Known as the “go-to” firm for lawyers and law firms facing every conceivable type of malpractice allegation, Williams & Connolly has defended law firms, their partners, and their insurers for more than 40 years. During this time, nearly half of the Am Law 100 firms have trusted us to defend them in professional liability matters.
The Washington Post has reported that Williams & Connolly is the firm “that lawyers and law firms turn to when they’re in trouble.” Law360 has identified our firm as one of the select few firms to “Have on Speed Dial if Malpractice Trouble Hits.”
The firm’s experience defending lawyers, law firms, and their insurers includes almost every conceivable type of case, including allegations of malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, violation of banking laws, fraud, and discrimination laws. In fact, many of our lawyer liability matters have resulted in opinions establishing the standards of care for lawyers and law firms.
Our work for law firms and lawyers has included trials, appeals, arbitrations, disciplinary proceedings, and Congressional hearings. We have represented law firms and lawyers in criminal investigations and SEC investigations; we have represented law firms confronting the controversies that may arise when partners depart one firm to join another; we also provide counsel on legal ethics and law firm governance.
We are committed to working with clients and their insurers to staff matters leanly with confidence, knowing that experienced lawyers bring productivity and efficiency to matters.
We have specific depth and relevant experience for intellectual property malpractice matters – particularly those involving patents. A number of our attorneys defend legal malpractice claims, and also have active intellectual property practices, making them uniquely positioned to handle legal malpractice claims arising from intellectual property matters.
Similarly, several of our attorneys have considerable criminal defense and legal malpractice defense experience, making us especially adept at navigating criminal investigations and parallel proceedings on behalf of lawyers and law firms.
The firm established its lawyer liability practice in the 1980s, often representing law firms that represented insolvent saving and loans. Today, more than 25 Williams & Connolly partners devote a substantial portion of their practice to litigating legal malpractice cases and related lawyer liability work.
Our work includes representation of law firms in the following areas:
- Alleged negligence in drafting transactional documents
- Alleged negligent litigation advice
- Alleged errors at trial
- Alleged negligence in the patent prosecution process, including missed filing deadlines
- Alleged negligent tax advice
- Alleged overbilling
- Fee disgorgement claims
- Fee disputes
- Alleged conflicts of interest, including disqualification motions and actual lawsuits
- Criminal investigations
- Alleged securities fraud
- Alleged contributions to a client’s insolvency, including banks and other financial institutions
- Disputes with departing partners
- Disciplinary proceedings for law firms and individual lawyers
Members of our Lawyer Liability practice are active in related bar and professional organizations, with several holding leadership positions. They regularly publish materials on cutting-edge legal ethics issues. Some examples include the following:
- Virginia Supreme Court, faculty member for professionalism for new lawyers, Rob Cary
- Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law for the District of Columbia Courts, Chair, Charles Davant
- D.C. Board of Professional Responsibility Hearing Committee, member, Charles Davant
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Rules Committee, member, Kevin Hodges
- TriBar Opinion Committee, member, Craig Singer
- “Third-Party Litigation Financing: Ethical Issues for Attorneys,” Thomson Reuters Practical Law, December 2017, Rob Cary
- “Managing the ‘Client File:’ Law Firms and Email Preservation,” ALAS Loss Prevention Journal, Winter 2017, Charles Davant
- “Just Say No? Managing the Litigation Risk of Refusing to Give an Opinion,” In Our Opinion: Newsletter of the Legal Opinions Committee, Feb. 2017, John Villa and Craig Singer
- “The Judicial Error Defense in Legal Malpractice Cases,” ABA's Professional Services Liability Litigation, Dec. 2016, Ellen Oberwetter and Amy Mason Saharia
- “Professional Responsibility: Representing Business Organizations,” West Academic Publishing, July 2016, John Villa
- “Indemnification Clauses in Retainer Agreements and Guidelines: Why Law Firms Should Say ‘No,’” The Practical Lawyer, June 2016, Charles Davant
- “Professionals, Firms, and Fraud: Defending Professionals Against Liability For Client Fraud,” ABA Book Publishing, 2015, Craig Singer
- “When the Client Is a Fraud: Defending Professionals and Firms Following a Client’s Misconduct,” ABA Journal, Fall 2015, Craig Singer
- “Joint Representations in SEC Investigations,” ABA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct, Oct. 2015, Meg Keeley
- “Defending Malpractice Claims Against A Trustee or Receiver,” Law360, Nov. 2015, Ellen Oberwetter and Craig Singer
- “Legal Advice or Business Advice? The Recent Case of Peterson v. Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and Its Implications for Opinion Givers,” ABA Journal, Fall 2015, John Villa and Craig Singer
- “Collective Scienter: An Unrecognized Danger in Legal Malpractice Cases,” ALAS Loss Prevention Journal, Summer 2015, John Villa and John Williams
- “Defending the Corporate Deposition of the Law Firm: Selecting the Representative & Preserving Privileges,” Westlaw Professional Liability Journal, Dec. 2014, Craig Singer
- “The Opinion Is What the Opinion Says: Understanding So-Called ‘Duties of Disclosure’ to Non-Clients,” ABA Journal, Fall 2014, John Villa and Craig Singer
- “Unauthorized Practice of Law,” presentation to the staff of D.C. Superior Court, November 2017, Charles Davant
- “Surprisingly Common Ethical Missteps in Professional Liability for In-House Attorneys and Company Executives,” Women, Influence & Power in Law Conference, October 2017, Ellen Oberwetter
- “A Practical Approach to Understanding, Avoiding and Defeating Aiding and Abetting Claims,” AON Law Firm Symposium, Oct. 2017, John Villa
- “Current Ethics Issues Relating to Opinions,” Working Group on Legal Opinions Foundation 2017 Fall Legal Opinions Seminar, Oct. 2017, Bill Burke and Craig Singer
- “The Attorney-Client Privilege, the Work-Product Protection, and Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 & 2.3," Working Group on Legal Opinions Spring Seminar, May 2017, John Villa and Charles Davant
- “Ethical Traps in Investigation, Defense and Presentation of Individuals in White Collar Cases,” ABA White Collar Crime Conference, March 2017, Rob Cary
- “Indemnity & Contribution: The Law Giveth and the Law Taketh Away,” 16th Annual Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference (The Hinshaw Conference), March 2017, John Villa
- “IP Malpractice and Ethics Issues,” the Giles Sutherland Rich American Inn of Court, Jan. 2017, Meg Keeley, Bruce Genderson, and Mike Sundermeyer
- “Current Ethics Issues Relating to Opinions Practice,” Working Group on Legal Opinions Foundation 2015 Spring Legal Opinions Seminar, May 2015, John Villa and Craig Singer
- “Ethical Limits to the Non-Traditional Law Office,” Federal Communications Bar Association Seminar, Oct. 2016, Charles Davant
- “The Jury Process of Deflecting the Blame: Contributory and Comparative Negligence and Apportionment,” ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference, Sept. 2016, Meg Keeley
- “Representing the Fractured and Imploding Entity,” ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference, Sept. 2016, Craig Singer
- “Engagement Agreements with Clients: How to Comply with the Ethics Rules and Protect Yourself from Claims,” Clear Law Institute webinar, Sept. 2016, Craig Singer and Bill Burke
- “The In Pari Delicto Defense to Bankruptcy and Other Claims Against Directors, Officers and Third Parties,” Strafford Publication webinar, June 2016, Craig Singer
- “Ethical Issues for Financial Services Professionals,” New York Regional SIFMA Conference, Nov. 2015, Meg Keeley
- “Risky Business: Who Gets Sued over Opinion Letters and How to Reduce Your Chances of Being Next,” ABA Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law webinar, July 2015, John Villa and Craig Singer
- “Are Communications Between Law Firm Attorneys and the Law Firm’s In-House Counsel Privileged?” Clear Law Institute webinar, June 2015 Bill Burke and Craig Singer
- “Avoiding the San Andreas Earthquake: Lessons Drawn from History for Corporate Counsel,” ACC National Capital Region General Counsel Forum, Crisis Control in the General Counsel's Office, June 2015, John Villa
- “Daylight Greeting Cards Inc. v. Hauptmann DVK,” a Mock Trial for the ALAS Annual General Meeting, June 2015, Meg Keeley
- “Client Engagement Agreements: Ethical Considerations for Counsel,” Strafford Publications webinar, Dec. 2014, Bill Burke and Craig Singer
- “Defending the Corporate Deposition of the Law Firm Defendant,” ABA National Legal Malpractice Conference, Sept. 2014, Craig Singer
- “Overcoming Ethical Challenges for Multi-Firm Lawyers and Their Firms: Fiduciary Duty, Conflict, Fee-Splitting and More,” Strafford Publications webinar, Sept. 2014, Craig Singer and Bill Burke
- “Emerging Ethical Risks for Attorneys,” HB Litigation Conference, July 2012, Rob Cary
- “View from the Bench: Why Bad Things Happen to Good Litigators,” ABA Section of Litigation 2012 CLE Conference, April 2012, Rob Cary
John Villa Speaks at 2018 Law Firm General Counsel Workshop
John Villa spoke on Handling Claims Against Large Law Firms at the 2018 Law Firm General Counsel Workshop at Georgetown University Law School in Washington, DC on October 18, 2018.
Craig Singer speaks at APRL Conference on “New Money/Old Rules”
The panel discussion addressed the professional responsibility and liability challenges involved with cryptocurrency, such as when lawyers represent clients in matters relating to cryptocurrency, take payment in cryptocurrency, or put cryptocurrency into client trust accounts, among other related topics.