Linda Coberly is a partner in Winston & Strawn’s litigation practice and is one of the leaders of the firm’s appellate and critical motions practice. She also serves on the firm's Executive Committee.
Ms. Coberly focuses her practice on appeals and on motions practice that resolves complex commercial lawsuits before trial. She is known for her strong business sense, excellent briefs, and clear and compelling oral advocacy. She counsels clients on appellate and strategic issues at all stages of litigation, from before trial through and including proceedings before the U.S. Supreme Court. She has briefed and argued appeals in five different federal courts of appeals and a variety of state appellate and supreme courts.
Ms. Coberly has particularly extensive experience in corporate fraud litigation—including, defending auditors and others in tort and securities fraud actions following the disclosure of corporate fraud. These cases frequently implicate complex issues of class certification, agency law, damages, standing, and loss causation—as well as the doctrine of in pari delicto, which arises whenever a corporation or trustee attempts to sue a third party for a fraud committed by the corporation’s own management. Ms. Coberly has been at the forefront of some of the most high-profile and influential cases in many of these areas.
A significant portion of Ms. Coberly’s practice centers on representing trade organizations and other amici before the U.S. Supreme Court and on advising and representing clients with regard to certiorari proceedings, drawing upon her experience as a law clerk on both the Supreme Court and the D.C. Circuit. Her pro bono work has included both direct representations of individuals in habeas and immigration matters and amicus work for human rights organizations, including Human Rights First and the National Immigrant Justice Center.
Ms. Coberly was named in 2011 by the American Lawyer as one of the "45 Under 45," a list of the best women lawyers under 45 in the Am Law 200. She is ranked among the nation’s top appellate lawyers in both Chambers USA and Best Lawyers in America, and she was recently recommended by Legal 500, which ranked Winston & Strawn in the top tier of firms for appellate practice. Ms. Coberly was included as an Illinois Future Litigation Star in the 2013 edition of Benchmark Litigation: The Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys. With her leadership, Winston’s appellate practice debuted on the National Law Journal’s “Appellate Hot List” in 2009, only four years after its creation. In each of the last five years, Ms. Coberly has been recognized by the publishers of Chicago Magazine as an Illinois “Super Lawyer” in the area of appellate practice. She has also been listed in the national Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition.
Honors and Awards
Ms. Coberly serves as the Vice-Chair of the board of directors of the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights. She is a steering committee member for the Appellate Advocacy Committee of the Defense Research Institute and a former director of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association. She has also served on the vestry of Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park.
Ms. Coberly received an A.B. from Princeton University. She received a J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Michigan Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif.
- Kirschner v. KPMG, et al., 15 N.Y. 3d 446 (on certification), and 626 F.3d 673 (2d Cir. 2010) (argued) Won an outright dismissal of a $2 billion malpractice and aiding & abetting lawsuit against Grant Thornton LLP by a litigation trustee appointed in the bankruptcy of brokerage giant Refco, and secured a critical precedent for defendants on the issue of in pare delicto in corporate fraud cases. On appeal, the Second Circuit certified a series of questions to the New York Court of Appeals for clarification on the key agency law issues governing the case. The New York Court of Appeals issued a highly favorable decision on these issues that strikes a blow against the efforts of trustees and corporate fraudfeasors to expand their ability to shift the cost of corporate fraud to third-party professional advisers. Based on the New York Court of Appeals’ decision, the Second Circuit recently affirmed the dismissal of the trustee’s lawsuit in all respects. Ms. Coberly played a lead role in briefing these appeals and presented oral argument on behalf of all defendants, both in the Second Circuit and in the New York Court of Appeals.
- Premium Plus Partners, et al. v. Goldman Sachs & Co., 648 F.3d 533 (7th Cir. 2011) (argued) Successfully represented Goldman, Sachs & Co. in consolidated appeals arising out of a set of lawsuits relating to Goldman’s alleged trading during an eight-minute period before the Treasury Department’s 2001 public announcement that it would no longer issue 30-year bonds. Among other things, the appeals concern whether a plaintiff who reached an individual settlement may still appeal the denial of class certification, or, alternatively, whether a plaintiff who litigated his individual claim to judgment in a separate action may intervene in the putative class action after final judgment to appeal the denial of class certification.
- In re Computer Associates Securities Litigation, Nos. 07-3673, 3674, 3675 (2d. Cir. 2009) (argued) Represented Computer Associates founder Charles B. Wang in appeals relating to Computer Associates’ and investor Sam Wyly’s efforts to upset a global settlement that resolved securities and derivative actions and released Mr. Wang and other insiders from any personal liability. The Court accepted our position and ruled in Mr. Wang’s favor on all issues.
- Harry R. Larson, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase & Co., successor to Bank One Corp., 530 F.3d 578 (7th Cir. 2008) (argued) In the securities litigation arising out of the merger between Bank One and First Chicago, successfully represented the bank in opposing an appeal by a putative intervenor seeking to revive long-dead claims following a multi-million-dollar settlement designed to end the litigation.
Presentations and Publications
- “It’s All About the Questions: Effective Oral Advocacy,” presentation at the 2013 Annual Meeting of DRI: The Voice of the Defense Bar (upcoming October 2013)
- “The Future for Class Actions,” panel presentation at the Aggregate Litigation After Class Actions Conference (upcoming June 2013)
- “The Seventh Circuit: A Tradition of Legal Innovation and Excellence,” panel presentation alongside two sitting Seventh Circuit Judges at the ABA Litigation Section Annual Conference (April 2013)
- “Advanced Topics in Appellate Practice,” panel discussion at an Appellate Lawyers’ Association seminar on Advanced Appellate Advocacy (April 2013)
- “Trustee Actions, In Pari Delicto, and Deepening Insolvency,” panel presentation at the 2011 ALI/ABA Conference on Accountant’s Liability: Litigation and Issues in the Wake of the Financial Crisis (September 2011)
- “Appellate Advocacy from the Judges’ Point of View” (featured advocate), oral argument demonstration before three distinguished jurists at the DRI's 2011 Appellate Advocacy Seminar (March 2011)
- “2010-2011 Supreme Court Preview” (moderator), panel discussion for the Chicago Lawyers Chapter of the American Constitution Society (November 2010)
- “In Pari Delicto—What are the Recent Cases Saying?” panel presentation at the ABA’s 2010 Business Bankruptcy Committee Conference (October 2010)
- “Section 11 Cases,” presentation at the 2010 ALI/ABA conference on Accountants’ Liability: Litigation and Issues in the Financial Crisis (July 2010)
- “Hertz v. Friend: A Defense Victory,” (moderator), webcast presented by DRI (April 2010)
- “The Supreme Court: Changes and Challenges,” (moderator), panel discussion including five former U.S. Solicitors General at the 2009 Annual Meeting of DRI (October 2009)
- Featured Speaker for the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s “E-Mentoring” Project (2009)
- “Certiorari Practice in the U.S. Supreme Court: A Behind-the-Scenes View,” presentation to the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association (March 27, 2007)
- “What the ‘New’ Supreme Court Means for Business,” in-house CLE presentations to various corporate legal departments
- “Keeping Current on Securities: Supreme Court Limits Private Lawsuits,” Business Law Today at 26 (vol. 17, no. 5, May/June 2008)