Sheila L. Birnbaum is a partner at Dechert. She is co-chair of the firm's product liability and mass torts practice and focuses on complex product liability, mass torts and insurance litigation. Prior to joining Dechert, Ms. Birnbaum was co-chair of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s global product liability and mass torts practice and chair of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s product liability group. Before that, she served as counsel to the firm while she was a professor of law and associate dean at New York University School of Law.
Ms. Birnbaum was elected to the ALI in 1983 and was elected to the Council in 1998. She took Emeritus status in 2013.
She serves as Chair of the Regional Advisory Group for the Second Region and as an Adviser for the Restatement of the Law of Liability Insurance project. She was previously an Adviser on the Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation project and the Complex Litigation project.
Among other significant matters, she secured a historic victory for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a $145 million punitive damages award against the company as unconstitutionally excessive.
Ms. Birnbaum was national counsel or lead defense counsel for numerous Fortune 500 companies in some of the largest and most complicated tort cases in the country. She was national counsel for Dow Corning Corporation in the breast implant litigation, for Aventis Crop Science in several class actions and multidistrict litigation arising out of biogenetic corn and for Thompson-Delaco in the over-the-counter drug “PPA” litigation.
She also represents major corporations in insurance coverage litigations and arbitrations in the United States, London and Bermuda. Ms. Birnbaum has been selected multiple times by The National Law Journal as one of the 100 most outstanding members of the legal profession, including in 2013.
EDUCATION: Hunter College, B.A.; Hunter College, M.A.; New York University Law School, LL.B.