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Williams & Connolly LLP

Washington, DC

Williams & Connolly LLP - Washington, DC
  • 725 Twelfth Street, NW
  • Washington, DC
  • District of Columbia
  • USA
  • 20005
  • Managing Partners: By six-member committee
  • Number of partners: 123
  • Number of lawyers: 275  

Firm Overview:
Williams & Connolly LLP is a unique institution whose distinctive history and culture combine to create a partnership of mainly trial lawyers with an incredible breadth of experience. Located in one office in Washington, DC with approximately 275 partners and associates, nearly all of whom are devoted to litigation, the firm’s reputation as one of the nation’s premier litigation firms vastly exceeds its size. The firm’s experience is not confined by geography or industry. It handles high-stakes litigation and investigations that span not just the country, but the globe and its cases involve every major industry. It has represented most of America’s largest corporations, all of the biggest accounting firms, more than 100 of the biggest law firms, the largest banks and the largest media organizations in the world. And, it has represented the last three Presidents of the United States, several Vice Presidents and many Cabinet Officers, Senators and Congresspersons. The diversity of the firm’s practice spans criminal, Supreme Court, securities, patent and product liability litigation, among several other practice areas.

Main Areas of Practice:  

Civil Litigation & Trial Practice: Williams & Connolly has a reputation for aggressive pursuit of its clients’ interests. Clients frequently retain the firm for “bet-the-company” litigation. Williams & Connolly has handled virtually every kind of litigation imaginable, for individuals and institutions, in cases ranging from breach of contract actions involving hundreds of millions of dollars to the defense of major consumer class actions. The firm handles the most complex cases facing businesses in any industry, with a particular emphasis on preparing and taking cases to trial.

Criminal Defense & Government Investigations: Williams & Connolly was one of the first major law firms in the United States with a significant criminal defense practice and has retained its position as one of the premier white collar defense law firms in the world. It has represented individuals, public and private corporations and other entities in government and internal investigations, trials and appeals throughout the United States and abroad. Its work has spanned a wide array of subject matters, including securities and financial fraud, insider trading, antitrust, healthcare fraud, environmental, tax, False Claims Act, qui tam, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, public corruption and export controls, among other areas. Williams & Connolly lawyers have experience dealing with diverse investigating authorities, including US Attorneys’ Offices throughout the United States, all sections of the Department of Justice—including Public Integrity, Antitrust and Fraud—investigative committees of the US Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, various Inspectors General and state attorneys general, among others.

Supreme Court & Appellate: Williams & Connolly lawyers regularly represent clients before the Supreme Court of the United States and have argued some of the highest-profile criminal cases decided by the Court in the last few years. For instance, the firm presented oral argument in Maryland v. King, the landmark case on the constitutionality of DNA testing of arrestees that one justice described as “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this Court has heard in decades”; Bailey v. United States, which involved the authority of the police to detain an individual incident to the execution of a search warrant after the individual has left the scene; and Merck v. Reynolds, which concerned the statute of limitations for private securities-fraud actions. Williams & Connolly lawyers also appear regularly in federal and state appellate courts across the nation. The firm’s appellate experience spans all areas of its litigation practice, with notable recent victories in the areas of antitrust, criminal, patent, product liability and securities law.

Securities Litigation: Williams & Connolly has vast experience in high-stakes securities litigation defending public companies, audit firms, financial institutions, senior executives, officers and directors, lawyers and various other entities and individuals in investigations and trials involving a wide range of securities, banking, financial and accounting fraud matters. These matters have included investigations initiated by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, state attorneys general and various self-regulatory authorities, among others. Representations have included many SEC enforcement actions (both in federal court and administrative proceedings) and investigations and have covered wide-ranging allegations of securities fraud, stock option backdating, insider trading, other violations of the ’33 and ’34 Acts or the regulations promulgated thereunder and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In recent years, many of these cases have involved the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis.

Legal & Accounting Malpractice: Williams & Connolly devotes a substantial portion of its practice to the defense of major law firms where it has been described by the Washington Post as the “firm that lawyers and law firms turn to when they’re in trouble.” Although W&C does not identify its law firm clients, in 2013 Williams & Connolly was chosen to represent 25 of the Am Law 100 law firms; over the past several years, it has represented nearly half of the Am Law 100. More than 35 partners have handled these cases and they have resulted in favorable decisions in a number of federal courts of appeals, the highest courts of several states, and many intermediate and trial courts. A number of claims have also been settled confidentially before suit when the defendant law firm prefers that course. The selection of Williams & Connolly by the finest firms in America is a recognition of the quality of its work and its reputation for confidentiality. The firm has also defended national accounting firms, including two of the “Big Four,” in dozens of matters involving alleged malpractice, securities fraud, PCAOB and SEC investigations, and personnel matters. Among them are high-profile cases stemming from some of the country’s largest financial frauds with successful outcomes.

Patent Litigation: Williams & Connolly has been practicing complex, high-stakes patent litigation for more than 20 years. Major corporations place their trust in the firm to handle significant intellectual property matters, particularly in patent litigation and related licensing disputes. It has represented both patentees and alleged infringers in cases spanning a wide range of different technologies, from pharmaceuticals to medical devices, from electronics and internet technology to biotechnology, among others. The firm’s patent experience is also brought to bear in other contexts including Hatch-Waxman patent litigation and Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings before the patent office. A significant number of the firm’s partners and associates have extensive experience in and devote substantial parts of their practices to, patent litigation. Among these attorneys are nine former Federal Circuit clerks and a number of attorneys who, in addition to their extensive knowledge of patent law, possess technical backgrounds involving a broad range of disciplines.

Product Liability, Torts & Medicine: Williams & Connolly is frequently awarded top ranks in product liability in nationally renowned publications, including recent recognition by a major legal media publication as the Washington, DC Litigation Department of the Year for Mass Torts. These honors flow from years of experience handling personal injury litigation arising from pharmaceutical products, medical devices, consumer products and equipment, as well as from chemical and transportation exposures, accidents and explosions. Williams & Connolly represents pharmaceutical and medical device makers and distributors in all aspects of national and international litigation as: (a) lead trial counsel, (b) national or global coordinating counsel, (c) resolution counsel and (d) appellate counsel. Of late, the firm has represented many pharmaceutical and device companies in federal MDLs, state coordinated proceedings and multi-plaintiff actions. The firm also has a long history of defending doctors and medical institutions in malpractice litigation.

Areas of Practice

  • Antitrust
  • Civil Litigation & Trial Practice
  • Criminal Defense & Government Investigations
  • Legal & Accounting Malpractice
  • Patent Litigation
  • Product Liability, Torts & Medicine
  • Securities Litigation
  • Supreme Court & Appellate
  • Tax Disputes


  • 725 Twelfth Street, NW,
  • Washington, DC,
  • District of Columbia
  • USA
  • 20005
  • Tel +1 202 434 5000
  • Fax +1 202 434 5029
  • Email : info@wc.com
  • Website : www.wc.com

Intellectual Property - District of Columbia

What the team is known for Celebrated for its strong track record in Hatch-Waxman patent litigation with regard to branded pharmaceutical products. Also has a formidable practice in patent suits involving electronics.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"It's a phenomenal firm that's great for patent litigation."

Work highlights Secured an appellate victory for Eli Lilly and Princeton University against Teva Parenteral Medicines and APP Pharmaceuticals, who had unsuccessfully challenged the validity of Eli Lilly's patent for anti-cancer drug Alimta.

Acting for Samsung in a Section 337 ITC investigation in which InterDigital has accused the client of infringing patents relating to smartphone and tablet technology. The case has significant implications for the law concerning standard essential patents and fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing terms.

Notable practitioners  

Bruce Genderson is commended by sources for his "very impressive" patent litigation practice. He has substantial experience in handling cases concerning a wide range of industries and technologies, including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. One thrilled client noted: "He is so good at seeing where the issues are. He's practical, quick, smart and responsive."

Significant clients American Broadcasting Corporation, Bayer, Samsung, Genentech, Pfizer.

Litigation - District of Columbia

What the team is known for A powerhouse across the whole spectrum of high-stakes litigation. Offers particular expertise in representing high-profile companies and individuals in matters related to white-collar crime and government investigations. Maintains a fine track record in disputes concerning professional liability, securities and antitrust.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"It's the gold standard for litigation in DC." 

"An absolutely first-rate firm with an extremely deep bench." 

Work highlights Represented Google in a long-running and highly publicized FTC investigation related to online and mobile search.

Successfully acted for Ernst & Young  in a claim related to a multibillion-dollar fraud at HealthSouth.

Represented The Carlyle Group in an action filed by the liquidators of Carlyle Capital Corporation asserting various claims valued in excess of $1 billion.

Notable practitioners  

Brendan Sullivan is a preeminent practitioner in white-collar crime as well as general commercial work, and is described as "a dean of the trial Bar in DC." He took the lead representing Bank of America in various actions related to securitization of mortgages.

Commentators hold David Zinn in "very high regard" for his expertise in white-collar crime and praise him as "a super-smart and effective advocate." 

Kevin Downey is lauded as "a fine lawyer who does an absolutely outstanding job for his clients." He is particularly well known for acting in high-profile securities litigation, such as his successful defense of the former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae.

John Villa is singled out as someone who has "consistently delivered the highest quality work product in both written and oral advocacy." His impressive client base includes Pfizer, for which he acted in an appeal before the Second Circuit.

David Kendall is praised as "an exceptional lawyer" who brings "gravitas and wisdom to the preparation of cases." He remains an active and respected member of the team, and is able to draw on a wealth of experience in undertaking a broad variety of general commercial cases.

"Extremely intelligent" Robert Van Kirk is part of the team representing The Carlyle Group in a number of claims related to breach of fiduciary duty. He draws plaudits for being "very insightful, very practical and solution-oriented." 

Dane Butswinkas elicits much praise from the market for his practical approach to matters. He took the lead role in acting for nine BGC brokers in a multimillion-dollar claim brought by Tullett Prebon.  

Robert Cary divides his time between criminal and civil litigation. Commentators recognize him as a force in white-collar crime and report that he is "extremely able and very strong."

The team is able to rely on John Vardaman's wealth of experience as well as his "outstanding and seasoned judgment." He is a distinguished member of the DC litigation Bar and continues to act on a range of general commercial matters.

As senior member of the team, William McDaniels has years of experience and remains "an extremely hard-working and tenacious lawyer." 

Significant clients Cantor Fitzgerald, Deutsche Bank, McGladrey, The Washington Post.

Media & Entertainment - District of Columbia

What the team is known for Respected litigation practice handling an array of media and First Amendment matters, including privacy, defamation and copyright issues. Recognized for its ability to handle complex, high-profile and novel cases on behalf of an enviable client list.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients) 
"They are superb."

Notable practitioners  

Interviewees describe Kevin Baine as "one of the best lawyers in the US," whose "track record speaks for itself." His strengths lie within First Amendment and general media litigation matters, and he has an impressive success rate in this space.

Robert Barnett's broad litigation practice includes a significant media element, and peers consider him to be a "terrific lawyer." He serves a broad client base, including bestselling authors and high-profile television news correspondents and producers.

Thomas Hentoff is highly regarded within the media and First Amendment arena, and also demonstrates expertise within the areas of IP disputes and civil litigation. He has represented clients in a range of cases, including defamation matters and trademark and copyright disputes. "He would be on my dream team of lawyers," said one interviewee.

David Kendall is a well-regarded litigator who sources say is "extraordinarily able." He has a particular focus on First Amendment matters and copyright issues.

Significant clients The Washington Post, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Playboy, Paramount Pictures.

Appellate Law - Nationwide

Basic facts about the department
Key office in Washington, DC.

What the team is known for Top trial firm with an increasing focus on appellate work. Handles high-value appeals generated internally as well as being frequently hired at the appellate stage. Very active on patent appeals cases.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"I consider them a formidable appellate practice because they're so talented."

Work highlights Argued before the Supreme Court in Maryland v King, a Fourth Amendment case on the issue of collection and storing DNA samples from suspects who are arrested but not later charged with a criminal offense.

Represented The Carlyle Group in a $1 billion dispute before the Delaware Supreme Court with the liquidators of the Carlyle Capital Corporation hedge fund, who allege breaches of fiduciary obligations in the run-up to the fund's collapse in 2008.

Notable practitioners  

Former Assistant to the Solicitor General Kannon Shanmugam earns high praise from peers for his work on both civil and criminal appeals, including a number of Supreme court appearances. Fellow practitioners are quick to commend him, saying he is "a superb advocate who can very quickly get to the crux of the matter. He brings great insight into how to petition an issue for the court and get a favorable resolution there."

Significant clients Alcon Research, Bank of America, Domino's Pizza, Eli Lilly, Merck.

Products Liability - Nationwide

Basic facts about the department
Key office is Washington, DC.

What the team is known for Commended for its impressive litigation capabilities and regularly handles various roles on key cases for major clients in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors. Houses deep expertise in tackling product liability disputes at both trial and appellate level.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"Williams & Connolly is the real deal. They try cases to verdict and have tremendous appellate counsel, and are very collegial."

"They coordinate well, handle many of the biggest cases, have great trial lawyers and are just fantastic to work with."

Work highlights Successfully resolved 'innovator liability' cases for Pfizer at appellate level following the Reglan litigation, arguing against claims that the client was liable for harm caused by the products of generic pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Continued to represent medical device manufacturer American Medical Systems in ongoing pelvic mesh litigation.

Notable practitioners  

Douglas Marvin is highlighted by peers for the "exceptional amount of product liability work" he undertakes, while also gaining praise for his strategic approach to multidistrict litigation. Recent work includes his ongoing defense of Bayer in the YAZ and Yasmin litigation.

Heidi Hubbard is repeatedly commended for her strong trial capabilities. She recently acted for American Medical Systems, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals, in the pelvic mesh litigation.

Lane Heard was involved in the firm's representation of Wyeth in litigation related to the client's hormone therapy medicine, Prempro. He is commended for his strategic approach to litigation and is identified as "one of the best brief writers I've seen" by a peer.

Stephen Raber's practice includes a notable focus on the pharmaceutical space. He draws on significant experience as a civil litigator whose trial expertise is particularly valued. He recently acted for Genentech in the Raptiva product liability litigation.

Significant clients Merck, Bayer, GE, Genentech.

Securities - Nationwide

Basic facts about the department
Key office is Washington, DC.

What the team is known for Respected defense shop that continues to impress market observers, handling securities disputes across a broad spectrum of industry sectors. Eye-catching portfolio of work relating to litigation stemming from MBS and the financial crisis, and impressive strength in insider trading cases, class actions and derivative suits.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They're extraordinarily talented people and work harder than anyone else I know. They handle every case as if it's the most important in the world.

They're very selective in their hiring and who they'd make partner. They're incredible from top to bottom.

Work highlights Represented Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and affiliates in numerous lawsuits brought by the Federal Housing Finance Agency on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac related to the large Countrywide RMBS litigation.

Defended Pfizer in two securities class actions alleging that statements it had made about the clinical trial results of an Alzheimer drug were misleading.

Notable practitioners 

Kevin Downey is noted for his experience in both criminal and civil complex litigation. Sources call him "a very good, solid lawyer and counselor" who is "understated, low-key and does a very good job for high-level executives."

John Villa is lauded by clients as a litigator who "consistently delivered the highest-quality work product in both written and oral advocacy." He recently defended Pfizer in class actions alleging the publication of misleading clinical trial results.

Significant clients FBR Capital Markets, Intel, The Carlyle Group, Deutsche Bank, UBS.