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Karen Caraher Quirk

Eli Lilly, SVP and Deputy General Counsel Litigation

Karen Quirk currently leads Eli Lilly’s legal teams handling global litigation, government and internal investigations, employment, compensation and benefits law, privacy, information security and AI as well as legal operations. She also provides insights on how to balance work and family life.

How did working at Winston prepare you for your current role?

My time at Winston was terrific preparation for my current role. While at Winston, I handled a wide variety of complex litigation matters and government and internal investigations. I did not focus on one industry and, while that can be a disadvantage in some ways, I think that helped me develop strong learning agility to quickly learn different industries and business models. My in-house roles have been in two industries that I did not have extensive experience in when I started at each company. Even so, I was able to leverage my broad experience and confidence navigating complex issues to bring a fresh perspective on strategy and best practices. I also received lots of great mentoring at Winston that helped me feel empowered early in my career to not sit back and wait to be invited to lead, but instead always figure out my highest and best use and maximize it.

What legal issues keep you up at night?

There are so many complex issues we navigate day to day that it really varies from week to week. But the thing that most consistently keeps me up at night is what risks I might not see coming around the corner. I am constantly reading and scanning for developments that could impact our company. I am also spending a lot of time lately thinking about GenAI risks and opportunities, and related governance more generally, as well as its potential to transform specifically how legal work is done.

What is your proudest accomplishment in your professional life?

There are many things I am proud of in terms of individual or team successes along the way, but I am also really proud of the career decisions I made – not just the roles I have taken, but also what I have chosen not to pursue. I am a big believer of following your passion and taking the job that most inspires you and the career progression naturally follows.