The litigation star Walsh leaves the plaintiffs’ job as a “dream defender”

Alexandra Walsh said it was “a dream come true” to co-found a law firm with Beth Wilkinson five years ago after leaving the Big Law partnership at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

“We did this amazing thing,” she said of Wilkinson Walsh’s start.

In March she turned again to pursue another dream – this time her own litigation boutique, exclusively representing plaintiffs. “I’ve spent 20 years on the defense side,” said Walsh. “I wanted to represent people who were wronged.”

Walsh’s upcoming milestone of turning 50 hasn’t stopped her from taking a new course in a legal career one of surprises and successes. She established an excellent reputation in 2010 when she won a jury judgment of nearly $ 1 billion for Liberty Media in a securities fraud and breach of contract lawsuit against the French media conglomerate Vivendi SA.

Walsh also served as senior attorney for Bayer Corp. in 2019 when it hit back a $ 600 million class action lawsuit aimed at the company’s labeling of the popular One-A-Day vitamins. She successfully represented Bayer in other claims against its blood thinner Xarelto.

By choosing to start law firms twice, she has left the path from law school to clerkship to large law firm that she has taken since graduating from Stanford Law School. She served both US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Attorney General Merrick Garland when that judge was on the DC Appeals Court. She was a partner at Baker Botts before joining Paul Weiss.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many female lawyers responded to the pressures of remote working by considering whether to quit full-time practice or downgrade their roles, according to a survey published by the American Bar Association in February. Instead, Walsh decided to change direction.

“I never planned to become a corporate defense attorney in my entire career,” she said. “At some point I wanted to do something that would more directly include the causes that are important to me and help people more directly. And I decided this was the time to do it. “

Walsh’s departure from her old company, now called Wilkinson Stekloff, came months after the departure of two other founding partners of the company, Brant Bishop and Sean Eskovitz.

Two other former Wilkinson Stekloff colleagues, Kim Channick and John James “JJ” Snidow, have signed up with Walsh and the trio practically work as Walsh Law. Her two decades husband, Brendan O’Brien, is the company’s CFO.

The new law firm previously represented clients in a product liability dispute involving 3M Co. in federal court in the northern district of Florida. The litigation includes allegations that the company’s Combat Arms earplugs caused plaintiffs to develop hearing loss or tinnitus.

The firm is also involved in product liability litigation against Zantac heartburn medication in federal court in the southern district of Florida. This litigation contains a large number of claims that a drug increases the risk of cancer.

The “customer dynamic is definitely different” on the plaintiff side, Walsh said. Customers “are people who have been wronged and who seek representation to correct these mistakes.”

Your new company carries the risk, “as is everything,” she said. “Income can be a bit lumpy and you have to be willing to tolerate it.”

“Being careful and conservative about financial matters” during her career “enabled me to do so,” said Walsh.

She is proud of Wilkinson Stekloff and its well-known, lucrative clients such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association. “It remains a place,” she said, “where women can thrive and see a remarkable woman in a leadership position who is a role model and mentor.”

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