40 Under Forty 2023

T here’s a reason why the biggest companies — names such as Walgreens, United Airlines, and Johnson & Johnson — turn to John Skakun when they face legal crises: This commercial litigation at- torney gets results. An example? Skakun is currently leading the defense of a Fortune 50 pharmacy company and its board of directors in shareholder derivative litigation in the Northern District of Ohio. This high-profile case involved alleged breaches of fiduciary duty related to opioids and government settlements. “John is an absolutely brilliant litigator,” said Bojan Guzina, an attor- ney with Chicago’s White & Case. “He works hand-in-hand with people outside of his group to familiarize himself with the substance of the law. Many litigators get bogged down in familiarizing themselves with the details around discovery issues. But John’s focus on collaboration and teamwork cuts through that. He is easy to work with and has an affable, easygoing manner that disguises his brilliance.” Skakun has earned several impressive victories during his still young career. He led the defense of a Fortune 50 healthcare company in a $2 billion securities and derivative litigation case that also involved an SEC investi- gation related to missed financial projections. Skakun and his team won summary judgment on all forward-looking statements in the securities case and settled the SEC investigation for negligence-only claims. Skakun also won M&A litigation for a private equity firm and port- folio media company related to a $3 billion acquisition. Skakun won nine straight motions, culminating in defeating the motion for a pre- liminary injunction on the merits and winning interlocutory appeal of that decision. Chad Doobay, partner with Chicago’s Katten Muchin Rosenman, said Skakun also deserves praise for the extensive pro bono work he per- forms for clients. Doobay points to a pro bono case involving an attempt by the Attorney General to alter and narrow the interpretation of the phrase “particular social group” in asylum cases. Skakun led and argued the case at the Seventh Circuit and earned a landmark favorable opinion that has made a critical difference in countless asylum cases. “John is a tremendous attorney, civic leader and true asset to our entire community,” Doobay said. Skakun also devotes time to his community. He is a leader with the National Immigrant Justice Center, serving on its Leadership Board and co-chairing the Human Rights Awards planning committee. He serves as chair of the board at Horizons for Youth. “His clients turn to John to handle their most sensitive legal problems because of his stellar problem-solving abilities, excellent judgment and incredible work ethic,” said John Gallo, CEO and executive director of Legal Aid Chicago. “One case that John led looked to be a sure loser, yet he found a way to win, leading one partner to remark, ‘Skakun is an alchemist.’”


AGE 39

FIRM Sidley Austin LLP

LAW SCHOOL University of Chicago Law School

AREA OF PRACTICE M&A disputes, securities law, complex commercial and bankruptcy litigation


John is an absolutely brilliant litigator.”



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