Top 250 Women in Litigation - Midwest


Hailing from the Chicago office of Sidley Austin, Sara Gourley manages her practice with a focus on product liability, most notably in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors. She currently represents Smith & Nephew in connection with a BHR hip implant multi-district litigation. She previously represented Takeda and Eli Lilly where she implemented a settlement program that is recognized as one of the most successful programs in MDL mass tort history, with the vast majority of plaintiffs accepting the settlement. Fellow product liability star Maja Eaton also serves as co-chair of the firm's Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women. Her expertise includes the defense of toxic tort litigation, mass tort litigation on pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. She currently serves as national counsel to a medical device manufacturer involving cardiac leads.

Leslie Smith hails from the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis where she is a member of the Global Management Committee and concentrates her practice on pharmaceutical issues, class actions, consumer fraud matters, and antitrust litigation. Peers recognize her many talents: "Leslie is a fierce competitor. She knows the ins and outs of how to best approach a complex product liability issue. She just gets it." Fellow Chicago partner Susan Davis manages her practice with a strong focus on intellectual property disputes, including within the regulatory, legislative, and appellate stages. She routinely works on issues surrounding antitrust law and patent law. As a former Deputy White House Counsel to President Obama, Davies worked on the America Invents Act, one of the most recent and significant changes to the U.S. patent system. She currently represents numerous Fortune 100 companies on IP matters. Due to her significant accounting and financial experience, Chicago-based Anne Sidrys focuses her practice on complex financial and commercial litigation. Her experience includes representing clients on fraud, non-competes, contract disputes, accounting malpractice, product liability, securities and shareholder derivative claims. Elizabeth Hess, a new Top 250 entry, focuses her practice on government and internal investigations in defense of corporate executives and corporation in criminal and regulatory proceedings. Additionally, her expertise includes serving as trial, appellate, and arbitration counsel in class-action suits on matters of False Claims Act liability, complex commercial disputes, and unfair and deceptive trade practices, among others. She participated in representing Abbott Laboratories in in a False Claims Act jury trial involving an alleged whistleblower and sought more than $1 billion for alleged Medicare fraud. The jury rendered a favorable verdict, which was later affirmed in May 2017 by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The Chair of Winston & Strawn's Professional Liability Practice group Caryn Jacobs has managed her 30-plus year career specializing in accounting and auditing litigation and defense, securities litigation, ERISA litigation, trust law, corporate fraud, and complex commercial disputes. Peers praise her "guidance and leadership," which has "always served as a model example; She's accomplished what many of us aspire to achieve."

Michele Odorizzi of Mayer Brown serves as a member of the Litigation group and Supreme Court and Appellate practice. She focuses her practice on areas of securities litigation, accountants' liability, shareholder derivative litigation, and fiduciary duty issues. She serves as national counsel for Philip Morris USA, a subsidiary of Altria Group in smoking-and-health and consumer fraud cases throughout the country. She also participates in the briefing and trying of PM USA's appeals.

Jeanne Gills of Foley & Lardner is focused on complex patent, trade secret, trademark, copyright, and unfair competition litigation and appeals. She maintains a strong electronics background which assists in the representation of clients in patent cases, most notably with regard to biotechnology, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and technology cases. Competitors acknowledge her "role as the ultimate professional to go to whenever you have IP concerns," with one adding, "She authors numerous pieces on the hot topics in IP that we find extremely useful. Jeanne prides herself on staying current and up-to-date with market changes."

Marci Eisenstein is the Managing partner and leader of the Class Action Group at Schiff Hardin. She is nationally recognized for defending major corporations throughout the course of her 35-plus-year career. Her trial experience is considered "one of the strongest in the business" by her peers.

Mary Rose Alexander of Latham & Watkins serves as the global Practice Group Chair of the Environmental Litigation Practice. Her expertise includes in litigating commercial, insurance, and environmental law matters. She has tried matters in multi-state and multi-forum litigations concerning toxic torts and environmental matters, including alleging exposure to a variety of chemicals and industrial accidents at facilities.

Shayna Cook of Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum is focused on representing multinational clients in a wide array of commercial litigation, most notably in intellectual property, product liability, and contract dispute matters. She serves as lead counsel for Bayer in numerous lawsuits surrounding the Mirena intrauterine device in federal and state courts around the country.

Hailing from the Chicago office of Bartit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, Rebecca Weinstein Bacon maintains a robust practice focusing on product liability, antitrust, consumer class actions, and commercial disputes for Fortune 50 companies. She served as co-lead counsel representing Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals in the first ever case set for personal injury product liability trial on the Yazmin federal multi-district litigation. The case was settled prior to trial.


Nyemaster Goode's Angel West maintains her practice with a strong focus on business and commercial litigation, data breach and information securities litigation, and ERISA litigation. She participates in numerous cases involving breaches of fiduciary duty, financial services matters, and represents high profile clients on Section 36(b) 'excessive fee' claims.


Michelle Thurber Czapski hails from Bodman's Troy office where she leads the insurance practice group and has obtained extensive acclaim on resolutions for insurance and financial service companies, tier-one automotive suppliers, and pharmaceutical companies. She currently serves as lead counsel on all liability cases brought forth against the Ford Field Management, DLI Properties, and The Detroit Lions, operators of the stadium, for injuries sustained throughout.

Sharon Woods serves as chair of Barris Sott Denn & Driker's Litigation Department. Her practice encompasses all forms of business litigation, most notably construction and class action litigation. Her leadership extends far beyond the state of Michigan as peers across the legal market acknowledge her "national presence and success in many transcending trials."


As founding partner of Ciresi Conlin, Jan Conlin has utilized her vast trial experience to propel her success on high-profile business and intellectual property litigation matters. Her experience over the course of her career has included numerous multimillion dollar settlements for Fortune 500 companies.


Hailing from the St. Louis office of Bryan Cave, Bettina Strauss focuses her practice on matters of product liability, most notably within the medical device and pharmaceutical sector, and commercial litigation, including multidistrict litigation and class action suits.

Deborah A. Moeller of Shook Hardy & Bacon has developed her practice to handle all aspects of product liability defense against pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. Her experience as a trial lawyer is also noted throughout her successful resolution of cases via alternate dispute resolution methods and informal settlement agreements.


Gigi O'Hara of Kutak Rock specifically devotes her practice to labor and employment issues. She has recently been retained on a wage and hour class action matter and a discrimination matter arising out of California. O'Hara also regularly assists clients perform internal audits in defense of wage and hour investigations initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor. Her success rate continues to rise in defense of employers on charges of discrimination, harassment and retaliation before state and administrative agencies and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Elizabeth Kessler of Jones Day has earned her experience defending manufacturers on product liability cases, as well as business litigation and class action suits across the country. She currently represents Cardinal Health in a West Virginia federal court matter wherein several distributors are alleged to be contributors in the fast-spreading opioid epidemic.

Thompson Hine's Elizabeth Wright, a member of the Product Liability Litigation and Business Litigation practice groups, focuses her practice on automotive, aviation, pharmaceutical, and medical device litigation. She serves as national counsel for a number of industry manufacturers across the country due to her extensive experience.

Tucker Ellis trial attorney Irene Keyse-Walker is nationally recognized by her peers for her overwhelming appellate practice success in both state and federal court. She was the first lawyer in Ohio to be named to the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Her experience representing professional organizations continues in recent defense of Grange Mutual Casualty wherein the court of appeals reversed and held that 'abuse or molestation' exclusion in insurance policy applied to the insured school's vicarious liability in case of first impression. Fellow partner Rita Maimbourg manages her 35 plus years of experience in defense of clients in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and healthcare industries. Her contentious knowledge in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries stems from her experience on recalled prescription products, opioids, and transdermal drugs.

Frances Floriano Goins serves as the Co-Chair of Ulmer Berne's Financial Services & Securities Litigation practice group as well as of its Data Privacy & Information Security group. She boasts impressive skills within her appellate practice in resolving complex business disputes involving securities, shareholder rights, financial services, and consumer and contract law, among others. She recently participated in a class action matter representing The Kingdom Trust Company on participation accusations of an alleged Ponzi scheme. "Frances is well-known for good reason. Her expertise is one we wish we all had."

South Dakota

Pamela Reiter of Johnson Janklow Abdallah Reiter & Parsons focuses her practice on business litigation, civil litigation, fiduciary litigation, class actions, personal injury, malpractice, and constitutional claims. She was retained to represent Minnehaha County, the largest county in South Dakota, in an administrative appeal brought against the S.D. Department of Transportation and Transportation Commission over the denial of a Bridge Improvement Grant. She was appointed Special Deputy State's Attorney in order to prosecute this claim.

Nancy Turbak of Turbak Law Office specializes in personal injury and negligence cases, as well as in defense of individuals against their respective insurance companies. Her trial experience continues to be one of her many strengths. She is known for obtaining the largest jury verdict awarded to an individual on a personal injury matter.