For more than 30 years, clients have turned to Catherine Masters to rescue cases gone awry and to analyze and strategize tough legal problems.

Catherine concentrates in counseling clients, briefing, and arguing complex issues at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts. She applies these skills in multiple substantive areas, including insurance/reinsurance, product liability, employment, constitutional, professional liability, and general commercial matters. Her experience in complex trial proceedings includes class action defense, multidistrict litigation, post-trial proceedings, and dispositive motions.

Catherine’s appellate experience extends to state and federal courts nationwide. She has successfully briefed matters in the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the constitutional limits of punitive damages, claims for fear of future injury, the standards for settlement class actions, and original Supreme Court proceedings.

Clients rely on Catherine's experience in the appellate courts. She has won appeals in product liability and other cases nationwide, overturning adverse judgments and upholding favorable decisions.

In addition to frequently litigating constitutional issues in product liability, employment, and insurance matters, Catherine has litigated many additional cases involving constitutional issues. She has also litigated other contract, tort, professional liability, bankruptcy, construction, energy, benefits and tax matters.

  • Experience

    Insurance and Reinsurance

    • “Rescuing” insurer clients from seriously adverse outcomes, in state and federal courts nationwide, often involving claims of bad faith.
    • Winning summary judgment for insurers and reinsurers on duty-to-defend and coverage issues.

    Product Liability

    • Representing clients in important product liability matters of first impression in the highest courts of several states (including Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas) on the constitutionality of tort reform legislation, clarification and content of available tort theories, exposure/risk/fear issues and accrual/limitation issues.
    • Successfully briefing numerous matters relating to the asbestos multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings, including the severance of punitive damages claims upon remand, mandamus proceedings concerning the legitimacy of the MDL proceedings, and complex discovery issues.
    • Litigating influential cases on the courts’ authority to manage their dockets by placing marginal cases on inactive status, the application of market-share theory to asbestos litigation, and nationwide class certification.


    • Defending municipal bodies in numerous Section 1983 cases asserting First Amendment, equal protection, and due process constitutional claims, including reverse-discrimination, “whistleblower,” and class action cases.
    • Litigating the applicability of pre-dispute arbitration agreements to Title VII claims.
    • Obtaining post-trial entry of judgment as a matter of law, overturning a federal jury verdict on retaliation and punitive damages, and successfully defending this result on appeal.
  • Credentials


    • University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1982, with honors
      The University of Chicago Law Review, Editorial Board
      Joseph Henry Beale Prize
    • Yale University, M.A., Classical Languages and Literature, 1977
    • University of Chicago, A.B., Classical Languages and Literature, 1976, with honors
      Phi Beta Kappa

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)


        • Honorable Luther M. Swygert, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit (1982-1984)

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association
        • Chicago Bar Association
        • Seventh Circuit Bar Association

        Teaching Appointments

        • Adjunct Professor, University of Chicago Law School (2011-present) “Litigation Laboratory” Course

        Languages Spoken & Fluency

        • Ancient Greek
        • Latin
      • Insights

        News Release

        2019 Leading Lawyers Lists Recognize 95 Schiff Attorneys

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to have 95 attorneys named to the 2019 Leading Lawyers list.

        News Release

        61 Schiff Attorneys Named to 2019 Best Lawyers in America List and Six Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year”

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that 61 attorneys have been included in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, as well as six who were named a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective areas of practice.

        News Release

        95 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 Leading Lawyers Lists

        Ninety-six Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2018 Leading Lawyers lists for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2018 The Best Lawyers in America

        Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that five attorneys have been named a “Lawyer of the Year” in the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America©.

        News Release

        99 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Named to 2017 Leading Lawyers List

        Ninety-nine Schiff Hardin lawyers have been named to the 2017 Leading Lawyers list for Illinois and Michigan.

        News Release

        53 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017

        Three Schiff Hardin attorneys also received the prestigious Best Lawyers’ 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” award.

        News Release

        91 Schiff Hardin Lawyers Named to 2016 Illinois, Michigan Leading Lawyers Network

        The list is comprised of those attorneys who are most recommended as top lawyers among their peers.

        News Release

        63 Schiff Hardin Attorneys Listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2016

        Of the 64 Schiff Hardin attorneys honored by Best Lawyers, three Schiff Hardin attorneys were also nominated for Best Lawyers’ 2016 “Lawyer of the Year” in Chicago

      • Citizenship

        Pro Bono Activities

        Catherine has a committed pro bono practice, including immigration, death penalty, and family law matters.

        Civic and Charitable Memberships

        • LAF (formerly known as Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), Board of Directors
        • Chicago Bar Association Chorus
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      Catherine Masters, Schiff Hardin foster a pro bono mentality

      Winner of the June 2016 Schiff Hardin Community Service Award, partner Catherine Masters has served on the Board of Directors for the Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF) since 2014. Recently featured on LAF’s blog, Catherine also consults on some of the organization’s most complex appellate cases. LAF BLOG