John Williams handles an array of complex litigation, and has particular experience in securities litigation and professional liability defense.  John has represented issuers, private equity firms, underwriters, and professional advisers in securities suits.  He also has represented law firms in cases brought by clients alleging malpractice as well as cases brought by counterparties to clients alleging that the law firm aided and abetted torts by the client. 

John also has extensive appellate experience, having twice successfully represented clients in the Supreme Court of the United States in Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborer’s District Counsel Construction Industry Pension Fund, 135 S. Ct. 1318 (2015), and Bailey v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 1031 (2013).  He also has successfully represented clients in the Second, Fifth, and Ninth Circuits, and the Court of Appeals of New York. 

John’s work has helped to define the contours of liability under the federal securities laws, particularly in demarcating primary liability from mere aiding and abetting and in cabining liability based on statements of opinion.  In the context of professional liability defense, he has helped maintain a vigorous in pari delicto defense for outside professionals, especially under New York law.  

Born in New York City, John grew up in Scarsdale, New York.  He graduated from Princeton University, magna cum laude, in 1999, and received a master’s degree from Yale University in 2002.  John received his law degree, cum laude, from the Harvard Law School in 2004, where he was an Articles Editor and Executive Committee Member of the Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review.  After graduating from law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Danny J. Boggs of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  He joined Williams & Connolly in 2005.  

John serves on the firm’s Discovery Attorney Committee.  His pro bono representations have included representing asylum seekers and a D.C. habeas petitioner, in the course of which he has argued before the D.C. Court of Appeals. 

Representative Experience

  • Defense of issuer in case before the Supreme Court addressing liability for statements of opinion
  • Defense of private equity firm in securities litigation involving alleged false statements regarding FCPA compliance and oil prospects
  • Defense of issuer in securities litigation resulting from Senate investigation into the proprietary-education sector 
  • Defense of law firm in suits alleging securities violations, malpractice, and several other common law claims arising from collapse of client commodities brokerage amidst allegations of fraud 
  • Defense of foreign issuer in FCPA investigation by the SEC
  • Defense of law firm in matter arising from tax opinion
  • Defense of media company in appeal before the DC Circuit from adverse decision by the NLRB
  • Defense of law firm in adversary proceeding brought by SIPA Trustee following the bankruptcy of a broker-dealer
  • Representation of a biopharmaceutical company in licensing disputes

Education

Recognitions

“40 & Under Hot List”, Benchmark Litigation, 2018

Selected to Washington, D.C. “Rising Stars” list, Super Lawyers, 2014-2016

Admissions

Government Service

Law Clerk, the Honorable Danny J. Boggs, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 2004-2005

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