Stout Expert Profile: Katie McNally
Stout Expert Profile: Katie McNally
We sat down with Commercial Litigation expert Katie McNally to discuss what goes into being an expert, how she approaches her work, and her overall experience.
Katie McNally - Commercial Litigation Expert
M.B.A., Statistics and Econometrics, Economics, Finance, and Accounting, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Years of Expertise
Nearly 20 years
Areas of Expertise
Current Market Insurance Claims, Legacy Long-Tail Liability Claims, Claims Administration & Management, Creditor/Policy Holder Recovery Services - Insolvent Insurers, Specialty Claims, Risk Management Consulting
MSU Larry Nassar Matter
USC George Tyndall Matter
Boy Scouts of America Chapter 11 Case
Q&A With Katie
Describe your practice to us and the types of clients you work with.
I provide expert testimony and expert consulting services in various types of high-stakes disputes with a specific focus on mass torts, economic analysis, and litigation risk assessment. My client base is very diverse and includes organizations from universities to creditor committees to Fortune 50 companies.
What makes you particularly qualified as an expert witness?
While my practice is relatively broad, when I’m retained to be a testifying expert, it’s typically to perform a claim valuation or liability estimation for mass tort claims. This often involves an expert with a quantitative background developing a framework to value a large number of claims in the aggregate and provide an opinion of what the claims are worth.
While there are many experts that do this kind of work, I have the benefit of having worked alongside institutional defendants and policyholders to value and resolve claims in the “real world,” sitting alongside defendants as they negotiate and resolve claims in the tort system. This provides a front row seat to the negotiation process and value drivers that exist when claims are being resolved through an arm’s-length negotiation.
What about mass torts, and the related practice groups, interests you the most?
Our mass tort work is a bit different from much of our commercial litigation work in that we are largely dealing with claims brought by individuals harmed in ways that go beyond economic harm, often alleging they have suffered bodily injury due to harmful products, harmful conditions, harmful conduct, etc. This adds a very human layer to a space that otherwise can tend to lean more transactional or academic.
You have advised clients on some of the largest mass tort and class action matters in recent history. What was one of your more notable cases and why?
The Larry Nassar matter certainly stands out in my career as one of the most notable. It was such a culmination of things that we were seeing in our society at the time and continue to see, and I think between the televised victim impact statements and the household names that were involved, it really garnered the attention of the nation. It was one of the earliest and highest profile instances of one survivor coming forward to share her experience and hold her abuser accountable, and that giving way to so many others to do the same. The legal landscape for those survivors’ claims was quite complex and changed over the duration of the matter, making it a challenging and intellectually engaging case from an expert’s perspective.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with my colleagues to develop and grow future leaders. We each face our own obstacles in finding success in our chosen career path, and I had the benefit of insightful and generous mentors along the way to help me navigate mine. I continue to do my best to pay that forward, and seeing our team fulfill their potential is immensely rewarding.
What is the best advice you have ever gotten in your career? What guidance would you give to people early in their career that are pursuing a similar path?
Early in my career, when navigating a difficult example being set by my manager, my mentor shared the perspective that there’s something to be learned from everyone you work with – hopefully, most of the time, you’re learning what to do, but sometimes, you’re learning good lessons on what not to do when you find yourself in the same situation. That has been a guide for me throughout my career.
More recently, I was conversing with a new colleague about how to navigate what I perceived to be a difficult obstacle or challenge. He said something along the lines of “every obstacle is an opportunity.” I have found this phrase coming front of mind in nearly every obstacle I’ve faced since, and I think that it will have a meaningful impact on how I continue to develop as a leader.
How do you provide value to clients? How do you make their lives easier?
I work hard to be a true subject matter expert. In certain areas, like sexual abuse claims or insurance coverage, my subject matter expertise is part of what I immediately bring to the table. In my expert consulting roles, I help clients and their counsel issue spot, anticipate counterarguments, and generally stay two steps ahead of the game. A client that feels in control is a well-served client. I also work hard to develop my clients’ trust and respect, and I am often asked to advise on adjacent issues outside of my primary areas of focus because clients respect my opinions and know I will tell it to them straight.
What interests do you have outside of work?
I really enjoy the type of travel that lets me explore parts of the world that aren’t typical vacation spots, and I love to be surrounded by new cultures, unfamiliar languages, and landscapes that beg exploration. While I look forward to fostering that interest in my kids when the time is right, for now most of my free time is spent with my husband helping my three young daughters explore more locally. We are frequent flyers at all the Chicago parks, zoos, and museums, and we enjoy spending outdoor time in Wisconsin on the weekends.
What was your first job?
At 14, I started bussing tables at the local fried chicken and prime rib restaurant. Not the most glamorous, but it came with free fried chicken and unlimited Mountain Dew (I said what I said). I spent many years in the service industry, and it taught me an untold number of valuable life lessons.
Have you been outside of the U.S.? If so, what is your favorite country that you have visited?
My most memorable trip out of the country was to Peru. I started with a few days solo in Lima, gaining a newfound appreciation for Peruvian ceviche and Pisco Sours. I met up with a few girlfriends in Cusco, where we trekked the Salkantay Trail into Machu Picchu, overnighting in a tent in sub-freezing temperatures one night only to find ourselves sweating through the bristling sun later in the trek. Reaching Machu Picchu was amazing, and I’ve never been so thankful to see a real bed. This trip checked all the boxes – good food and drink, new culture, and fantastic exploration of nature and history.