Gould + Ratner



Of Counsel

Karin O’Connell is a seasoned commercial litigator who also practices in the environmental law area.

In the environmental arena, Karin acts as trial counsel in matters involving environmental auditing, site remediation, underground storage tanks, wetlands preservation and permitting, endangered species, stormwater permitting, air permitting compliance, archaeological sites, mining and clean fill, and Superfund liability. She also advises the firm’s clients on issues arising in connection with purchase/sale/lease transactions, real estate development, “green building” standards, liabilities and sustainability and land use, including risk assessment and allocation as well as compliance concerns.

As a trained commercial litigator, Karin has handled innumerable commercial disputes for both closely held and publicly held businesses in a diverse range of matters, including contractual disputes, discrimination claims, real estate disputes and disputes over estate handlings, among others, at administrative, trial and appellate levels. Karin works closely with the firm’s clients providing counsel in advance of transactions and significant business decisions to reduce or eliminate potential liability and disputes arising as a result of these activities.


Connect with Karin

(312) 899-1616 Office
(312) 961-0547 Mobile

Connect with Karin

(312) 899-1616 Office
(312) 961-0547 Mobile




  • Notre Dame Law School, J.D., 1986
  • University of Michigan, B.A., 1982

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • Federal Trial Bar, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois


  • Alliance Française de Chicago
  • North American Lake Management Society
  • Society of Women Environmental Professionals
  • LEED® Green Associate, U.S. Green Building Council – Chicago Chapter
  • Co-Chair, ABA's Endangered Species Committee

Key Cases or Transactions

  • Trial counsel for a major Midwest stone quarry in a federal Clean Water Act case seeking over $100 million in damages.
  • Trial counsel for aggregate’s company at Illinois Pollution Control Board in connection with alleged landfill violations of licensee.
  • Trial counsel for owner of investment properties in connection with private cost recovery action under federal CERCLA.
  • Environmental counsel to major client with respect to potential real estate acquisition including concerns about endangered species, wetlands, historical contamination and archaeological sites.
  • Environmental counsel to client purchasing assets from bankrupt estate of national clothing distributor.
  • Environmental counsel to major aggregate production company with respect to potential sale.
  • Litigation/environmental counsel to purchasers in connection with numerous multi-million dollar acquisitions of trailer company, agricultural machinery company and aggregates resources.
  • Trial counsel for furniture manufacturer in dispute concerning sales representation, marketing and antitrust issues.
  • Trial counsel for trailer manufacturer in multi-million dollar dispute with supplier and customer over issues of warranty, contract and misrepresentation.
  • Trial counsel for regulated electric utility in arbitration seeking damages in excess of $40 million for alleged breach of electric power marketing contract.

Published Opinions

  • Freeman United Coal Min. Co. v. Director, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs, U.S. Dept. of Labor, 94 F.3d 384 (7th cir. 1996)
  • Freeman United Coal Min. Co. v. Hunter, 82 F.3d 764 (7th Cir. 1996)
  • Freeman United Coal Min. Co. v Hilliard, 65 F.3d 667(7th Cir. 1995)
  • Freeman United Coal Min. Co. v. Cooper, 965 F.2d 443 (7th Cir. 1992)
  • Hawkins v. Director, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs, 907 F.2d 697 (7th Cir. 1990)
  • Freeman United Coal Min. Co. v. Benefits Review Bd., U.S. Dept. of Labor, 909 F.2d 193 (7th Cir. 1990)
  • Elipas Enterprises, Inc. v. Silverstein, 243 Ill.App.3d 230, 612 N.E.2d 9 (1st Dist. 1993)
  • Luminall Paints, Inc. v. LaSalle Nat. Bank, 220 Ill.App.3d 796, 581 N.E.2d 191 (1st Dist. 1991)
  • Premium Plastics v. LaSalle Nat. Bank, 904 F.Supp. 809, 26 Evtl. L. Rep. 20,681 N.D.Ill (1995)


    The Development Approval Process in Illinois – Regulatory Concerns Related To Development, August 2006
More than just legal advisors, our lawyers consistently demonstrate the care and commitment that set us apart from much larger law firms.