Rachael G. Pontikes represents companies in cross-border disputes, both as counsel for international entities doing business in the United States, and also as a liaison for American companies that are sued abroad. Fluent in Italian and a former resident of Milan, Ms. Pontikes works with clients throughout the European Union. She brings a global perspective to her practice, communicating to international clients the intricacies of the American legal system and guiding American companies through the domestic law implications of disputes abroad. Ms. Pontikes also has an active commercial and appellate litigation practice, acting as lead counsel in representing companies in a broad range of business disputes.
Another core focus of Ms. Pontikes' practice involves assisting compounding pharmacies in their disputes and regulatory issues with the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration in administrative hearings and federal courts. Concurrent with her dispute resolution practice, Ms. Pontikes counsels compounding pharmacies regarding compliance with the myriad regulations impacting this burgeoning and complex field, in an effort to help her clients avoid potentially expensive and protracted litigation.
In each of these contexts, Ms. Pontikes approaches client problem solving creatively, from crafting beneficial settlements to creating novel legal theories on matters of first impression. She distills complex legal theories to an essence that anyone can understand. Ms. Pontikes passionately advocates her clients' positions in a manner tailored to her audience, whether it be regulators, trial or appellate judges, or juries.
Ms. Pontikes is also highly active in her community. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women, is on the board for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, and is the Pro Bono Coordinator for the Chicago office. Through Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women, Ms. Pontikes co-founded the mentoring circles program, the largest mentoring program for women attorneys in Chicago. She is also a lecturer in law at the University of Chicago, where she teaches a seminar entitled "Obscenity and Pop Culture," drawing on her experience as trial counsel for two groups of minor girls who brought civil suit based on allegations they were sexually exploited when featured in child pornography.
In 2014, Ms. Pontikes was named an Illinois Super Lawyer. In 2012 and 2013, Ms. Pontikes was named an Illinois Rising Star, an honor reserved for approximately 2% of Illinois lawyers. In 2013, she was named an Illinois Leading Lawyer, and was noted as being among the 25 youngest lawyers to receive the award. Also in 2013, Ms. Pontikes was selected by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin from over 1,300 nominees as one of the "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch."
Ms. Pontikes is a 2001 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and an honors graduate of Wesleyan University, where she was elected Phi Beta Kappa.
- Lead trial counsel for an Italian vineyard on $18 million breach of the warranty of merchantability claim, obtaining a defense verdict following a month-long jury trial. Palm Bay Int'l, Inc. v. Marchesi Di Barolo S.p.A., 796 F. Supp. 2d 396 (E.D.N.Y. 2011). Lead American liaison counsel assisting with American law issues in the companion Italian matter.
- Lead trial counsel in defending a United States construction corporation against a challenge from an Italian quarry in a contract dispute. Lead American liaison counsel assisting with the American law issues in the companion Italian matter.
- Trial counsel for ten compounding pharmacies in Medical Center v. Gonzales, 451 F.Supp.2d 854 (W.D. Tex. 2006) through the defeat of the motion to dismiss.
- Trial and appellate counsel for a veterinary compounding pharmacy in the trial court and Third Circuit in actions against the Food and Drug Administration in Wedgewood Village Pharmacy v. Ashcroft, 293 F.Supp.2d 462, (D.N.J. 2003), aff'd, Wedgewood Village Pharmacy v. United States, 421 F.3d 263, 269 (3d Cir. 2005).
- Trial counsel for a veterinary compounding pharmacy in an administrative hearing against the Drug Enforcement Administration.
- Lead appellate counsel (argued). Successfully defended a jury verdict. Palm Bay Int'l, Inc. v. Marchesi Di Barolo, 2012 WL 1739032 (2d Cir. May 17, 2012).
- Lead appellate counsel (argued) Overturned the district court to allow plaintiffs to proceed anonymously at trial. Plaintiff B v. Francis, 631 F.3d 1310 (11th Cir. 2011).
- Appellate counsel. Successfully defended a judgment of $3.3 million. Galindo v. Instalaciones de Tendidos Telefonicos, S.A., (2d Cir. January 28, 2013).
- Appellate counsel. Successfully defended a challenge to a district court's confirmation of a pre-hearing summary judgment. Olson v. Wexford Clearing Services Corp., 397 F.3d 448 (7th Cir. 2005).
- Trial counsel for seven girls who alleged that Joe Francis and the Girls Gone Wild companies created child pornography featuring them in Doe v. Francis.
- Trial counsel for four girls who alleged that Joe Francis and the Girls Gone Wild companies created child pornography featuring them in Plaintiff B v. Francis.
- Lead trial counsel for the general partner of a family partnership. Obtained a favorable verdict in a family dispute over the partnership assets after a bench trial.
- Trial counsel for the managing member of an LLC. Defeated summary judgment, and negotiated a settlement the client found favorable.
- Represented broker-dealer that specialized in the distribution of proprietary managed investment funds in an extensive regulatory investigation, and enabled the client to settle lesser administrative charges rather than charges alleging fraud and/or manipulation.
- Represented an online trading company in a FINRA arbitration and negotiated a settlement that the client found favorable.
- Obtained relief for a pro bono client, while working closely with the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, under the Illinois Justice for Victims of Sex Crimes Trafficking Act. The Act allows state courts to vacate prostitution convictions if the person convicted can show that they were a victim of trafficking at the time of the conviction.
- Obtained political asylum for an African woman, a victim of domestic violence, after an administrative hearing for the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).
- Obtained a settlement the client found favorable for a prisoner beaten by a guard in a 1983 civil rights action in federal court.
- Obtained citizenship for a seventeen year old girl beaten by her father under the Violence Against Women Act.
Compounding Pharmacy Disputes
Child Pornography Civil Actions
Pro Bono Work
Areas of Practice
- Cross Border Litigation
- Healthcare Litigation
- Appellate Advocacy
- Financial Services Law
- Supreme Court of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 2001
- Wesleyan University, B.A., Philosophy and Italian Studies, with honors, 1996
- Elected Phi Beta Kappa
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2010-present
- Associate, 2003-2009
- The University of Chicago Law School
- Lecturer In Law, 2011-present
- Altheimer & Gray, Chicago, Illinois
- Associate, 2002-2003
- Lovells, Chicago, Illinois
- Associate, 2001-2002
- American Bar Association
- Section of International Law
- Chicago Bar Association
- Alliance for Women
- Executive Committee, 2009-present
-- Co-Chair, Mentoring Circles Committee, 2009-2012
-- Co-Chair, Advocacy and Domestic Violence Committee, 2012-present
- Hellenic Bar Association
- University of Chicago Women's Mentoring Program
Honors and Awards
- Named an Illinois Super Lawyer, 2014
- Selected as one of the "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch" by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, 2013
- Named an Illinois Leading Lawyer, 2013
- Named an Illinois Rising Star, 2012, 2013
- Selected as one of the Just the Beginning Foundation's 2012 "20 Under 40" honorees
- Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, 2011-present
- Personnel Committee, 2011-present
- Lyric Opera of Chicago Guild
- Member, 2007-2012
- Vice President of Silent Auction, 2007
- Author, "Compounding Pharmacies Now Subject to Federal Oversight," Duane Morris Alert, December 2, 2013
- Author, "U.S. House Introduces Bill on Federal Oversight of Compounding Pharmacies," Duane Morris Alert, September 19, 2013
- Author, "Senate HELP Committee Releases Revised Senate Bill Providing Federal Oversight for Compounding Pharmacies," Duane Morris Alert, July 30, 2013
- Author, "Compounding Legislation Goes Through Another Change: New House Bill on Federal Oversight," Duane Morris Alert, July 19, 2013
- Quoted in "Compounding Bill May Hand FDA New Power Over Health Care," Law360, April 30, 2013
- Author, "Congress Drafts Compounding Legislation -- Defines Compounded Drugs as 'New Drugs' Under the FFDCA and Creates Bright Line Between 'Traditional Compounders' and 'Compounding Manufacturers,'" Duane Morris Alert, April 29, 2013
- Author, "Compounding Animal Drugs from Bulk Ingredients," Duane Morris Alert, April 17, 2013
- "FDA Authority Over Compounding Pharmacy," FDLI Update, March/April 2013
- Author, "FDA Emphasizes Patient-Specific Prescriptions," Duane Morris Alert, March 21, 2013
- Author, "FDA Tightens Requirement for Patient-Specific Prescriptions in the Wake of the Meningitis Outbreak," Duane Morris Alert, February 25, 2013
- Author, "U.S. Government's Use of the "Park Doctrine" to Police Pharmacies," Duane Morris Alert, January 7, 2013
- Author, "FDA and State Pharmacy Boards Discuss Regulating Compounding Pharmacies," Duane Morris Alert, December 21, 2012
- Author, "Lawyers See Challenges in Cross-Border Disputes," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, November 10, 2011
- Featured in "Q&A: Rachael Pontikes" by Olivia Clarke, The Chicago Lawyer, March 2011
- Quoted in "Panel: Girls in 'Wild' video to remain anonymous," Bloomberg Businessweek, February 1, 2011
Selected Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, "Pharmacy Compounding – Lessons Learned from the Interaction among the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches," Food Drug Law Institute, Enforcement Conference, December 10, 2013
- Speaker, "Pharmacy Compounding: Recent Developments," at Pharmacy Compounding, An FDLI Dialogue, February 12, 2013
- Guest Lecturer, “Proceeding Anonymously,” The University of Chicago Law School, March 2012
- Guest Lecturer, "International Litigation: Determining Jurisdiction in Cross Border Disputes," LUISS University, Rome, Italy, November 14, 2011
- Speaker, "Legal remedies for teenage victims of child pornography," Women’s Conference 2011, Wheelock College
- Speaker, "Changing the System: Enhancing Multicultural Competence in Law Firms," Indiana Lawyer's 2008 Diversity in Practice Conference, October 2008
- Speaker, "Women and Negotiation," Bayer Pharmaceutical, September 2008
- Speaker, "Current Texas Federal Litigation Against the FDA," International Academy of Compounding Pharmacies, June 2005
- Speaker on the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act at "Fundamentals of Food and Drug Law and Regulation in California," a seminar by the Food Drug Law Institute, San Francisco, June 2005
- Presented the position of compounding pharmacies in current litigation, 48th annual conference of the Food Drug Law Institute, Washington, D.C., March 2005