Michael O'Donnell is a founder and the chairman of Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell. His national litigation practice focuses on complex civil litigation involving product liability, professional liability, torts, class actions and mass actions, commercial litigation, and bet-the-company matters. Mike has appeared as lead counsel in state and federal courts in 40 states, and he has served as national and regional counsel for numerous highly visible companies, including General Electric, Fresenius, Advanced Bionics, McKesson, Michelin, Boston Scientific, Guidant, and Pfizer.
A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Mike served as the chairman of its Colorado chapter for two consecutive years and currently serves as the Regent for the 10th Circuit. He was also elected a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and to the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mike is a former chairman of The Network of Trial Law Firms, a 7, 000-member lawyer organization that offers continuing legal education programs on litigation topics.
Colorado Super Lawyers has ranked Mike the number one lawyer in Colorado for four years in a row (2013-2016) based on a survey of his peers, and he has been named to its top 10 list every year since 2009. Best Lawyers lists Mike in seven litigation practice areas and named him Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year for 2011 and 2017, and Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year for 2012 and 2013. In 2011, Law Week Colorado selected Mike as one of 10 Lawyers of the Decade in Colorado. In a survey conducted by Law Week Colorado in 2010, Mike was selected by his peers as the Best Trial Lawyer in Colorado.
In 2012, Mike was honored with the DU Law Outstanding Alumni Award which is presented each year to one DU Law graduate who has demonstrated professional achievement and humanitarian service to the community. In 2008, he became only the seventh defense lawyer to receive an award from the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for the highest standards of competency, ethics, and professionalism.
Member, Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee for U. S. Senator Cory Gardner, 2015
Legal Memberships, Activities, and Honors
fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
Regent Liaison for ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice,
Sandra Day O'Connor Award Committee, 2013-2015
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Committee, 2013-2015
Regent's Nominating Committee, 2014
Special Problems in the Administration of Justice Committee, Vice
Adjunct State Committee, 2011-2012
Colorado State Committee, Chairman, 2008-2010
Chairman-Elect, 2007-2008, Vice Chairman, 2006-2007
Code of Conduct Committee, 2007-2008
Complex Litigation Committee 2004-2005
fellow, International Academy of Trial Lawyers
American Board of Trial Advocates
fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
Member, Diversity Law Institute
Member, Trial Law Institute
Product Liability - Nationwide, 2015-2016
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2009-2016
Law Week Colorado
Barrister's Best Best Overall Litigator, 2015
People's Choice Class Action Defense Lawyer, 2014
Barrister's Best Best Class Action/Mass Tort Defense Lawyer, 2012
Lawyers of the Decade, 2011
Barrister's Best Best Trial Lawyer, 2010
Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year, 2011, 2014, 2017
Denver Personal Injury Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2015
Denver Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2012-2013
Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2005-2017
Commercial Litigation, 2005-2017
Legal Malpractice Law, 2005-2017
Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions, 2017
Personal Injury Litigation, 2005-2017
Product Liability Litigation, 2005-2017
Professional Malpractice Law, 2017
The Legal 500 United States
Litigation: Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense, 2007, 2009-2011,
Commercial Litigation - Colorado, 2011-2016
Product Liability - Colorado, 2013-2016
Professional Liability - Colorado, 2013-2016
Colorado Super Lawyers
Ranked #1 in Colorado, 2013-2016
Top 10, 2007, 2009-2016
Personal Injury Defense: Products, 2009-2016
Class Action/Mass Torts, 2006-2008
2015 Top Lawyer
Personal Injury Defense
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Outstanding Alumni Award, 2012
Euromoney's Expert Guides - Litigation and Product Liability
Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Review Rated
The International Who's Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers, 2011, 2014-2016
The International Who's Who of Life Sciences Lawyers, 2014, 2016
Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS)
ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice, member
2015 Rebuilding Justice Award
Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
Award for Competency, Ethics, and Professionalism, 2008
The American Lawyer
Top Commercial Litigation Lawyers, 2006
2014 Lawyer of the Year - Litigation & Dispute Resolution (Denver)
Best of the Bar, Denver Business Journal
Colorado Bar Foundation
The Network of Trial Law Firms
Denver Bar Association
Vice President, Board of Trustees
Colorado Bar Association
Member, Board of Governors
American Bar Association
Chairman, Issues Affecting the Legal Profession
Young Lawyers Section Liaison to Standing Committee on
American Bar Foundation
International Association of Defense Counsel
Judge William E. Doyle American Inn of Court, Master
Denver Law Club
Faculty of Federal Advocates
Board of Directors, 2004-2005
Defense Research Institute
Member, Professional Liability Committee
Colorado Defense Lawyers Association
USDC Colorado Committee on Conduct, 2012
Who's Who in Law, Denver Business Journal
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Co-Chair of Reunion Committee, 2004
Colorado Judicial Institute
Board of Directors, 2004-present
Judicial Awards Committee, 2006-present
IAALS Law Firm Council
National Center for State Courts
Lawyers Committee Member
•Advanced Bionics - National Trial Counsel
•Boston Scientific - National Trial Counsel
•City & County of Denver
•Crown Equipment - Regional Trial Counsel
•Denver International Airport
•Fresenius - National Counsel
•General Electric - National Resolution and Trial Counsel
•Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance
•Guidant - National Trial Counsel
•High net-worth individuals
•Lawyers and Law Firms
•Level 3 Communications
•Michelin North America, Inc. - Regional Trial Counsel
•Pfizer - National Counsel
Community Memberships, Activities, and Honors
Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell Foundation
Founder and President, 2005-present
Archdiocese of Denver
Finance Council, 2008-2013
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Denver
Board Member, 2010-present
Denver Police Foundation
Board of Directors, 2004-present
Walking for Kids
Founding Member, Board of Directors, 2009-present
Trial.com Foundation, Inc.
The Catholic Foundation
Board of Directors, Advancement Committee, 2004-2005
American Heart Association of Colorado and Wyoming
Chairman of the Board
American Heart Association of Colorado
Denver Metro Division, Chairman of the Board
Denver Tennis Club
Board of Directors
The Village Club
Hundred Club of Denver
Family, golf, reading, travel
BAR-BRI Course on Professional Responsibility
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
University of Colorado at Denver, MBA Program
Numerous CLE Presentations
• Dollars and $ense Negotiating the Pay Raise - Practical Advice from the Decision-Makers presented at the Association of Corporate Counsel Colorado Chapter CLE and reception (May 12, 2016).
•Association of Corporate Counsel: Negotiating the Pay Raise, May 12, 2016.
• Settling Strategies for MDLs: Getting Started, Setting Values, and Overcoming Obstacles, presented at the Mass Torts Judicial Forum in New York City, (April 15, 2016).
•Co-authored New Strategies for Defending Professional Liability and Malpractice Cases. Best Practices for Addressing Professional Liability Claims, (2015).
•Book Chapter, Deconstructing the Key Liability Expert: Strategy and Secrets for Successful Cross-Examination, From the Trenches: Strategies and Tips From 21 of the Nation's Top Trial Lawyers, (2015).
• The Defense Perspective: How Loss Prevention and Firm Management Practices Can Impact Malpractice Claims, presented at an Ethics CLE at Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell, (November 19, 2014).
• Managing a Large Casualty Claim, presented at the Advisen Casualty Insights Conference in New York City, (March 27, 2014).
• Avoiding Missteps in Handling Litigation and Other Disputes, presented to the Association of Corporate Counsel Colorado Chapter, (December 5, 2012).
• The Trial of a Legal Malpractice Case, presented at the Aon Law Firm Symposium, (October 12, 2012).
• Unique Issues in Mass Torts, presented at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, (November 7, 2011).
• Negotiation, presented to MBA students at McGill University, (October 12, 2011).
• The Nuts and Bolts of Successor Liability, presented to CNA, (February 10, 2011).
• Ethics CLE: Avoiding Malpractice, University of Denver Alumni Weekend, (October 14, 2010).
• Settlement Negotiation Strategies, Continuing Legal Education Seminar, (May 2010).
• Strategic Management, University of Colorado at Denver MBA Program, (February 2010).
• Deposition Strategy 101, Colorado Defense Lawyers Association CLE Seminar, (December 4, 2009).
• Leadership and Strategic Management, presented to University of Colorado MBA Students, (December 1, 2009).
• Leadership, University of Colorado at Denver MBA Program, (December 1, 2009).
• Preventing Legal Malpractice, Potential Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them, Colorado Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Seminar, (2009-2013).
• Managing Product Liability in the Americas, quoted in Financier Worldwide, (September 2009).
• Alternative Dispute Resolution, presented to CNA, (March 2008).
• Appellate Update on Colorado Law, presented to All Colorado State Court Trial and Appellate Judges, (September 2007).
• What In-House Counsel Want and How to Give It to Them, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms, (April 20, 2007).
• Selecting Outside Trial Counsel, presented to Association of Corporate Counsel Colorado Chapter, (March 21, 2007).
• Selection of Outside Counsel, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms, (April 29, 2006).
• Pharmaceutical Torts Cases in Colorado, presented at Colorado Bar Association and Denver Bar Association CLE Ethical Consideration for Practitioners, (November 3, 2005).
• Punitive Damages, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms, (October 23, 2004).
• Punitive Damages, presented at 27th Annual Conference of Colorado Defense Lawyers Association, (August 20, 2004).
• Campbell v. State Farm, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms' Meeting, (Apr. 2003).
• Colorado Civil Justice League Legislative Panel, presented in conjunction with the American Tort Reform Association Annual Legislative Conference for State Coalition Leaders and Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, (November 14, 2002).
• Non-Liability to Non-Participants: A Manufacturer's Duty Should End at the Playing Field, and Not Extend to Criminal Acts, Mealey's Prod. Liab. & Risk, (August 29, 2002).
• Behold the Future: Emerging Areas Including Mold, Cellular Phones, MTBE, Chromium 6, and More, presented at The Future of Mass Tort Litigation in America, (March 23, 2002).
• Ethics and Professionalism in Client Relations, presented at University of Denver Law School, (November 12, 2001).
• Challenging the Admissibility of Medical Causation Opinion Derived From 'Differential Diagnosis - Application of Daubert and Amended FRE 702', presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms, (October 26, 2001).
• Winning by Disqualifying Plaintiff's Experts, presented at The Network of Trial Law Firms, (October 25, 2001).
• Preventing Legal Malpractice, presented at Colorado Bar Association CLE Seminar and Torts Update, (October 9, 1998).
• Colorado Legal Malpractice, presented to the Colorado Bar Association Tort Law Update, (1998).
• Winning the Battle of the Experts, presented at Professional Education Systems Inc., (December 16, 1996).
• Discovery, presented at Colorado Defense Lawyers Association, (August 27, 1994).
• Depositions: Strategies, Tactics and Mechanics, presented at Professional Education Systems Inc., (November 11, 1992).
•22 WTO Lawyers ranked in the 23rd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America
•Chambers USA 2016 Ranks WTO Among Top Firms Nationwide and in Colorado
•DRI The Voice, March 30, 2016.
•The Network of Trial Law Firms blog, Super Lawyers Ranks Michael O'Donnell the #1 Lawyer in Colorado for Fourth consecutive year, March 15, 2016.
•WTO Management Team Wins Three of Three
•Law Week Colorado, WTO Partners Rack Up Defense Wins, November 30, 2015.
•20 WTO Lawyers ranked in the 22nd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America
•Denver Business Journal, Search Committee Formed to Find Federal Judge in Colorado, August 13, 2015.
•WTO Leads the Nation for Ranked Lawyers in Product Liability & Mass Torts Defense in Chambers USA 2015
•University of Denver Magazine, Practice-Ready DU Law Grads are Building Colorado's Legal Community, December 15, 2014.
•Best Lawyers 2015 Ranks 20 WTO Attorneys
•Best Lawyers Names Two WTO Partners Denver Lawyers of the Year
•Denver Business Journal, Challenged Golf Fan Walks Tall for Kids, February 21, 2014.
•Denver Business Journal, Overcoming Obstacles: Golf 'Legend' Brings His Story, and a Check, to Denver, February 12, 2014.
•Law Week Colorado, Denver Attorney Elected Regent of American College of Trial Lawyers, November 2, 2012.
•Mike O'Donnell Elected Regent of American College of Trial Lawyers
•Benchmark Litigation 2013 Ranks Seven WTO Partners Among 33 Colorado Litigation Stars
•Denver University Law School, DU Law Star Mike O'Donnell, JD '79, September 17, 2012.
•Law Week Colorado's 2012 Barrister's Best Recognizes Two WTO Lawyers
•Law Week Colorado, DU Law Selects Wheeler Trigg Chairman for Alumni Award, July 10, 2012.
•Michael O'Donnell Recognized with DU Sturm College of Law's 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award
•Denver Business Journal, Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell is Rising to New Heights, June 8, 2012.
•Benchmark Litigation Ranks Six WTO Partners Among 30 Colorado Litigation Stars
•Best Lawyers Names Michael O'Donnell and Malcolm Wheeler 2012 Denver Lawyers of the Year
•Denver Business Journal, Early Communication Negates Surprises for Law Firm, July 22, 2011.
•Law Week Colorado, Lawyers of the Decade: Michael O'Donnell, March 14, 2011.
•Best Lawyers Names Michael O'Donnell 2011 Denver Legal Malpractice Lawyer of the Year
•Law Week Colorado, Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell's Michael O'Donnell to Chair College Again, November 25, 2009.
•Denver Business Journal, Firm Knows Happy Employees Mean Happy Clients, November 22, 2009.
•WTO's Mike O'Donnell Named Colorado Chair of American College of Trial Lawyers
•Denver Business Journal, Wheeler Trigg Adding O'Donnell to Law Firm Name, May 31, 2009.
•Denver Business Journal, Law Firm Wheeler Trigg Adds Chairman O'Donnell to Name, May 26, 2009.
•Denver Business Journal, Law Firm Focuses on 'The Right Thing, ' November 23, 2008.
•SJ for WTO Medical Device Manufacturer Client Based on Federal Preemption Law
•Mike O'Donnell Colorado Chair of American College of Trial Lawyers
•Denver Business Journal, O'Donnell Honored, July 20, 2008.
•Colorado Plaintiffs' Lawyers Honor Defense Lawyer Michael O'Donnell
•O'Donnell Chair of Network of Trial Law Firms
•Mike O'Donnell 2004-05 Chair-Elect of Network of Trial Law Firms
•Three WTO Lawyers Nominated for Best of the Bar; Trigg Wins Lifetime Achievement Award