William M. Kirby, Jr. - Complex Commercial Disputes - Nixon Peabody LLP

William M. Kirby, Jr.

William Kirby is a litigator who represents local and national clients in a wide variety of commercial disputes, including product liability defense and complex financial services litigation. Bill represents clients across a broad spectrum of industries in lawsuits involving trade secret misappropriation, products liability, professional malpractice, and breach of contract. He also maintains an active pro bono practice and has advocated several litigation matters on behalf of transgender individuals, Chicago-based non-profit entities, artists, and actors, among others.

What do you focus on?

I focus my practice on three primary areas.

Product Liability Defense

I develop and implement comprehensive and aggressive defense strategies for clients facing wide-scale product liability actions throughout the United States. I have favorably resolved several disputes on behalf of product manufacturers and consumer-facing companies in a variety of commercial settings, including automobile manufacturers’, complex industrial equipment, medical devices, and facilities for the harvesting, testing, and implantation of human genetic material. My approach to generating positive outcomes for my clients relies on two important elements: seeking creative options with the potential for an early or, alternatively, developing an aggressive defense strategy.

Commercial Litigation

I represent clients across a broad spectrum of industries in lawsuits involving trade secret misappropriation, violation of post-employment restrictive covenants, employment termination disputes, products liability, professional malpractice and breach of contract. I also counsel both private sector and nonprofit clients in risk avoidance to potential common law and statutory claims.

Financial Services Litigation

My practice includes representing banks and financial industry regulators in defending and prosecuting complex financial services litigation. My experience ranges from disputes concerning the liabilities of officers and directors to cases involving the administration of trusts, loans and other financial instruments.

What do you see on the horizon?

Clients who find themselves facing high-stakes, complex litigation are increasingly looking for ways to mitigate risk and cost associated with litigating such disputes. I work with clients to formulate alternative-fee arrangements and other risk-reward sharing arrangements to bring more predictable cost-allocation and incentive-driven risk sharing into the modern litigation framework.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully prosecuting and resolving third-party professional liability claims on behalf of a client that had been improperly advised by its actuaries regarding the computation of benefits under its ERISA-qualified benefit plan
  • Defending product manufacturer in several cases brought by competitor alleging trade secret misappropriation and breaches of post-employment restrictive covenants
  • Obtaining dismissal, at both the trial and appellate levels, on behalf of financial institution in dispute over standing to litigate claims on behalf of trust beneficiary
  • Obtaining dismissal of drug-manufacturing competitor’s claim for unfair competition based on federal pre-emption, which further defeated competitor’s motion for preliminary injunction (Click here for more details)
  • Representing the FDIC in negligence and breach-of-fiduciary duty lawsuits against former officers and directors of failed banks
  • Defending and favorably resolving several product liability matters brought against medical device manufacturer
  • Defending and favorably resolving claims against component-part manufacturer alleging manufacturing defect, design defect, and failure to warn
  • Defending and obtaining dismissal of several cases against automobile manufacturers in disputes involving allegations of breaches of warranty and manufacturing and design defects
  • Successfully resolving several licensing disputes with state regulatory authorities and licensees in the video-gaming industry
  • Advising and favorably resolving pre-litigation disputes involving partnership and joint-venture agreements


Chicago Daily Law Bulletin | February 03, 2022

This roundup of notable legal moves features Healthcare partner April Schweitzer, Global Finance partner Joshua Scarborough, and Complex Disputes partners Elizabeth Zamora Meraz and Bill Kirby for their promotions to partner, noting areas of focus for each attorney.

People on the move

Crain’s Chicago | March 08, 2021

Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes counsels Elizabeth Meraz and Bill Kirby were included in this column of notable executive moves for their promotions to counsel.

Wake Up Call

Bloomberg Law | February 17, 2021

This roundup of notable legal industry news and people moves includes Nixon Peabody’s promotion of 12 attorneys to counsel.

CDLB people moves

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin | February 17, 2021

This column of notable legal moves includes the counsel promotions of Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes counsels Elizabeth Zamora Meraz and Bill Kirby.

A Post-Thanksgiving Litigator of the Week Runner-Up and Shout Out Marathon

The American Lawyer | December 04, 2020

This week’s “Litigators of the Week“ column by American Lawyer includes the dismissal for outsourcing facility Leiters, Inc. in a multiple-state dispute. Leiters was represented by Chicago partners Ethan Trull, John Ruskusky, and Lisa Sullivan, and associates Bill Kirby and Tina Jonsson; and San Francisco partner Bruce Copeland and counsel Lauren Michals—all in the Complex Commercial Disputes group.


William M. Kirby, Jr.



Phone: 312-977-4429

Fax: 844-562-6845

DePaul University College of Law, J.D., summa cum laude, Order of the Coif; Articles, Notes and Comments Editor, DePaul Law Review

College of the Holy Cross, B.A.


U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois

U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

  • Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2016–2021
  • Two-time CALI Excellence for Future Awards in Legal Analysis, Research and Communication
  • American Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
Back to top