James A. McKenna: Lawyer with Jackson Lewis P.C.

James A. McKenna

Chicago,  IL  U.S.A.
Phone(312) 787-4949

Peer Rating
AV® Preeminent

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Experience & Credentials Ratings & Reviews

Practice Areas

  • Background Checks
  • General Employment Litigation
  • Class Actions and Complex Litigation
University University of Dayton, B.A., summa cum laude, 1974
Law SchoolNorthwestern University, J.D., cum laude, 1977 Note and Comment Editor of the Northwestern University Law Review
Admitted2003, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals; 1980, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; 2011, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals; 1992, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; 1977, Illinois; 2013, Wisconsin - E.D. Wis.; 2010, Illinois - C.D. Ill.; 1978, Illinois - N.D. Ill.; 2009, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Bar & Professional Association Memberships
Illinois Northern District Trial Bar
Illinois State Bar Association


James A. McKenna is a Shareholder in the Chicago, Illinois office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Mr. McKenna specializes in the litigation of employment disputes, including class actions, wage and hour claims, Fair Credit Reporting Act claims, and non-competition counseling and litigation.

Mr. McKenna has over 30 years of experience in civil litigation, representing small and mid-sized businesses, as well as Fortune 500 companies, in a wide range of complex matters involving: commercial litigation, labor and employment, class action and derivative litigation, trade secrets and unfair competition, arbitration and mediation, bankruptcy and workout litigation, antitrust, and intellectual property.

Mr. McKenna has handled employment discrimination claims at the state and federal levels. Among other things, he was co-lead trial counsel and argued the appeal in Kirkpatrick v. Pfizer, Inc., 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 16484 (10th Cir. 2010), was lead defense counsel during the trial in EEOC v. Chicago Miniature Lamp, 947 F.2d 292 (7th Cir. (1991), and personally tried 27 individual reinstatement claims in a nationwide Title VII class action.

Mr. McKenna also has substantial experience in class action and derivative litigation, in which he has defended claims brought under federal and state wage and hour laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employment discrimination laws, ERISA, the securities laws, and state fraud and consumer protection laws. His clients in this area have included General Dynamics, Gulfstream Aerospace, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines, Molex, and the trustees of a large pension fund.

Mr. McKenna is a co-chair of the firm's Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) litigation practice. He has handled the defense of numerous FCRA class actions, has counseled numerous other clients on FCRA compliance issues, and has lectured and written frequently on the FCRA and class actions.

Mr. McKenna has counseled clients and represented both plaintiffs and defendants in numerous matters involving employee covenants not to compete, theft of trade secrets, unfair competition, false advertising claims under the Lanham Act, and technology outsourcing. He also litigated one of the first cases applying the Illinois Computer Crime Prevention Law to the theft of trade secrets by a former employee.

Mr. McKenna also has substantial experience trying cases in arbitrations and handling mediations.

Mr. McKenna is one of only 113 attorneys in the US named to the 2007 BTI Client Service All-Star Team for Law Firms, published by BTI Consulting, the leading provider of strategic research to the legal industry. The award recognizes lawyers who deliver “the best client service to Fortune 1000 clients.” Lawyers appear on the list only when they have been named by clients in an unprompted manner through BTI's independent research. In addition, he was named to the 2015 Best Lawyers in America list, and has been named as one of Illinois' “Super Lawyers, ” a distinction accorded no more than 5% of Illinois lawyers. Mr. McKenna is “AV” rated by Martindale-Hubbell, its highest rating.

Mr. McKenna is admitted to practice in Illinois, and before the U.S. District Courts for the Central and Northern Districts of Illinois, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits.

Mr. McKenna obtained his B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Dayton, and his J.D., cum laude, from Northwestern University Law School, where he was note and comment editor of the Northwestern University Law Review.

Selected Publications
•“Conducting Background Checks in Compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, ” HR Leader (HRMAC, July 2013, forthcoming)
•The Illinois Law of Trade Secrets (co-editor, 2007)
•“Remote access technology for your law practice, ” IBSA's Standing Committee on Legal Technology, Vol. 15, No. 2 (2007)
•“Reverse Freedom of Information Act Suits: Confidential Information in Search of Protection, ” Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 70, Pg. 996 (1976)
•“The Constitutional Protection of Private Papers: The Role of a Hierarchical Fourth Amendment, ” Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 53, Pg. 55 (1977)

Selected Presentations
•“Employment Screens & Background Checks and the Impact on Hiring and Termination Decisions” (Chicago, January 2015)
•“Million Dollar Misdemeanors: Avoiding Liability for Background Checks Under Title VII and the Fair Credit Reporting Act” (Oakbrook, IL, June 2013)
•“The Ins and Outs of the Fair Credit Reporting Act” (Chicago, May 2013)
•“Employment Law Decisions, Supreme Court Term 2011-12” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2012)
•“Class Arbitration of Employment Law Disputes After Stolt-Nielsen and Conception” (Chicago, December 2011)
•“Getting Off On the Right Foot: How to Vet Job Applicants Without Breaking the Law” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2011)
•“Employment Law Decisions, Supreme Court Term 2009-10” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2010)
•“Employment Law Decisions, Supreme Court Term 2008-09” (Chicago and Oakbrook, IL, July 2009)
•“Discovery in Commercial Arbitration” (Chicago, May 2006)

Honors, Awards and Pro Bono Activites

•Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America 2015
•Selected for inclusion in the 2008 - 2015 editions of Illinois Super Lawyers


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Office Information

James A. McKenna

150 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2500
ChicagoIL 60601


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