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Sarah Burns, 38

Associate, Simmons Hanly Conroy, St. Louis

sarah-burnsPractice areas: Complex litigation, mass torts
Law school: University of Tulsa

As a key member of the litigation team, Sarah Burns has helped secure nearly $16 billion in global settlements for car owners as a result of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
However she also created a broader strategy in the matter which allowed for federal suits filed on behalf of competitors via claims of false advertising under the Lanham Act. She has further been instrumental in a recent $217.7 million verdict against a GMO seed corporation, a case that was right up her alley as a biochemistry graduate. Burns notes that she would have become a plant geneticist if she hadn’t been a lawyer.
Named an Emerging Leader for her work in complex litigation and mass claims by Emory University School of Law, Burns is a volunteer lobbyist for the American Association for Justice. She also finds time to organize the Blessings in a Backpack program which helps about 200 low income students in her community.

What is your biggest accomplishment this year?
Helping to build Simmons Hanly Conroy’s opioid litigation group to represent dozens of counties and municipalities nationwide.

What has been your favorite moment as an attorney?
Every time I check something off of my to-do list.

What advice do you have for young lawyers?
Take the time to reorganize your facts or law for a fresh perspective. Try utilizing timelines, spreadsheets, charts or your whiteboard. Oftentimes processing the information differently is all it takes to get to that “Eureka!” moment.