SARA GOURLEY is litigation senior counsel in Sidley’s Chicago office. She is a leader of the Products Liability Practice and served on the firm’s Executive Committee for more than 15 years. Sara has substantial experience in pharmaceutical, medical device, and blood products liability litigation. Her practice is concentrated in the areas of pharmaceutical and medical device defense, especially multi-jurisdictional coordination and defense of class actions. Sara is currently lead counsel for Smith & Nephew in an MDL relating to hip implants, was lead counsel for Takeda Pharmaceuticals in the MDL and related state court litigation regarding ACTOS, including serving as trial counsel in the first related case to go to trial in state court. She has served in leading defense roles for clients in many of the pharmaceutical industry’s most significant litigation.
Sara is consistently recognized for her products liability work by the industry’s leading ranking publications. Chambers USA has quoted industry insiders who have lauded Sara as a “strategic thinker” and “extremely knowledgeable.” Since 2015, Chambers USA has recognized Sara in its Band One category for her work in Product Liability, and she is listed on the “Spotlight Table” for the Product Liability: Pharmaceutical category. The Legal 500 US 2018 recommended her as a leading lawyer in Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action for both the Consumer Products and the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices (Defense) categories. Sara was named to The National Law Journal’s 2015 list of “Outstanding Women Lawyers,” joining 75 of the “most accomplished female attorneys” who represent “excellence in private practice, corporate counsel work, public interest representation, legal education and the judiciary.” Benchmark Litigation also recognizes Sara as one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation. Sara was named “Lawyer of the Year” in the area of Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions – Defendants in The Best Lawyers in America 2019. She has been recognized as a “Thought Leader” multiple times in Who’s Who Legal: Thought Leaders (2017, 2019). In 2016, she was honored as the “Product Liability Lawyer of the Year” at the Who’s Who Legal Awards. She has also been named for product liability in Who’s Who Legal: Life Sciences (2016, 2019), which has recognized her as a “seasoned specialist in pharmaceutical and medical device liability claims and class actions.”
Sara speaks frequently on topics relating to the defense of product liability claims. Recent presentations include: “Approaches to Causation in Mass Torts,” “Transnational Product Liability Problems” and “The Role of Litigation in Regulating Drug Safety.” Sara also presented a paper to the Shanghai FDA on “Adverse Drug Reactions: A Discussion of United States and International Compensation Schemes,” published a 2012 update on U.S. product liability law and a chapter on “Emerging Issues for Products Manufactured Overseas” which was published in the fall of 2009.
Sara is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, The International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC), Defense Research Institute, and the Chair of DRI’s Drug and Medical Device Steering Committee.
Admissions & Certifications
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
- U.S. District Court, N.D. of Illinois - General
- U.S. District Court, N.D. of Illinois - Trial Bar
- University of Illinois College of Law, J.D., 1980 (Law Review, 1978-1980)
- Ripon College, A.B., 1977 (cum laude, with honors in English)