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Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP

At a Glance


“The high quality of the work.”

“Working with professional, intelligent lawyers.”

“I love the variety of work I get.”


“The informal approach to certain policies can be sometimes frustrating.”

“Pay scale falls away from market.”

“There is generally a lack of transparency about compensation and firm policies that could be improved.”

About Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP

Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg is a three-office Chi-town-headquartered firm with sophisticated practices in bankruptcy; compensation and employment; corporate and securities; financial institutions; insurance coverage; intellectual property; litigation; manufacturing, distribution and franchising; motor vehicle; real estate; tax and business planning; and white collar defense and regulatory enforcement. The firm takes a flexible and modern approach with a legal team of more than 100 attorneys, and its clients represent some of the most internationally renowned businesses and high-value cases over a wide range of industries—including fashion, luxury goods, and retail; manufacturing; motor vehicle; technology; wine and spirits; and energy—and numerous other well-known U.S. and international entities.

Distinctly Different

In 1984, the founding vision of Barack Ferrazzano was to create a new model that departed from the standard "mega-firm" approaches and, instead, focused on delivering efficient, team-oriented services of the highest quality. The founding partners—two highly respected law professors at Northwestern University and two former members of a prominent Chicago firm—were soon joined by like-minded colleagues also seeking an alternative to the large law firm environment. The firm's efficient structure and staffing philosophy allows them to build skillful teams designed to bring the strongest talent possible to every challenge.

Leading Litigators and Tough Transactional Attorneys

The Litigation Group trial lawyers have been selected by some of the world’s most prominent companies for representation in their most significant lawsuits in state and federal courts throughout the United States, handling a variety of cases, including disputes concerning contracts, motor vehicle franchises, trade secrets, licensing, consumer class actions, real estate, professional liability, civil RICO and conspiracy actions, director and officer matters, negligence and product liability, bankruptcy and creditors' rights, securities and derivative securities, and bank regulatory and other financial disputes.

Barack Ferrazzano also houses internationally renowned transactional practices, handling large-scale mergers and acquisitions for companies in finance, as well as in industries such as luxury goods, retailing, manufacturing, wine and spirits, and energy. S&P Global Market Intelligence has ranked Barack Ferrazzano one of the top firms in the U.S.—and the top in the Midwest for the last decade—in bank and thrift M&A transactions. The firm’s real estate practice is consistently top ranked by U.S. News Best Lawyers / Law Firms and Chambers USA. In addition, Barack Ferrazzano’s intellectual property practice group assists fashion and luxury brands and other U.S. and international clients with trademark clearance and counseling, copyright services, and IP-related litigation.

A Sum of its Parts

Barack Ferrazzano selects attorneys from the most renowned law firms and top law schools. A number of attorneys write and speak on various legal, political, and social topics for industry conferences and education programs, both in the U.S. and abroad. Individual attorneys are recognized in their respective practices and industries and hold leadership positions in professional organizations. Firm attorneys include several adjunct professors and instructors of courses at law and business universities, chairs of industry associations and committees, nonprofit boards of directors, a major contributor to the revision of the Illinois Business Corporation Act, and several diversity and community outreach organization leaders.

News & Awards


May 2019

Luxury icon LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) and mega-star Robyn Rihanna Fenty confirmed the launch of Fenty, a new luxury fashion maison. Rihanna will be the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH, and this historic collaboration will be the first fashion house established by the group in more than 30 years. The launch of Fenty fashion comes less than two years after Rihanna collaborated with Kendo Holdings, Inc.—an innovative beauty brand incubator owned by LVMH—to launch Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, recognized as one of TIME magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2017. Barack Ferrazzano acted as a key advisor to LVMH in connection with the launch of both Fenty Beauty by Rihanna and the new Fenty maison, and provides ongoing counsel relating to the Fenty brand.

February 2019

It's been 35 years since a couple of Northwestern University law professors and BigLaw attorneys came together with a vision to create Barack Ferrazzano—a premier law firm alternative to that of the standard large firm model—that focused on a clients-first approach to delivering the highest quality legal services. According to the firm, what started out as a boutique real estate and corporate law firm has flourished into a full-service, mid-sized powerhouse with a global footprint that hasn't compromised its clients-first approach. The firm notes that its commitment to the continued success of Barack Ferrazzano is reflected in its persistence of bringing the next generation of young lawyers into meaningful leadership roles. Last year, three women were elected to the Management and Compensation Committees—a milestone for Barack Ferrazzano. As the firm continues to look to its next generation of leaders, it is pleased to add five partners to its practice leadership.

January 2019

On January 23, 2019, a judge in the Southern District of New York dismissed all claims against Barack Ferrazzano client GreatBanc Trust Company in a multi-billion-dollar nationwide lawsuit arising out of the 2007 Chicago Tribune leveraged buyout. The suit alleged that financial advisors to the transaction, including several investment banks, valuation firms, and the defendant financial institution aided and abetted the officers and directors related to the alleged improper transaction. The decision, In re: Tribune Co. Fraudulent Conveyance Litig. was reported in Law360.


Barack Ferrazzano celebrated another successful year of pro bono partnership with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). Together, the firm and NIJC provided free representation to clients in desperate need of legal services. The firm looks forward to another great year of partnership with the NIJC in 2019. Highlights from 2018 include:

  • DACA Clinic results in renewal approvals of nearly a dozen DREAMers.
  • Asylum granted for a Venezuelan pre-law student, a young Cuban Jehovah's Witness, and a political activist from Zimbabwe.
  • Matching donations to reunite families on #GivingTuesday, helping the NIJC raise over $50,000 in a single day.
Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP

200 West Madison Street
Suite 3900
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 984-3100

Firm Stats

Managing Partner: Howard J. Kirschbaum
Recruiting Chair: Owen H. Smith
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
100 - 150

Base Salary

1st year: $190,000
Summer Associate: $3,654/week

Employment Contact

Deborah K. Openshaw
(312) 629-5157

No. of U.S. Offices: 3

No. of International Offices: 0

Major Office Locations

Austin, TX
Chicago, IL (HQ)
Minneapolis, MN

Major Departments

Bankruptcy & Creditor Rights
Compensation & Employment
Corporate & Securities
Cybersecurity, Privacy, & Technology
Fashion, Luxury & Retail
Financial Institutions
Insurance Coverage
Intellectual Property
Manufacturing, Distribution & Franchising
Motor Vehicle
Real Estate
Tax & Business Planning
White Collar Defense & Regulatory Enforcement