2021 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“Unparalleled work opportunities.”
“The people, hands down.”
“For better or for worse, we work on challenging cases that can be demanding and time consuming. This can create a lot of stress and anxiety, but that's the nature of litigation at the highest level.”
About Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP
Litigation boutique Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell is known for going to trial nationwide and winning on behalf of its Fortune 500 clientele. The high-profile clients who have received WTO's much sought-after litigation expertise come from a wide range of industries—such as manufacturing, telecommunications, energy, and services—and include Whirlpool, General Electric, Michelin, CenturyLink, USAA, FCA (formerly known as Chrysler Group), Ford, AT&T, Pfizer, Allstate, McKesson, Electrolux, Mercedes-Benz, and Vail Resorts, among others.
A Denver Firm
WTO was founded on February 1, 1998 by a group of five trial lawyers—including Mal Wheeler, Jack Trigg, and Mike O'Donnell—who left a full-service firm in Denver to build a nationwide practice dedicated to complex civil litigation. Still a relatively young firm, WTO has wasted no time making a name for itself. The firm was named a “Standout” in class action and products liability by BTI Consulting Group’s Litigation Outlook 2019, and in 2018, WTO was one of seven finalists for The American Lawyer’s National Boutique/Specialty Litigation Department of the Year Award. The firm and its attorneys have been recognized by the likes of U.S. News – Best Lawyers, Chambers USA, The Best Lawyers in America, and The National Law Journal.
L is for Litigation
WTO is known for its litigation chops, and for good reason. The firm’s attorneys have collectively taken more than 1,100 trials and arbitrations to verdict or award and 300 appeals to opinion. This litigation boutique specializes in civil trials and appeals in such areas as antitrust, class actions, complex commercial litigation, employment, intellectual property, investigations, mass torts, professional liability, and more.
Calling All Clerks
If you want to work at WTO, consider doing a clerkship first. Not only will you be among good company—83 percent of associates here completed state appellate court or federal judicial clerkships—but you'll also have some serious incentive. WTO offers one-time bonuses upon hire immediately following clerkships. An associate receives a bonus of $60,000 for a federal appellate court clerkship, $40,000 for a federal district court clerkship, $25,000 for a state supreme court clerkship, and $10,000 for a state appellate court clerkship.
WTO's volunteer efforts go beyond pro bono work. The firm founded the WTO Foundation, its own nonprofit charitable foundation, in September of 2005. Through the Foundation, the firm and its personnel have donated more than $1.8 million and volunteered thousands of hours to over 100 nonprofits. Eighty-five percent of firm members have participated in Foundation work benefitting organizations such as Legal Aid Foundation of Colorado, American Civil Liberties Union, Denver Kids, Inc., Denver Urban Debate League, and Denver Dumb Friends League.
News & Awards
WTO served as lead trial counsel to 3 of 15 defendants in a $2.1B federal certified class action alleging collusion to keep au pair stipends artificially low. The entire U.S. au pair industry was at stake, as the fate of the U.S. State Department’s J-1 visa program hung in the balance. The case was scheduled for a six-week trial in 2019, and WTO was one of three firms selected to play an active role in trial. However, as trial drew near, the State Department filed an amicus brief in a parallel action in the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The State Department explicitly adopted the positions WTO and the joint defense group had been advancing for the past four years, and expressly rejected the trial court’s reading of existing law. This paved the way to an exceptional settlement just eight weeks from trial, in which the defendants paid only 3% of the damages sought.
WTO earned a place as one of seven firms in the U.S. to be named a finalist in The American Lawyer’s 2018 Industry Awards for National Boutique/Specialty Litigation Department of the Year. The recognition honors "exceptional work that goes on across the entire legal services delivery spectrum and the increasing interconnectedness among members of that community.” Selections were made from hundreds of “outstanding submissions” that offered “a new appreciation for the caliber of work and innovation happening in the legal industry,” according to the publication.
For the fifth straight year, WTO finished in the Top 3 in the Denver Business Journal’s 2019 Best Places to Work contest. The publication ranked WTO #2 in the Extra-Large Company Category based on surveys from WTO lawyers and staff. This follows WTO’s #1 ranking in 2018, which marked the firm’s fourth appearance in the top spot. WTO has also appeared among the Top 10 employers in Denver, by size, for 13 years. The publication praised WTO’s culture of excellence, collegiality, and genuine concern for the whole individual.
WTO lawyers successfully represented Aimco, one of the largest apartment owners in the U.S., in nationwide litigation alleging intentional torts against Airbnb. The closely watched litigation is changing how the short-term rental industry operates, with billions of dollars at stake. WTO filed lawsuits for Aimco in California and Florida, claiming that Airbnb purposefully interfered with Aimco’s rights as the property owner. As the California case wound through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a Florida court granted every motion WTO filed on the way to trial, including allowing Aimco to pursue punitive damages from the jury—a rarely-allowed claim in business disputes. Airbnb settled all litigation after jury selection on terms allowing Aimco to control short-term rental activity consistent with its contract and property rights.
370 Seventeenth Street
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: (303) 244-1800
Chair: Michael O’Donnell
Co-Managing Partners: Carolyn Fairless & Michael Williams
Recruiting Chair: Drew Unthank
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
100 - 150
1st year: $160,000
Attorney Recruiting Manager
No. of U.S. Offices: 2
No. of International Offices: 0
St. Louis, MO
Antitrust & Competition
Investigations & Compliance
Personal Injury Defense