Brienne M. Letourneau

Partner

Chicago
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
300 North LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60654-3406

Brienne M. Letourneau is a partner in the Litigation Department. She is a litigator and trial lawyer who represents businesses and institutions in their most complex and high-stakes matters. Her significant litigation experience extends to a variety of substantive areas, including fiduciary litigation, asset management disputes, ERISA litigation, director and officer liability, consumer class actions, contract disputes, and business torts. Brienne has represented a wide array of public and private companies, including leading wealth management and financial services companies and multinational consumer-facing businesses, as well as individual directors, officers, and fiduciaries, and prominent higher education institutions.

Brienne has broad experience representing clients as plaintiffs and defendants before state and federal courts and arbitral tribunals throughout the country. She has succeeded for her clients in every phase of litigation, from early dispositive motion practice to trial and appeal, and has a track record of defeating high-stakes class actions and other “bet-the-company” matters that her clients have faced. In particular, Brienne has substantial experience litigating asset management disputes, and has prevailed in numerous cases in which she represented fiduciaries and service providers who faced breach of fiduciary duty claims challenging their management of retirement plans and other trust assets. She also has obtained favorable results in a variety of matters involving consumer claims and business-to-business disputes. Additionally, Brienne has successfully defended clients in connection with government subpoenas and investigative demands.

Brienne writes and speaks on fiduciary litigation, ERISA litigation, and higher education topics. Each year since 2014, Super Lawyers has recognized Brienne as a “Rising Star” in Illinois in business litigation.

Brienne maintains a pro bono practice representing clients in civil actions and counseling non-profit organizations.

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Brienne M. Letourneau is a partner in the Litigation Department. She is a litigator and trial lawyer who represents businesses and institutions in their most complex and high-stakes matters. Her significant litigation experience extends to a variety of substantive areas, including fiduciary litigation, asset management disputes, ERISA litigation, director and officer liability, consumer class actions, contract disputes, and business torts. Brienne has represented a wide array of public and private companies, including leading wealth management and financial services companies and multinational consumer-facing businesses, as well as individual directors, officers, and fiduciaries, and prominent higher education institutions.

Selected Significant Matters

Some of Brienne’s recent representations include*:

  • Won dismissal of a class action alleging that a major private university had mismanaged workers’ retirement savings, which was affirmed on appeal to the Seventh Circuit.
  • Defeated class certification and won summary judgment in an action alleging mismanagement of trust assets by a professional fiduciary.
  • Won dismissal of claims for breaches of fiduciary duty in multiple actions against a financial services company in connection with individual participant investment advice in 401(k) plans.
  • Won dismissal of a class action alleging that an asset management company executed an imprudent investment strategy on behalf of a defined benefit pension plan.
  • Won dismissal of a class action alleging that a company violated ERISA’s anti-cutback provisions by reducing older employees’ accrued pension benefits, which was affirmed on appeal to the Seventh Circuit.
  • Won dismissal and summary judgment of multiple consumer class actions filed against a marketing services company and a global publishing company.
  • Argued and won summary judgment in a complex breach of contract action asserted by a marketing services company against its service provider.
  • Successfully represented a pro bono client in a civil rights action in which she second-chaired a federal jury trial and conducted multiple direct and cross examinations

*Brienne advised on these matters prior to joining Willkie.

Prior Experience

Prior to joining Willkie, Brienne was a partner at another major law firm in Chicago.

Selected Professional and Business Activities

Brienne serves on the Board of Directors for Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, and is a member of the Chicago Bar Association and the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA).

Selected Publications and Lectures

  • Co-Author, “Determining Necessity of Discretionary Distributions,” The Estate Planner, June 17, 2020
  • Co-Author, “Making a Federal Case Out of Trustee Termination,” The Estate Planner, March 3, 2020
  • Co-Author, “The Perils of Failing to Follow the Trust Instrument,” The Estate Planner, November 20, 201
  • Co-Author, “A Trustee’s Fiduciary Duties May Extend to 529 Accounts,” The Estate Planner, June 26, 2019
  • Co-Author, “Collegiate Concussion Cases with Implications for the Sports Industry,” Sports Business Journal, September 2018
  • Co-Author, “3 Key Concussion Issues To Be Decided By Ohio High Court,” Law360, April 10, 2018
  • Speaker, “ERISA Supreme Court Update,” Chicago Bar Association, February 2014
  • “Eleventh Circuit Becomes Latest Circuit to Adopt Rebuttable Presumption That Fiduciaries Act Prudently by Investing in Employer Stock,” Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 38, No. 2, Autumn 2012

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