Bart Williams is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson. From January 2005 to December 2007, he served the firm as its co-managing partner. Mr. Williams received his J.D. degree from Yale Law School.
Mr. Williams is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has received widespread recognition for his legal work. In 2010, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal legal newspapers profiled Mr. Williams as one of the top 100 attorneys in the State of California. In 2003, The American Lawyer magazine profiled Mr. Williams as one of the Top 45 Lawyers in America under the age of 45. Mr. Williams has appeared on the cover and been featured in Black Enterprise magazine as one of the premier African-American attorneys in the United States. In May 2002, California Law Business magazine listed Mr. Williams as one of the top 20 lawyers in the State of California under 40 years of age.
Mr. Williams’ practice focuses on the following areas:
Complex Civil Litigation
Mr. Williams has an active practice in complex civil litigation, including the areas of commercial contract disputes and business torts, intellectual property disputes, anti-trust litigation, attorney malpractice defense, employment law, and trial work of all types. He has handled matters on behalf of corporations in the entertainment, banking, computer, securities, aerospace, pharmaceutical and energy industries, among others. Mr. Williams has also been retained by several celebrities and high level executives to represent them individually in high stakes matters.
Notable representations in civil matters:
In 2012, lead counsel for the nation’s largest home mortgage lender in connection with a nationwide enforcement action brought in federal court in Washington, D.C. by the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, alleging disparate impact discrimination in connection with sub-prime mortgage lending.
In 2011, lead trial counsel for a prominent Los Angeles law firm sued for professional negligence in connection with its representation of Sonja Morgan, a star of the reality television show, The Real Housewives of New York. After a lengthy arbitration proceeding in which Ms. Morgan alleged that the client’s negligent handling of a jury trial resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict against her and her company, Sonja Morgan Productions, the arbitrator issued a decision in favor of Munger Tolles’s client on all claims.
In 2011, lead trial counsel for plaintiff Rambus, Inc. in connection with its multi-billion dollar anti-trust claims in San Francisco Superior Court against two of the world’s largest computer memory manufacturers, Micron Technology, Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor, Inc. Defendant Samsung Electronics America, Inc. settled this and other cases for cash and equity investments totaling $900 million.
In 2009, lead trial counsel for the Motion Picture Association of America and six major motion picture studios in connection with high profile litigation against Real Networks, maker of a DVD player / copier that allegedly violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The studios obtained a temporary restraining order in federal court in San Francisco and, after a six day evidentiary hearing, obtained a preliminary injunction in August 2009 prohibiting the sale of Real DVD. Real Networks then settled the matter (including its anti-trust counter-claims) and agreed to pay the studios $4.5 million in attorneys’ fees.
In 2008, lead trial attorney in successful defense of Brighton Collectibles, Inc., one of the nation’s leading manufacturers and retailers of women’s leather goods and accessories, and its Founder, Jerry Kohl, in a breach of contract action brought by the President of the management company responsible for operating 23 of Brighton’s retail stores. After a three week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, the jury returned a defense verdict on all claims.
Trial counsel for Michael Ovitz, former President of the Walt Disney Company and the Co-Founder of Creative Artists Agency, in a two-month trial in Delaware Chancery Court involving Disney shareholder claims that Mr. Ovitz’s compensation during his term as President was excessive. The Court found in favor of Mr. Ovitz on all claims and the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Chancellor’s findings in all respects.
Lead trial attorney in the successful defense of a major national law firm sued for professional negligence in Los Angeles Superior Court by Alliance Atlantis, then the largest film distribution company in Canada. After a three-week trial the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict.
Lead trial attorney in the successful defense of a national private security firm in an action alleging a nationwide practice of retaliatory termination. The jury returned a unanimous defense verdict after a 13-week trial in Oakland Alameda County Superior Court.
White Collar Criminal Defense
Mr. Williams has used his expertise in complex criminal matters to develop a highly successful white collar criminal defense practice. Mr. Williams has successfully represented (i.e., no criminal charges filed) numerous companies and individuals including a federal judge, the brother of a former President of the United States, entertainment industry moguls, the general counsel of a multinational corporation, and other corporate executives identified as targets of grand jury investigations. He has also represented politicians and other public figures in connection with both state and federal corruption probes.
Notable criminal trial victories:
Lead trial counsel for Keith Kaplan, the President of Sales of Latitude 90, a publicly traded internet advertising company, who was charged criminally in federal court in Los Angeles with conspiracy to inflate the company’s revenues and with causing the company to have false books and records. Despite the testimony of two executives who had pleaded guilty and were cooperating with the government, the jury acquitted Mr. Kaplan after only two hours of deliberation following a two-week trial.
Lead trial counsel for Paul Koh, a senior Hyundai Motor America executive, who was charged criminally in federal court in Los Angeles with violating the Federal Election Campaign Act. Mr. Koh was acquitted after a two-week jury trial.
Internal Corporate Investigations
Mr. Williams has also conducted numerous internal corporate investigations for companies in the U.S. and abroad. Those investigations – involving companies located in Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, Thailand and Venezuela, among other countries – have involved a variety of subject matters, including corporate embezzlement, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and potential securities laws violations.
Mr. Williams served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California for four years. He concentrated on complex criminal prosecutions involving allegations of fraud or other business crimes, racketeering and money laundering, and obtained convictions in 11 out of 11 jury trials. He received several special commendations during his tenure, including one from The Honorable Louis J. Freeh, then-Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Williams is active in community and professional organizations. From October 2004 to September 2010, he served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science. Mr. Williams is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Children’s Rights. Since 2009, Mr. Williams has served on Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Judicial Advisory Committee to screen applicants to the federal bench and the position of U.S. Mr. Williams has also served in several leadership positions for the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association, including Co-Chair of the Government Litigation Committee and the Task Force on the Independent Counsel Act.
Mr. Williams has taught trial advocacy as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School and for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, and he has conducted mock trial demonstrations at five national ABA Conferences. He has lectured at the UCLA School of Law on a variety of topics, including federal criminal law and evidence, and he has been a featured panelist at numerous professional seminars on the topics of corporate criminal liability, corporate governance issues, securities law enforcement, internal corporate investigations, crisis management, federal election laws and trial advocacy topics of all types. He has appeared numerous times as a guest commentator on television “legal issues” programs.
Mr. Williams received his B.A. degree in Political Science from Yale University. He was a starting guard for four years on the Yale Varsity Basketball Team, and received the Joe McReynolds Award as the team’s Most Valuable Defensive Player his senior year.