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Kathleen Zellner is an American attorney who has worked extensively in wrongful conviction advocacy. Notable clients Zellner has represented include Steven Avery (who was the subject of the 2015 and 2018 Netflix series Making a Murderer) and 20 exonerees who are listed in the National Registry of Exonerations.

Kathleen T. Zellner
Kathleen Zellner at press conference in Columbia, Mo (cropped).jpg
Known forWrongful conviction advocacy and civil litigation verdicts


Kathleen Zellner has the most exonerations of any private attorney in the United States, with 20 exonerations.[1][failed verification]

Civil verdictsEdit

Kathleen Zellner is the only attorney in the United States to have won five multi-million dollar verdicts in less than a year. Since opening her firm in 1991, she has obtained over $115 million in verdicts and settlements for her clients, many of which set state and national records.[2][non-primary source needed]

Awards and honorsEdit

Zellner is known nationally for her commitment to fight for justice — and see justice prevail — in courtrooms across the country. Her many accolades include being:

  • National Law Journal's Top Ten Litigators in the United States, 2000
  • One of the Ten Most Influential Attorneys in Illinois, American Lawyer Media, 2001
  • Chicago Tribune - The Year in Women - Top Influential Women in the United States, 2001
  • National Law Journal America's Top 50 Women Litigators, 2001
  • National Law Journal's Pro Bono Attorney of the Year, 2002
  • Illinois State Crime Commission Champion of Justice Award, 2005
  • Super Lawyers Top 50 Female Lawyers in the United States, 2006
  • Lawdragon Top 500 Plaintiff's Attorneys in the United States, 2007
  • Winner of the Illinois Trial Excellence Award & Highest Jury Verdict for False Arrest, 2011
  • American Bar Association Pursuit of Justice Award, 2012
  • Litigation Counsel of America's Peter Perlman National Service Award, 2013
  • Chicago Lawyer Person of the Year, 2014
  • Chicago Magazine - 100 Most Powerful People in Chicago, 2015
  • Martindale - Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers - AV Rating, 2000 – 2019
  • Lawdragon Top 500 Plaintiff's Attorneys in the United States, 2007 - 2019
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, 2013 - 2019
  • Leading Female Lawyer in Illinois in All Areas of Law, 2019
  • Leading Lawyers in All Areas of Law Chicago Suburbs, 2019
  • Leading Lawyers in Illinois the top female criminal defense attorney in Illinois, 2012, 2019
  • Leading Lawyers in Illinois in civil rights, medical malpractice, appeals, 2003-2019
  • Leading Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers in Illinois - all areas of law, 2006 - 2019
  • Super Lawyer, 2005 - 2019
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocate Member, 2000 - 2019
  • America's Top 100 High Stakes Litigators, 2019
  • Rue Ratings - Best Attorneys Lifetime Charter Member, 2019
  • National Association of Distinguished Counsel - Nation's Lawyers Top One Percent, 2019


  1. ^ "Browse the National Registry of Exonerations".
  2. ^ "Verdicts & Settlements". Law Offices of Kathleen T. Zellner. "Jury Verdict Reporter". Law Bulletin Media.

External linksEdit