Overview

Matthew F. Prewitt is a trial lawyer with a national practice focused on the law governing confidential business and personal information and the IT systems used to store, analyze, and transmit that data. Clients engage Matt for his ability to translate complex business and technology disputes into compelling courtroom advocacy.

A substantial part of Matt’s practice is devoted to insider threat investigation and response, including protection of trade secrets and enforcement of nondisclosure agreements, noncompete agreements, and other restrictive covenants in commercial and employment relationships. Because of his experience litigating information economy disputes, clients also choose Matt as their trial counsel for business disputes relating to software development and implementation, data security breaches, and IT outsourcing. Matt advises clients on protection of sensitive competitive and personal information, information governance, litigation preparedness and avoidance, and the intersection of trade secrets, noncompetes, data security, and data privacy.

As lead trial counsel in numerous high stakes trade secrets and noncompete cases, Matt has won emergency injunctive relief in expedited proceedings in more than 30 different U.S. jurisdictions. Matt has significant experience in enforcement proceedings to compel compliance with injunctions and to win remedies for violations of court orders. He has won case-terminating sanction awards for litigation misconduct and violation of injunctions in numerous suits.

As a trial lawyer regularly leading the prosecution and defense of complex, fast track TRO and preliminary injunction motions, Matt triages the potential factual and legal issues to develop a focused strategy. Matt applies these skills in “rescue” engagements where he is called upon to augment or replace prior trial counsel at advanced stages of litigation. These engagements have provided Matt substantive experience in a broad range of business, environmental, and mass tort disputes in both the trial courts and in bankruptcy proceedings.

Matt knows how to pivot from doing battle in the courtroom to using settlement discussions to build and strengthen business relationships. Matt’s trade secrets and IT services disputes often arise in ongoing commercial relationships that require adept use of mediation, arbitration, and other methods of ADR to vindicate the client’s rights while preserving the long-term commercial relationship. When writing or accepting a settlement check is not a viable option, Matt skillfully negotiates to resolve disputes through business terms that create value for both sides. Matt is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP-US). He is an active participant in The Sedona Conference Working Group 1 (Electronic Document Production and Retention) and Working Group 11 (Data Security and Privacy Liability) as well as the recently formed Working Group 12 (Trade Secrets). He is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

  • Experience

    Trade Secrets, Restrictive Covenants, and Breach of Loyalty

    • Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court.  In a complex trade secrets dispute between competitors involving extensive cross-border discovery, Matt won summary judgment for our client on all claims and an award of attorney fees as a sanction against plaintiff for commencing the suit in bad faith and submitting materially false affidavits to the court. The victory was profiled in a "How They Won It" feature in Law360 and reported widely in the legal press as the first time an Illinois court had awarded a trade secrets defendant its entire fees for a complex, multi-year litigation.
    • Travis County, Texas, District Court.  In a suit arising from the resignation of our client’s former general manager and his attempt to form a competing business with our client’s long-term exclusive supplier, Matt won a TRO and a criminal contempt finding against the supplier, which was sustained on expedited appeal to the Texas Supreme Court on the eve of a jury trial. Before the jury, Matt won a substantial verdict of both actual and punitive damages.  
    • Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court.  Matt was engaged as “rescue” trial counsel for defendants in a suit arising from alleged employee raiding of a competitor to form a new business. Matt was engaged only one month before the two-week jury trial and won a unanimous defense verdict on all claims.
    • Delaware Court of Chancery.  Matt represented a private equity investor in a suit against a selling co-founder and selling shareholder of an acquired business, who secretly formed a competing business with other former employees post-closing. After obtaining the employees’ videotaped confessions admitting the scheme, Matt won a favorable settlement.
    • Southern District of Texas US District Court, Northern District of California US District Court, and Eastern District of California Bankruptcy Court.  In a multi-forum litigation, Matt first won a TRO against a departing executive and then, when the defendant attempted to frustrate enforcement by filing a bankruptcy petition and feigning mental illness, won a bad faith dismissal of the bankruptcy case, followed by civil contempt awards against the defendant and two co-conspirators who assisted him to violate the TRO and hide assets, followed by RICO and business tort claims against the contemnors and other associates. The matter was resolved by a confidential global settlement.
    • Kings County, New York Supreme Court for Kings County and US District Court, Eastern District of New York.  In a confidential arbitration of complex environmental claims, our clients’ retained expert secretly changed sides and authored a report for the opposing parties. Matt commenced litigation that raised novel issues of the interplay between arbitration and litigation in a court of record. The matter was resolved by a confidential settlement.
    • Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court.  Matt won a TRO on New Year's Eve, shutting down a competing business secretly formed by three of plaintiff's executives while still employed with plaintiff. Following entry of the TRO, the parties reached a confidential settlement.*

     

    Software Development and Implementation and IT Outsourcing

    • Northern District of Illinois US District Court.  As lead counsel in a high profile litigation arising from a partially completed ERP software implementation, Matt represented the defendant, a prominent global IT services firm. Matt developed and successfully executed a strategy for early resolution by pursuing extensive discovery of the technical basis for plaintiff’s claim of software defects. The parties reached a settlement shortly after the court allowed our client’s experts access to inspect on premises the opposing party’s live production environment and after a single fact witness deposition, where Matt examined the plaintiff’s project sponsor.
    • Confidential Mediation, Houston, Texas, Matt was lead counsel for a global IT services and consulting firm in a dispute with a major retail provider of gas and electricity over our client’s  development, implementation, and staffing of the billing and accounting platforms. We obtained a favorable resolution for our client at a confidential mediation by presenting a granular root cause analysis of the alleged defects and errors..
    • Confidential Mediation, Wilmington, Delaware.  Our client was hired to develop, implement, and staff an outsourced billing and revenue cycle management function for a major regional hospital network as part of a post-merger integration. After go live, aged A/R skyrocketed, and the customer blamed our client. For unrelated business reasons, our client wanted to resolve the dispute quickly without litigation. In preparation for a confidential mediation, Matt led a team that included our client’s technical project leads and retained experts and developed a root cause analysis, created a full expert report with hundreds of pages of supporting exhibits, and made a detailed presentation to rebut the hospitals’ claims in just 30 days, resulting in a favorable settlement for our client.
    • Hennepin County, Minnesota, District Court.  Our client was engaged to develop and implement timekeeping, billing, and docketing applications for a law firm. Our client was fired prior to completion of the project for alleged cost overruns, which plaintiff attempted to embellish in the litigation with allegations of fraud. Matt successfully guided the case to early resolution in mediation in the early stages of document discovery and without depositions.

     

    Spoliation and Concealment of Electronic Evidence

    • Kane County, Illinois, Circuit Court.  Matt won a contempt motion by proving in a multi-day bench trial through circumstantial evidence that defendant had copied and hidden sensitive competitive data in violation of a TRO. The parties reached a settlement following the court’s decision holding defendant in contempt. 
    • Middle District of Florida US District Court.  Matt brought a motion for case-dispositive sanctions, presenting evidence of destruction and concealment of electronic evidence and false testimony by defendants in an attempt to conceal their copying, retention, and use of our client’s electronic data. Following a week-long bench trial on our client’s sanctions motion for default judgment, conducted via Zoom during the COVID pandemic, the parties reached a settlement. 
    • Northern District of California US District Court.  Matt brought a motion for case-dispositive sanctions, presenting evidence that co-defendants had used an encrypted chat application to communicate and then withheld from discovery and attempted to destroy the chats. Following a hearing, the parties reached a settlement of the litigation. 
    • Northern District of Illinois US District Court.  Matt won a default judgment as a sanction by proving at a bench trial the opposing party’s intentional alteration and destruction of file access history metadata. The decision is widely cited as a landmark early decision pre-dating the eDiscovery amendments to the Federal Rules.  Krumwiede v. Brighton Associates, L.L.C., 2006 WL 1308629 (N.D. Ill. 2006) * 

    *Handled prior to joining Schiff Hardin.

  • Credentials

    Education

    • University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1996, with honors
      Phi Kappa Phi graduate fellowship
      Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy Studies, Symposium Editor
    • Delta State University, B.A., History, 1993

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
    • New York
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
    • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

        Clerkships

        • Honorable John E. Sprizzo, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (1997 – 1999)

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Expert Witnesses Committee, Co-Chair (2015), Vice Chair (2012–2015)
        • International Association of Privacy Professionals
        • The Sedona Conference, Working Group 1 on Electronic Document Production and Retention, Drafting Team for Commentary on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Security, Privacy, and Discovery, Working Group 11 on Data Security and Privacy Liability, Drafting Team for Data Privacy Law Primer, and Working Group 12 (Trade Secrets).

        Professional Certifications

        • Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP-US)

        Teaching Appointments

        • Chicago-Kent College of Law, Complex Civil Litigation, Data Privacy Law, Adjunct Professor (2008–present)
      • Insights

        TITLE
        In The News
        News Release

        The Legal 500 US 2021 Ranks Four Practices, 12 Attorneys

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that four of the firm’s practice groups have been recognized in The Legal 500 United States 2021 guide, which provides a nationwide analysis of law firms that provide cutting-edge and innovative advice.

        In The News
        News Release

        Eighty-One Attorneys Named to 2021 Leading Lawyers

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to have 81 attorneys named to the 2021 Leading Lawyers list.

        News Release

        Schiff Hardin Earns Ranking by The Legal 500 US 2020

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that four of the firm’s practice groups have been recognized in The Legal 500 United States 2020 guide, which provides a nationwide analysis of law firms that provide cutting-edge and innovative advice.

        Event

        COVID-19 Legal Issue Spotting for In-House Counsel

        Schiff Hardin LLP

        Location:
        Webinar
        News Release

        Schiff Launches Coronavirus Task Force to Address Business and Legal Issues of Pandemic

        Schiff Hardin LLP announced today its launch of a Coronavirus Task Force to address the significant business, legal, and economic challenges facing companies as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

        News Release

        Eighty-Eight Attorneys Named to 2020 Leading Lawyers

        Schiff Hardin LLP is pleased to announce that 88 attorneys have been named to the 2020 Leading Lawyers list.

        Other Publications

        Recent Articles on Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

        • “Consumer Data Encryption and the Autonomous Digital Self,” The Circuit Rider
          (Apr. 2016)
        • “The Cybersecurity Aspects of Responding to Government Agency Demands for Trade Secrets Information,” (co-author) TerraLex Connections (Feb. 5, 2016)
        • “Cybersecurity 'Elevator Speech,'" (interviewee) Security Magazine (Apr. 2015)
        • “Managing Cybersecurity Risk for Experts and Consultants,” American Bar Association Section of Litigation (Mar. 23, 2015)
        •  “No One Is Too Small To Hack,” Computerworld (Feb. 17, 2015)
        • “Does Your Company Need a CISO?” Law Technology News (Sep. 21, 2014)

        Recent Articles on Trade Secrets

        • “Jurisdiction in the Information Age,” (co-author) Chapter 16 in Intellectual Property Law, IICLE (2017)
        • “Protecting Trade Secrets in the Era of Cyberbreach,” Law Technology News
          (Feb. 20, 2015)
        • “Regulatory: Think Twice Before Asserting a Trade Secrets Claim,” Inside Counsel
          (Aug. 28, 2013)

        Recent Articles on E-Discovery, Electronic Data Forensics, and IT Expert Testimony

        • “Oh, Yeah – Don’t Forget About the Trial Counsel,” The National Law Journal
          (Jan. 28, 2013)

        Speeches & Presentations

        • COVID-19 Legal Issues Spotting for In-House Counsel,” Webinar (Apr. 1, 2020)
        • “The 13th Annual Institute Program on eDiscovery: Protecting Privacy, Confidentiality, and Privilege in Civil Litigation,” The Sedona Conference, Charlotte, N.C. (Mar. 7, 2019)
        • “HR Cybersecurity Case Study Featuring a panel from Amalgamated Sugar,” (moderator) 2017 NCFC Human Resources Conference, Rosemont, Ill. (Oct. 27, 2017)
        • “Privacy, Innovation, and Growing a Business Domestically and Internationally,” (panelist) Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business and the Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center Symposium, Chicago, Ill. (Apr. 14, 2017)
        • “Is Your Data Safe? Cybersecurity and Protection of Trade Secrets under the Defend Trade Secrets Act,” (panelist) FCBA/IPLAC IP Law Symposium, Chicago, Ill. (Mar. 15, 2017)
        • “Protection of Employers' Confidential Information,” (speaker) Schiff Hardin Labor and Employment Webinar Series (Oct, 19, 2016)
        • “Data Breach Case Law Update and Data Privacy Primer,” The Sedona Conference Working Group 11 on Data Security and Privacy Liability Annual Meeting (Dec. 1, 2015)
        • “Discovery of ESI Involving ‘Bring Your Own Devices’,” Sedona Conference Working Group 1: Electronic Documents Retention and Production Annual Meeting
          (Oct. 29, 2015)
        • “Class-Action Review,” Cybersecurity Law Conference (Oct. 15, 2015)
        • “Trade Secrets and Cybersecurity: Protecting Intellectual Property, Mitigating Loss and Navigating Legal Responses,” Webinar (Sep. 24, 2015)
        • “How To Develop A Trade Secrets Protection Plan For A Global Business,” 4th Annual Global IPR Conclave (Sep. 10, 2015)
        • “BYOD: Preservation and Discovery from Mobile Devices,” The Sedona Conference Sedona Conference Working Group 1 Midyear Meeting (Apr. 29, 2015)
        • “A Crisis in Confidence – Replacing Your Company’s Trial Counsel in High­Stakes Litigation,” (panelist) Association of Corporate Counsel, Chicago, Ill. (Jun. 24, 2014)
        • “Controlling Risk While Preparing for Trade Secret Litigation,” Network of Trial Law Firms, New York, N.Y. (Aug. 9, 2013)
        • “Managing Trade Secret Litigation,” (moderator) Network of Trial Law Firms, San Diego, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2012)
        • “Case Study: Spoliation,” National Conference on Managing Electronic Records, Chicago, Ill. (May 8, 2012)
      • Citizenship

        Pro Bono Activities

        Matt oversees our firm’s work as legal counsel for Global Citizenship Experience, a lab school developing curriculum modules and providing teacher training focused on Chicago’s at-risk urban schools and a scholarship fund for disadvantaged high school students.

         

        Matt represented a playwright as plaintiff in a Lanham Act suit arising from false attribution of a play about civil rights martyr Emmett Till. He also represented an indigent plaintiff in a civil rights suit for false arrest and use of excessive force.

        Civic and Charitable Memberships

        • University of Chicago Law School, Alumni Admissions Committee (2007-2011)
        • Global Citizenship Experience Foundation, Board of Directors (2013-Present)
      • Awards & Honors

        • The Legal 500 United States – Intellectual Property: Trade Secrets (2016-2021)
        • Illinois Leading Lawyer, Law Bulletin’s Illinois Leading Lawyers Network (2015-2020)
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      Prewitt Contributes to The Sedona Conference Data Privacy Primer

      Compiled by leading privacy professionals, the first-ever Data Privacy Primer provides an overview of key privacy issues in the United States. The publication is open for public comment until April 16. MORE

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      But My Company Is Safe, Right?: A Cybersecurity Elevator Speech

      In an interview with /Security Magazine/, Chicago partner Matthew Prewitt debunks common cybersecurity misconceptions and suggests how middle-market companies can minimize risk now. Read Article

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      Can Trade Secrets Survive the Cyberbreach Era?

      In a /Law Technology News/ feature, industry insiders weigh in on how in-house counsel can balance collaboration and exchange of information against real security concerns. Read Article