Photo of Kenneth L. Cunniff

Kenneth L. Cunniff

Of Counsel


Loyola University Law School, J.D.,1972

Loyola University, B.A., 1969




Federal Judicial Clerkship, Honorable William J. Lynch, of the United States District Court, N. D. of Illinois (1972-1974)

Ken has experience in all fields of litigation, dispute resolution, and corporate investigation. As a federal trial lawyer, he argued landmark cases in the United States Supreme Court, and the Illinois Supreme Court, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for numerous circuits and the Illinois Appellate Court. Ken has tried over 125 jury trials to verdict in Federal and State Court. He currently serves as Of Counsel at SmithAmundsen.

On behalf of public and private clients, Ken’s current practice focuses on complex civil and criminal matters involving government investigations, health care fraud, insider trading, white collar criminal defense, maritime claims, and regulatory compliance. With over forty years of experience in government investigations, Ken has a big-picture perspective that enables him to advise clients on strategies to stay ahead of the risks they face. He provides an objective assessment of the severity of potential violations and the likely response from government investigators and prosecutors.

Criminal defense: As a criminal defense attorney, Ken has successfully handled sensitive and complex government investigations including cases involving RICO, healthcare fraud and abuse, Anti-Trust, public corruption, bank fraud, money laundering, and mail and wire fraud. He has also achieved positive results in defending clients in high profile investigations and cases involving insider trading fraud, securities violations, tax fraud, official misconduct, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, perjury, extortion, and murder.

Civil litigation: Ken has extensive experience litigating complex cases involving medical negligence claims, attorney malpractice claims, psychiatric malpractice claims, products liability, insurance disputes, and maritime claims. He has also successfully represented attorneys before the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

Ken is on the faculty of the Illinois Professional Responsibility Institute of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Ken is also an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. He also teaches comparative trial advocacy to Irish barristers at The King’s Inn and transnational legal negotiations to Irish solicitors at the Incorporated Law Society in Dublin, Ireland.

Ken was Associate Director for The Center for Advocacy and an Adjunct Professor of Law at The John Marshall Law School, where he taught various trial, arbitration and counseling, and negotiation classes. He taught classes for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and has lectured on trial, appellate practice and dispute resolution at numerous law schools and bar associations. He has been elected to the Defender Service Advisory Group for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Ken has been reappointed to the National Criminal Justice Act Panel as a Representative for the Northern District of Illinois for a three year term.


  • Selected to the Illinois Super Lawyers List: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated

Memberships & Involvement

  • Member: National Criminal Justice Panel (Representative for the Northern District of Illinois); Defender Service Advisory Group for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
  • Arbitrator: American Arbitration Association
  • Director: The International Institute for Animal Law
  • General Counsel: National Anti-Vivisection Society
  • General Counsel: International Foundation for Ethical Research
  • Chicago Bar Association: Past Member of the Board of Managers, Past Chairman, Tax Exempt Division of the Federal Tax Committee
  • Sauganash Community Association:Past President, Board Member

Presentations & Events

  • Detention Issues: Alternatives to Detention, Conditions of Detention
    Committee of Defender Services and Defender Services Advisory Group, April 8, 2015
  • The American Legal System Compared to the Irish Judicial Systems; A Program for Irish BarristersĀ 
    September 25, 2014
  • Harnessing the Power of the Panel Attorney: Powerful Adocacy for the Client, the Panel and the Defender Services Program
    National Harbor, Maryland, March 1, 2014
  • Advancing the Mission
    Baltimore, MD, February 23, 2013
  • Non-Capital Mitigation Sentencing Workshop
    Chicago, IL, October 24, 2012
  • Multi-Track Federal Defense Seminar for federal Trial Attorneys
    Chicago, IL, August 23, 2012
  • Transactional Litigation, A comparison of United States and Irish Legal Practice
    Irish Barristers, August 9, 2012
  • Leading Locally: Advocating for High Quality Representation in a Cost-Containment World
    National Conference of CJA Panel Attorney District Representatives, March 3, 2012
  • Effective Use of Demonstrative Evidence in Direct and Cross Examinations
    National Conference of CJA Panel Attorney District Representatives, March 3, 2012
  • Persuasive Opening & Closing Statements
    DePaul University School of Law, September 13, 2011
  • One Prudential Plaza on 130 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, IL, June 16, 2011
  • Being an Effective and Ethical Advocate: Dealing with Dishonest Clients, Difficult Opposing Counsel and Conduct Before a Tribunal
    Illinois Professional Respnsibility Seminar, June 16, 2011
  • Making the Connections, Getting by with a Little Help from Our Friends
    National Conference of CJA Panel Attorney District Representatives
  • Inspiring Leadership, Acquiring Resources, Taking Your Panel to the Next Level
    National Conference of CJA Panel Attorney District Representatives, February 26, 2011
  • Proper Use of Lay and Expert Witnesses
    Loyola University School of Law Trial Practice, February 24, 2011