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Paula Villela is a talented legal writer, highly skilled advocate and effective negotiator. Her talent and carefully honed writing skills are apparent in the complex trial and appellate briefs she prepares as a part of her daily practice. Paula’s eloquent and persuasive writing style is the foundation upon which she routinely obtains favorable results for her clients.

With a practice that focuses extensively on Insurance Coverage Litigation, Paula manages all aspects of declaratory judgment litigation from coverage analysis opinions, to pursuing declaratory judgment actions and all appeals arising from such actions. In doing so, Paula strives to satisfy her clients by obtaining positive, client-driven outcomes.

She represents clients involved in insurance coverage disputes arising out of commercial general liability, professional liability, homeowners and automotive insurance policies, among many others. She has successfully obtained declaratory judgments on behalf of insurance company clients related to the duty to defend and to indemnify, bad faith, as well as first-party claims for property and underinsured motorist coverage. Paula has also negotiated settlement agreements which were favorable and cost-effective for her clients.

In her appellate practice, Paula handles a wide range of issues, including ground-breaking constitutional challenges to new laws and the defense of appeal from her own successful judgments in the circuit court. After spending the initial years of her legal career drafting appellate opinions under Justices Joseph Gordon and William H. Taylor, II, Paula has a deep understanding on how to draft effective appellate briefs and how to make successful arguments on appeal.

In addition to her insurance coverage and appellate practice, Paula has effectively represented clients in general litigation matters, including landlord and tenant disputes, personal injury defense, professional liability, commercial disputes, and bankruptcy-related disputes. Paula approaches her practice with an understanding that a lawsuit causes a great disruption to a commercial client’s operations and to an individual client’s life and advocates for their interest in an efficient manner.

Paula is also a columnist for the Illinois Defense Counsel Quarterly. In her spare time, she often mentors law students and new attorneys.


  • Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D. 2008, with High Honors
  • Oakland University, B.S. 2005, magna cum laude

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Related Practices

Professional Experience

Judicial Clerkships

  • Justice Joseph Gordon, Illinois Appellate Court for the First District of Illinois
  • Justice William H. Taylor, II, Illinois Appellate Court for the First District of Illinois

Publications and Presentations

Professional Affiliations

  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Illinois Defense Counsel


  • “Cross Examining an Expert Witness: Proper Preparation and Tips,” IDC Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 3, Jonathan L. Federman, and Paula Villela.
  • “Who Knew? Sole Means More Than One,” IDC Quarterly, Vol. No. 4, Paula Villela and Donald Patrick Eckler.

News & Results

  • Paula was on the trial team that obtained one of the largest bankruptcy contempt awards in U.S. history in In re: Kmball Hill, Inc., et al., 08bk10095 (Jan. 9, 2019), for a violation of a bankruptcy court’s Confirmation Order.
  • Paula was on the appellate team that obtained a major victory before the Illinois Supreme Court in successfully challenging the constitutionality of Public Act 98-1132, Senate Bill 3075, which reduced the number of jurors in a civil trial in State of Illinois from 12 to 6, arguing that a jury of 12 is a fundamental right under the Bill of Rights to the 1970 Constitution of the State of Illinois. Kakos v. Butler, 2016 IL 120377.


  • Order of the Coif, 2009


Pretzel Attorneys and Staff Participate in Race Judicata

  Pretzel & Stouffer attorneys and staff, David Bennett, Donald Eckler, Jonathan Federman, Quinn Donnelly, Aimee Alvarez, Alex Beehler, Caitlin Donohue, Scott Howie, Kelly Kono, Mary Norris, Paula Villela, and Calvin Townsend, ran in Race Judicata last night. The 5K race benefits Chicago Volunteer Legal Services.    

September 2019 | Community

Pretzel & Stouffer Attorneys Publish Article on Sole Proximate Cause

Pretzel & Stouffer attorneys, Donald Eckler and Paula Villela, published an article in the Illinois Association of Defense Counsel Quarterly (IDC) analyzing the decision in Douglas v. Arlington Park Racecourse, LLC, 2018 IL App (1st) 162962 in which the court held that instructing the jury on sole proximate cause was appropriate where the defendant presented ...

July 2019 | Firm News

Pretzel & Stouffer Attorneys Appointed Columnists for IDC Quarterly

Paula Villela and Jonathan Federman have been appointed to be the Evidence and Practice Tips columnists for the Illinois Association of Defense Counsel Quarterly (IDC). They join Scott Howie (Appellate Practice Corner) and Donald Eckler (Civil Practice and Procedure) as columnists for this excellent publication.

July 2019 | Firm News

Pretzel & Stouffer Sponsors WBAI Annual Dinner Attended by Its Attorneys

Pretzel & Stouffer was a proud sponsor of the 105th Women’s Bar Association of Illinois Annual Installation Dinner. Congratulations to the new president of the WBAI, Corinne Heggie and the new members of the board. Pretzel & Stouffer attorneys, Mary Cronin, Sommer Luzynczyk, Kayla Condeni, Paula Villela, and Caitlin Donohue attended the event with Amy ...

July 2019 | Firm News


Petition for Leave to Appeal Granted by Illinois Supreme Court

  Robert Chemers and Paula Villela recently had a Petition for Leave to Appeal granted by the Illinois Supreme Court. The case involves an Appellate Court opinion in a case of first impression which allowed a #plaintiff in a medical malpractice case to re-designate a previously disclosed controlled expert witness and treating physician as a ...

January 2020

Court Grants Summary Judgment for Pretzel Client Over No Duty to Defend or Indemnify

  Pretzel & Stouffer attorneys, Rich Burgland, Robert Chemers, and Paula Villela, obtained a summary judgment for their insurer client that it had no duty to defend or indemnify the insured for various motions for sanctions and attorneys’ fees and the resultant judgment against the insured for more than $1.1 million in fees, costs and ...

January 2020

Summary Judgment Victory for Insurance Carrier

Robert Chemers, Rich Burgland, and Paula Villela, recently secured summary judgment for their client, a liability insurance carrier, which was found to have no duty to defend a general contractor in an action alleging construction defects and conversion of the claimant’s property. The underlying claimant brought an action against the general contractor for negligence in ...

July 2019

Pretzel & Stouffer Attorneys Obtain Historic Judgment in Bankruptcy Case

A Pretzel & Stouffer trial team, led by Edward Ruff and Michael Turiello and including Paula Villela, along with Douglas Lipke and William Thorsness of Vedder Price P.C. obtained a judgment in the amount of $9,539,768.54 for damages stemming from Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland (“F&D”) for contempt and violation of a bankruptcy court’s ...

July 2019