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Kathleen Ruhlan

Kathleen Ruhland

Global Co-Chair, Corporate
Member, Global Board
Member, Executive Committee
Kathy advises world-leading corporations on transactions in the consumer goods, food and beverage, agricultural and industrial sectors.

Kathy Ruhland is a highly skilled attorney advising clients on complex cross-border transactions—including global M&A, restructuring and joint ventures—in established and emerging markets throughout the world. She advises leading corporations across a variety of sectors, with a particular emphasis on the consumer goods, food and beverage, agricultural and industrial sectors.

Kathy has the experience to advise privately and publicly held companies on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures; joint ventures and strategic alliances; foreign direct investment; international compliance; and global tax planning. She is recognized by third parties for her superior client service.

Kathy holds a number of leadership positions at DLA Piper. She is Global Co-Chair, Corporate; Member of DLA Piper’s governing Executive and Management Committees; Former Co-Chair of DLA Piper's Food & Beverage sub-sector; and Former Chair, Leadership Alliance for Women (LAW).

Bar admissionsIllinoisMinnesota


Kathy has represented the following companies in acquisitions, divestitures, or other corporate transactions:

  • Lead counsel for Deere & Company 
  • Deere & Company’s acquisition of Harvest Profit, a leading provider of farm profitability software
  • Deere & Company’s acquisition of PLA, manufacturer of sprayers, planters and specialty products for agriculture based in Argentina and Brazil
  • Deere & Company's joint venture with DN2K for technology development in the agriculture industry
  • Deere & Company's joint venture with Hagie Manufacturing, a manufacturer of high-clearance sprayers
  • Deere & Company's divestment of its crop insurance business
  • Ecolab Inc. in the separation of its global Upstream Energy business and the closing of the merger of Ecolab subsidiary, ChampionX with Apergy Corporation
  • Ecolab Inc. in the acquisition and integration of CID Lines, a leading global provider of livestock biosecurity and hygiene solutions
  • Ecolab Inc. in the acquisition and integration of Laboratoires Anios, a hygiene and disinfection products manufacturer for the healthcare market. Transaction value approximately US$800 million
  • Fortune 50 company's strategic investment in Hong Kong company
  • Nike, Inc. in numerous global tax and corporate matters

Kathy has represented large multinational companies in the following global corporate reorganizations:

  • Ecolab Inc. and Champion Technologies Inc.'s post-acquisition integration of operations in North America, Latin America and Europe (involving 30 countries worldwide)
  • Ecolab Inc. and Nalco Holding Company’s post-acquisition integration of operations (involving 99 countries worldwide)
  • Bunge and Loders Croklaan USA, LLC in the global integration following the formation of its global joint venture
  • HB Fuller Company in the global integration of its acquisition of Forbo's industrial adhesives business
  • J.D., William Mitchell College of Law
    magna cum laude
  • B.A., University of St. Thomas
    cum laude


Chambers USA

  • Band 3, Minnesota Corporate/M&A (2024)

The Legal 500 United States

  • Recommended, M&A Large Deals ($1B+) (2024)
  • Recommended, M&A Middle-Market ($500M-999M) (2024)
Additional Awards

Kathy was named to The Deal’s 2023 list of the Top Women in Dealmaking. The annual list recognizes attorneys who have displayed excellence in their respective legal fields, including mergers and acquisitions, private equity, restructuring and activist investing. She was also named to Crain’s Chicago Business 2024 Notable Women in Law list.

Kathy was named a 2022 and 2024 Leading Dealmaker in America by Lawdragon and was included in The Best Lawyers in America® 2020-2023 for her work in International Mergers & Acquisitions. In addition, she was one of 319 lawyers nationwide named to the BTI Client Service All-Star Team for Law Firms in 2017 (based on survey of Fortune 1000 in-house counsel). She was also named to the All-Star Team in 2009.

Pro Bono

  • Course Instructor, Special Economic Zones in Africa and globally, University of Pretoria and University of the Western Cape, September 2014


  • Post-COVID-19: What to expect in the "next normal," 30 April 2020


  • Panelist, "Leadership Perspective on Business and Legal Issues Tied to International Growth," The 40th Annual International Business Law Institute (2016)
  • Panelist, "Global M&A, Hot Issues, Practical Advice and Lessons Learned in Cross-Border Transactions," Chicago Chapter, Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)
  • Panelist, "Integration: Strategies to Maximize the Value of Your Investment," 2011 M&A Conference
  • Panelist, "International M&A Transactions," Business Law Institute (2011)
  • Panelist, "Doing Business in Frontier Emerging Markets, Southeast Asia," International Business Law Institute (2011)
  • Moderator, "CEO Panel Discussion" with Ken Powell of General Mills and Hubert Joly of Carlson, Doing Business with France: 2011 Business Symposium, Minnesota International Center
  • "International Markets: Globalization of the Production Food System," Food, Agriculture & Biofuels 2010 National Conference, Minneapolis
  • Opening session moderator, "Creating World-Class Companies in Emerging Markets," Faegre & Benson International Business Briefing (2010)

Media Mentions

  • "DLA Piper Forms New Management Team After Strong 2020," Law360, March 9, 2021

Prior Experience

Before joining DLA Piper, Kathy was co-chair of the international practice at one of the 75 largest law firms headquartered in the US. Previously, she served as in-house counsel for General Mills. 

Additional Accreditations

Kathy is a certified public accountant (inactive) with Big Four firm experience.