Board of Advisers

Our Board of Advisers is a tremendous resource for the Center as well as the broader NYU Law Community.  Among our Board members are lawyers and judges who practice at the highest level of our profession.  The Center is privileged to follow the lead of our Board members who are interested in emerging practices and processes of the legal profession.  Under the leadership of our Board members, the Center convenes discussions on developing areas of the law with the nation’s most knowledgeable academics and practitioners.  Recently, for example, the Center convened top-level panels to discuss Developments in Arbitration, Litigation Finance, State Court Practice and Class Actions in the United States and Europe.

 Sheila Birnbaum, Chair of the Board of Advisers

Sheila Birnbaum

Sheila Birnbaum practices primarily in the areas of products liability, toxic torts and insurance coverage litigation. Ms. Birnbaum represents corporations in complex mass tort and insurance litigation. Among other significant matters, she secured a historic victory for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, when the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a $145 million punitive damages award against the company as unconstitutionally excessive. The New York Times hailed the Court’s decision as “a major victory in the long-running effort to shield corporate defendants from unconstrained jury awards.” The Wall Street Journal characterized the decision as “a big win for business interests concerned about ballooning legal judgments,” and the Washington Post described it as “a big win for corporate America.” Ms. Birnbaum has served as national counsel or lead defense counsel for numerous Fortune 500 companies in some of the largest and most complicated tort cases in the country. She served as national counsel for Dow Corning Corporation in the breast implant litigation, for Aventis Crop Science in several class actions and multidistrict litigation arising out of biogenetic corn and for Thompson-Delaco in the over-the-counter drug “PPA” litigation.

Ms. Birnbaum has argued many significant appeals in appellate courts throughout the country. In the U.S. Supreme Court, she successfully argued the case of Buckley v Metro North, a landmark case involving medical monitoring. She successfully represented an insurer in the New York Court of Appeals on the issue of whether a punitive damage verdict awarded in another state was insurable under New York law. She also represented Chrysler Corporation before the Florida Supreme Court in a case involving the standard of proof necessary to establish liability for punitive damages. Ms. Birnbaum represented FMC Corporation in an appeal in New York that resulted in a reversal and new trial of a $5 million punitive damage award arising out of a construction accident. She has lectured extensively and has authored numerous law review articles. She is a co-author of the Practitioner’s Guide to Litigating Insurance Coverage Actions. Ms. Birnbaum also has written a regular column on New York practice in the New York Law Journal, as well as a column on products liability in The National Law Journal.