Biglaw, Lateral Moves, Litigators, Musical Chairs, Partner Issues, Sheila Birnbaum

Musical Chairs: Sheila Birnbaum Is Leaving Skadden


From: Goldner, Bruce (NYC)
Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:25 AM
Subject: Departures

Sheila Birnbaum and Mark Cheffo have informed us that they will be leaving the Firm to develop a Mass Torts practice at Quinn Emanuel. John Beisner will continue to serve as chair of our Mass Torts and Insurance Litigation practice, which he has co-chaired since 2009.

Over her past 30 years at Skadden, Sheila has built a world-class Mass Torts practice, and her contributions to the Firm, as well as to the legal profession in general, cannot be overstated. We thank both Sheila and Mark for their contributions, and we wish them well in their next chapter.

Bruce Goldner
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Four Times Square | New York | 10036-6522


Quinn Emanuel Lands Superstar Mass Torts and Insurance Litigator

New York, (April 23, 2013) – Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP announced today that Sheila Birnbaum will join the firm as a partner. Birnbaum will be based in the firm’s New York office, where she will be Global Co-Head of the firm’s Products Liability and Mass Torts Practice. Also joining the firm from Skadden will be Mark Cheffo, another nationally recognized leader in the products liability field.

Prior to joining Quinn, Sheila had been co-head of Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom’s Mass Torts and Insurance Group. Before joining Skadden and founding its products liability practice, Sheila was a tenured professor at New York University School of Law and Fordham University School of Law. She also served as Associate Dean of the Graduate Division of New York University.

Sheila’s primary focuses have been litigation and counseling involving products liability, mass torts and insurance coverage. She regularly represents the world’s best known companies in their largest and most complex mass torts cases. She has secured two groundbreaking wins in the United States Supreme Court, including Campbell v. State Farm, which reversed a $145 million punitive damages award as unconstitutionally excessive.

Sheila is ranked nationwide as a “star individual” in Products Liability and Mass Torts by Chambers USA, which calls Sheila “a queen of mass tort, a powerhouse and a go-to lawyer.” Law360 named her one of the 10 Most Admired Products Liability Attorneys. Recently The National Law Journal named her as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” joining her new partners Kathleen Sullivan and John Quinn on that list. She was chosen as the leading products liability lawyer in the world by The International Who’s Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers each year since its inception in 2005, and has been repeatedly selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for personal injury and mass tort litigation. She also has been named by Fortune as one of the 50 most powerful women in American business, by Crain’s New York Business as one of the 25 most influential women in New York business and by Lawdragon Magazine as one of the 500 leading lawyers in the country. She was named Best Lawyers’ 2012 New York City Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defense Lawyer of the Year. She has received many notable awards, including the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association and the Milton S. Gould Award for Outstanding Appellate Advocacy. Sheila was also honored at New York University’s 2008 Law Alumni Association Awards with the Vanderbilt Medal, the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus of the NYU School of Law.

Managing Partner John Quinn said: “It is exceedingly rare that any firm has the opportunity to add world-class, one-of-a-kind talent of Sheila’s caliber. To say that we are pleased she is joining us is an understatement.”

Peter Calamari, Managing Partner of the firm’s New York office, said: “This is a watershed event for our New York office. There is no question that Sheila leads one of the premier products practices in the world.”

Faith Gay, co-chair of the firm’s National Trial Practice, added: “We have built a first rate products liability trial and investigations practice serving the highest priority needs of Fortune 100 clients. Adding Sheila’s counseling and strategic expertise will elevate our products, insurance and arbitration practices to an entirely new level.”

Sheila said: “I had a wonderful run at Skadden and have many great friends there. However, the opportunity to join Quinn Emanuel was an offer I could not refuse. Its pure litigation model is a more natural fit with my practice. It represents a new and exciting challenge for me.”

Renowned Products Liability Attorney Mark Cheffo Joins Quinn Emanuel

New York, (April 23, 2013) – Quinn Emanuel is pleased to announce that Mark Cheffo, a nationally recognized leader in the products liability field, will join the firm’s New York office as a partner. Mark was previously a partner at Skadden Arps and has joined us, along with Sheila Birnbaum, to co-head our Global Products Liability and Mass Torts Practice.

In his 23-year career, Mark has represented defendants in groundbreaking products liability, insurance and mass torts litigation, serving as national coordinating and trial counsel in large, complex matters and in individual cases. In particular, he has appeared in cases on behalf of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Endo, and Amgen and numerous medical device manufacturers, designers of bioengineered agricultural products, and sellers of consumer and industrial products. He also has handled insurance sales practices cases and numerous toxic and environmental exposure suits. Mr. Cheffo has served as lead counsel for his clients in numerous multi-district proceedings, including the Zoloft, Neurontin, Darvon/Darvocet, and Epogen/Aranesp MDL proceedings. He currently serves as lead counsel for thousands of personal injury and consumer fraud cases pending in state and federal courts throughout the country.

Mr. Cheffo is consistently ranked among the leading products liability lawyers in the United States. He was recently recognized for his work in the pharmaceutical arena in Chambers USA where he is praised as, “very well regarded, very smart and a good strategist.” Ms. Birnbaum’s and Mr. Cheffo’s work for Pfizer, among other clients, was featured by The American Lawyer in 2012 as “Products Liability Group of the Year.”

“We are pleased to have Mark join our products liability practice,” said Managing Partner, John Quinn. “Coupled with our current products practice, the addition of Sheila Birnbaum, and the additions of Mike Lyle and Eric Lyttle in Washington D.C., we believe we have assembled the premier products liability practice in the country.”

Faith Gay, co-chair of the firm’s National Trial Practice, said: “Mark is a trial lawyer in the Quinn mold. He is highly respected, tireless and innovative in the defense of his clients. We are very excited to add a lawyer of his caliber to our team.”

Mr. Cheffo said: “I have spent many happy years at Skadden, and I value my experience and relationships there. Joining Quinn provides me with the opportunity to marry my products liability and class action expertise with a storied trial law firm dedicated to a litigation-only model. It was a platform and opportunity I simply could not refuse.”

Mr. Cheffo earned his J.D. from Boston University, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Law & Medicine.

Quinn Emanuel is a 600+ lawyer business litigation firm—the largest in the world devoted solely to business litigation—with offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Tokyo, London, Mannheim, Moscow, Hamburg, and Paris. Firm lawyers have tried over 1855 cases, winning 90% percent of them. When representing defendants, our trial experience gets us better settlements or defense verdicts. When representing plaintiffs, our lawyers have won over $15 billion in judgments and settlements. We have won five nine-figure jury verdicts in the last ten years. We have also obtained eight nine-figure and five ten-figure settlements. In 2010, The American Lawyer named the firm the top IP litigation firm in the US and one of the top six commercial litigation firms in the country. In 2011, The Lawyer named the firm “International Firm of the Year.” In 2012 and 2013, Managing IP recognized the firm as having the “Best Patent litigation–West” and “Best ITC Litigation Practice.” Also in 2012, Quinn Emanuel’s German offices were named both the “Best Patent Firm” and the “Best IP Firm” by JUVE, Germany’s most prestigious legal publication. Further information is available at

The Closer [NYU Law School Magazine]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Sheila Birnbaum

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