William J. McKenna



William J. (Bill) McKenna is a partner and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP, and has over 30 years of experience representing clients in a wide variety of commercial litigation. He has conducted numerous commercial trials (jury and non-jury) in circuit, federal district, and bankruptcy courts around the country. He has also conducted numerous contested administrative hearings before federal and state administrative bodies of all types. He has prosecuted or defended many appeals in the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, and various federal courts of appeals. Mr. McKenna's experience has focused upon insolvency proceedings; financial institution and lender-liability litigation; real estate litigation; construction litigation; and energy-related litigation. He is a member and former vice chair of the firm's Bankruptcy & Business Reorganizations Practice as well as a member of the Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution and Construction Practices.

He has frequently represented secured lenders, creditor committees, indenture trustees, debtors-in-possession and trustees in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. In this setting he has conducted trials in various bankruptcy courts around the country on subjects including relief from stay, Section 363 sales, continued use of cash collateral, contested trustee elections, assumption or rejection of executory contracts, contested claims and confirmation of plans of reorganization. He has also litigated adversary proceedings raising an array of commercial litigation scenarios.

He has had extensive experience in representing developers, lenders, landowners, lessors, and lessees in all types of litigation relating to real estate. His trial work has included major condemnation, land-use, and zoning cases, as well as significant commercial foreclosures and disputes over leaseholds. He was chief trial counsel to the landowner in the largest Cook County, Illinois, jury award in a condemnation case in 1998. He also represented the foreclosing lender in the then-largest foreclosure action in Cook County history, involving the foreclosure of a $100 million mortgage on one of Chicago's Lakeshore Drive properties.

Mr. McKenna's experience in financial-institution and lender-liability litigation includes representation of foreign and domestic banks in all types of disputes with their borrowers, as well as significant trial experience in lender-liability actions. Mr. McKenna is a frequent lecturer and author on lender-liability issues.

In the field of construction litigation, Mr. McKenna has worked on behalf of owners, lenders, contractors, and subcontractors in all types of disputes relating to private and public construction projects.

In the energy field, Mr. McKenna has represented electric utilities in condemnation matters to support construction of new transmission and distribution lines and facilities. He has defended electric and gas utilities in class action litigation in the federal and state courts. He has litigated administrative proceedings regarding the prudence of utility operations and the appropriateness of various types of utility restructurings.


A law graduate of the University of Chicago (J.D., 1979), Mr. McKenna received his bachelor's degree from Middlebury College (B.A., 1975).


Mr. McKenna is an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Northwestern University Law School and an instructor at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.


Mr. McKenna has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system. In 2000, he was elected a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in recognition of his extensive trial experience and skills. Mr. McKenna was selected for inclusion in the 2005-2016 Illinois Super Lawyers® lists and has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© since 2008 for his work in commercial litigation and litigation - real estate.*

Professional Memberships and Admissions

A member of the American Bar Association, he is admitted to the bar in Illinois and is admitted to practice before numerous trial, appellate and bankruptcy courts around the country.

Publications and Presentations

Mr. McKenna is a frequent lecturer and author on lender-liability issues. He is the co-author of chapters on lender liability in the consumer and commercial contexts in two treatises. Mr. McKenna is also the co-author of a chapter on commercial mortgage foreclosure in a treatise and lectures frequently on the subject of commercial mortgage foreclosure. His publications and presentations include:

  • Co-author, “Commercial Mortgage Foreclosure Actions,” chapter in Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure 2010 Edition and 2013 Supplement, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE®) (2013)
  • Co-Author, “The Bargains and Risks of Buying Assets During A Chapter 11,” chapter in Inside the Minds™, Buying and Selling Distressed Businesses, 2012 Edition, Aspatore Books (2012)
  • Commercial Mortgage Foreclosure chapter in "Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Practice," Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (2010)
  • Lender Liability chapter in "Secured Transactions" Treatise, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (2007, updated 2010)
  • "Current Developments in Lender Liability Law — Commercial Context Part III," Foley & Lardner LLP Web Conference (June 2009)
  • "Current Developments in Lender Liability Law — Consumer Context Part I," Foley & Lardner LLP Web Conference (March 2009)
  • "New Reality: Strategies for Today’s Real Estate Market," Foley Executive Briefing Series (February 2009)  
  • "Conventional and Equitable Subrogation: Exceptions to 'First in Time, First in Right,'" Consumer Financial Services Law Report and Commercial Lending Litigation News

*The Illinois Supreme Court does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and no award or recognition is a requirement to practice law in Illinois.