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Stephanie A. Scharf


Professional Profile

Stephanie A. Scharf concentrates her practice on a wide array of complex litigation and life sciences. She has represented clients in federal and state courts in Illinois, New Jersey, California, Washington, Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Oregon and New York. She has litigated or tried complex contract disputes, insurance coverage disputes for corporate policyholders, employment disputes, class actions, disputes over collaboration, distribution and supply agreements and indemnity agreements, environmental torts and product liability torts. Her roles have been as a trial lawyer, national coordinating counsel, regional counsel, science counsel, and as a member of several “virtual firms” created to address specific client problems. She is especially adept at presenting complex technical matters to lay audiences, and she has advanced skills in statistical analysis and clinical trials.

Since 2005, Mrs. Scharf has been recognized every year as an Illinois “Super Lawyer”. She has received the PLAC President’s Award and was selected by Lawdragon Magazine as one of the “500 Leading Litigators in America”. She is "AV Preeminent" peer review rated by Martindale-Hubbell, reflecting the highest peer recognition for both ethical standards and legal ability.

A former President of NAWL and the NAWL Foundation and current Board Member of the Chicago Bar Foundation, Mrs. Scharf is active in national and regional organizations. She is also a Commissioner the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession, and delegate from Illinois to Vision 2020.

Mrs. Scharf attended Rutgers University and Stanford University. She received a Ph.D. in behavioral sciences in 1978 and a J.D. in 1985 from the University of Chicago. Before practicing law, she was a University Harper Fellow and Senior Study Director, NORC, where she helped design and manage large-scale surveys commissioned by the U.S. government.

Representative Engagements

Lead counsel for City of Chicago in multi-billion dollar contract dispute filed by United Airlines and American Airlines to stop O’Hare Airport Modernization Program. After litigation, case settled favorably by continuation of the O’Hare Program, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

Lead Counsel representing manufacturer/importer in a royalties and merger contract dispute, successfully resolved through mediation conducted under auspices of the court, Northern District of Illinois.

Lead counsel for global pharmaceutical company in federal trial of employment discrimination/off-brand marketing issues, resulting in defense verdict on all claims, Northern District of Illinois.

Represent global company sued under TCPA for invitation to educational seminar. Case dismissed after early briefing and fact-finding.

Lead counsel defending class action over purported fraud in the sale of online education programs, Circuit Court of Cook County.

Regional counsel/trial counsel in defense of multiple personal injury cases involving first-in-class treatment for diabetes. Focus on developing scientific defenses under Frey/Daubert criteria, depending on jurisdiction. Cases filed in state and federal courts throughout Illinois.

Lead counsel in toxic tort actions alleging that chemical emissions from industrial site caused cancer, wrongful death and other serious personal injuries to area children. Highly favorable settlement and dismissal of claims after expert discovery, Northern District of Indiana.

Lead counsel in commercial dispute over liability for thousands of underlying tort claims recently arising out of the operation of a business that was acquired and later resold through a series of corporate mergers and transactions. Successful no liability judgment for client, affirmed on appeal, Des Moines, Iowa. 

Lead counsel for pharmaceutical manufacturer in multi-national dispute over commercial supply of contaminated pharmaceuticals. Litigation in U.S. and Great Britain; dispute resolution in U.S. and Japan.

Lead defense counsel in over 100 pharmaceutical or device actions, involvoing serious illnesses and/or death, with expert defenses from multiple fields of medicine, psychiatry, epidemiology and toxicology. Cases filed in state and federal courts throughout Illinois. 

Lead science counsel for development of medical defenses in a set of personal injury claims arising from purported ground water contamination by volatile organic chemicals. 

Counsel representing a financial services company in dispute over insurance coverage for underlying financial transactions, Circuit Court of Cook County.

Lead counsel defending medical device based on biotechnology in personal injury action, Northern District of Illinois.

Counsel in whistle blower action filed against biotech manufacturer, District of Maine.

Lead Science Counsel in multiple product liability and toxic tort engagements in different state jurisdictions. Some matters involved developing a package of science-based defenses in advance of anticipated litigation. Other matters involved developing scientific expert defenses for ongoing litigation and in coordination with firms playing different litigation roles in defending a mass tort or consumer fraud claims.

Counsel representing global pharmaceutical company defending personal injury claims over marketing of medication for treatment of diabetes, Circuit Court of Cook County.

Prepared multiple appellate amicus briefs representing trade association of product manufacturers on matters of product liabilty law, before state Supreme Courts in Illinois and Wisconsin. 

National coordinating counsel for manufacturer of vaccines administered to children. Developed and implemented successful strategy for early disposition of dozens of cases in jurisdictions across the country. Case filed nationally in over 60 state and federal courts. 

Dart Industries v. Commercial Union Ins, Co, California Supreme Court. Lead trial counsel and appellate counsel representing a manufacturer of the anit-miscarriage drug, diethylstilbestrol. Resulted in coverage of defense costs and indemnities for over 1500 diethylstilbestrol personal injury cases, in a trial result affirmed by the California Supreme Court in the first decision by the Court regarding lost insurance policies.

Lead counsel in dozens of product liability/person injury cases involving many different types of implanted medical devices and medical machines. Cases filed in Illinois state and federal courts.

Counsel in commercial insurance disputes over hurricane damage. Obtained a declaratory judgment that a windstorm exclusion did not apply to the insured's business interruption losses and the court awarded full coverage for the losses. Filed in Puerto Rico federal court.

Lead trial counsel in insurance disputes filed in Michigan and Illinois over coverage of an Illinois jury's award of $124 million in punitive damages involving use of a prescription pharmaceutical, obtaining judgment covering both punitive and compensatory damages. Members of trial team in successful coverage litigation for asbestos-in-buildings claims.

Professional Activities & recognitions


DirectWomen – Member, Steering Committee. 2014-present

National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) (President, 2004-2005; Member, Board of Directors, 2000-2008; Chair, Committee for Evaluation of Supreme Court Nominees, 2005-2006; Chair, Survey of Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, 2006-Present). Outstanding Member Award, 2002.

NAWL Foundation (President & Board Member, 2009-2014). Founding President of the Foundation. Organized structure, strategic plan and fundraising. Designed, analysed and reported on multiple studies of how lawyers advance in the legal profession. 

American Bar Association - Commissioner, Commission on Women in the Profession, 2012-present; Task Force on Gender Equality, Co-Chair Compensation Committee, 2012-present; Products Liability Committee (Co-Chair, 2005-2007; Co-Chair, Subcommittee on Experts, 1997-2004; Co-Chair, 2000 Mid-Year Meeting; Co-Chair, National Institute on E-Commerce, Fall 2000; Co-Chair, Regional Institute on Preparing the Expert Case, May, 1999; Co-Editor, Product Liability National Newsletter, 1997-2000; Co-Chair, Women in Products Liability Regional Institute, Fall 2000, Fall 2001; Mass Torts Committee (Editor, Mass Torts Newsletter, 2001); Special Committee on Bioethics and the Law, Member, 2005-Present)

Illinois Bar Foundation (Member, Board of Directors, 2005-2007)

Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC) (Sustaining Member, Member, PLAC Case Selection Committee, 2005-Present)

National Institute for Trial Advocacy (Faculty Instructor, 1992-1995)


The Economic Club of Chicago (Member, 2006-Present)

University of Chicago Women's Business Group (Member, 2004-Present)

The Youth Campus (Member, Board of Directors, 2000-2009)

Museum of Science and Industry (Member, President's Council, 2001-2005)

Chicago YWCA - Leadership Circle (Board Member, 2001)

Circuit Court of Cook County (Chief Judge's Public Guardian Committee, 1997-2000; Chair, Best Interest of the Child Sub-Committee, 1995-1996)

Chicago Senior Businesswomen's Forum (Steering Committee, 1996-2000)

Publications and Speaking: Legal Issues

"Expert Evidence - Law, Strategies and Best Practices,” S. Scharf, S. Marmor and J. Chow, Product Liability Litigation: Current Law Strategies and Best Practices. Practicing Law Institute, December 2012.

“Jury Selection: How to Find the Needle in the Haystack,” DRI Women in the Law Seminar, Miami, Florida, March 2013.

Lead Editor, Product Liability Litigation: Current Law, Strategies and Best Practices, Practicing Law Institute (PLI). Original publication 2009. Updated 2010, 2011, and 2012.

“Unconscious Bias in Jury Selection,” Product Liability Advisory Council 2012 Spring Conference, Ashville, North Carolina, April 2012.

“Update on the Law of Expert Evidence,” Practicing Law Institute's Federal Civil Update, Chicago, Illinois, October 2012.

"Expert Evidence - Law, Strategies and Best Practices,” S. Scharf, S. Marmor and J. Chow, Product Liability Litigation: Current Law Strategies and Best Practices. Practicing Law Institute, December 2012.

“Update on the Law of Expert Evidence,” Practicing Law Institute's Federal Civil Update, Chicago, Illinois, October 2011.

Update on the Law: Illinois Imposes Strict Liability for Sexual Harassment by Any Supervisor, S. Scharf and Schoeman, Updike & Kaufman, LLP Client Alert, April 2009.

Speaker, “Changing Demographics of Jury Pools”, Product Liability Advisory Council Fall Conference, October 2009.

Speaker, “Best Practices for Managing the Risks of Nanotech Medical Products,” Food and Drug Law Institute's First Annual Conference on Nanotechnology Law, Regulation and Policy, February 2008.

Author, “FDA Proposes Revised CBE Rules and Reiterates Preemptive Authority,” FDLI’s UPDATE, Issue 2, March/April 2008.

Author, “Punitive Damages in the Supreme Court: How Much is Too Much?” FDLI’s UPDATE, Issue 3, May/June 2007.

Co-Author, “Foreign Plaintiffs Battle to Keep Class Claims in U.S. Courts,” FDLI’s UPDATE, Issue 1, January/February 2007.

Speaker, “Drug/Device Co-Development: Litigation Risk Management Strategies,” 50th Annual FDLI and FDA Conference, April 2007.

“Punitive Damages in the Supreme Court: How Much is Too Much?” FDLI's UPDATE, Issue 3, May/June 2007.

Moderator, “Appellate Advocacy in Illinois: Best Practices for Written and Oral Argument,” National Association of Women Lawyers, July 2007.

Speaker, “Post Sale Duty to Warn, Recall, and Retrofit: Prescription Devices and Pharmaceuticals,” American Bar Association, August 2007.

Speaker, “Risk Management Strategies for Prescription Medical Products,” Central Business Intelligence, Webinar, December 2007.

Speaker, Psychology of Expert Testimony, Product Liability Advisory Council, April 2006.

Speaker, “Post-Marketing Event Reports and Clinical Trial Data: Potential Uses and Abuses in Litigation,” American Conference Institute, June 2006.

Speaker, “Hone Your Skills: Negotiate!” University of Chicago Women's Business Group, October 2006.

Author, “New Rulings in Drug Cases Highlight Debate Over Preemption,”, October 2006.

Co-Author, “FDA’s Comments Herald New Strength for Preemption Defense in Drug Product Litigation,” FDLI’s UPDATE, Issue 5, September/October 2006.

Speaker, “Risk Assessment and Risk Management Before the Product Launch,” Food and Drug Law Institute, January 2005.

Author, “FDA Issues Final Guidances for Pharmaceutical Risk Assessment and Risk Management,” Jenner & Block Client Alert, March 2005.

Co-Editor, The Use of Toxicology in Tort Litigation: A Survey of Federal and State Jurisdictions, American Bar Association, May 2005.

Speaker, “Damage Control: Corporate Counsel’s Role in Containing and Resolving Corporate Crises,” Lexis/Nexis COUnsel to Counsel Seminar, May 2005.

Speaker, “Assess the Current Regulatory Environment for Risk/Benefit Communication,” The Center for Business Intelligence, November 2005.

Author, “A Business Approach to Minimizing Product Liability Litigation,” Minimizing Product Liability Litigation (Aspatore Books), 2005.

Co-Author, “The Evidentiary Impact of Regulatory Action on Product Litigation in the United States,” Product Liability Advisory Council, March 2004.

Chair, “Our Federalism: Court Problems and Potential Solutions in Multi-District Litigation,” Class Actions and Consolidated Mass Tort Litigation, American Bar Association Joint Seminar of the Environmental Products Liability & Mass Torts Litigation Committees, March 2004.

Co-Chair, Mealey's Trial Preparation Skills for Paralegals, April 2003.

Author, “Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices,” presented at TechLaw Group, Inc. International CLE Session, April 2004.

Speaker, “Post Sale Responsibilities: Impact of Agency Activities on Product Litigation,” Product Liability Advisory Council (PLAC), April 2004.

Speaker, “Risk Analysis and Resource Allocation: the Art of Managing Costs, Corporate Legal Times Super Conference, June 2004.

“Consumer Fraud Litigation: Law and Defenses in Illinois,” Product Liability Advisory Council, September 2004.

Speaker, “Consumer Fraud Litigation in Illinois,” Product Liability Advisory Council, October 2004.

Speaker, “Evolving Asbestos Coverage Issues in an Era of Exponential Growth in the Number of Defendants,” Mealey’s Advanced Insurance Coverage Conference: Top 10 Issues for Practitioners, January 2003.

Editor, The Use of Epidemiology in Tort Litigation: A survey of Federal and State Jurisdictions, American Bar association, July 2003.

Co-Chair, Mealey's Fundamentals of Insurance Coverage Law Conference, October 2003.

Co-Author, “Secondary Evidence Need Not Recreate Language of Missing Insurance Policy, California Supreme Court Rules,” Jenner & Block Insurance Newsletter, 2003.

"Post-Sale Duties to Warn, Recall and Retrofit: A Midwest Survey: Manufacturers Face Differing Duties in the Midwest," prepared for American Bar Association, March 2002.

Speaker, “Use of Foreign Experts and Foreign Studies,” American Bar Association Products Liability Committee Annual Meeting, March 2002.

Speaker, “Class Action Defense, Chicago Bar Association Class Litigation Committee,” October 2002.

Author, "Marketing Pharmaceutical Products on the Internet: Managing Risks and Limiting Liabilities in the World of E-Commerce," Products Liability, American Bar Association, Vol. 12, No.2, 2001.

Co-Chair, “Product Issues and New Solutions,” American Bar Association Section of Litigation/Products Liability Committee Midyear Meeting, February 2000.

Presenter, “Identifying and Managing Risks of Product Liability Litigation from Internet Sales,” Hackers-Spammers-Cyber-Squatters-Business Torts on the Electronic Frontier, American Bar

Association Annual Meeting, July 2000.

Co-Chair, “Marketing Products on the Internet: Managing Risks, Limiting Liabilities and Litigating Disputes,” American Bar Association National Institute, September 2000.

Speaker, “Crisis Management,” Joint ACCA/Chicago Bar Association Seminar, April 1999.

Chair, “The Court as the Gatekeeper of Expert Evidence,” American Bar Association Regional Institute, May 1999.

After Kumho Tire: The Court as the Gatekeeper of Expert Testimony. Invited speech to Deloitte & Touche National Consulting Conference, Chicago, Illinois, August 26, 1999.

Speaker, “After Kumho Tire: The Court as the Gatekeeper of Expert Testimony,” Deloitte & Touche Annual Meeting, September 1999.

Co-Author, "Communications Specialists Help With Damage Control," U.S. Business Litigation Magazine, February 1997.

Author, "The Media and Products Litigation," For The Defense Magazine, Defense Research Institute, October 1996.

Co-author: "Immigration Reform and the Federal Law of Employment Discrimination," The New Simpson-Rodino Immigration Law of 1986 (S. Mailman, ed.), pp.202-223, Prentice Hall, New York, 1986.

Recent Publications and Speaking: Diversity Issues

The Strategy, Structure and Scope of Women's Initiatives in Law Firms, NAWL Foundation (Chicago, IL 2012). Author: Stephanie Scharf.

How General Counsel Can Impact Pay Equity for Women Lawyers. American Bar Association (Chicago, IL 2012). Authors: Lauren Rikleen, Roberta Liebenberg and Stephanie Scharf.

NAWL Annual Survey of Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms. NAWL Foundation and NAWL (Chicago, IL 2006-2014) Authored or co-authored each annual report from 2006-2014.

"The Role of Women's Initiatives in Advancing Women Lawyers," NAWL National Webinar, April 2013.

“Capture Your Power: Your Role in Advancing Yourself and Other Women in the Legal Profession,” American Bar Association, Chicago, Illinois, March 2013.

“Breaking the Class Ceiling,” New York University School of Law Symposium, March 2013.

“Results of the first National Survey of Women's Initiatives,” NAWL Annual Meeting, New York, NY, July 2012.

“Women and Minorities: Willing Partners or Reluctant Allies?” NWAL Annual Meeting, New York, NY, July 2012.

Panelist, “Flex Time Work Policies, Walmart Conference,” Bentonville, Arkansas, June 2010.

"What Am I Worth? Attorney Compensation and Law Firm Billing in the New World Order,” Duff & Phelps CLE seminar, Chicago, Illinois, June 2010.

“What Should You Do? Lessons Learned and Lessons to Be Learned about Business Development,” Women Lawyers Alliance Inaugural Member Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, May 2010.

“Women in the Profession: Where We Were, Where We Are, Where We Should Be,” Ohio Women Bar Association’s Annual Meeting, Dayton, Ohio, May 2010.

Speaker, “Managing Diversity Expectations Between In-House and Outside Counsel,” Martindale-Hubbell and Lexis Nexis, Washington, District of Columbia, April 2009.

Speaker, “National Association of Women Lawyers Survey on the Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms,” ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, July 2009.

Speaker, “2007 National Survey on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms,” National Conference of Women's Bar Association, Webinar, February 2008.

Panelist, “Bridging the Gap: Disparity in Compensation and the Gender Equation,” Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association, March 2008.

Speaker, “Negotiating Your Compensation and Severance,” Minority Corporate Council Association’s 7th Annual CLE Expo, March 2008.

Speaker, “Impact of Attrition on Women in Large Firms on Judicial Diversity and Judicial Independence,” National Association of Women Judges Mid-West Regional Conference, August 2008.

Speaker, “Increasing the Use of Diverse Suppliers,” Westchester and Fairfield County ACCA Diversity Summit Conference, October 2008.

Speaker, “Managing and Developing Your Legal Career,” ABA Women in Products Liability Ninth Annual Regional CLE Workshop, New York, New York, November 2008.