Legal Marketplace Analysis: Product Liability Defence 2014

In this section we use the recommendations from clients and peers across the globe to identify 429 lawyers from 223 firms who lead the field worldwide.

Shook Hardy & Bacon once again dominates the listings and grows its contingent this year, while Hogan Lovells, Bowman and Brooke, and Sidley Austin also perform strongly.

We single out 15 US-based practitioners and five individuals elsewhere who are the most highly regarded lawyers in the world in this field.


Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Lawyer Firm
United States
Christy Jones Butler Snow, Mississippi
David Dukes Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, South Carolina
Debra Pole Sidley Austin, California
Michael Brown Reed Smith, California
Chilton Davis Varner King & Spalding, Georgia
Tripp Haston Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, Alabama
Sheila Birnbaum Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, New York
Sara Gourley Sidley Austin, Illinois
Harvey Kaplan Shook Hardy & Bacon, Missouri
Bruce Parker Venable, Maryland
Lyn Pruitt Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard, Arizona
Quentin Urquhart Jr Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore, Louisiana
James Campbell Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy, Massachusetts
Donald Zimmer King & Spalding, California
Mary Wells Wells Anderson & Race, Colorado
Rest of the world
Colin Loveday Clayton Utz, Australia
Stuart Clark Clayton Utz, Australia
Gordon McKee Blake Cassels & Graydon, Canada
Roddy Bourke McCann Fitzgerald, Ireland
John Meltzer Hogan Lovells International, England

Shook Hardy & Bacon sees 24 of its lawyers selected for inclusion this year, an increase of three from the previous edition. At their head is the “eminent” Harvey Kaplan, chair emeritus of the firm’s pharmaceutical and medical device litigation division and “one of the forefathers of this practice area”. He is one of 10 nominees from the Kansas City office, with Scott Sayler highlighted as a “fantastic litigator” and William Sampson – a veteran of more than 80 jury cases in federal, state, and military courts – also praised by our sources. Walter Cofer was commended to researchers as “one of the best trial lawyers in America”, while Marie Woodbury is well known for her work as national counsel for Bayer and trial counsel for Roche in recent years. Gregory Fowler is “absolutely the first person I call” in the words of one corporate source. The firm is strong in California, where Michelle Fujimoto scores particularly highly and Frank Rothrock is “widely experienced and very effective”. The automotive-related work of Frank Kelly also received strong recommendations from our sources. The firm is similarly strong in DC, where three further partners are selected including Madeleine McDonough, described by clients as “thorough and an excellent brief writer”. Four are picked out from the Miami office, where Edward Moss is of counsel and hugely well respected, and Kenneth Reilly is “one of the foremost tobacco litigators in the land”. Sean Wajert joined the firm in 2012 and gives the firm a recognised presence in the Philadelphia section. In Europe, Marc Shelley is well respected in Switzerland and two London partners score very highly: Simon Castley is “an absolute must for inclusion” who is praised for his pragmatism, while Sarah Croft’s pharmaceutical related expertise is much in demand.

The contingent from Hogan Lovells also grows by two this year, to 13 lawyers in total. Three are based in the “very strong” London office. John Meltzer established the firm’s product liability group and is a “worldwide authority in the field”. He has helped to co-ordinate the defence of cross-border product liability claims in over 35 jurisdictions and was appointed by the European Commission to lead a team to carry out a major study on the Product Liability Directive and its possible reform. Alongside him, Rod Freeman is similarly highly rated in the market. Described as a “first rate legal mind”, he has product liability experience in relation to a range of industries including pharmaceuticals, asbestos, tobacco, silicone breast implants, cosmetics and automotive equipment. He was also responsible for co-ordinating Europe-wide some of the first and the largest product recalls under the new General Product Safety Directive. Ruth Grant’s tobacco practice is also held in high esteem by the market. The firm is strong across Europe, with further listings in Paris where Thomas Rouhette is feted as “the best in France”, and Cécile Derycke “really knows what she’s doing”. Two further nominees appear in Germany, where Ina Brock co-heads the firm’s global life sciences industry sector team and is “an absolute star” in the eyes of our interviewees – “it’s hard to think of anybody better”. Francesca Rolla scores highly in Italy, and the firm is also strong in Asia, with well known practitioners in Hong Kong and China. The firm’s US practice is also attracting admiring comment: in Baltimore Lauren Colton earns inclusion and is commended as an “excellent litigator”, and James Hourihan is of counsel to the DC office and similarly well known.

Bowman and Brooke is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost product liability specialists in the US – and the world – and it sees 10 of its lawyers earn inclusion in this edition. Five are based in the firm’s Minnesota offices, where Kim Schmid is among the outstanding medical device experts in our research. Kenneth Ross is of counsel to the firm and commended for his work on product recalls in particular, while firm chairman David Graves is much sought after for his work in the automotive sector. In California, Vincent Galvin is very well known for his work as lead counsel defending class actions and individual personal injury cases in the Toyota Motor Corporation Unintended Acceleration Marketing, Sales Practices, and Product Liability Litigation. Two further nominees are selected in Arizona, including the “phenomenal” Paul Cereghini who has defended cases in over 40 states and is widely recognised for his work on behalf of Yamaha.

Sidley Austin is another firm to grow its presence in this edition, and sees nine of its lawyers listed this year including some of the most highly regarded individuals in the world. Debra Pole in Los Angeles is “nationally and internationally renowned”, having acted as national co-ordinating counsel for defendants in high-profile breast implant litigation in both multi-district litigation and state co-ordinated proceedings, and she is also very experienced in a range of other pharmaceutical and medical device matters. From the same office, Catherine Valerio Barrad is a “highly effective litigator”, while Rebecca Wood is picked out in DC and commended as an “excellent brief writer”. The Chicago office is extremely strong with six lawyers selected. Sara Gourley is “without question who you would want heading your mass torts team” in the words of one client, and she is currently lead counsel for Takeda Pharmaceuticals in the ongoing MDL and state court litigation regarding ACTOS. Michael Davis heads the firm’s products liability and mass torts practice and is deemed to be “one of the most highly regarded products attorneys in the USA” by his peers in private practice. Maja Eaton is a “superstar”, recommended for her asbestos, medical device and pharmaceutical work, while James Mizgala is described as a “tough, tenacious litigator” by those who have gone up against him, and his clients are equally effusive: “he provides sophisticated and aggressive advocacy and excels at presenting complex scientific evidence. He is excellent at preparing corporate representatives to testify – he does not waste time and focuses his energy on the things that matter, which is highly valued by clients.” Sherry Knutson is similarly well regarded; “she is superbly qualified, knowledgeable, and has a keen ability to develop sophisticated strategies which bring excellent results on a consistent basis and in an efficient and cost effective manner” said one client. Eugene Schoon completes the firm’s contingent and is commended by clients and peers alike; “he gets amazing results” they say.

Seven nominees appear from Sedgwick in the US. Kevin Dunne is of counsel to the firm and a “very eminent figure in this area” – he has represented clients such as Brown & Williamson Tobacco and DaimlerChrysler. Gregory Read in San Francisco is “fantastic”, known for his products and aviation work, while Gregory Campillo has successfully tried cases on behalf of clients such as Pharmacia, Baxter Healthcare, Merck & Co and Pfizer. Also in California, Michael Healy is much in demand from pharmaceutical, medical device and biologic manufacturers, while Paul Cauley is one of the foremost experts in Texas, where he appears alongside the “excellent” Wayne Mason. David Covey gives the firm a presence in New York and is well known for his work on behalf of pharma and medical device companies.

Gordon & Rees also sees seven US partners selected for inclusion. Jack McCowan is a “pre-eminent expert in this field”, particularly well known for his drug and medical device related counsel. The “first class” Stuart Gordon appears alongside him in California. Nancy Erfle in Oregon “definitely belongs on any list of the best” and has defended manufacturers in the pharmaceutical and medical device, automotive, agricultural chemical and aviation industries. Laura De Santos is one of four selected nominees from Texas and scores highly for her consumer products, pharma, medical device and automotive related work. Michael Klatt also received commendation for his work across a wide range of industries, especially pharmaceutical, while Kenneth Ferguson is co-managing partner of the Austin office and similarly well regarded. Jeffrey Lilly is a “well known litigator”, particularly in relation to multi-district litigations.

Chilton Davis Varner is one of six nominees in this edition from King & Spalding, and earns a place among the outstanding individuals in the research worldwide. She is extremely well known in the market as a past president of the American College of Trial Lawyers and for her successful work on behalf of clients such as GlaxoSmithKline and Merck. Donald ‘Fritz’ Zimmer is the San Francisco office managing partner and “one of the foremost experts in the US, indeed in the world”. He is the counsel of choice for some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, and a “leading light” in this field.

Lawyers from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in South Carolina and West Virginia appear five times in these pages, led by David Dukes who is “extremely well known and very widely respected”.

Michael Brown is the former chair of the Reed Smith’s multidisciplinary life sciences health industry group and one of the most highly nominated lawyers in our research. He has represented clients such as Medtronic, Pfizer, Merck & Co and GlaxoSmithKline and is joined by four further colleagues in this edition. Stephen Scheve in Houston is very well regarded, as is the “first rate” Michael Scott in Philadelphia.

Tripp Haston co-chairs the life sciences industry team at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and “exhibits superb judgment” according to his clients. He earns a place among the most highly rated lawyers in this field and appears alongside four further colleagues, including “dean of the bar” William Goodman in Mississippi. Charles ‘Chuck’ Stewart in Alabama is a “top flight expert” in the eyes of our sources.

The “fantastic” Bruce Parker at Venable is one of the pre-eminent experts in this field, and has represented clients such as LabCorp, Johnson & Johnson and Vulcan Materials Company. He is joined by four colleagues, including Paul Strain who has successfully represented clients in the Supreme Court and is held in very high esteem by the market. Craig Thompson also performs very strongly in this year’s edition.

Four nominees appear from Butler Snow, including the “wonderful” Christy Jones in Mississippi. Described as “one of the top lawyers in the US” and a “truly formidable opponent”, she earned commendation from clients and peers alike across the country.

Three partners from Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore in Louisiana are selected for inclusion and find themselves among the most highly regarded lawyers in the US. Quentin Urquhart is “excellent in the courtroom and a supreme strategist”, while James Irwin is a “go-to guy” for pharmaceutical and medical device work. Kim Moore was praised for her discovery skills in particular, and is “always meticulously prepared”.

Three name partners from Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy are also listed in this edition, and each scores very highly. James Campbell is viewed by his competitors as a “very skilled trial lawyer”, and has tried more than 100 cases in 15 states. Founding partner Richard P Campbell is “as good as it gets”, while William Conroy is an “acknowledged

market leader” for catastrophic injury cases.

Sheila Birnbaum of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan is a former winner of the WWL Product Liability Lawyer of the Year award and a “legend in this field” due to notable successes including on behalf of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, when the US Supreme Court reversed a $145 million punitive damages award against it as unconstitutionally excessive. She was also feted for her strategic acumen – “she is the best strategic thinker I know” said one source, “she was always my first call when I was in house.” Mark Cheffo is listed alongside her and is a “star”.

At Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard in Arkansas, Lyn Pruitt is said to be an “outstanding trial attorney” and recognised both by our research and her peers as “one of the best in the country”. She is well known for her work as co-liaison counsel and co-lead trial counsel for national hormone therapy litigation.

Mary Wells of Wells Anderson & Race in Colorado has a “wonderful reputation” and has tried more than 50 cases to verdict. She is “very well known in the market and extremely well thought of”, for product work, toxic tort and aviation matters.


Outside the US, Clayton Utz in Australia is home to two of the most highly regarded lawyers in this field and five listed nominees in total. Colin Loveday in Sydney is head of the national product liability group and a “big hitter” – he acted in the successful defence of G D Searle & Co (now merged with Pfizer) and Monsanto Corporation in the local proceedings involving the Gravigard (Copper 7) intrauterine contraceptive device. Stuart Clark worked alongside him on that case, and is similarly revered both at home and abroad. He was also recognised for successful defence of the Australian Fen-Phen class action litigation, and is generally held to be “hard to beat, both literally and metaphorically”. Andrew Morrison in Melbourne is also described as a “fabulous lawyer” to our researchers.

The “superb” Gordon McKee of Blake Cassels & Graydon is the leading lawyer in our Canadian research, and manages litigation nationally for manufacturers of pharmaceutical medicines, medical devices, consumer goods and automotive parts.

Roddy Bourke of McCann Fitzgerald in Ireland is “one of the finest exponents of this craft in Europe”, and scores very highly once again in this edition.

Back to top

Follow us on LinkedIn

News & Features

Community News



Pro Bono

Corporate Counsel

Women in Law

Future Leaders

Research Reports

Practice Areas


The Who's Who Legal 100


Special Reports



About Us

Research Schedule

It is not possible to buy entry into any Who's Who Legal publication

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.

Copyright © 2019 Law Business Research Ltd. All rights reserved. |

87 Lancaster Road, London, W11 1QQ, UK | Tel: +44 20 7908 1180 / Fax: +44 207 229 6910 |

Law Business Research Ltd

87 Lancaster Road, London
W11 1QQ, UK