When the stakes are at their highest? When companies face major fines or the possibility of shutdown? They turn to Brienne Letourneau, a rising star with the Chicago law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher.
During her career, Letourneau has represented a steady stream of fiduciaries and service providers facing breach-of-fiduciary duty claims, with her defense ensuring that these clients can continue doing business uninterrupted. She has also obtained favorable results for clients facing consumer class action claims.
Letourneau's successes aren't limited to the work she does for corporate clients. She has also earned positive results for her pro bono clients, including a victory in a civil rights action tried to a federal jury trial, and in representing organizations that promote gender equity, such as the National Women’s Law Center and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. An avid supporter of the arts, she served for many years on the board of directors for Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.
"Brienne's super power is empathy," said Patrick Tierney, senior corporate counsel at Aspen Skiing Company. "She has a unique and exceptional ability to put herself in her clients' shoes and truly understand the issues her clients face and the corresponding stakes."
Tierney says that Letourneau studies litigation trends and provides him with legal guidance before he has even asked for her help, anticipating his needs and allowing him to take proactive measures to avoid future pitfalls.
"What Brienne does repeatedly and with terrific success is refuse to settle for a tactical solution without considering the strategic ramifications and really finding the right solution for a client," Tiereny said.
Maria Liu, Litigation Counsel with Uber, first met Letourneau when both worked at Chicago law firm Jenner & Block. Liu credits Letourneau with teaching her how to be an effective lawyer.
Liu points to a long-running contract dispute that she and Letourneau managed when both were working at Willkie. Liu said that Letourneau's leadership was instrumental in earning a nearly $50 million judgment at summary judgment for the client. And while doing this, Letourneau made sure that each team member -- including the most junior associates and paralegals -- felt part of and took ownership in the win.
"Brienne’s success in handling very difficult and complicated cases is due to her ability to organize chaos," Liu said. "She puts structures in place to keep the train moving forward, even when that train is moving super-fast and taking unpredictable turns. She pulls her teams together and communicates assignments clearly so that everyone works efficiently and in concert. And she quickly grasps difficult concepts and develops strategic action plans that meet clients’ goals."
Stephanie Graham, vice president and general counsel for Northwestern University, said that Letourneau’s legal skills have resulted in several legal victories for the Evanston-based university.
"Brienne is a thoughtful and creative advocate who understands and cares about Northwestern’s institutional mission and presents issues in ways that not only position us to succeed in litigation, but also help advance our values and priorities," Graham said.