Kenneth L. SchmettererOf Counsel
Ken Schmetterer is a seasoned trial lawyer and commercial litigator who has partnered with businesses and individuals to resolve significant disputes at all stages, from early resolution to bench trials, jury trials, and appeals in state and federal courts throughout the United States.
Ken has asked to represent clients in hard fought disputes involving class action claims brought under federal securities laws, consumer class actions, claims arising under biometric privacy protection and other statutes, claims of business fraud, misrepresentation and omission, breach of contract, negligence, misleading marketing, mortgage lending liability claims, shareholder and director disputes, and securities broker-dealer disputes, among many others. Ken, previously senior counsel for the City of Chicago Department of Law, also has extensive experience in zoning, land use and constitutional litigation, including representing developers working with or litigating against units of state or local government. Ken devotes substantial time to pro bono and non-profit service, with an emphasis on youth advocacy.
- J.D., Harvard Law School 1989
- B.A., Economics and Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison 1985
- Warwick University, Coventry England, 1983-84
Kenneth is extensively involved in pro bono work. He serves as pro bono counsel, director and a volunteer for UMOJA Student Development Corporation. UMOJA links the educational efforts of many at-risk, under-resourced Chicago Public High School students to the broader community and serves as an advocate for young people, through academic, college preparation, leadership and life skills programming and support. In 2007, the Chicago Bar Association cited Kenneth's extraordinary pro bono service for UMOJA when it honored DLA Piper with the Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Lend-a-Hand program's Law Firm Partner of the Year Award. In 2013, he received the Pro Bono Champion award from Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice.
Kenneth has co-authored three amicus curiae briefs with the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the American Bar Association on matters involving juvenile sentencing and juvenile justice issues. He co-authored the brief in the case of Miller v. Alabama (10-9646) and Jackson v. Hobbs (10-9647), in which the ABA—considering the unique vulnerabilities of children making them more impulsive, more vulnerable to peer pressure, less able to consider the long-term consequences of their actions, and with greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults—urged a ruling declaring unconstitutional the practice of sentencing children convicted of homicide offenses to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kenneth authored the amicus curiae brief on behalf of the American Bar Association submitted to the United States Supreme Court on December 23, 2010 in the case of J.D.B. v. State of North Carolina (No. 09-11121) urging the Court to consider the unique vulnerabilities of children subjected to police questioning for purposes of determining when a child facing police interrogation should have the right to counsel or the presence of a parent or guardian. In July 2011, the Washington Post quoted him commenting on the decision in that case, in "Supreme Court ruling, rising police presence in schools spur Miranda questions."
He also co-authored the amicus curiae brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the American Bar Association in Graham v. Florida, 130 S. Ct. 2011 (2010), in which the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the sentencing of juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kenneth also served as a leader of DLA Piper's large-scale, long-term, innovative signature Juvenile Justice Project. As part of this effort, he served as the senior editor of From Juvenile Court to the Classroom: The Need for Effective Child Advocacy, a substantial policy study assessing and facilitating the reform of the process by which children transition from the juvenile court system back to school. The project was honored by the Illinois State Bar Association in 2005 and again in 2007 with the John C. McAndrews Pro Bono Service Award. In 2008, the success of this project also contributed strongly to the ABA's decision to award DLA Piper its Pro Bono Publico Award.
Kenneth has also represented several individuals in pro bono matters. He was named DLA Piper's Pro Bono Partner of the Year for the Chicago Office in 2004, 2006 and 2010.
Kenneth also serves as director of the National Juvenile Defender Center based in Washington D.C.
Bylines and civic/amicus support
- “Police in Schools: Developments, Issues and Best Practices,” developed for the Children’s Rights Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation (2021)
- Author, "Patch Reporter Wins Appeal to Protect Confidential Source," MediaLawLetter, Media Law Resource Center, April 2015
- Author, "Reporter's Privilege," Editor and Publisher, March 16, 2015
- Amicus Brief for the American Bar Association before the United States Supreme Court in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2015)
- Amicus Brief for the American Bar Association before the United States Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs (2012)
- Amicus Brief for the American Bar Association before the United States Supreme Court in J.D.B. v. North Carolina (2010)
- “Successfully Challenging Jurisdiction When Foreign Companies are Sued in US Courts,” For The Defense magazine (2010)
- “From Juvenile Court to the Classroom: The Need for Effective Child Advocacy”, policy analysis and report (2010)
- Amicus Brief for the American Bar Association before the United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida (2009)
Civic and Charitable
- Chicago Bar Association and Chicago Bar Foundatoin 2020 Edward J. Lewis Pro Bono Service Award (2020)
- DLA Piper North American Pro Bono Partner Award Recipient (2016)
- Chicago Appleseed Fund For Justice/Pro Bono Champion Award (March, 2013)
- Pro Bono Counsel and past director of New Root (formerly UMOJA Student Development Corporation)
- Director, The Gault Center (formerly National Juvenile Defender Center)
- Member, American Bar Association Juvenile Collateral Consequences Project (2009)
- Co-Leader, DLA Piper Signature Project in Juvenile Justice (2004 – 2008)
- Member, Juvenile Temporary Detention Center Education Task Force
- Member, Village of Deerfield Youth Commission and Human Relations Commission (2001 – 2006)
- Coach, Youth Baseball, Soccer (2002 – 2007)
Memberships And Affiliations
- American Bar Association
- Chicago Bar Association
- Harvard Club of Chicago
- Chicago Council of Global Affairs