Trent P. Cornell


Business Phone: 312.759.1836
Business Fax: 312.759.1939


Trent focuses his practice on complex business and environmental litigation and counseling. Clients praise Trent’s ability to devise and execute litigation plans, to break down highly complicated issues for judges, juries and regulators, and the fact that he does not lose sight of business goals in a morass of negotiation and litigation tactics. In all instances, Trent is committed to helping his clients maximize strategic business opportunities, regardless of whether litigation is involved or not.

By preparing cases to win at trial--as opposed to simply litigating by a playbook and hoping to settle--end results are better and more predictable. This results driven case preparation also yields cost savings by reducing unnecessary motion practice and discovery. Using the same bottom line approach, Trent also devotes significant time to counseling and collaborating with clients on ways to avoid litigation in the first place. This collaboration is particularly important in the environmental realm to spot and address issues before they turn into litigation, or to set a cohesive strategy if litigation or regulatory action is already in motion.

Trent’s experience covers representing and defending clients in single party, class, derivative or collective actions involving breach of contract, environmental, trade secret, breach of fiduciary duty, product liability/tort, and other claims. Leveraging both his financial and litigation experience, Trent has gained national recognition for his courtroom work representing retiree groups and trustees in large bankruptcy claims for tens to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Representative Matters

  • Represents a major waste services company in business and regulatory litigation throughout the United States. Matters range from commercial business disputes through environmental and odor claims, often brought on a class basis.
  • Lead counsel for the Liquidating Trustee of Vineyard National Bancorp in director & officer litigation. Facets of this case took place in Federal District and Bankruptcy courts in Los Angeles, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and mediation in California and New York. The client praised Trent’s aggressive positioning of the case for trial as the reason a multi-million dollar settlement was reached far faster and on terms that exceeded the client’s expectations.
  • Successfully represented clients in class action and individual tort cases pending in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Achieved complete victory for an international internet retailer in a stockholder/breach of fiduciary duty arbitration that spanned more than eight months of hearings with multiple financial expert witnesses. Trent’s client won on all aspects of the case, including an award of nearly all fees and costs incurred over the two-plus year arbitration process.
  • Extensive experience representing clients in injunctive or other emergency proceedings in Illinois and several other states. Clients have both obtained and defeated temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions in these matters.
  • Represented several clients in complex shareholder/partner buy-out matters involving complex business violations.
  • Lead counsel to the Official Committee of Retirees in the Dana Bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. The case was settled on the morning trial was to begin for approximately $93 million. The initial offer made by the debtors was zero.
  • Lead counsel for retirees and retiree committees in several major bankruptcies, including Chrysler, Hayes-Lemmerz, Hostess Brands, Edison Mission Energy, FV Steel and others. These cases require understanding the financial realities of multi-billion dollar corporations with intensive discovery and financial expert testimony--always on extremely expedited time frames.

Professional and Community Involvement

  • American Bar Association; Litigation Section, ABA Advisory Panel
  • American Bankruptcy Institute; Litigation Subcommittee
  • Village Trustee, Glencoe, Illinois

Rankings and Recognition

  • Illinois Super Lawyers , Business Litigation 2012-2018
  • Named “Restructuring Litigator of the Year in Illinois” by Corporate INL Magazine in 2014 and 2015 and “Restructuring Litigator - Illinois” by Global Law Experts in 2014
  • Illinois Super Lawyers “Rising Star,” 2010, 2011
  • National Environmental Moot Court Team, Notre Dame



  • University of Notre Dame, J.D., 1997
  • University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1994

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, including Trial Bar
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin