Stephanie A. Scharf is one of America’s preeminent attorneys and is the founder of Scharf Banks Marmor LLC. Over the course of her extraordinary career, Stephanie has developed a global reputation both as a courtroom advocate and as a sophisticated counselor addressing her clients’ most intractable and mission critical problems. Stephanie has tried civil and criminal jury and bench trials, has managed pre-trial, trial and appellate phases of litigation, and has advised clients on litigation avoidance and risk mitigation at the enterprise level. Her broad substantive experience includes the litigation of complex commercial disputes, class action defense, product liability and mass tort defense, insurance coverage for corporate policy holders, and employment litigation.
Stephanie’s recent engagements include litigation over the scope of a multi-billion dollar facilities use contract; class action defense of distance learning programs; defense of fraud claims involving financial investments; insurance disputes for large corporate policyholders; pharmaceutical product liability defense; contract disputes involving global and small businesses; and the defense of non-competition, trademark and copyright litigation. At trial, she is adept at presenting technical issues to judges and juries, bringing to bear her advanced doctoral training in statistical analysis and scientific research. Whether as trial counsel, national coordinating counsel, regional counsel, or as a member of a “virtual firm” created to address specific client problems, Stephanie focuses on framing effective legal strategies and achieving results that serve her client’s business goals.
A frequent author and CLE speaker, Stephanie created and is the lead editor of Product Liability Litigation: Current Law Strategies and Best Practices, 2d Edition. Practising Law Institute (PLI), 2021. She has been named a Leading Lawyer and Best Lawyer, was granted 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. Stephanie and the Firm were profiled for the “unique quality of their work” in the Chicago Lawyer cover article, “Work at a Very High Level.”
In addition to her highly visible legal practice, Stephanie has long been one of the nation’s leading lawyers promoting the advancement of women in the profession. She was Chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession (2017-2020). She is a member of the Advisory Board of DirectWomen; and a former President of the National Association of Women Lawyers (2004-2005). She was Special Advisor to the 2015-2016 American Bar Association’s Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion; and co-chaired the ABA Presidential Initiative, Achieving Long-Term Careers for Women in the Law. Beyond her legal training, Stephanie also earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences with a focus on social and organizational psychology and statistical analysis of large data sets. Before practicing law, she managed large national data-driven initiatives in the areas of health and employment.
Stephanie frequently combines her skills in data analytics to develop cutting edge research on issues of diversity and inclusion. Her most recent report (with co-author Roberta Liebenberg) is Practicing Law in the Pandemic and Moving Forward. She has also composed other innovative reports and analyses, including Walking Out the Door: The Fact, Figures and Future of Experienced Women in Private Practice (with co-author Roberta Liebenberg). This important study received national attention for its multidimensional perspectives on the status of women, men and managing partners in legal environments, impediments, and avenues for change to create greater gender diversity at senior levels. Stephanie also founded and conducted the NAWL Annual Survey of Women in Law Firms (2006-2014); the National Survey of Women’s Initiatives (2012); and the first-ever survey of women as lead counsel in litigation, First Chairs at Trial: More Women Need Seats at the Table (2015). She has designed a number of unique and lasting programs, such as the NAWL General Counsel Institute, the NAWL Supreme Court Committee, and the NAWL Summit for Best Practices for Advancing Women in Law.
Stephanie has received many awards in recognition of her work advancing women in the law including: The Chicago Lawyer/Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Salute! Women in the Law Award (2020); the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law Inspiration Award (2020); The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois Myra Bradwell Award (2018); the National Association of Women Lawyers Public Service Award (2017); the Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women Founder’s Award (2015); the National Law Journal Two Steps Forward Award (2014); the National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Member Award (2002). She was named by Crain’s Chicago 2017 as one of the 50 most influential women lawyers in Chicago. US Business News has selected Stephanie as the Best Commercial Dispute Litigator-Illinois, and also selected Scharf Banks Marmor as Best Women-Owned Corporate Law Firm-USA.
American Bar Association:
DirectWomen: Board Member, 2014-present.
National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL): President, 2004-2005; Member, Board of Directors, 2000-2008; Founding Chair, Committee for Evaluation of Supreme Court Nominees, 2005- 2006; Founding Chair, Survey of Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms, 2006-2015. Public Service Award, 2017; Outstanding Member Award, 2002.
NAWL Foundation: Founding President & Board Member, 2009-2014. Organized structure, strategic plan and fundraising. Designed, analyzed and reported on multiple studies of how lawyers advance in the legal profession.
Chicago Bar Foundation: Member, Board of Directors, 2013-2016.
Illinois Bar Foundation: Member, Board of Directors, 2005-2007.
PLAC (formerly Product Liability Advisory Council): Sustaining Member, 1999-Present; Case Selection Committee, 2005-2016.
National Institute for Trial Advocacy: Faculty Instructor, 1992-1995.