John W. Adler

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Attorney Profile

John Adler is a founding member of Adler Murphy & McQuillen LLP with over fifty years of specialization in aviation defense litigation. He has tried numerous cases in a variety of complex situations and is one of only a handful of aviation defense attorneys who have been admitted to fellowship in the American College of Trial Lawyers.  

John began his legal career with the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division. After commissioning into the U.S. Air Force as a JAG officer, he tried numerous courts martial, including capital offenses.(Read more about John's military life here ) He also occasionally tried cases on behalf of the U.S. Army and Navy. In 1965, John returned to the Justice Department, Civil Division-Aviation Section, where he continued to hone his trial skills. His cases included the Pan Am accident in Elkton, Maryland, and the Eastern airliner accident at LaGuardia airport.

In 1967, John went to work for United Airlines as a trial attorney, where he litigated uninsured cases and various regulatory issues before the Civil Aeronautics Board. This included litigation relating to United Airlines' southeast service to Los Angeles and small market West Coast service case. He also participated in various trials and accident investigations as the United's corporate legal representative.

John joined Lord, Bissell & Brook in 1970 and appeared as trial counsel for aviation clients in more than 30 U.S. jurisdictions. He was lead counsel in most of these cases and tried many of them. In 1978, John founded the firm of Conklin & Adler, a firm specializing in aviation litigation, where he continued trying cases on behalf of various aerospace companies. Then, in 1988, John formed Adler, Kaplan, and Begy, where he continued to defend aerospace clients in numerous high profile lawsuits, including litigation arising out of the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in January 1986 and the United Airlines Sioux City accident. In 1995, John, and his long-time partners Jim Murphy and Mike McQuillen, formed Adler Murphy & McQuillen LLP. John has tried approximately 75 wrongful death cases. 


  • Georgetown University Law Center, B.S., 1958, LL.B. 1961

Bar Admissions

  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois