Michael O'Donnell
Practice Areas
Industries
Representative Clients
  • Advanced Bionics - National Trial Counsel
  • Boston Scientific - National Trial Counsel
  • City & County of Denver
  • CoorsTek
  • Crown Equipment - Regional Trial Counsel
  • Denver International Airport
  • Dish Network
  • 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

Michael O'Donnell
 

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. 

Legal Memberships, Activities, and Honors

Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
    Regent, 2012-2016
    Regent Liaison for ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice,
    2013-2015
    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
        Chairman, 2011-2012
    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
    Member
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
    Member, Diversity Law Institute
    Member, Trial Law Institute
Chambers USA
   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
Best Lawyers
    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,
    2013
Benchmark Litigation
    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
5280 Magazine
    2015 Top Lawyer
          Personal Injury Defense
          Civil Litigation
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
Corporate LiveWire
    2014 Lawyer of the Year - Litigation & Dispute Resolution (Denver)
Best of the Bar, Denver Business Journal
Colorado Bar Foundation
    Fellow
The Network of Trial Law Firms
    Chairman, 2005-2006
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
        Professional Discipline
American Bar Foundation
    Fellow
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
    Founding member
National Center for State Courts
    Lawyers Committee Member

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.
    President, 2005-2006
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
    President
Hundred Club of Denver
    Member

Teaching Positions

BAR-BRI Course on Professional Responsibility
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
    Guest Lecturer
University of Colorado at Denver, MBA Program
    Guest Lecturer
Numerous CLE Presentations

Personal Interests

Family, golf, reading, travel
 


Michael O'Donnell has appeared as lead defense counsel in 40 states for product liability, professional liability, class and mass actions, and complex commercial matters for many of the nation's leading companies. Mike is a Fellow and Regent of the American College of Trial Lawyers. His colleagues and peers have voted him the #1 lawyer in Colorado Super Lawyers for four consecutive years.

Representative Cases
Representative Clients
  • Advanced Bionics - National Trial Counsel
  • Boston Scientific - National Trial Counsel
  • City & County of Denver
  • CoorsTek
  • Crown Equipment - Regional Trial Counsel
  • Denver International Airport
  • Dish Network
  • 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
Bar and Court Admissions
  • Colorado
  • Wyoming
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court
Teaching Positions

BAR-BRI Course on Professional Responsibility
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
University of Denver Sturm College of Law
    Guest Lecturer
University of Colorado at Denver, MBA Program
    Guest Lecturer
Numerous CLE Presentations

Legal Memberships, Activities, and Honors

Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
    Regent, 2012-2016
    Regent Liaison for ACTL Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice,
    2013-2015
    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
        Chairman, 2011-2012
    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
    Member
Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
    Member, Diversity Law Institute
    Member, Trial Law Institute
Chambers USA
   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
Best Lawyers
    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,
    2013
Benchmark Litigation
    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
5280 Magazine
    2015 Top Lawyer
          Personal Injury Defense
          Civil Litigation
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
Corporate LiveWire
    2014 Lawyer of the Year - Litigation & Dispute Resolution (Denver)
Best of the Bar, Denver Business Journal
Colorado Bar Foundation
    Fellow
The Network of Trial Law Firms
    Chairman, 2005-2006
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
        Professional Discipline
American Bar Foundation
    Fellow
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
    Founding member
National Center for State Courts
    Lawyers Committee Member

Government Service

Member, Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee for U. S. Senator Cory Gardner, 2015

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.
    President, 2005-2006
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
    President
Hundred Club of Denver
    Member

Personal Interests

Family, golf, reading, travel
 

Articles/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).
Press
Education
  • University of Denver Sturm College of Law, J.D., 1979
    Intern to the Honorable Sherman Finesilver, United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  • University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1976, English
Government Service

Member, Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee for U. S. Senator Cory Gardner, 2015

Bar and Court Admissions
  • Colorado
  • Wyoming
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court