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2017 Forty Attorneys Under 40 Presentation

Kara L. McCall
Kara L. McCall
Sidley Austin LLP
▶Defense
40 Under Class – 2016

Kara McCall’s peers offer high praise of this litigator’s technical skills in complex and class action litigation, as well as her commitment to the advancement of women in her firm and the legal profession.

During her career, McCall has earned a string of favorable results for her clients, either helping them avoid lawsuits altogether, winning her cases at the class action or summary judgment stages, achieving trial victories, or crafting settlements that benefit the companies she represents. And McCall took the lead in these cases, developing overall defense strategies, identifying and working with experts, defeating class certification, and drafting the most significant legal briefs.

“Kara has in-depth knowledge and expertise regarding product liability matters and complex litigation, is an exceptional legal writer and is always extremely responsive,” said Matthew Dornauer, general counsel with Phusion Projects. “Kara has great communication and interpersonal skills. The lawsuits she coordinated were in different jurisdictions, involving different and sometimes inconsistent statutes and case law.”

McCall has earned several high-profile victories for her clients. In a putative class action in which McCall was representing a cosmetics company in an alleged false advertising and improper drug classification case, she earned a stay in the case based on primary jurisdiction, convincing the court that the FDA was better suited to determine whether the product at issue was a cosmetic or a drug.

McCall starred, too, in a large class action case in federal court in Pittsburgh, in which she represented client Owens Corning. The case involved a challenge to Owens Corning’s design, manufacture, marketing and sale of roofing shingles during the last 25 years. After more than six years of litigation, including a trip to the Third Circuit Court related to bankruptcy issues, the court denied in full the plaintiffs’ request for class certification. The decision covered 185 pages and shot down plaintiffs’ theory on almost every requirement of Federal Rule 23. The court also rejected plaintiffs’ expert’s opinion, after a 2-day Daubert hearing that McCall argued.

“In a crowded field of product liability, Kara has become the go-to person for several of her clients for both litigation and counseling work,” said Elizabeth Scott with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. “The hallmarks of Kara’s work are her ability to defeat class certification and to quickly understand scientific and technical issues related to her clients’ products.”

McCall earns praise, too, for her commitment to mentoring younger attorneys. McCall is co-chair of her office’s Recruiting Committee, helping to identify and develop young talent. Not only does McCall spend time mentoring and training young associates at Sidley Austin, she is also active in mentoring and education through the Chicago Bar Association as part of the Alliance for Women, as well as the American Bar Association, for which she is the co-chair of the Food and Beverage Litigation Subcommittee.

Caroline Schiff, legal counsel for Humana, said that McCall acted as a mentor for her during the seven years that Schiff worked as an associate at Sidley Austin. During this time, McCall never hesitated to encourage and teach Schiff.

“Kara’s management style is the opposite of the big-firm cliché,” Schiff said. “She always took the time to explain her thought processes, never set arbitrary deadlines or created unnecessary assignments and, most importantly, cared deeply about the professional development and general happiness of the associates she managed.”

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