“Rachael is a dynamo,” said Matthew Petersen, Reed Smith office managing partner in Chicago. “In addition to her substantial contributions to the firm and her clients, she is a dedicated and thoughtful mentor who has influenced numerous young lawyers as they have advanced their careers. She is also a fierce and relentless advocate for women and girls, and has had a significant impact in our community through her pro bono work. We are thrilled that Crain’s Chicago has selected her for its Notable Women of Law list.”
Pontikes established Reed Smith’s Life Sciences Health Industry Group presence in Chicago and leads a majority-women team. Her practice focuses on state and federal regulatory and transactional matters. She represents compounding pharmacies in FDA investigations and enforcement actions, and in significant litigation.
Earlier this year, she was lead counsel for a coalition of compounding pharmacies in a high-profile, make-or-break lawsuit against FDA challenging its memoranda of understanding, which proposed a volume limitation on interstate dispensing of compounds. Pontikes successfully secured summary judgement in her clients’ favor. In another significant matter, she argued before the Eleventh Circuit in a seminal privacy case and successfully convinced the court to overturn the district court and allow victims of sexual exploitation to proceed anonymously at trial.
Throughout her career, Pontikes has mentored women within her firm and through various professional organizations. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women, she founded and co-chaired the Association’s Mentoring Circles Program, where members participated as both mentor and mentee in regular discussion groups on topics such as networking, professional development and work-life balance. Currently, she is on the board of Culture Reframed, which addresses hypersexualized media and pornography as a public health crisis.
Earlier in her legal career, Pontikes served on the board of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and established a project that assisted trafficked women in vacating their prostitution convictions. She also developed and taught a seminar on “Obscenity and Pop Culture” as a lecturer in law at the University of Chicago, drawing on her representation of sexually exploited girls.