Sally A. Thurston

Sally A. Thurston

Class of 2022

Sally A. Thurston is a strategic business partner who recently retired from global law firm Skadden Arps. Ms. Thurston was a results-oriented tax advisor to Fortune 500 companies on multi-billion dollar transactions for 35 years and is an expert on combinations between US and foreign multinationals, cross-border structures and post-acquisition integration planning. As a member of Skadden senior management, Sally was an engaged, pragmatic and collaborative leader on financial, operational, ESG and human capital matters.

Throughout her career, Ms. Thurston drove strategic outcomes for multinational clients in mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, restructurings, business integrations and other transformative transactions in nearly every industry, and regularly advised boards and C-Suite executives on competing risks and priorities arising from these transactions. In her cross-border and integration work, Ms. Thurston led teams and coordinated legal and accounting advisors with business units around the globe to solve multi-jurisdictional problems in real-time. Ms. Thurston is an expert on supply chain planning, transfer pricing, and managing audit risk and compliance, and regularly advised clients on complex accounting and tax issues. She possesses in-depth knowledge of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries due to her years of advising clients operating in those sectors.

For over five years, Sally chaired Skadden’s financial oversight and audit committee, establishing the firm’s operating budget, debt levels, capital outlays, and attorney pricing structures, and overseeing its external audits. As a three-term member of Skadden’s executive board, she was responsible for partner compensation, internal and lateral partner growth, executive partner succession planning, practice expansion initiatives, human capital and firm governance. For 12 years, Sally directed Skadden’s tax planning, transfer pricing, compliance and governmental audits throughout 22 offices located in 10 countries. Sally co-chaired Skadden’s DEI committee during her last few years at the firm, utilizing improved metrics and novel initiatives to address client demands for diverse teams on their matters and ultimately improve partner accountability for diverse talent training, retention and promotion. In each of these roles, Sally’s position as a trusted business partner, and her honest and direct demeanor helped to drive engagement and innovation among stakeholders while fostering the firm’s team-work based culture.

Ms. Thurston has been regularly recognized in a number of elite legal guides. She was most recently recognized as a “Distinguished Leader” for her DEI work by the New York Law Journal and is a Crain’s New York Business “2021 Notable Women in Law” recipient.

Sally holds a juris doctorate degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School, and a chemical engineering degree with distinction from Cornell University.