Williams & Connolly LLP at a Glance


  • “Realistic chance of making partner”
  • “Criminal practice opportunities”
  • “Partners treat the associates very well”


  • “Transparency into how the firm is managed”
  • “Growing pains”
  • “Not a very social office”

The Buzz

  • “Best of the best in DC”
  • “Rank of its own”
  • “Conservative”
  • “Elitist”

About Williams & Connolly LLP

Relatively tiny Williams & Connolly has resisted globalization and continues to hold its own against firms ten times its size by following a basic mantra: keep it simple. The firm's 250+ attorneys focus almost exclusively on litigation from a lone office in Washington, DC, positioning Williams & Connolly as a go-to firm for politicos, celebrities, professional athletes and even other law firms.

A Short, Illustrious History

Legendary litigator-to-the-stars Edward Bennett Williams teamed with Paul Connolly, a former student of his at Georgetown Law, to open shop in 1967. The fledgling firm soon boasted a client list that included the biggest names in Hollywood, politics and media-a pattern that has continued over time with representation of-among others-John Hinckley Jr., Oliver North, Bill and Hillary Clinton during the Whitewater and Lewinsky years, and Senator Ted Stevens in a case the firm famously succeeded in having thrown out for prosecutorial misconduct.

The personality cult built around Williams-Jimmy Hoffa's lawyer and one-time owner of the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles-brought the firm attention and cemented its reputation as a Beltway go-to. But the firm isn't just about entertainment-it has political ties in high, high places: Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, is a former associate of the firm. High-flying political connections aside, however, Williams & Connolly's bread-and-butter lies in its representation of such institutions as Google, Intel, UBS, Pfizer, General Electric, Bayer, Bank of America, Office Depot, Merck, 21st Century Fox, The Washington Post, Express Scripts, Mars, Samsung, AutoNation, Inc., CVS, Sony, Walt Disney, Eli Lilly, and Sprint.

Shoot for the Stars

Best known for handling high stakes, complex litigation, the firm has a thriving intellectual property practice ranging from pharmaceuticals to electronics, has presented oral argument to the Supreme Court six times in the last five years, and serves as national coordinating counsel and trial counsel for large product liability cases. The firm also represents numerous law firms and accounting firms in professional responsibility and other litigation, including over time almost half of the AmLaw 100 and three of the top five accounting firms, making Williams & Connolly the firm that lawyers and other professionals seek out when the going gets rough.

Keeping with its individualist ethos, Williams & Connolly operates without strict departmental boundaries, allowing attorneys to bounce among any number of litigation areas and, thus, creating great flexibility within the firm. That said, successful associates tend to gravitate toward specific focal areas as they become more experienced, as is exemplified by partner Robert Barnett. In addition to litigating for corporate clients such as Deutsche Bank and Toyota, Barnett is one of the foremost representatives of non-fiction literary and television talent in the nation. He has represented the Clintons, Jordan's Queen Noor, Benazir Bhutto, Barack Obama and Tony Blair on book deals. Barnett has also helped Katie Couric, Sam Donaldson and CNN contributor Sanjay Gupta remain handsomely paid.

Big Base, No Bonus

As one might expect of a firm that plays by its own rules, Williams & Connolly's no-bonus compensation structure is a bit of an anomaly in the legal arena. The firm, however, endeavors to make up for the absence of stocking stuffers by routinely leading the pack in the race to pay first-year associates exorbitant sums of cash. Just a year after upping its price for first-years to $165,000 to compete with the New York firms, Williams & Connolly increased its beginning salary again, this time to $180,000. The latter figure represented a $20,000 cushion over most other BigLaw firms around the nation, including New York.



Defending The Carlyle Group
After the collapse of the Carlyle Capital Corporation ("CCC") in the midst of the worldwide financial crisis, The Carlyle Group ("Carlyle") retained Williams & Connolly to represent Carlyle and the former CCC board members in a series of claims by investors and the bankruptcy trustee in the United States and in jurisdictions around the world. The firm has coordinated the defense in all these actions involving claims of over $1 billion and has prevailed in every action to date, including obtaining the dismissal of several consolidated securities class actions. That result was affirmed on appeal in the DC Circuit.

February 2014

Stepping Up for Samsung
Williams & Connolly represented Samsung in a Section 337 ITC investigation, which went to trial in February 2014, and a parallel district court litigation concerning Samsung smartphones and tablet computers with 3G and 4G capabilities that have been accused by InterDigital, Inc. of infringing several patents. In these matters, Williams & Connolly is litigation counsel to Samsung on issues relating to "FRAND" (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) licensing, "SEPs" (standard essential patents) and the public interest.

December 2013

Bankruptcy Boom
Williams & Connolly was retained by Intel to represent the company in a dispute with the Lehman bankruptcy trustee over a $1 billion stock purchase agreement. The bankruptcy court dismissed the two bankruptcy counts and held that the remaining breach of contract count was not a core bankruptcy claim.

October 2013

High-Profile Clients
Williams & Connolly was retained to represent BP in litigation arising out of disputes concerning the Economic Property and Damages Settlement Agreement that BP entered related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

August 2013

Product Liability Pros
Williams & Connolly is lead counsel for Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. in state and federal product liability cases related to Januvia® and Janumet®, Merck's popular treatments for type 2 diabetes. In August 2013, a multi-district litigation including similarly situated diabetes treatments was formed in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of California.

April 2013

Landmark Rulings
Williams & Connolly was lead trial counsel for Bayer in an Administrative Procedure Act challenge to FDA's approval of generic versions of Bayer's veterinary antibiotic drug Baytril. Bayer brought suit against FDA claiming that FDA's approval of generic Baytril was arbitrary and capricious in view of Bayer's unanswered Citizens Petition raising legal barriers to such approval. The District Court granted Bayer a TRO against FDA revoking approval of the generic drug for certain uses. This is one of the only times a court has ordered FDA to take such action.

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Williams & Connolly LLP

725 Twelfth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 434-5000


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Executive Director: Jennifer Scott
  • Managing Partner: By six-member committee
  • Hiring Committee Chair: Daniel P. Shanahan
  • Total No. Attorneys 2014: 309

  • Employment Contact
    Natasha M. Zech, Esq.
    Director of Attorney Recruiting and Development
    Phone: (202) 434-5605
    Fax: (202) 434-5029
    E-mail: nzech@wc.com

  • Base Salary
    Washington, DC
    1st year: $180,000
    2nd year: $195,000
    3rd year: $210,000
    4th year: $230,000
    5th year: $250,000
    6th year: $270,000
    7th year: $290,000
    Summer associate: $3,450/week

  • Summer Associate Offers
    The firm says: “Because nearly all of our summer associates obtain judicial clerkships, formal offers are only extended after the clerks receive permission from judges to request offers. Typically, all summer associates who request offers are welcomed for permanent employment.”

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Administrative Law
    Business Acquisition and Consolidation
    Civil Litigation and Trial Practice
    Class Action
    Commercial Litigation
    Congressional Investigations
    Corporate Governance and Compliance
    Counseling for Private Company Formation, Non-Profits, Joint Ventures, LLC’s
    Credit Facilities
    Criminal Defense and Government Investigations
    Directors and Officers Liability
    Economic Sanctions
    Employment and Labor
    Employment Relationships, Counseling and Advisory Services
    Executive Compensation
    False Claims Act and Qui Tam
    FDA Regulation
    Federal Programs, Aerospace and Defense, and Government Contracts
    Financial Services Litigation
    First Amendment and Media
    Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
    Health Care Fraud
    International Arbitration
    International Litigation
    Patent Litigation
    Product Liability, Torts and Medicine
    Professional Liability
    Public Corruption
    Real Estate
    Representation of Authors, Former Government Officials and Television Correspondents, Anchors and Producers
    Securities Enforcement
    Securities Litigation
    Supreme Court and Appellate
    Trade Secrets
    Trademark and Copyright
    Transactions and Business Counseling

Major Office Locations

  • Washington, DC

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