Sarah E. Thomas Pagels

Direct: 414-312-7437


Sarah Thomas Pagels is a Partner at LLG.  She joined LLG after 10 years in private practice at an AmLaw100 firm, specializing in product liability defense and commercial litigation.  She has second chaired two trials – one to a complete defense verdict and the other dismissed at the close of the Plaintiff’s case.  She has first-chaired three felony gun cases as part of the Milwaukee County District Attorneys’ Pro Bono program.

Her passion for fairness and justice for others started early – growing up a preacher’s kid has made her both passionate and compassionate about her clients and their problems.  She has been negotiating and advocating for herself, her family and friends since she was in kindergarten, always seeking to find the solution that is reasonable, fair and just.

While perfectly comfortable in the courtroom, Sarah recognizes the need to seek creative and cost-effective solutions for her clients, including counseling clients on risk avoidance and mitigation, as well as engaging in alternative dispute resolution.  She also has extensive experience managing the discovery process, with a specialty in leading a team of attorneys and paralegals in high volume, document intensive cases, utilizing technology to manage costs and locate key facts.  She focuses on the details while keeping the big picture in mind.

Practice Areas

Representative Experience

Managed team of lawyers and paralegals to coordinate review, analysis and production of 1000s of electronic documents in multiple different e-discovery platforms for use in discovery summary judgment motions and at trial.

Managed team of lawyers and paralegals to coordinate motion practice and discovery process for multiple supplier and manufacturer clients in the E.D. Pa MDL 875 for asbestos litigation.

Part of defense team that secured 0% liability finding for insulation supplier client in Wisconsin state court at trial.

Part of defense team that secured dismissal of insulation supplier client after the close of Plaintiff’s case based on lack of evidence of exposure to client’s products.

Lead author of successful summary judgment brief in federal court case for supplier of asbestos gloves based on lack of product identification.

Lead author of successful summary judgment brief in state court case for supplier of asbestos-containing Kaylo based on lack of product identification.

Lead and manage discovery process on national basis for key firm asbestos clients in multiple jurisdictions.

Obtained summary judgment in civil rights case for county employees based on defenses arising out of lack of evidence of negligent conduct and official immunity doctrine.

Obtained favorable settlements in multiple cases for insulation supply company based on successful petitions for review for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Defended Wisconsin property owners against suits asserting Safe Place and
premises liability claims.

Successfully briefed issues on appeal before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and state appellate courts in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Reached favorable settlements in multiple cases for manufacturer, distributor, and trucking clients at fraction of Plaintiffs’ demands and within insurance limits.

Represented disenfranchised Wisconsin voters in the W.D. Wis. on a pro bono basis seeking compensation and additional relief for voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published Works & Presentations

Presenter at ACC Wisconsin’s Spring Webinar Series with LLG Senior Associate Jessica L. Farley. Do This, Not That: How to (Better) Protect the Attorney Client Privilege. : [Link to presentation here:]

Presenter at ACC Wisconsin’s Annual Meeting with LLG Partner John W. Halpin: “Trust but Verify: Best Practices in Standard and Non-Standard Contracts and Agreements.”

Co-Author: with LLG Partner John W. Halpin: “Trust But Verify: Best Practices in Standard and Non-Standard Contracts and Agreements” in U.S. Law Magazine (Summer 2020) [link to article here]

Panelist: US Law’s By Women For Women: Work-Life Management and How this Will Change Post-Pandemic (July 2020)

Co-Author: When Unity is Strength: Collaboration New Orleans’ Style, DRI’s For the Defense, Vol ___, Issue ___, (September 2019)

Co-Presenter: DRI Young Lawyer’s Seminar 2018 in Portland, Oregon: Young Lawyers: Making Your Way Through the Wilderness of E-Discovery

Co-Author: Making Your Way Through the Wilderness of e-Discovery in DRI’s For the Defense, Vol ___, Issue ___, (September 2018)

Co-Author: #DRIforAll: Practicing Intersectionality in DRI’s For the Defense, Vol. ___, Issue ___ (September 2018)

Co-Author: Food and Water for Thought, DRI’s Sharing Success Newsletter, Vol. 8, Issue, 2

Author: “When Leaning In Isn’t Enough” DRI’s For the Defense, Vol. 9, Issue 8 (July 2017)

Co-author: “The End of Litigation Tourism: Is It Time to Cancel the Madison County Visas?” DRI Asbestos Medicine Seminar (November 2015)

Co-presenter: “Junk Scientists Need Not Apply” – Can Daubert Really be Used in State Court, Including Wisconsin?” WHD Products Liability Seminar: Avoiding Suit and Winning Before Trial (March 2015)

Guest Blog Author: DRI Friendships, DRI Happenings (September 2015)

Co-presenter: “The Art of Storytelling: Writing, Arguing and Winning Your Motions” DRI webcast (August 2012)

Co-author: “So you have a law degree, now what?” DRI’s The Whisper, Vol. 7, Issue 10, 2011

Author: “Timeout for Wellness: Pressure Cooker” DRI’s The Whisper, Vol. 12, Issue 3

Reported Decisions

Edwards v. Vos, 2020 WL 6741325 (E.D. Wis. 2020)

Ahnert v. Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau, 2016 WL 97612 (E.D. Wis. 2016)

Ahnert v. Brand Insulation Inc., 2015 WL 461568 (E.D. Wis. 2015)

Herr v. Linde LLC, 2015 WL 5918609 (E.D. Wis. 2015)

Ahnert v. Brand Insulation Inc., 2014 WL 4257740 (E.D. Wis. 2014)

Horak v. Building Service Industrial Sales Co., 341 Wis.2d 403, 815 N.W.2d 400 (Ct. App. 2012)

Spychalla v. Avco Corp., 2011 WL 5903581 (E.D. Wis. 2011)

Behrendt v. Gulf Underwriters Ins. Co., 318 Wis.2d 622, 768 N.W.2d 568 (2009)

Horak v. Building Service Ind. Sales Co., 309 Wis.2d 188, 750 N.W.2d 512 (Ct. App. 2008)

Hodkiewicz v. Ellestad, 2011 WL 1131089 (E.D. Wis. 2011)

McKinley Found. at Univ. of Illinois v. Illinois Dep’t of Labor, 404 Ill. App. 3d 1115, 936 N.E.2d 708 (2010)

O’Grady v. Anoka Cty. Bd. of Comm’rs, 333 F. App’x 147 (8th Cir. 2009)

Behrendt v. Gulf Underwriters Ins. Co., 2009 WI 71, 318 Wis. 2d 622, 768 N.W.2d 568)

Land O’Lakes v. Joslin Trucking, Inc., 2008 WL 5205910 (W.D. Wis. Dec. 11, 2008)

Harris v. Clarke, 2008 WL 4866683 (E.D. Wis. Nov. 10, 2008)

Harris v. Clarke, 2007 WL 1795588 (E.D. Wis. June 19, 2007)

Professional Admissions, Associations & Honors

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Supreme Court of the United States

State Bar of Wisconsin

State Bar of Illinois

Defense Research Institute: Women in the Law Committee, Vice Chair, 2023 Seminar Program

International Association of Defense Lawyers: Publications Chair, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee (2022); DEI Liaison to the Business Law Committee (2021, 2022)

Wisconsin Super Lawyers “Rising Star” (2011-2019)

Wisconsin Super Lawyers (2021)

Best Lawyers (2019-20210)

Best Lawyers, Lawyer of the Year (2021)



Northwestern University School of Law / J.D., 2006
Northwestern University / B.A., Journalism, Minor in Slavic Studies 2000

Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property, Managing Editor


Sarah is actively involved in the greater Milwaukee community and in professional and community associations including the Milwaukee Ballet, the Shorewood Swim Club, the Northwestern Law Club of Milwaukee, and DRI.  She is also involved in the IADC (International Association of Defense Lawyers) on their Business Law and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committees.

When she’s not practicing law, Sarah is passionate about the arts, cooking and entertaining friends and family. She lives in Shorewood with her husband and daughter. Sarah and her family love spending time together watching Northwestern football, cheering on her daughter and her competitive swim team at pools all over the state, floating and boating at their family lake houses ‘up north,’ and exploring the vibrant food and cultural scene that the greater Milwaukee area has to offer.

News, Awards & Honors

Laffey, Leitner & Goode LLC Again Named to U.S. News—Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” List
Laffey, Leitner & Goode LLC has been named to U.S. News–Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list for 2019, marking its second consecutive inclusion on the revered list of America’s top law firms.
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4 LLG Attorneys Honored by Best Lawyers in 2018
LLG partners Jack Laffey, Mark M. Leitner, Joseph S. Goode, and Sarah E. Thomas Pagels have been named by Best Lawyers as top attorneys in several practice areas for 2018.
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Sarah E. Thomas Pagels Presents at 2018 DRI Conference
LLG Partner Sarah Thomas Pagels presented at the  2018 DRI Young Lawyer’s Conference in Portland, Oregon with Advance Discovery’s Julia Helmer about best practices in managing your e-discovery cases from the pleading stage through trial.
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