A seasoned trial lawyer and adept communicator, Helen Kathryn Downs has advised major corporations for three decades, mitigating risks and identifying compelling legal defenses. In 2022, Helen Kathryn joined Maynard to add her trial experience to the Firm’s talented roster of litigators. Helen Kathryn sets herself apart in her trial work by embracing the latest neuroscience to enhance persuasion and client results. She offers advisory and litigation services for cutting-edge technologies, such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, drones and robotics, as well as more traditional practice areas including: commercial and banking litigation; product liability; pharmaceutical, medical devices, and biotech; and complex litigation, including class actions, mass torts, and other multi-plaintiff litigation.
Helen Kathryn’s recognitions include Courtroom Viewing Network's “Top 10 Defense Verdicts”, Mid-South Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Who's Who Legal: Product Liability Defence, Who's Who Legal: Life Sciences, and her 15th anniversary with an AV Preeminent rating by Martindale-Hubbell.
Clients and colleagues describe Helen Kathryn as a candid strategist – pragmatic, perceptive, and fiercely curious – who adroitly translates complex information into plain terms, swiftly building credibility with judges, jurors, and other lawyers. Her personal warmth, authenticity, and incisive analysis bolster her skillset.
Helen Kathryn obtained a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill and J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. At UVA, she and her partner, Jason Brener, won the Lile Moot Court Competition, and she received the Stephen P. Traynor Award for Oral Advocacy.
- Helped achieve successful resolution to $40 million lawsuit arising out of an industrial accident.
- Defended class action claims in the consumer finance and commercial space.
- Managed significant e-discovery project in litigation involving a client in the European Union.
- Secured a voluntary dismissal after filing for summary judgment in product liability litigation.
- Prepared cases for trial in California, New York, Utah, and Alabama.
- Served as Alabama counsel for a large pharmaceutical company in the opioid litigation.
- Counseled U.S. and global executives of Fortune 500 company on mitigating risk and best practices when designing connected products.
- Successfully defended Fortune 100 financial institution against consumer claims involving banking products and services.
- Represented manufacturers in numerous product liability, personal injury, and asbestos lawsuits.
- Defended a real estate company against employment discrimination claims in federal court.
- Worked as outside general counsel for Birmingham start-up Dippi LLC.
- Litigated a hotly contested guardianship and conservatorship proceeding pro bono.
- Prepared, tried, and obtained favorable verdicts in mass tort cases in multiple states, including Texas, New Jersey, Missouri, Tennessee, and Alabama; managed teams of trial lawyers across the country; selected, prepared. and defended fact and expert witnesses; mastered extensive medical literature to combat causation; formulated powerful trial themes and graphics; and connected with judges and jurors.
- Defense verdict for Ethicon, Inc., and Johnson & Johnson in pelvic mesh trial in Dallas, Texas.
- Prepared comprehensive case analyses for various corporate defendants, including legal, commercial, and reputational angles, and built projections and decision trees to illustrate options.
- Presented oral argument and helped obtain an appellate win in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, affirming a judgment for Target Corporation in trademark litigation.
- Argued three Daubert motions and ultimately prevailed on summary judgment after a two-day hearing in Louisiana state court, relying heavily on effective graphics.
- Obtained multiple favorable judgments for Fortune 100 retailer in state and federal courts in premises liability litigation.
- Structured alternative fee arrangements and effective project management, embracing tools to improve client services and reduce costs.
- Who’s Who Legal: Product Liability Defence (2015-present)
- Who’s Who Legal: Life Sciences (2018-present)
- Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent Rating (with an AV or AV Preeminent rating for more than 20 years), as well as a Judicial AV Preeminent Rating
- Best Lawyers: Product Liability Litigation – Defendants (2013-present)
- Best Lawyers: Commercial Litigation (2019-present)
- Mid-South Super Lawyers in Personal Injury Products: Defense (2016-present)
- Alabama Super Lawyers (2012-2015)
- Courtroom Viewing Network’s Top Defense Verdict (2015)
- Inaugural Class, Alabama State Bar Leadership Forum (2006)
- Inaugural Class, MOMENTUM Women’s Leadership Program (2001)
- Top 40 under 40, Birmingham Business Journal (2001)
- Bullshooter – First Place, BBA Sporting Clays (2007)
- Speaker: Defeating Products Claims: Absence of a Safer Alternative Design, International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) Webinar.
- Speaker & Moderator: Nothing to Hide: How 100 Years of Technological Advances Impact Privacy, IADC Virtual Annual Meeting.
- Speaker, Applying the Latest Neuroscience to Litigation and Persuasion, JPMorgan Chase Legal Department – Chicago, IL.
- Speaker, Catching the Waves: Using Brain Science to Predict and Persuade, FedEx World Headquarters – Memphis, TN.
- Panelist, Be Smart about Smart Products, a/k/a The Fascinating, Mind-Boggling, Game-Changing, Terrifying, No Good, Very Bad Internet of Things, American Bar Association (ABA) Women in Products Liability Regional CLE Program – Washington, D.C.Panelist, IoT and the Healthcare Industry: Creating Smarter Healthcare, The Knowledge Group Webinar.
- Panelist, Information Governance: The Strategic & Holistic Management of Your Key Corporate Asset, Ascent Conference for Women In-House Counsel – Atlanta, GA.
- Panelist, Handling the Consumer Fraud Class Action, IADC Webinar.
- Speaker, Strategic Risk Analysis for New Connected Consumer Products: Successful Defense of IOT-related Enforcement Actions & Civil Litigation, Client Presentation and Materials – Charlotte, NC.
- Moderator and Panelist, Galvanizing Your Practice through Social Media, IADC Midyear Meeting – Carlsbad, CA.
- Speaker, The Discovery Battlefield is Changing (Again): Are You Technologically Fit for Service? Birmingham Bar Association – Birmingham, AL.
- Speaker, Changes and Challenges as Dodd-Frank Matures, Hispanic National Bar Association Corporate Counsel Conference – Atlanta, GA.
- Speaker, Legal Considerations for Industrial Machine Safety, Rockwell Automation on the Move Regional Conference, August 21-22, 2013 – Birmingham, AL.
- Moderator and Panelist, Case Highlights for Business Litigators: 2012-2013, Business Torts & Antitrust Section, Alabama State Bar Annual Meeting – Point Clear, AL.
- Speaker, Optimum Game Plan for Tackling an Adverse Witness, Rockwell Automation Counsel Summit – Milwaukee, WI.
- Speaker, The Unwritten Rules in Litigation: A Case Study – Birmingham, AL.
- Panelist, Witness Preparation: Avoiding Ethical Quagmires, ABA Women in Products Liability Regional CLE Meeting – New York, NY. • Speaker, Innovative Techniques for Case Investigation, Chase Bank USA, N.A. – Chicago, IL.
- Panelist, Litigating in the Face of the Amended E-Discovery Rules: Post-Implementation and Practice Tips, ABA Section of Litigation Regional CLE Meeting – New Orleans, LA.
- Speaker, Products Liability Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, ABA Joint Committee CLE Meeting – Avon, CO.
- Speaker, Mediation and Negotiation Strategies, Bank One, N.A. – Chicago, IL.
- Speaker and Moderator, Women in Products Liability Regional CLE Meetings, 2006, 2008, and 2009.
- Christy Jones, Helen Kathryn Downs, Chad Hutchinson, Voir Dire, IADC Training Manual (3rd ed., 2017).
- Helen Kathryn Downs, The Internet of Things (IoT): Is It Viable and Transformational, a Security Headache, or the Regulatory Wild, Wild West?, Banking Traditions, Alabama Bankers Association, Inc., Vol. 27, Issue 4, Winter 2016.
- State Bar: Alabama
- U.S. District Court: Alabama (Northern, Middle, Southern)
- U.S. Court of Appeals: Eleventh Circuit