Mary Kay Vyskocil is a Senior Litigation Partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where she handles complex commercial litigation. She has a diverse practice, and over the years has handled cases involving, among other things, a wide variety of contract and tort issues, major insurance and reinsurance disputes, bankruptcy-related issues, securities and antitrust law. Her practice is concentrated in insurance and reinsurance coverage litigation, securities cases, and cases involving the financial services industry.
Mary Kay has been involved in the representation of major domestic and foreign insurers in complex coverage litigations (including numerous jury trials and appellate arguments) throughout the U.S. in a wide variety of contexts, including environmental, asbestos, breast implants and other mass tort claims. Mary Kay was one of the lead trial counsel in Shell Oil Company v. Accident & Casualty Insurance Company in California regarding coverage for environmental liabilities at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. She represented a major insurer in several coverage litigations seeking insurance for Y2K remediation expenses. Mary Kay currently represents Swiss Re with respect to coverage issues arising out of the World Trade Center attack, including the Silverstein WTC property insurance dispute, which resulted in a jury verdict in Swiss Re’s favor.
Mary Kay is also active in reinsurance litigations and arbitrations in the U.S., Great Britain and Bermuda. She has argued a number of precedentially important reinsurance cases, including: United States Fidelity & Guaranty v. American Reinsurance (New York Court of Appeals on follow the fortunes); Travelers v. Gerling (2nd Circuit re: “follow the fortunes”); Gulf v. Transatlantic (NY Appellate Court re: access to records/privilege); Travelers v. Certain Underwriters (New York’s high court on treaty interpretation).
Outside the insurance area, Mary Kay currently represents UBS in connection with major litigations involving residential mortgage-backed securities. She also represented former officers of Washington Mutual Bank in ERISA and securities cases and in litigation with the FDIC. She was involved in the successful representation of JPMorgan Chase resulting in a $350 million verdict in a trial of a breach of guarantee action against Motorola arising out of the Iridium telecommunications transaction. She was also involved in the representation of Paramount Communications in the Paramount-Viacom-QVC takeover litigation and represented Matsushita Electrical Industries in MCA v. Epstein, which was successfully argued in the U.S. Supreme Court. Mary Kay has also served as outside counsel to the Archdiocese of New York.
Mary Kay is coauthor of the leading treatise Modern Reinsurance Law & Practice, 2d ed. (Glasser LegalWorks 2000), and is a frequent lecturer and author on insurance and reinsurance coverage issues and on litigation and trial skills at continuing legal education seminars and bar association meetings.
Mary Kay is very active in professional organizations and community affairs. She is the immediate past-Chairman and a member of the Board of Directors of ARIAS-U.S. She currently chairs its Strategic Planning Committee. Mary Kay is Treasurer and a member of the Executive Committee of the Federal Bar Council and was Chair of its Second Circuit Court Committee. She is a founding Member and Officer of the New York Inn of Court. From 1994 to 1997, Mary Kay served as a Co-Chair of one of the subcommittees involved in the Second Circuit Study on Racial, Ethnic & Gender Fairness. She has numerous judicial appointments including Departmental Disciplinary Committee hearing referee, and service on SDNY Judicial Improvement Committee Advisory Group and Judicial Merits Selection Panel. In May 2013, Mary Kay was invited by the Chief Judge of the State of New York to serve as a member of the Advisory Council on the New York State Commercial Division. In 2014, she was elected to the Board of the Historical Society of the New York Courts, nominated by Chief Judge Lippman.
Mary Kay serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Community Trust, and is a trustee of St. Joseph’s Seminary and of Dominican College of Blauvelt. She is President Emeritus of the Alumni Board of Directors at St. John’s University School of Law and serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Law School. She has also served on the law school’s Dean Search Committee. Mary Kay is on the Board of Directors of the Judges & Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (“JALBCA”).
Mary Kay has consistently received numerous first-tier national and state rankings in publications such as Chambers, Legal 500, and Benchmark Litigation. She was selected by Law360 as a top 15 female litigator in their inaugural 2012 Female Trial Attorneys series and was recognized at Law360’s 2012 MVP Awards. She was recognized in Benchmark Litigation’s “Top 250 Women in Litigation in America” for three consecutive years (2012-2014). In 2013 and 2014, Benchmark Litigation also named her among the “Top Ten Women Litigators in the United States.” Additionally, The American Lawyer named her “Litigator of the Week” (January 27th, 2012), ranked her as one of the “2013 Top Rated Lawyers in Insurance Law” and gave her an AV Preeminent® peer review rating in 2013. Most recently, she was selected as the Global Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyer of the Year by Who’s Who Legal, which noted, “Mary Kay Vyskocil received unrivalled levels of praise our sources both in private practice and in-house across the globe.” Best Lawyers also named Mary Kay “Lawyer of the Year for Insurance Law in the New York City Area”—she was the only lawyer to be selected in this category for the 2013 edition of Best Lawyers in the United States, and was named “Best in Insurance & Reinsurance” at Euromoney’s America’s Women in Business Law Awards in 2012 and 2013. Previously, Mary Kay was cited in the National Law Journal’s “40 Under 40” (November 1995), and named by Legal Media Group as one of the “Top Ten Lawyers in the U.S.” in the Insurance/Reinsurance field. Mary Kay is also ranked Band One in Chambers’ “Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers” (2004–2014), where she has received praise as the "very strong, smart and confident Mary Kay Vyskocil is a renowned expert in insurance and reinsurance law,” and another source notes: “she just comes across as being very knowledgeable, and she has a lot of presence,” while clients laud her "extraordinary service,” “unbelievably good strategist, Mary Kay Vyskocil is highly respected for her expertise in complex insurance coverage disputes.” According to market commentators, “in the world of insurance and reinsurance, she is one of the very best.” Additional sources call her “an excellent and tenacious lawyer,” “quick to respond and very professional in her approach.” She has also been recognized as a leading lawyer by The Legal 500 (2010–2014); Best Lawyers in America (2006–2014); and Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyers (2006–2013). Benchmark Litigation also named her a national “Litigation Star” in the category of insurance (2011–2015). The New York Times named her as one of the “Top 100 Attorneys” in the NY metropolitan area (2007–2012). She was listed in the National Law Journal as one of America’s “Top 50 Women Litigators” (Dec. 2001) and is also recognized as one of the “Top 50 Women Lawyers in New York” by Super Lawyers (2006–2013).