Bob Van Kirk serves as Co-Chair of Williams & Connolly’s Complex Commercial Litigation and its Securities Litigation and Enforcement practice groups. He has argued successfully at every level of the federal judicial system, including the United States Supreme Court, and has appeared in appellate and trial courts across the country representing both corporate and individual clients in complex commercial litigation, internal and government investigations, and congressional inquiries.
Mr. Van Kirk has served as first chair in trials, appeals, arbitrations, and evidentiary hearings, developing a wide-range of substantive experience in securities, consumer and other class actions, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and RICO cases. He has served as lead counsel in matters litigated in the United States and around the world, including Europe, Asia, North America, South America, the Middle East and various off-shore jurisdictions.
Recognized in Benchmark Litigation as one of the top 100 trial lawyers in America, and named in Chambers USA, The Legal 500, Benchmark Litigation and Super Lawyers in the areas of General Commercial Litigation, Appellate, and Securities Litigation, Mr. Van Kirk has been described in these publications as “a tenacious fighter who really knows his stuff” in the courtroom and as “a stellar trial lawyer” who brings a “creative and proactive approach” along with a “tireless work ethic” to his cases. In 2018, Chambers USA ranked him as one of the leading lawyers in Washington, D.C. in the category of General Commercial Litigation.
Born in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota, Mr. Van Kirk was raised in the Twin Cities area, with the exception of a three-year stint in Singapore. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with highest honors in 1987, and received his J.D., with high honors, from Duke University School of Law, finishing second in his class. He also was elected Order of the Coif, won the law school’s moot court competition, was Note Editor of the Duke Law Journal, and was selected by his classmates to serve as the commencement speaker. Mr. Van Kirk spent a year as law clerk to The Honorable Paul H. Roney of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit before becoming a trial attorney in the Department of Justice honors program, where he worked in the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division for four years. He received a number of Departmental achievement awards during his tenure.
Mr. Van Kirk then served in the Office of Counsel to the President and in 1996 he returned to the Department of Justice and was named Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Policy Development. He joined Williams & Connolly in 1997. Mr. Van Kirk has served on the firm’s Hiring, Partnership and Associate Evaluation Committees, among others.
- Lead counsel on behalf of a private equity firm and individual board members in multi-jurisdictional litigation initiated by the liquidating trustee of a bankrupt entity seeking in excess of $1 billion
- Lead counsel in a series of securities class actions against a leading private equity firm and individual board members of former fund company. Motion to dismiss granted, affirmed on appeal
- Lead trial counsel on behalf of the former CEO of major consulting firm in an action by the Liquidating Trustee seeking $2 billion in damages for alleged breaches of fiduciary duties and duties of loyalty. Case settled for pennies on the dollar
- Lead counsel in series of securities cases against private equity firm in Massachusetts, Delaware, and Kuwait involving alleged misrepresentations related to the failure of a fund that invested in mortgage-backed securities. Cases dismissed, affirmed on appeal
- Co-lead counsel on behalf of a national accounting firm in consumer and competitor class actions seeking hundreds of millions of dollars based on alleged misrepresentations relating to the provision of services. Motion to dismiss granted, affirmed on appeal
- Co-lead counsel on behalf of a leading industrial supplies provider in $1.8 billion government contract dispute
- Lead counsel on behalf of former CEO of BearingPoint Inc. in securities class actions seeking over $350 million in damages, in an SEC investigation, and in related civil litigation. Motion to dismiss granted, affirmed on appeal. Settled thereafter
- Co-lead counsel on behalf of the former CEO of a major financial institution in SEC and related civil litigation. After issuing Wells notice, SEC closed investigation without charges
- Counsel on behalf of leading industrial supplies company in a qui tam action and a False Claims Act charge and in a subsequent debarment proceedings involving alleged bidding misrepresentations
- Lead counsel for a major industrial company in an action raising FCPA and related claims in connection with United Nations Oil for Food program. Motion to dismiss granted, affirmed on appeal
AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
"Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America," Benchmark Litigation, 2014-2018
"National Litigation Star," Benchmark Litigation, 2015-2017
“Local Litigation Star," Benchmark Litigation, 2014-2017
“Litigation: General Commercial (DC),” Chambers USA, 2014-2018
Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of Justice, Office of Policy Development, 1996-1997
Office of Counsel to the President, 1995-1996
Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice (Honors Program), Federal Programs Branch, Civil Division, 1991-1995
Law Clerk, Judge Paul H. Roney, United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 1990-1991