Paula Ketcham is a seasoned trial lawyer with deep experience managing highstakes, highpressure and timesensitive litigation. Many of Paula’s cases involve employers and their departing employees, but she frequently defends clients in state and federal class actions across a range of practices and industries. Her class action experience runs the gamut from defending employers in employment discrimination suits, fiduciaries in ERISA actions, and insurers and other companies in consumer class actions.
Paula also defends and prosecutes claims on behalf of individual and corporate clients in cases involving fraud and breach of fiduciary duty claims, professional liability, and commercial contract disputes. She is often called on to parachute into ongoing litigation to review strategies, develop theories, and draft briefs and pleadings that steer a case in new directions.
Paula spends nearly as much time advising and strategizing with her clients to solve their problems as she does litigating on their behalf. Understanding that clients often want to avoid contentious disputes and instead focus on their core business, Paula aims to skillfully steer clients away from litigation. She works with clients to develop and implement corporate policies and procedures, and conducts or oversees internal investigations and analysis of financial and business transactions, as well as internal complaints. For clients facing lawsuits, Paula manages and coordinates their litigation and advises on compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.
Some of her litigation victories include defending businesses facing Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act litigation and successfully protecting employers in contractual and other disputes with departing employees, including disputes regarding the theft of proprietary and trade secret information. She has defended insurance companies in state and nationwide consumer class actions challenging claims-adjusting practices as well as in individual-policyholder coverage disputes under a variety of business and personal insurance lines. In the highly regulated world of financial services, Paula has successfully litigated claims on behalf of individuals who were defrauded in kickback schemes perpetrated by their accountants and financial advisers, while also representing financial institutions in investigations and litigation of negligence and gross negligence claims against directors and officers.
Since early in her legal career, Paula has devoted hundreds of hours to pro bono advocacy. She currently oversees Schiff Hardin’s pro bono program and recently commemorated the 40-year anniversary of the firm’s trailblazing partnership with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services that began with the first-ever law firm adoption of a CVLS neighborhood legal clinic in 1979. Paula has represented a class of plaintiffs asserting civil rights claims against state agencies, represented indigent clients in a variety of civil disputes, successfully vindicated the rights of disabled plaintiffs asserting fair housing claims, obtained orders of protection on behalf of victims of domestic violence, and successfully defended victims of sexual assault and stalking in defamation suits.
Outside of her legal practice, for more than a decade, Paula has overseen and managed a weekly soup kitchen that provides thousands of meals each year to the homeless, poor, and chronically underemployed and regularly volunteers with a local overnight shelter. She has also been an active advocate in her community for neighborhood-based after-school programming.