In an era of global megafirms, Williams & Connolly LLP is a unique institution. Although the firm handles cases all over the world, the firm’s approximately 275 lawyers are all based in a single office in Washington, D.C. With one exception, all of the firm’s partners over the last 25 years have been trained at the firm and promoted from within. As a result, Williams & Connolly has a collaborative and collegial culture unlike that of any other law firm.
Williams & Connolly has long been regarded as one of the nation’s premier law firms for litigation, and litigation is the firm’s primary focus. Founded in 1967 by legendary litigator Edward Bennett Williams, the firm was initially best known for defending individuals in criminal and civil matters. The firm represented Oliver North before Congress and at trial over his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. The firm also successfully represented President Bill Clinton in the first impeachment trial of a sitting president in over a century. More recently, the firm represented the late Senator Ted Stevens at trial on charges of making false statements; the indictment was dismissed after it was revealed that the government had engaged in prosecutorial misconduct.
Williams & Connolly is now equally well known for handling “bet-the-company” civil litigation at the trial and appellate levels. The firm serves as national coordinating and trial counsel for Merck in litigation concerning the anti-inflammation drug Vioxx. The firm has a thriving intellectual-property practice, which has successfully defended patents protecting products with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales. The firm has also presented oral argument to the Supreme Court five times in the last four years. The firm’s corporate clients include major global companies from virtually every industry, including ADM, General Electric, Pfizer, Sony, Sprint Nextel, and UBS. In addition, the firm has represented numerous law firms and accounting firms in professional-responsibility and other litigation; the Washington Post recognized Williams & Connolly as the firm that other law firms “turn to when they’re in trouble.”
Beyond litigation, the firm also assists companies, chief executives, authors, news correspondents, and sports figures in transactional matters. In recent years, the firm has represented President Obama; former President Clinton; former President George W. Bush; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; the late Senator Ted Kennedy; former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan; First Lady Michelle Obama; NBC news anchor Brian Williams; and NBA players Grant Hill, Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, and Shane Battier.
The American Lawyer cited Williams & Connolly for its work representing “clients in mortal danger.” According to Chambers USA, the firm brings to bear “a strong trial capacity and a fearsome track record.” In its 2012 guide to law firms, Vault ranked Williams & Connolly as the best law firm to work for in the country; it also ranked the firm first for white-collar criminal defense and third for general commercial litigation. Williams & Connolly alumni have gone on to serve as judges at all levels of the federal system, including the Supreme Court of the United States; as high-level government officials, including Solicitor General and Counsel to the President; and as top executives and general counsels of major global companies.