Most Highly Regarded Firms: Product Liability Defence 2012

In this section we analyse the findings of our research in greater depth to identify the firms and practitioners who stand out worldwide.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Sheila Birnbaum Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, New York
Quentin Urquhart Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC, New Orleans
Harvey Kaplan Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, Kansas City
Edward Sledge McDowell Knight Roedder & Sledge LLC, Mobile
David Dukes Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, Columbia, South Carolina
Bruce Parker Venable LLP, Baltimore
James Campbell Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy PC, Boston
Diane Sullivan Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Princeton
Ian Dodds-Smith Arnold & Porter LLP, London
Jack Mccowan Gordon & Rees LLP, San Francisco

This year we recognise the leading product liability defence firms, selected for their expertise, representation and international presence.

2012 Listings

Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP leads the research with 17 listings in this year’s edition, the most renowned of which is Harvey Kaplan, one of our most highly regarded product liability lawyers worldwide. Based in Missouri, he chairs the firm’s pharmaceutical and medical devices litigation group, utilising his experience in numerous disputes to advise on commercial and toxic torts as well as develop a prolific list of publications in this area. He is “one of the premier pharmaceutical lawyers in the country” according to peers. He is joined in that office by a further eight lawyers, including founding partner Anthony Andrade, an international product liability, class action and consumer protection litigator. Gregory Fowler is the co-chair of the international litigation and dispute resolution practice, Gary Long is the chair of the product liability group and is an experienced litigator in firearms, beverages and tobacco disputes, and the “very good” Marie Woodbury also features.

In California, Michelle Fujimoto focuses on mass torts disputes relating to pharmaceutical and biomedical devices; she has over 25 years’ experience dealing with science-driven litigation. Frank Kelly has been representing clients in tort liability cases for over 30 years. He is well known for his trial strategies and court room skills. Frank Rothrock is lauded as a mass torts defender with a multi-jurisdictional practice. Simon Castley is the managing partner of the London office and a regulatory and liability lawyer, with an emphasis on medical product safety. The firm lists lawyers from Florida and Washington, DC, in the research, a testament to its national litigation experience.

Hogan Lovells continues to out-perform itself in the annual research: this year it enjoys 12 listings in seven countries, an increase from nine the previous year, and eight the year before that. The firm’s strongest contingent can be found in London, where the “excellent” John Meltzer heads the international product liability network and provides advice to some of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers. Alongside him is Rod Freeman, an experienced and prolific litigator of pharmaceuticals, asbestos, tobacco, cosmetics, cars and other equipment, and an adviser to the European Commission on reforms. Ruth Grant focuses on dispute resolution within the context of product liability and professional negligence, where she advises on asbestos cases. Patrick Sherrington is the head of the litigation, arbitration and employment practice with significant experience appearing before English, Hong Kong and European courts. Other notable practitioners include Munich-based Ina Brock, co-head of the global life science group. According to a client, “she is a number-one expert in drug liability litigation in Germany, especially with regard to defence of multinational companies”. In Paris, Thomas Rouhette is a “tough but excellent” litigator who represents aircraft, tobacco and automotive manufacturers on liability and safety compliance. Head of the life sciences litigation team, Cécile Derycke coordinates the life science group and has extensive experience acting for pharmaceutical parties and health-care agents. In Shanghai, Eugene Chen is a general litigation lawyer with a particular focus on compliance, breaches, law suits and competition matters relating to pharmaceutical Chinese and US companies operating in China.

Reed Smith LLP has an impressive reputation in this field, evidenced by its eight inclusions this year. The firm’s California offices hold a lot of talent led by Colleen Davies, the chair of the global litigation department who has earned a reputation as a notable adviser on design development, document retention policies, claims management, media relations and crisis management. Michael K Brown is the former chair of the life sciences health industry group which incorporates product liability in the pharmaceutical field. He counts Pfizer, Medtronic, Merck and 3M as clients. Former head of the products liability practice group, Steven Kohn is highly regarded in the research, as is Roxanne Wilson who combines a product liability and employment practice. James Wood has over 35 years’ experience in product recall, and has acted for Eli Lilly and Abbott Laboratories among others, and Thomas Yoo is “one of the best in the business”. The firm’s New York, London and Philadelphia offices are also represented in our research this year.

With seven lawyers in our edition, Sidley Austin LLP boasts an assembly of specialists, most prominently in Illinois, such as the head of product liability and mass torts Michael Davis, a “very good, highly esteemed” lawyer, is joined by the “fantastic” Sara Gourley and the “recommendable, go-to counsel” Sherry Knutson. Maja Eaton is “very strong” in the field of state and appellate mass torts and pharmaceutical litigation and James Mizgala is highly regarded by clients for his risk analysis. Eugene Schoon is a seasoned litigator on health-care disputes and renowned in the market. Debra Pole leads the Los Angeles practice group and is regarded as “fabulous”.

With six lawyers in this year’s edition, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP boasts “some of the best product liability lawyers in the country”, including the “superb” David Dukes, former managing partner of the firm and a trainer and adviser on medical device, computer and technology-related litigation issues. Marc Williams is the managing partner of the firm’s West Virginia office and an experienced trial and appellate lawyer.

Similarly, with six lawyers in guide, Gordon & Rees LLP has an established product liability team, with a prominent California contingent. Founding partner, Stuart Gordon is the former managing partner and handles matters involving pharmaceutical and medical devices, business, real estate, general litigation and legal malpractice defence, and Jack McCowan has over 30 years’ experience practising in this area. The firm is also well represented in Texas.

Bruce Parker of Venable LLP in Baltimore received many international votes for his reputation acting for clients such as Pharmacia, Navistar and Boehringer Ingelheim, alongside Craig Thompson and Paul Strain. In Washington, DC, James Archibald is of counsel for the firm, and chief litigation counsel for manufacturing company Wm T Burnett.

James Campbell of Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy PC in Boston comes highly recommended for his defence trial strategy. The firm also fields Richard Campbell and Richard Edwards in Massachusetts and William Conroy in Pennsylvania.

At Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, co-head of the firm’s mass tort and insurance litigation group, Sheila Birnbaum received many votes and has a “great reputation” representing corporations in complex mass torts. She is the most highly regarded product liability lawyer this year. Alongside her is Mark Cheffo in New York, Raoul Kennedy in California and John Beisner and Jessica Miller in Washington, DC.

One of the most highly regarded lawyers in this year’s edition; Ian Dodds-Smith is a veteran inclusion and stands out at Arnold & Porter LLP as the head of the firm’s European product liability practice and co-head of the food, drug and medical device group. He counts Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sepracor as clients. He is joined in London by Alison Brown who handles both unitary claims and group actions and coordinates litigation throughout the UK and Europe, and Adela Williams, an experienced medical practitioner and counsellor to pharmaceutical and medical device agencies. In California, Ellen Reisman has over 25 years’ experience advising on mass tort litigation and acting for major life science and consumer products companies such as Wyeth.

Other notable practitioners include Quentin Urquhart from Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC, a toxic torts expert and one of the most highly regarded lawyers in our research. Kim Moore is a products and insurance liabilities lawyers, and James Irwin is a national and regional adviser on consumer products.

At McDowell Knight Roedder & Sledge LLC, Edward Sledge stands out for his disputes experience in pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, firearms and agricultural products. Veteran inclusions, William Roedder and Archibald Reeves also feature from the firm.

Diane Sullivan of Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP is a regular inclusion in our research, and features for her impressive litigation history. She divides her time between New York and New Jersey, acting and advising on fraud, product liability, commercial contract disputes, mass torts and life science disputes.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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