Matt Passen has a broad range of experience in cases involving serious personal injury and wrongful death, including motor vehicle and transportation accidents, defective products and medical negligence. He has recovered multiple seven- and eight-figure verdicts and settlements for his clients including a recent $24.6 million trucking settlement and $10.9 million product liability jury verdict.
He has received numerous awards and distinctions, such as:
- 40 Under 40, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Law Bulletin Publishing Company (2015)
- Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorney, The National Trial Lawyers (2015-present)
- Leading Lawyers, Law Bulletin Publishing Company (2015-present)
- Top 40 Litigation Lawyers Under 40, American Society of Legal Advocates (2014-present)
- Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers (2012-present)
- Society of Trial Lawyers (2018-present)
- America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys (2019)
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America (2022)
To see what prominent judges and opposing counsel think about him, read the Law Bulletin’s write-up of Mr. Passen’s 40 Under Forty honor.
Mr. Passen graduated law school at the top of his class (summa cum laude, Order of the Coif) from DePaul University College of Law in 2006. During law school, Mr. Passen served as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Ronald A. Guzman, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and also interned with the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois. In addition to his general membership to the Illinois bar, Mr. Passen is a member of the Federal Trial Bar for the Northern District of Illinois.
Mr. Passen graduated with high distinction (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from the University of Michigan in 2002. While in college, he played four years of hockey as a member of the University of Michigan Club Hockey Team.
Mr. Passen is heavily involved in local and national bar associations. He is Past-Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section (YLS), which has over 9,000 attorney-members in the Chicagoland area. He is also Past-President of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Young Professionals Board (YPB), which is dedicated to securing equal access to justice for all members of the community. Mr. Passen also served on the Board of Managers of the Chicago Bar Association and the Board of Directors of the Chicago Bar Foundation, and has served for many years as an Investigator for the CBA’s Judicial Evaluation Committee. He is a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, where he has helped train victim advocates and represent victims of crime, including sexual abuse, in civil actions. In 2017, he was elected to two of the most prestigious legal societies: the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation and the Chicago Inn of Court. He was also recently profiled by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. In 2018, Mr. Passen was invited to join the Society of Trial Lawyers, an invitation-only group comprised of the top Illinois trial lawyers on both the defense and plaintiffs’ sides. In 2022, he was selected to become a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America, a trial lawyer honorary society whose membership is limited to less than one-half of one percent of North American lawyers and judges.
Mr. Passen is past-Treasurer of the Associate Board of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), consistently ranked the #1 rehabilitation hospital in the world. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Justice Entrepreneurship Project (“JEP”), an incubator for lawyers to create law practices that serve low and moderate-income individuals and families, a vastly underserved client base. He is also a past member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Conflict Resolution and the Board of Directors of the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Chicago. He is a longtime supporter and volunteer with the Brain Injury Association of Illinois.
Mr. Passen is committed to honing his craft as a trial lawyer and has written and spoken on a variety of topics relating to trial practice. He served on the Board of Managers of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, and currently serves as Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Trial Practice Committee. He is also Vice-Chair of the Trial Techniques Committee and Automobile Law Committee for the American Bar Association, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS).
He is a graduate of the 3-week Trial Lawyers College, an invitation-only program dedicated to training and educating trial lawyers who are committed to the jury system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals. The College was founded and led by legendary trial lawyer, Gerry Spence, and took place at his ranch in Wyoming.
Prior to co-founding Passen & Powell, he was an associate at Jenner & Block LLP, one of the top commercial litigation firms in the country.
In his free time, Mr. Passen enjoys training for and competing in triathlons, having completed an Ironman triathlon in 2008 (in just over 13 and 1/2 hours). He is married with two young children. He recently served as Co-President of the Winnetka Hockey Club Board of Directors where he enjoys giving back to the youth hockey program he played as a child and where his son now plays.
Education & Honors
- JD, DePaul University College of Law
- Summa Cum Laude
- Order of the Coif
- Law Review
- BA, University of Michigan
- Magna Cum Laude
- Phi Beta Kappa
Professional & Community Service
- Chicago Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section, Past-Chair, Recipient of Rising Star Award and Milton H. Gray Award for Outstanding Project Leadership
- Chicago Bar Association, Board of Managers
- Chicago Bar Association, Chair, Trial Practice Committee
- Chicago Bar Association, Judicial Evaluation Committee, Investigator
- Chicago Bar Foundation, Justice Entrepreneurship Project, Advisory Board
- Chicago Bar Foundation, Young Professionals Board, Past-President
- Chicago Bar Foundation, Board of Directors
- Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Board of Managers
- American Association for Justice
- Center for Conflict Resolution, Board of Directors
- National Crime Victim Bar Association
- Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly RIC), Associate Board, Treasurer
- United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Chicago, Board of Directors, Past-Member
- American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Trial Techniques Committee, Vice-Chair
- The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation
- The Chicago Inn of Court
- Winnetka Hockey Club, Board of Directors, Co-President
- Help End Distracted Driving, CBA Record, November 2015
- Giving Back, CBA Record, October 2015
- Lessons From the Ranch, CBA Record, September 2015
- The Complete Lawyer, CBA Record, July/August 2015
- Proving Damages in Motor Vehicle Crash Cases Involving Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Automobile Law Committee Newsletter, Fall 2014
- Preparing and Conducting Effective Cross-Examination, ABA Section of Litigation, Young Advocates, September 2013
- Lawyers Aim to Curb Distracted Driving, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, March 5, 2012.
- Social Host Liability for Underage Alcohol-Related Injuries, CBA Record, October 2011.
- Protecting Those Who Protect Us: The Fireman’s Rule, CBA Record, February/March 2011.
- Finding My Ironman, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, November 10, 2010.
- Tort Immunity for Public Hospitals and Medical Professionals in Illinois, CBA Record, September 2010.
- Conflict Resolved: Settling Defendants Not On Verdict Form, CBA Record, April 2009.
- Should Settling Defendants Appear on a Jury Verdict Form?, CBA Record, February/March 2009.
- Illinois Supreme Court Expands Scope of Collateral Source Rule, CBA Record, September 2008.
- Medical Societies’ Peer-Review Authority: Professional Self-Regulation or Witness Intimidation?, CBA Record, May 2008.
Select Speaking Engagements
- Punitive Damages in Illinois: A Primer, CBA Civil Practice Committee (February 2019)
- Anatomy of a Premises Liability Case, Lawline (April 2018)
- Maximizing Damages in Illinois Personal Injury Cases, Lawline (April 2018)
- Suggestions for an Effective Jury Selection, CBA Trial Practice Series (Sep 2017)
- Medical Malpractice Litigation in Illinois, Lawline (May 2017)
- Effective Use of Technology at Trial in Illinois, Lawline (May 2017)
- Appellate Tips for Trial Lawyers, Illinois State Bar Association (Feb 2017)
- Jury Selection: Practical Advice for Picking a Jury, Chicago Bar Association (Feb 2017)
- Common Issues in Medical Malpractice Cases, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Risk Management Committees (Jan 2017)
- Effective Use of Trial Technology, Chicago Bar Association, Trial Techniques Committee (Dec 2016)
- Jury Selection Law and Techniques, Illinois State Bar Association (Nov 2016)
- Preservation Makes Perfect: Appellate Tips for Trial Lawyers, Chicago Bar Association (March 2016)
- Civil Remedies for Victims of Crime in Illinois, The National Center for Victims of Crime (Nov 2015)
- #IsThisAdmissible?, American Bar Association Tort Trial Insurance Practice Section, Moderator (July 2015)
- Judicial Panel on Persuasiveness in Court, Chicago Bar Association, Moderator (Nov 2014)
- Using an iPad in Trial, Chicago Bar Association (Nov 2014)
- How To Create A Trial Notebook For Use At Trial, Chicago Bar Association, Moderator (Feb 2014)
- Product Liability Update, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Product Liability Committee (Jan 2014)
- Deposition Practice in Illinois: Top 10 Practical Considerations, Chicago Bar Association (Nov 2013)
- Strategies for Success At Trial, Chicago Bar Association (Oct 2013)
- Trial Technique Strategies, Chicago Bar Association, Moderator (Feb 2011)