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40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch - Leslie Smith

Leslie M. Smith is a partner and corporate litigator at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago. She has extensive litigation experience in antitrust, bankruptcy, breach of contract, commercial, construction, insurance coverage, federal procedure and jurisdiction, labor and personal injury, securities fraud, trademark and toxic torts actions in both state and federal courts. She has an extensive list of trial experience for many Fortune 500 blue chip clients from throughout the country. A nominator said, "Leslie is one of the brightest legal minds I know. She is extremely skilled in quickly grasping an issue, getting to the heart of the matter, establishing a strategy and a plan to execute that strategy."

Leslie was recently lead counsel in a copyright case involving a software program. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of her clients PricewaterhouseCoopers and CLR. Leslie was lead trial counsel in a breach of contract action involving assignment of rights under an employee stock option plan. She received a judgment in favor of her client ServiceMaster Limited Partnership. She was trial counsel in a consumer class action involving price fixing and deceptive marketing allegations and a $60 million damage claim in a Kansas Circuit Court. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of her client, Abbott Laboratories, after a nine week trial. She was responsible for case management and development of the defense in the Kansas case as well as actions in 20 other states. She has represented Abbott in another case in which Nestle filed a restraint of trade charge in which they alleged a conspiracy to prohibit direct marketing of infant formula. Nestle alleged damages in the amount of $750 million. A jury rendered a verdict in favor of Abbott after a six week trial. Leslie has represented Ameritech in a defamation case against AT&T that was successfully settled with retraction of AT&T's defamatory statements. Leslie is part of the trial team defending a number of defendants in the in re Hanford Nuclear Reservation litigation. The Plaintiffs' allege personal injury, increased risk of injury, property damage, and economic loss as a result of the release of radioactive and other allegedly hazardous substances in a tri-state area over a 50 year period. Kirkland & Ellis initially represented only E.I. Dupont de Nemours. The Department of Energy subsequently selected the firm to take over the defense of all six contractors-DuPont, General Electric, Rockwell, UNC, ARCO, and Westinghouse.

Another nominator said "Leslie is an extremely quick thinker who handles herself very professionally in the courtroom and in negotiations. Her trial preparation skills are among the best I have seen. She routinely achieves positive results in cases that could easily have turned out very negatively." Leslie and her husband have two children that keep her just as busy as her law practice.

Leslie is an Illinois Attorney Under 40 to Watch.


Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company, July 2001.