Kirk C. Jenkins chairs Sedgwick’s Appellate Task Force. He has served as appellate counsel in approximately 200 appeals and petitions for interlocutory review in state and federal courts across the country. And yet, he understands that sometimes, the most successful appeals are the ones that don’t have to happen — whether because the plaintiff concludes that an appeal from a defense verdict is unlikely to succeed, or because post-trial motions have reduced an adverse verdict to the point where an acceptable resolution is possible.
For that reason, Mr. Jenkins believes that an appellate lawyer is an essential part of a litigation team even before trial begins. While the trial team works to win the case at trial, Mr. Jenkins focuses on what will happen afterwards. Beginning even before the jury is chosen, he works to ensure that the clients’ themes and points are presented in the best way to persuade an appellate court, and that the client’s objections to any adverse decisions have been preserved, sometimes briefing and arguing key motions before the trial court himself. He helps the trial team craft the client’s arguments with an eye towards not just what the law is, but what the law may soon become because of not-yet-decided cases pending in the appellate courts. He has briefed and argued many post-trial motions in the trial courts, reducing adverse judgments and improving the record for appeal before the appeal ever begins. He has also appeared before higher courts as amicus in cases presenting related issues, and helped move the law in a more beneficial direction before the client’s case was decided.
In 21 years as a full-time appellate lawyer, he has litigated a broad range of issues across many industries, including federal preemption; electrocution injuries; failure to warn and design defect; the admissibility of economic testimony; groundwater contamination; primary and exclusive administrative jurisdiction; alleged asbestos exposure; the extraterritorial application of federal and state law, and the certification and decertification of consumer class actions.
Affiliations, Activities and Accomplishments
Mr. Jenkins has been repeatedly recognized as among the leaders of the national appellate bar.
He has been selected by his peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America© in the field of appellate law for the past eight editions, 2010-2017. He has also been recognized as a Seventh Circuit Litigation Star in the 2012-2013 editions of the Benchmark Appellate Guide
He is designated as a Certified Specialist in Appellate Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. (The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications in the practice of law, nor are such certificates, awards or recognition a requirement to practice law in Illinois.)
He was elected in 2006 to membership in the American Law Institute. The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. The Institute (made up of 4000 lawyers, judges, and law professors of the highest qualifications) drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, model statutes, and principles of law that are enormously influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education. Mr. Jenkins serves as a member consultant to four ALI Restatements currently being drafted by Reporters with the assistance of ALI members: U.S. Law of International Commercial Arbitration; Torts: Intentional Torts to Persons; Torts: Liability for Economic Harm; and the Restatement of the Law of Liability Insurance.
He was elected to membership in 2002 in the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Academy membership is limited to attorneys with substantial experience in the appellate courts, and members are elected only after rigorous scrutiny of their appellate skills. Mr. Jenkins chairs the Academy’s Technology Committee.
He serves by appointment of the Chair of the Council of Appellate Lawyers on the Amicus Committee of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association.
He pursues his interest in applying sophisticated statistical techniques to the analysis of appellate decision-making through his membership in the Society for Empirical Legal Studies. The Society is an international organization of scholars which stimulates ongoing conversations among scholars in law, economics, political science, criminology, finance, psychology, sociology, health care and other disciplines.
He is a member of the American Economic Association. The Association’s mission is to encourage economic research, especially the historical and statistical study of the actual conditions of industrial life.
In addition to his legal affiliations, Mr. Jenkins is a member of several historical and architectural preservation groups, and is a Life Member of the Lincoln Forum.
Presentations and Publications
Mr. Jenkins is a prolific writer and a frequent speaker on emerging issues pending in the appellate courts. He edits and frequently writes for The Appellate Strategist and The Illinois Supreme Court Review the blogs of Sedgwick’s Appellate Task Force. Mr. Jenkins talks extensively about the reasons Sedgwick established The Illinois Supreme Court Review in this interview at LXBN.com.
Mr. Jenkins’ recent publications include:
Mr. Jenkins’ recent presentations include: