Mike Williams is an experienced trial lawyer and appellate advocate in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He has extensive experience leading the representation of complex, high-stakes litigation extending across many cases, jurisdictions, regulatory agencies and practice areas. Mike’s recent experience in this regard includes:
- Lead national counsel and lead trial counsel to BASF in its nationwide Engelhard Talc Litigation, involving hundreds of individual cases across 17 jurisdictions. See, e.g., Unterleitner v. BASF Catalysts, No. 2016-cv-00181 (Alameda Cty. Calif. Super. Ct.); Uribes v. BASF Catalysts, No. 112-cv-220636 (Santa Clara Cty. Calif. Super. Ct.); Depree v. BASF Catalysts, No. RG12659674 (Alameda Cty. Calif. Super. Ct.).
- Lead counsel and lead hearing counsel to the Government of Puerto Rico in its financial-crisis litigation. See, e.g. Brigade Leverage Capital Structures Fund, Ltd., et al., v. García-Padilla, et al., No. 16-cv-1610-FAB (D.P.R.); Peaje Investments LLC v. García-Padilla, et al., No. 16-cv-2365-FAB (D.P.R.); Lex Claims LLC, et al., v. García-Padilla, et al., No. 16-cv-2374-FAB (D.P.R.); Jacana Holdings I LLC, et al., v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, et al., No. 16-cv-4702 (S.D.N.Y.).
- Lead counsel and lead hearing counsel to death-row petitioner Ivan Teleguz in his actual-innocence hearings, federal habeas corpus appeals and other proceedings relating to Teleguz’s capital sentence. See, e.g., Teleguz v. Pearson, No. 10-cv-00254-JPJ (W.D. Va.); Teleguz v. Zook, No. 11-9 (4th Cir.); Teleguz v. Zook, No. 15-1451 (S.Ct.); Commonwealth of Virginia v. Teleguz, No. CR30946 (Rockingham Cty. Va. Cir. Ct.).
Since joining Kirkland after a clerkship on the Supreme Court of the United States, Mike has handled cases on a broad array of matters, including administrative law, antitrust, banking, constitutional law, copyrights, civil rights, corporate governance, environmental law, finance, media regulation, mergers and acquisitions, products liability, securities regulation and telecommunications law. Mike also has significant experience handling international arbitrations and government investigations. In September 2015, The National Law Journal recognized Mike as one of its 40 “Rising Stars” among young Washington lawyers.
In addition to his trial work, Mike maintains an active appellate practice. He regularly serves as counsel of record to petitioners seeking certiorari before the Supreme Court of the United States and participates regularly in appeals before federal and state courts. Mike’s appellate work includes a specific focus on legal problems concerning the territories of the United States and their relations with the federal government, including serving as counsel of record to the American Samoa Government and the Government of Guam in federal appellate proceedings.
Mike is a leader in providing pro bono representation to those in need. His recent pro bono work includes serving as lead counsel in federal habeas corpus proceedings on behalf of death-row prisoners in Florida and Virginia, lead counsel in litigation challenging the over-regulation of traditional African hair braiders in New Jersey, and numerous other cases involving civil rights, criminal sentencing and immigration. Mike is one of the Pro Bono Coordinators in Kirkland’s Washington office and serves on the Firmwide Pro Bono Management Committee. Mike also serves on the 12-person Standing Committee on Access to Pro Bono Legal Services for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Mike is also strongly committed to legal education. He is an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Georgetown University Law Center. He is an instructor for the D.C. Bar’s Continuing Legal Education courses in Taking and Defending Depositions, Advanced Strategies in Taking and Defending Depositions, and Opening Statements and Closing Arguments. With Judge John Facciola and Debra Katz, he has developed and teaches a DC Bar Continuing Legal Education course on Addressing Annoying and Sometimes Abusive Discovery Tactics. Mike regularly provides lectures and presentations to students and community organizations about legal matters.
Before joining Kirkland, Mike served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court of the United States (2002-2003) and Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2001-2002).
Mike received his Juris Doctor, summa cum laude and first in class, from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law & Economics and Senior Book Review & Special Projects Editor of The Georgetown Law Journal. He received his Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. At the School of Foreign Service, Michael was a Peter F. Krogh Scholar, received an Advanced Certificate in Asian Studies, and was inducted into Phi Theta Alpha, the National Honors Society in History, Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honors Society, and Omicron Delta Epsilon, the International Honors Society in Economics.
While attending Georgetown, Mike served on the staff of former Congressman Jack Kemp at Empower America and also worked as Guest Relations Manager at the Watergate Hotel. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgetown Scholarship Program and the Board of the Directors of the Hoya Hoops Club. In 2010, Mike became the youngest inductee to the Asbury Park High School Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Panelist, Defending Class Actions, Corporate Disputes Magazine
Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy, Georgetown University
First-Year Practical Skills Instructor, Georgetown University
Panelist, Symposium of Civil Justice Issues, George Mason University
Instructor, D.C. Bar Pre-Trial Skills Series: Taking & Defending Depositions
Instructor, D.C. Bar CLE: Advanced Deposition Strategies
Instructor, D.C. Bar CLE: Dealing with Abusive Discovery Tactics
Instructor, D.C. Bar Trial Skills Series: Opening Statements & Closing Arguments
Recognized in The Legal 500 U.S. for Product Liability, Mass Tort and Class Action: Toxic Tort - Defense, 2015, 2018, 2019, and for General Commercial Disputes, 2020
Memberships & Affiliations
Criminal Justice Act Panel Committee, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Judicial Clerkship Advisory Board, Georgetown University Law Center
Section on Litigation, American Bar Association
The Federalist Society
Admissions & Qualifications
- 2002New Jersey
- 2004District of Columbia
- Supreme Court of New Jersey
- United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
- United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Georgetown University Law CenterJ.D.summa cum laude2001
First in class
Order of the Coif
Francis E. Lucey, S.J. Award (conferred upon the graduating student who earned the highest academic average in his or her law school career)
George Brent Mickum III Prize (awarded to the first-year student who earned the highest academic average in his or her first-year law school class)
Numerous Computer Assisted Learning Instruction (CALI) Awards for having earned the highest grade in individual law school courses
John M. Olin Fellowship in Law & Economics
John M. Olin Prize for Outstanding Written Work in Law & Economics
Senior Book Reviews & Special Projects Editor, Georgetown Law Journal
- Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign ServiceB.S.F.S.1998
Peter F. Krogh Scholar
Advanced Certificate in Asian Studies
Phi Alpha Theta, the National Honors Society in History
Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honors Society
Omicron Delta Epsilon, the International Honors Society in Economics