Sheila S. Boston is a commercial litigator and key member of Kaye Scholer’s Product Liability Group, which was named one of Law 360’s Practice Groups of the Year for 2013, Product Liability Firm of the Year at the 2008 Chambers and Partners “USA Awards for Excellence” ceremony; has ranked in the top tier for Product Liability Litigation by Chambers USA as well as for Pharmaceutical Product Liability and Mass Tort Defense by Legal 500 since 2007; and was chosen by The American Lawyer as the 2006 Product Liability Department of the Year. Sheila has received individual recognition from International Who’s Who of Product Liability Defense Lawyers since 2012 and Who’s Who Legal 2014 and 2015 for product liability defense. Most notably, Sheila recently received the New York Law Journal’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement award and was recognized in 2015 by Savoy Magazine as one of the nation’s Most Influential Black Lawyers.
Sheila has successfully litigated before both state and federal courts; she has notable MDL experience in mass tort actions, has provided litigation avoidance counseling and has conducted audits to evaluate the potential product-related liabilities in proposed corporate acquisitions and reorganizations. She helps her clients by assessing litigation risks and defending lucrative products by weeding out frivolous individual personal injury lawsuits, defending against class actions and mass torts, and devising creative settlement solutions. Sheila is valued by her clients for her advocacy skills, dependability and collaborative spirit. Having worked closely with many defense attorneys outside of Kaye Scholer, she is comfortable participating in “virtual” law firms and “plays well in the sandbox” as national, regional or local counsel.
Adept in “battle of the experts” litigation, Sheila has served as national coordinating counsel of experts, involving the retention, development and preparation of experts for depositions, Daubert/Frye hearings and trials; she has worked with experts in various fields of medicine and science such as toxicology, cell biology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, oncology, urology, hepatology, endocrinology, cardiology, psychology, and psychiatry. Sheila has a general commercial litigation practice, but has mostly focused on product liability issues in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Her notable product liability experience includes artificial heart valve litigation, agricultural pesticide class action litigation, penile prosthesis litigation, Viagra litigation, Rezulin (diabetic drug) litigation, Seroquel (antipsychotic drug) litigation, and Actos (diabetic drug).
Sheila’s recent publications include: “The FDA’s Enforcement Powers Under FSMA: Recipes for Compliance,” in Product Safety & Liability Reporter, 42 PSLR 1306 (November 10, 2014); “Know the Stakes When the Stork Comes: Damages and Defenses in Pregnancy Tort Actions” in The Voice, vol. 12, issue 29 (July 25, 2013); and “When Will Plaintiffs Learn to Let Treating Physicians Be Treating Physicians?” in RX For The Defense, vol. 20(1) (April 18, 2012).
One of Sheila’s proudest moments in her career involved serving as trial counsel in McReynolds v. Sodexho, Inc., a promotion discrimination class action brought on behalf of over 2,400 African-American mid-level manager plaintiffs. The litigation resolved favorably in a $80 million settlement with injunctive relief.
A passionate advocate for diversity, Sheila served as the Chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee for eight years; is a member of the firm’s Recruitment Committee; serves as the Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Enhance Diversity in the Profession Committee (member since September 2004); and received the New York City Bar Association’s Diversity Champion Award in May 2011. In 2009, she received the Columbia Law School BLSA Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2008, she was one of the recipients of the “Forty Under 40” award given by The Network Journal, a minority professional business magazine. In 2007, she received the “Lawyer of the Year” award from the Metropolitan Black Bar Association for her generous contributions to the New York City legal community and for her many civic contributions to the African-American community at large.
Her leadership positions have included:
- President (2014–present) and Membership Chair, Federal Bar Council American Inn of Court (2008–2014)
- Member, National Bar Association Board of Governors and Chair, Minority Partners In Majority Firms
- Division (August 2014 – present)
- Chair (September 2012–present) and Member (September 2004–present), Enhance Diversity in the Profession Committee, The New York City Bar
- New York Law Journal Board of Advisors (January 2015-present)
- Legal Momentum Board of Legal Advisors (2013–present)
- Chair (May 2013-present) and Vice Chair of Marketing (2011–2013) and Steering Committee Member (2006–present), DRI Drug and Medical Device Seminar Planning Committee
- Church Clerk, Abyssinian Baptist Church (2009–present)
- Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Judicial Department (2009–2014)
- Elected Member, Nominating Committee of the New York City Bar Association (2014-2015)
- NY State Attorney General-Elect Schneiderman’s Transition Team (November 2010–January 2011)
- Chair, Federal Bar Council’s Winter Bench & Bar Conference (February 8-15, 2014)
- Vice President of the Federal Bar Council (2009–2012)
- Membership Chair, Federal Bar Council American Inn of Court (2008–2014)
- Committee to Nominate Alumni Trustees, Princeton University (2011–2014)
- Secretary, The New York City Bar (2007–2012)
- Chair, Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Lawyers, The New York City Bar (September 2004–August 2007)
- Trustee, Federal Bar Council (November 2006–November 2009)
- Advisor/Mentor, Bronx High School of Law, Government & Justice Mock Trial Team (2004–2011)
- Member, Public Interest Committee, New York State Bar Association (1997–1999)
In August 2013, Sheila served as one of the lead counsel in a pro bono post-conviction death penalty proceeding, Stinski v. State of Georgia, which was tried before a judge within prison walls - e.g., in a hearing room inside of a maximum security Georgia state prison. Sheila was responsible for presenting three expert witnesses on the stand. Currently the Co-Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, Sheila has received her firm’s annual award for contributing 50 or more hours of pro bono legal work each year since 2004; was honored by the New York State Bar Association as Empire State Counsel in 2011 and 2012; received the Network for Women’s Services Associate Justice Award for her legal representation of indigent women in 2000; and formerly served as a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Public Interest Committee in 1997–1999. In addition to her provision of pro bono legal services, each year Sheila accepts several public speaking engagements. For example, she is an annual speaker for both the PALS (Practicing Attorneys for Law Students) orientation for junior associates of color at firms across NYC and the New York City Bar’s Diversity Fellowship Program orientation for diverse first year law school students. Sheila also volunteers as a motivational speaker for schools, churches and youth groups across the country and overseas.
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, “Preserving the Record for Appeal: A Trial Lawyer’s Perspective,” CLE Presentation at Con Edison, Inc., New York, NY, May 1, 2015
- Panelist, “Anatomy of a Trial: Tips & Strategies to Win Your Case,” Trial Advocacy CLE Program at the New York City Bar Association, New York, NY, April 27, 2015
- Panelist, “GPS Your Future, God’s Plan for Success,” the Law & Legal Services Workshop, The Riverside Church’s 24th Annual Career Day, New York, NY, March 7, 2015
- Panelist, “Direct Examinations,” Trial Advocacy CLE Program, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association program at Baker Hostetler LLP, New York, NY, February 21, 2015
- Speaker, “My Life As A Lawyer,” Corporate Counsel Women of Color Conference, Los Angeles, CA, October 10, 2014
- Panelist/Workshop Leader, “Navigating Your Career Path,” Council of Urban Professionals Executive Leadership Program, Florham Park, NJ, June 22, 2013
- Panelist, “Gaining A Competitive Edge,” The Nigerian Lawyers Association program at Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, NY, April 1, 2013
- Speaker, “Striking the Right Balance Between Work and Life: Are You Meeting Your Billable Hours, Developing Your Skills and Building Your Reputation as an Excellent and Dependable Lawyer?” Corporate Counsel Women of Color’s One-Day Conference for Law Firm Associates, New York, NY, April 25, 2012
- Moderator, “Straight Talk: Unlocking the Secrets to a Successful Legal Career,” Westchester County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee CLE Program, Yonkers, NY, March 28, 2012
- Panelist, “PLA Diversity: Let’s Start Today,” Pfizer Legal Alliance Diversity Meeting, New York, NY, February 29, 2012
- Speaker, “Glass Ceiling Issues for African Americans in Law Firms,” Cyrus R. Vance Center’s South African Visiting Lawyers Symposium, Johannesburg, South Africa, July 23–24, 2010
- Speaker, “Product Liability 101,” Kaye Scholer Product Liability Group Lunch & Learn CLE Program, New York, NY, June 22, 2010
- Keynote Speaker, “The Intersection Between Faith and Practicing The Law,” Cardozo Christian Legal Society’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Program, New York, NY, November 23, 2009
- Panelist, “Current Issues in Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Litigation,” ABA Section of Litigation Regional CLE Workshop, Kenilworth, NJ, November 12, 2009
- Panelist, “Careers In Law and Where They Lead,” The Black Princeton Alumni’s “Coming Back & Moving Forward Conference,” Princeton, NJ, October 24, 2009
- Keynote Speaker, “Grace Under Pressure,” Labaton Sucharow LLP’s Women’s Initiative Luncheon, New York, NY, October 15, 2008
- Participant, Associate Justice of the Mock Supreme Court of the United States at the 15th Annual “First Monday in October” Milton S. Gould Awards, Office of the Public Defender, New York, NY, October 6, 2008
- Panelist, “Management of Mass Torts and Complex Litigation,” North American South Asian Bar Association 5th Annual Convention, Chicago, IL, June 28, 2008
In the Market
- Council of Urban Professionals Recognizes Sheila Boston as Catalyst Leader in Law November 3, 2015
- Sheila Boston Nominated to NYCBA Post October 28, 2015
- Kaye Scholer’s Sheila Boston Recognized as One of the Most Influential Black Lawyers of 2015 March 10, 2015