Sara Tonnies Horton
Jenner & Block LLP
Intellectual property law, patent litigation
40 Under Class – 2019

It hasn’t taken long for Sara Tonnies Horton to build a reputation as one of the top life sciences, intellectual property and patent law specialists in the city of Chicago and around the country. That’s partly thanks to her legal skills, work ethic and her knack for earning the best possible results for her clients.

Word of mouth hasn’t hurt, either. Horton’s clients are quick to offer their praise for this young lawyer with an undergraduate chemistry degree as well as deep trial experience at Chicago’s Jenner & Block.

Just consider John Cuddihy. He is the deputy general counsel for Scientific Games Corp. a company working in the global gaming and lottery industries. He has worked with Horton for three years on large-scale, complex patent and antitrust litigation. In what comes as no surprise to anyone who’s worked with Horton, Cuddihy has nothing but compliments.

“I have been impressed by Sara’s work ethic, her work product and her ability to simplify complicated technical information in a manner that anyone can understand,” Cuddihy said. “I can tell you, it is rare to find a lawyer with technical skills who also has great communication skills.”

David Rubin, vice president and general counsel with Henry Crown & Co., has also worked with Horton. He first met this skilled attorney in 2012, when Horton was working for Henry Crown on a case that was going to trial.

Rubin said that Horton was key to Henry Crown’s victory. During a jury trial involving patents, Horton examined and cross-examined the key technical experts. Rubin said she did this with “incredible precision and style.”

“I have been consistently impressed by Sara’s work ethic and, of course, the results she and her firm have generated for us,” Rubin said. “Our matters regularly involve high stakes and multi-millions of dollars in dispute. I consider Sara a trusted advisor on these matters.”

Noelle Perkins, deputy general counsel for Univar, echoes these thoughts. “Given Sara’s experience in actually trying more than 10 cases in her time at Jenner & Block, she has a deep understanding of how to organize, manage and present complicated factual and legal concepts in a trial setting. In my experience, she is unique in that she is a true trial lawyer with real trial experience, not simply a big firm litigation lawyer who never goes to trial.

Horton is committed, too, to pro bono work. She once represented a pro bono client in defense of criminal charges in a two-week jury trial. During that trial, Horton handled direct and cross examinations of fact and expert witnesses, including medical examiners and fingerprint experts.

Horton also devotes time to her firm, serving as a member of the hiring committee and its Women’s Forum. She teaches constitutional law to students in Chicago Public Schools on behalf of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Lawyers in the Classroom program. She has also taught intellectual property licensing at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Count Peter Lieb, executive vice president and general counsel of Aon, as another fan of Horton’s legal skills. He met Horton in 2015, when she was a member of a three-person team in a major case Aon had in California state court. The case involved both a bench and jury trial in the field of actuarial science.

During the trials, Horton cross-examined the chief financial officer of the opposing party and handled some of the more complicated expert issues. Of course, she shone during the entire trial.

“Her trial skills are first-rate,” Lieb said. “Equally impressive, is that Sara is a trial lawyer who can present simply the most complex subjects. That skill set is unique and highly valued.”