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Sandra Giannone Ezell

Sandra Giannone Ezell


Sandra Giannone Ezell is a trial lawyer whose distinct balance between tenacity and empathy makes her an undeniable force in the courtroom. Her ability to connect with a jury and tell her client's story in a compelling fashion has made her a master in the art of trial practice and earned her national recognition as "the number-one trial lawyer in Richmond” by Chambers USA. (2016) Sandra represents corporations in courtrooms across the country, often in her role as national trial counsel. She primarily focuses on defending catastrophic exposure product liability matters.

Sandra routinely defends wrongful death and catastrophic injury product liability cases. In more than 25 years of managing and trying cases she has handled matters in various arenas including automotive products, medical devices, cyber-security/privacy, child products, asbestos, general transportation, construction, tobacco, trucking, toxic exposure, recreational products, food products, household products, and power tools. She also handles the litigation aspects of various commercial disputes including contract disputes, class actions, franchisor representation, dealer/vendor termination and other commercial matters.

She takes on cases irrespective of their size or exposure from filing through verdict, or just on the eve of trial, and represents her clients in one-time or pattern litigation, with cost-effective, result-oriented strategies. Her energy and enthusiasm for getting the job done drives the results clients seek.

Sandra’s passion to infuse the legal field with diverse legal talent led her to recently author a widely-read chapter on law firm diversity and inclusion. Sandra leads a firm-wide non-partner mentoring and business education program. She has also served as a mentor to many young, diverse and women lawyers and represents the firm on the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity.

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia, 1998
  • Illinois, 1990

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia


  • The University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1990
  • University of Michigan, B.A., 1987

    With High Honors

Professional Associations

    • Product Liability Advisory Council
    • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity
    • Litigation Counsel of America
    • Defense Research Institute
    • American Bar Association
    • Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys
    • Richmond Bar Association


    • Chambers USA
      —Leading Individual in Virginia Litigation: Product Liability, 2010 – 2018
    • The Legal 500 
      Named in Litigation: Product Liability Defense, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, 2008 – 2011, 2014
    • Virginia Lawyers Weekly
      —Influential Women of Virginia Award, 2010 
    • American Business Women's Association
      —Women at the Top, River City Express Network, March 2010 
    • The Burton Foundation
      —The Burton Award for Legal Achievement, Distinguished Legal Writing Award, 2008
    • Super Lawyers Magazine
      —Virginia Super Lawyers 2012 – 2018

Recent Verdicts & Case Studies


Recent News, Events and Blogs

Speaking Engagements

  • "What are the best ways to weed out problem jurors, identify jurors who might champion your case, and tackle sensitive issues that arise in the catastrophic injury case? How did each lawyer's mock voir dire affect the jurors' views, and did the examinations reveal what they needed to know?," Co-Presenter, DRI Product Liability Conference, Two-Part Panel on Jury Selection for the Catastrophic Injury Case, February 2017
  • "Trends in Life Sciences," Ironshore Life Sciences Webinar, May 2014
  • "Law Firm Strategic Issues and New Staffing and Business Models," 19th Annual Marketing Partner Forum, Co-Chair, Roundtable Facilitator and Panel Moderator, January 2012
  • "Stopping the Timer Before the Bomb Goes Off: Crisis Prevention Through Effective Risk Identification and Evaluation," DRI Product Liability Conference, New Orleans, LA, Speaker, April 2011
  • "Law Department Management and Diversity: What Makes a Good In-House Group "Great" vs. "Good," DRI Products Liability Panel Counsel Presentation, Panelist, April 2010
  • "Taking the Lead: Rules for Effective Leadership," In-House Diversity Presentation, January 2010
  • "Bluebooking or Business Development: Which Skill to Master? Practical Marketing and Networking Pointers," Diversity in the River City 2009: Building A Bridge to Richmond's Future, Richmond, Virginia, Speaker, July 2009
  • "Calculating Diversity Return on Investment," DRI Diversity for Success Seminar, Speaker, June 2009
  • "Yikes! My First Second Chair Trial Experience Is Approaching: What Should I Expect and What Does the First Chair Trial Attorney Expect From Me?," DRI Young Lawyers Seminar, Las Vegas, NV, Speaker, June 2009
  • "Voir Dire Panel," Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, October 2008
  • TIPS Automobile Law Committee's Women Drive Results in Transportation Law National Program - "The Child Plaintiff - How to Handle a Child Plaintiff Transportation Case", American Bar Association, June 2008
  • "Selling Litigation: Three Successful Litigation Rainmakers Share Their Secrets," The Hildebrandt Institute, May 2008
  • "Mars v. Venus: The Woman's Role as a First-Chair Trial Lawyer, Case-Handler and Expert Witness; With Perspectives from the Other Side of the Table," American Bar Association Emerging Issues in Motor Vehicle Production Liability Litigation, April 2008
  • "American Bar Association, Law Student Division: Coffee with Experience," University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law, February 2008
  • "Finding Your Niche in the Legal Profession," University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law, February 2008
  • "Wake Up and Smell the Science - Expert Testimony Equating Sleep Debt to Blood Alcohol Content May Affect Your Driver Fatigue Cases," DRI Annual Meeting, October 2007
  • "Look Good and Save Money - Tips for In-House Counsel," Client Seminar, September 2007
  • "Child Injury in Automotive Litigation," DRI Strictly Automotive Seminar, September 2007
  • Program Moderator & Co-Chair, ABA Women in Transportation Law and the "Women Drive Results in Transportation Law Program", June 2007
  • "Failure to Warn in Virginia: Where We are and a Path to Consider Taking Together," Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, October 2006
  • Workshop: "Lawyers: How to Help them Succeed," LSSO Conference, June 2006
  • "Advantages in Managing Cases Involving Children Differently," Client Seminar, September 2005
  • "Cross Examination of Named Plaintiff in a Catastrophic Injury Case," Trial Advocacy In-House Seminar, September 2005
  • "Women's Initiatives: A Unique Method to Retain Top Talent and Top Clients," ABA Annual Meeting, August 2005
  • "Taking Depositions: An Advocates Primer," In-House Seminar, June 2005
  • "Admissibility of Expert Testimony in Product Liability Cases in Virginia," Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, 2005
  • "Expert Preclusion: Slamming the Door Shut," In-House Seminar, 2005
  • "Defense of Rollover Cases with a Focus on Child Restraints," Meeting of national automotive trial counsel, 2004
  • "Multi-Focus Marketing: Understanding your Audiences," ABA Law Practice Management, 2004
  • "A Practical Refresher on Litigating the Virginia Auto Injury Case," National Business Institute Seminar, 2004
  • "Defense of Child Belt Geometry Cases," Meeting of national automotive trial counsel, 2003
  • Case presentation regarding reclined seat cases, Meeting of national automotive trial counsel, 2003
  • "Defense Strategy in Seat Cases," Meeting of national automotive trial counsel, 2000


  • "Sandra Giannone Ezell Knows Who Runs the World," Interviewee, Virginia & West Virginia Super Lawyers Magazine®, April 2017

  • "FDA Requires Food Safety Defense Plans... Will Courts Do the Same?," Co-Author, Client Alert, June 2016

  • "Game-Changers: Defending Products Cases with Child Plaintiffs," Product Liability Litigation: Law, Strategy and Best Practices, Co-Author, October 2014

  • "Diversity without Inclusion is Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing," Building and Encouraging Law Firm Diversity, Aspatore, July 2014
  • "Altria Group, Inc. - Passionately Striving for Success in Diversity and Inclusion," In-House Defense Quarterly, Winter 2012
  • "Mass Mutual-Insuring Continued Success with a Commitment to Diversity," In-House Defense Quarterly, Summer 2012
  • "In-House Counsel Spotlight on Diversity Initiatives: GlaxoSmithKline Is Mixing Diversity and Inclusion to Produce a Global Remedy for Success," In-House Defense Quarterly, Spring 2011
  • "Game-Changers: Defending Products Cases with Child Plaintiffs," chapter; Product Liability Litigation: Current Law, Strategies and Best Practices, Practicing Law Institute, 2010
  • "Franchisors - Taking the Jury Through the Looking Glass: How to Use Your Story to Capture the Jury," DRI's The Business Suit, Dec. 29, 2010
  • "Use Your Story to Capture the Jury," Franchising World, October 2010, at 26
  • "For Kraft Foods, Equal Parts Diversity and Inclusion Make a Recipe for Success," In-House Defense Quarterly, The Defense Research Institute, Summer 2010
  • "In-House Counsel Spotlight on Diversity Initiatives: DuPont’s Formula for Success in Diversity Modeling," In-House Defense Quarterly, The Defense Research Institute, Spring 2010
  • "Taking the Lead in our Firms, Careers, Communities and Cases," chapter; The Woman Advocate, 2nd. ed. (Fletman et. al.), 2010
  • "Diversity Turns the Key for Success at Toyota", In-House Defense Quarterly, Winter 2010
  • "Game-Changers: Defending Products Cases with Child Plaintiffs," chapter; Product Liability Litigation: Current Law, Strategies and Best Practices, Practicing Law Institute, 2009
  • "Storytelling - The Art of Trial By Jury", Trials and Tribulations, DRI, Winter 2009
  • "The Light is Shining on Capital One: In-House Counsel Spotlight on Diversity Initiatives", In-House Defense Quarterly, Winter 2009
  • Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It -- Kahala's Customized Approach to Diversity, In-House Defense Quarterly, Fall 2009
  • "Voir Dire in Cases with Child Plaintiffs", For The Defense, April 2009
  • "A Close-up Look at Steelcase Inc.'s Commitment to Diversity", In-House Defense Quarterly, Spring, 2009
  • "Diversity for Success Seminar Shatters Records and Raises the Bar", DRI For the Defense, August, 2008
  • "In-House Counsel Spotlight on Diversity Initiatives", In-House Defense Quarterly, Summer 2008
  • Featured in ABA Article, "Rising to the Top," Law Practice Magazine, September 2007
  • "Round up the Usual Suspects: Traditional Methods of Selecting First-Chair Trial Counsel Exclude Women", Product Liability Law & Strategy, February 2007
  • "Cross Examination of Plaintiff", Trials and Tribulations, DRI, Summer 2006
  • "Recent Developments in Automobile Law", Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Winter 2006
  • "Recent Developments in Automobile Law (Sept. 1, 2004 - Feb. 28, 2005)", Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Automobile Committee Newsletter, Spring 2005
  • "CAUTION: Warning Labels Don't Work on Kids", TDmonthly, October 2005
  • "Using Biomedical Testimony in Virginia Product Liability Cases", The Virginia Bar Association News Journal, 2004