Catherine M. Masters



Catherine Masters enjoys a challenge. For 35 years, she has briefed and argued the most complex litigation issues at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts. When cases go awry, she steps in to steer them in the right direction and provide the counsel, analysis and strategy to solve difficult legal problems. Catherine deftly litigates matters related to insurance/reinsurance, product liability, employment, constitutional law, professional liability and general commercial disputes.

Appellate Skills

When litigation goes to the appellate level, Catherine skillfully represents clients’ interests, with experience in state and federal appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. She has handled complex trial proceedings involving class actions and multidistrict litigation, as well as post-trial proceedings and dispositive motions.

Product Liability Litigation

Catherine has successfully:

  • Briefed matters in the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutional limits of punitive damages, claims for fear of future injury, standards for settlement class actions and original Supreme Court proceedings
  • Briefed important product liability matters of first impression in the highest courts of several states on the constitutionality of tort reform legislation, clarification and content of available tort theories, exposure/risk/fear issues and accrual/limitation issues
  • Briefed matters related to asbestos MDL proceedings, including severance of punitive damages claims upon remand, mandamus proceedings on the legitimacy of the MDL proceedings and complex discovery issues
  • Litigated influential cases on the courts’ authority to manage their dockets by placing marginal cases on inactive status, the application of market-share theory to asbestos litigation and nationwide class certification
  • Briefed state and federal product liability appeals nationwide, overturning adverse judgments and upholding favorable judgments

Insurance and Reinsurance

Catherine’s work for insurers and reinsurers has included:

  • Preventing adverse outcomes for insurer clients on claims of bad faith and other consumer allegations
  • Winning summary judgment for insurers and reinsurers on duty-to-defend and coverage issues
  • Successfully representing clients in arbitration and post-arbitration proceedings

Employment Litigation

For employers, Catherine has experience defending Section 1983 cases asserting First Amendment, equal protection and due process claims, including reverse discrimination, whistleblower and class action cases. She has also litigated the applicability of pre-dispute arbitration agreements to Title VII claims.

Faculty Positions

  • University of Chicago Law School — Adjunct Instructor, “Litigation Laboratory” class, 2011-present

Personal Interests

Catherine learned to love challenges from her father — a member of the “greatest generation” who rose to the challenges of the Depression, hard service in World War II and building his own carpentry business. She is proud to follow in the footsteps of his resilience and work ethic.


Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Hon. Luther M. Swygert, 1982-1984


University of Chicago Law School
J.D. with honors, recipient of the Joseph Henry Beale Prize, The University of Chicago Law Review (editorial board) (1982)

Yale University
M.A. in Classical Languages and Literature, with honors (1977)

University of Chicago
A.B. in Classical Languages and Literature, with honors, Phi Beta Kapppa (1976)

Insights & Events

Other Perspectives
  • May a Court Enjoin Arbitration as Precluded by a Prior Confirmed Arbitration Award?
    HarrisMartin’s Reinsurance & Arbitration Publication, January 27, 2016, and ARIAS-US Quarterly, Fourth Quarter 2015

Leadership & Community

Pro Bono

  • Death penalty 
  • Juvenile criminal defense
  • Civil rights
  • Employment

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Seventh Circuit Bar Association
  • Chicago Council of Lawyers

Civic Activities

  • Legal Aid Chicago — Board of Directors (former Co-Chair)
  • Chicago Bar Association Chorus — Member
  • Housing Forward — Volunteer, 2018-present


  • Best Lawyers® — Insurance Law; Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions, 2019-22 (Lawyer of the Year - Insurance Law, 2019)
  • Illinois Leading Lawyers Network — Product Liability Defense Law, Toxic Torts Defense Law
  • Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rating: AV® Preeminent™
  • Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2020

Awards Methodology

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