2019 Commencement Speaker

Eugene A. Schoon

EUGENE A. SCHOON, senior counsel in the Chicago office of the global firm Sidley Austin LLP, focuses on product liability defense, with particular emphasis on mass torts, MDL and cross-border litigation, and class actions. He has been national coordinating and trial counsel in cases nationwide on several occasions. Gene has tried jury cases in Illinois, Texas, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and South Carolina. He also has an active appellate practice, having argued appeals in several federal and state appellate courts.

Ranked by Chambers in Product Liability & Mass Torts, Gene is described as “one of those guys who can do anything – write, argue a motion or appeal, take a deposition, and try a case.” Additionally, he is recognized by The Legal 500 US and Best Lawyers quotes a client that “Eugene Schoon is an outstanding lawyer. Eugene is intelligent, hardworking, articulate, and a true problem solver,” and that he is “extremely well prepared, unshakeable, and generates full trust of court.” Gene has been named a “Local Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation (2015–2018). Furthermore, in 2017, Gene was recognized by LMG Life Sciences in the category of Non-IP Litigation.

In addition to his litigation practice, Gene has deep experience with insurance and insurance coverage disputes.  In his more than 35 years of practice, Gene has counseled dozens of corporate and individual clients on liability insurance issues and claims.  In addition to advising on claims, Gene has worked with client risk management managers to structure insurance programs that minimize risk and eliminate gaps.

Prior to joining the firm, Gene clerked for Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Gene is a 1980 graduate of the Valparaiso University Law School where he was the articles editor of the Law Review.  He graduated first in his class.  In addition to other activities, he was a member of the team that prosecuted Ford Motor Company for reckless homicide following the deaths of three young women who were killed in a 1973 Ford Pinto that exploded and burned in a read end collision with a van in Elkhart County.  The case, which was co-led by Professor and Special Prosecutor Bruce Berner, received national attention in the media as one of the first attempts to hold a corporation liable for homicide resulting from a dangerous product.

In addition to his law degree, Gene was awarded a masters degree in history from Indiana State University and a bachelors degree from Calvin College.

Gene and Faith live in Oak Park, Illinois with their yellow Labrador Retriever and two cats and they also have a home in Bridgman, Michigan.  Gene and Faith are members of Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest.  Gene is a long-time member of the Law School National Council and the board of directors of the Sargent Shriver National Poverty Law Center.  In his spare time he drives his tractor and grows organic vegetables on his farm in Buchanan, Michigan.