicus counsel in the Fisher v. University of Texas U.S. Supreme Court case and mentors law students through the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. Roth previously served as president of the American Jewish Committee's ACCESS Chicago Board. 

"Martin is a superb lawyer," said Tinos Diamantatos, an attorney with Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP. "He is a unique triple-threat lawyer who is incredibly smart, has the ability to think quickly on his feet and adapt to any legal challenge presented to him, and also translate his thoughts to short, effective, beyond persuasive legal arguments. He is a tremendous trial attorney and incredibly affable. It is no wonder that he has had a meteoric rise at one of the top litigation firms in the country while still maintaining an even personality.”