FacultyFaculty/Author Profile

Mary Beth Forshaw

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

New York, NY, USA


Mary Beth Forshaw is a Partner in Simpson Thacher’s Litigation Department and a member of the Firm’s Compensation Committee. She previously served as the Firm’s Co-Administrative Partner and for six terms as a member of the Firm's Executive Committee. Mary Beth represents clients in a range of commercial litigation matters, particularly in the areas of insurance, reinsurance, bankruptcy and international arbitration. Key matters on which she has worked include:

  • Lead trial counsel in a high profile reinsurance recovery action that settled in her client’s favor after jury selection 
  • Lead trial counsel in a Nevada-venued contribution dispute involving multiple construction claims. A directed verdict was awarded to Mary Beth’s client at trial.
  • Representation of a national bank in multiple bankruptcy and state court litigations alleging fraud concerning municipal bond defaults. Lead trial counsel in proceeding that was successfully settled mid-trial.
  • Lead counsel in multibillion-dollar dispute against General Motors over coverage for several decades of asbestos and environmental claims. Mary Beth’s client was awarded summary judgment on all claims on the eve of trial.
  • Co-counsel in the defense of a national insurer in a three-month trial in New Jersey state court relating to allocation issues. Mary Beth’s client reached a favorable settlement after the close of testimony.
  • Representation of a national insurer in a coverage dispute with a defense contractor over multiple hazardous waste claims.  Mary Beth’s client was awarded summary judgment in seven different decisions.
  • Representation of Hanwha Group and ORIX Corporation in a billion-dollar ICC arbitration arising out of the sale of Korea Life Insurance Company. The Panel issued a unanimous award in Mary Beth’s client’s favor, rejecting claims of fraud, misrepresentation and rescission. 
  • Lead litigation counsel for Chapter 11 debtors, a memory product manufacturer and distributor, in various adversary proceedings and evidentiary hearings relating to asset sales, fraudulent transfers and claims.
  • Representation of a national insurer in various asbestos-related bankruptcy proceedings, including In re ACandS, Inc., in which Mary Beth’s client, as the sole objector, defeated the proposed plan of reorganization. This widely-cited decision has become a roadmap for insurers contesting other reorganization plans.

Mary Beth received the Insurance Lawyer of the Year award from Benchmark Litigation in 2016 and is consistently recognized as one of its “Top 250 Women in Litigation” in the U.S., in which market commentators have noted that “Mary Beth knows the insurers, they know her, and she has the intimate idiosyncrasies of practice on lockdown. Beyond that, she knows how to try a case, and she will often get brought in . . . when a case looks like it could go all the way.” Another commentator described Mary Beth “as elite as they come,” adding that “her experience is so vast that she can advise on any legal issue.” She is consistently recognized by Chambers USA, which describes her as “an accomplished trial lawyer and insurance expert” and “a formidable, strong, very organized and well-prepared practitioner” “impressive on litigation strategy and get[ting] results” who “knows coverage inside and out, is good at taking a holistic approach to the most strategic options and know[s] what facts we can marshal to best make them work.” She is recommended by The Legal 500, which describes her as “talented”; and “exemplify[ying] the firm’s best qualities.” She is also consistently recognized by Euromoney’s Benchmark Litigation as a National “Litigation Star” in Insurance Litigation and a “New York Star,” where sources say “in this celebrated practice, Mary Beth Forshaw is referenced by most peers in the field as the true go-to. She is like a guru in this world.” In addition, she has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America, Euromoney’s Guide to the World’s Leading Insurance and Reinsurance Lawyers, and Who’s Who Legal: Insurance & Reinsurance.

Mary Beth received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Barnard College, Columbia University, where she was elected Phi Beta Kappa and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was a member of the Yale Law & Policy Review and Director of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Project. Mary Beth serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Legal Action Center and on the Board of Directors of the City Bar Fund and the Yale Law School Fund.

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