James Williams is a nationally recognized trial attorney who has litigated cases in 15 different states and Milan, Italy. Savoy Magazine has named him to their list of the “Top Must Have Lawyers in the Country.” He has been named one of the “Top 100 High Stakes Litigators” by the organization that rates America’s top 100 attorneys. He is one of the “Nation’s Top One Percent” of attorneys according to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. He has been named a “Super lawyer” by the rating service that recognizes the top 5 percent of lawyers in each state. He has also been selected to the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the American Trial Lawyers Association. He is a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, a society to which only one half of one percent (0.5%) of American lawyers are invited to belong. In addition, Williams has been certified as one of the “Top Trial Lawyers in America” by the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Mr. Williams has an unprecedented record of success as a litigator. He has obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients. He has obtained a litany of multi-million dollar jury verdicts and judgments including a recent victory of $49.8 million in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has also collected countless million and multi-million dollar settlements for his plaintiff clients. Often referred to as “rescue counsel”, Williams is frequently hired as trial counsel to be implanted alongside existing counsel into ongoing high stakes and high value litigation. His litigation success for businesses caused him to be one of only seven lawyers inducted into the inaugural class of the CityBusiness magazine “Hall of Fame” at the young age of 33 years old. New Orleans Magazine, in their 2017 annual review of the city’s top lawyers, made Williams their pick for “Bet – the – Company Litigations.”
In 2009-2010, Mr. Williams took a leave of absence from practicing law to serve as the judge (pro tempore) presiding over Division “J” of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. He was unanimously appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to fill a vacancy on the court. Williams was only 35 years old at the time, making him the youngest judge in the State of Louisiana.
Mr. Williams also has a reputation for handling high profile litigation in a tasteful and effective way. He has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to achieve legal victories in these cases while strategically working to preserve positive public perception. In 2012, he was lead counsel for Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson in a civil rights lawsuit she filed when the State of Louisiana attempted to block her ascension to Chief Justice. He argued and won her case before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and she became the first African-American Chief Justice in the 200-year history of the Louisiana Supreme Court. In 2014, Williams represented Dorian Johnson who was with Michael Brown when he was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. That same year, he successfully represented then-United States Senator Mary Landrieu in a challenge to her residency. In 2016, he represented Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman in Federal Court against the United States Department of Justice and averted a federal takeover of the Orleans Parish jails. Williams currently represents David Palpus in a highly publicized “freedom of speech” lawsuit in Washington, D.C. because the high school student’s contest-winning artwork was removed from its display in the Capitol by a Congressman who disagreed with the content.
Mr. Williams’ professional success is matched by his community involvement. Mr. Williams is the Chairman of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Board of Supervisors, having been unanimously elected by his fellow board members to that position. In 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, pursuant to the authority in Article VIII Section 7 of the Louisiana Constitution, appointed Williams to a six year term on the LSU Board of Supervisors. His subsequent election as Chairman made him the first African-American LSU alum to serve in this role. Also in 2016, Congressman Cedric Richmond selected Williams to become the youngest person to ever reign as King of the prestigious Krewe of Louisianans “Washington Mardi Gras.” Past Kings have included the legendary Congressman Hon. Hale Boggs (1946), New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson (1989), famed “Blue Dog” artist George Rodrigue (1994), and shipping magnate Boysie Bollinger (1992 & 2007). In 2008, he donated $50,000 to the National Bar Association local affiliate chapter, Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, to commemorate its 50th anniversary. He is also a past president of the Martinet Society. He funds the Louise Halper Award, an annual award in the memory of a dear deceased professor at his alma mater, Washington & Lee University School of Law. The award recognizes a student who publishes a scholarly article in the area of civil rights and social justice. Williams also funded an $80,000 scholarship for a student at “The Good Shepherd School,” a privately funded New Orleans school for children living below the poverty line. Williams sponsors a teacher in the “Teach for America” program in New Orleans. He has also been a little league basketball coach and a Sunday School teacher at Tulane Memorial Baptist Church. He served as chapter advisor to the Rho Iota Chapter at Tulane University of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, General Counsel to the New Orleans alumni chapter (Sigma Lambda) of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and was an adjunct professor at Tulane University teaching Legal Aspects of Sports.
Mr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University and his juris doctor degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law. In his third year at Washington & Lee, he was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice. As a third year law student, he collaborated with United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on a law journal publication entitled “Civility.” As a second year student, he published a journal article analyzing the United States Supreme Court’s treatment of the federal sentencing guidelines’ disparity between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. In his second year, he was also president of the Black Law Students Association. After law school, Williams served as a law clerk to Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette J. Johnson.
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- Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University
- Juris doctor degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law
- In his third year at Washington & Lee, he was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice.
- As a third year law student, he collaborated with United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on a law journal publication entitled “Civility.”
- And as a second year student, he published a journal article analyzing the United States Supreme Court’s treatment of the federal sentencing guidelines’ disparity between powder cocaine and crack cocaine
- In his second year, he was also president of the Black Law Students Association.