Quinn Emanuel boosts products liability group with Skadden hires

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has hired one of the best-known products liability lawyers in the US, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom’s mass torts and insurance group co-head Sheila Birnbaum, as a partner in its New York office.

Sheila Birnbaum
Sheila Birnbaum

Birnbaum, who will be global co-head of Quinn Emanuel’s products liability and mass torts practice, is joining the firm along with fellow Skadden partner and products liability specialist Mark Cheffo.

Quinn Emanuel managing partner John Quinn said in a statement: “It is exceedingly rare that any firm has the opportunity to add world-class, one-of-a-kind talent of Sheila’s calibre. To say that we’re pleased she is joining us is an understatement.”

Birnbaum and Cheffo are known as two of the key relationship partners for Skadden client Pfizer, with the firm having been appointed as the pharmaceutical company’s national coordinating counsel for litigation relating to anti-epilepsy drug Neurontin.

In addition Birnbaum secured two groundbreaking wins in the US Supreme Court, including Campbell v. State Farm, which reversed a $145m punitive damages award as unconstitutionally excessive.

Before joining Skadden and founding its products liability practice, the 73-year-old Birnbaum 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.

It is understood that partner John Beisner is to take over as head of Skadden’s mass torts group.