2021 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“As a young associate, you will get a ton of substantive responsibility and learn to be a lawyer quickly.”
“Interesting work and stability.”
“The intellectual firepower of the firm.”
“The expectations are very high, and the practice of law can be very intense.”
“Attorneys here work long hours.”
“Compensation and too much work.”
About Williams & Connolly LLP
Williams & Connolly continues to hold its own against firms 10 times its size by following a basic mantra: Keep it simple. The firm’s roughly 300 attorneys focus almost exclusively on litigation from a single office in DC, positioning Williams & Connolly as a go-to firm for politicos, celebrities, major American companies and their executives, 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, business, and media. Among its clients have been White House royalty like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, and George W. Bush, as well as major household names like Walt Disney, Google, Intel, HSBC, Pfizer, Bayer, Bank of America, Office Depot, Merck, 21st Century Fox, The Washington Post, Mars, Samsung, CVS, HBO, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Eli Lilly, and Sprint.
Recognized 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 11 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—clients have included almost half of the AmLaw 100 and four of the top five accounting firms.
Just as highly regarded is the firm’s White Collar practice. Williams & Connolly sits atop Vault’s White Collar Defense & Internal Investigations ranking, and many of the firm’s partners are recognized as leaders in the industry. The firm represents companies, individuals, and cabinet officials who are under investigation or are involved in criminal matters. Among its subspecialties are anti-money laundering, congressional investigations, False Claims Act & Qui Tam, FCPA, health care fraud, and securities enforcement, to name some.
These practice areas are just the beginning—keeping with its individualist ethos, Williams & Connolly operates without strict departmental boundaries, allowing attorneys to move among any number of litigation areas.
The Future Is Within
While Williams & Connolly has a summer program, many associates don’t join the firm immediately after law school graduation, instead opting to clerk. This allows the firm to have an inside view of the nation’s highest court and the federal appellate courts—former SCOTUS clerks now at the firm are in the double digits, and former federal appellate court clerks are in the triple digits. Indeed, fully three quarters of all associates and partners are former federal clerks. The firm focuses its recruiting on law students, former clerks, and junior-level attorneys and grooms these lawyers for partnership. According to the firm, it “likes to grow its talent from within.” Although it isn’t completely out of the question, the firm rarely hires senior lateral candidates.
Williams & Connolly’s practice remains incredibly active and engaged during the pandemic. Even in the virtual environment, the firm proudly honored its commitment to our summer associates with a full-length, 11-week summer program, delivering the same access to quality litigation work and the ability to work on a wide range of matters, including several arbitrations with summers embedded on the trial teams. The firm also intends to hire a standard-sized 2021 summer class through campus interviewing, just as it has in past years, and will adapt its interview and recruitment practices consistent with guidance from public health officials and modified policies put forth by the law schools.
News & Awards
Williams & Connolly is lead defense counsel representing former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes in her criminal case in the Northern District of California (United States v. Holmes), with trial currently scheduled to take place in Spring 2021.
Appellate star Lisa Blatt, Chair of W&C’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice, presented oral argument to the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com, the first case in the history of the Court to be argued via teleconference, and the first case broadcast live to the public. The matter represented Lisa’s 40th Supreme Court argument, more than any other woman in U.S. history. In June, the Court ruled 8-1 in our client’s favor, holding that the addition of “.com” to a generic term can create a protectable trademark. This was W&C’s third Supreme Court win this Term, along with victories in Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc. and Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian.
The firm’s Patent Litigation practice group secured a major trial victory for Teva Pharmaceuticals International GmbH in a patent infringement action concerning Teva’s most profitable branded product, Bendeka®, a drug used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non‐Hodgkin lymphoma with more than $2 billion in cumulative sales.
Williams & Connolly led the trial and strategy team for CVS Health in its most important matter in 2019—the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act (“Tunney Act”) hearings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia concerning the $69 billion merger between CVS and Aetna. After holding first‐of‐their‐kind evidentiary hearings, the court unconditionally approved CVS’s settlement with the Justice Department under the Tunney Act, clearing the final roadblock to one of the largest mergers in U.S. history.
- Defended U.S. Senator Ted Stevens against federal corruption charges, leading the Attorney General to move to dismiss the case after the firm exposed a stunning example of prosecutorial misconduct.
- Defended President Bill Clinton in the impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate, and represented Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi investigation.
- Won a complete defense verdict in Mitre Sports v. HBO, the first major defamation case to go to trial against a national television broadcaster in years.
- Successfully defended AstraZeneca at trial and on appeal against allegations of an antitrust conspiracy in the settlement of patent litigation concerning the blockbuster drug Nexium®.
- Among the top-tier firms nationwide for Appellate, Corporate Crime & Investigations, General Commercial, Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment, Product Liability & Mass Torts, and White Collar Crime & Government Investigations, 2020—Chambers USA
- Four partners named among Benchmark Litigation’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, 2020; Five partners named among Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation, 2019—Benchmark Litigation
- “Washington D.C. Firm of the Year” and “Intellectual Property Firm of the Year,” 2020—Benchmark Litigation
- Named to The National Law Journal’s “Appellate Hot List,” 2019
- LMG Life Sciences’ Government Investigations Firm of the Year, 2019
Why Work Here
Why Williams & Connolly?
Vault has ranked Williams & Connolly as one of the top law firms for selectivity, career outlook, satisfaction, quality of work, and business outlook. Williams & Connolly maintains a nearly one-to-one partner-to-associate ratio, ensuring that matters are leanly staffed and that our associates gain significant hands-on experience.
725 Twelfth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 434-5000
Executive Director: Jennifer Scott
Managing Partner: R. Hackney Wiegmann
Hiring Committee Chair: Lance A. Wade
Total No. Attorneys 2020:
250 - 500
No. of Partners Named 2020:
1st year: $200,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $230,000
4th year: $260,000
5th year: $285,000
6th year: $310,000
7th year: $330,000
8th year: $345,000
9th year: $350,000
Summer Associate: $3,845/week
Natasha M. Zech, Esq.
Director of Attorney Recruiting, Diversity, and Development
No. of U.S. Offices: 1
No. of International Offices: 0
Civil Litigation and Trial Practice
Criminal Defense and Government Investigations
Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.