Barry C. Barnett - Susman Godfrey LLP

Barry C. Barnett

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2003

For more than three decades, business people like you have hired this "incredibly gifted lawyer" (Chambers and Partners) who is "magic in the courtroom" (Who's Who Legal) to help them navigate the risks and rewards of high-stakes business disputes.

Trial counsel

Barnett is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a 31-year partner in Susman Godfrey’s Texas and New York offices, and an honors graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. With over three decades of trial work representing both plaintiffs and defendants, Barnett is a master strategist in commercial litigation.

Barnett focuses on complex matters, particularly ones involving antitrustenergy, or intellectual property. He has represented elite corporations such as Cisco Systems, Encana Oil & Gas, Texas Instruments, Duane Reade, KKR, A.H. Belo, Virgin America, and Neiman Marcus Group. He’s battled for his clients against behemoths like Alcoa, Abbott Labs, Alcatel-Lucent, AmerisourceBergen, Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, BlackBerry, Comcast, Samsung, and Visa.

Barnett projects a compelling courtroom presence. His performance before the Supreme Court in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend prompted the Court to withdraw the question on which it had granted review. The judge in a patent infringement trial called him "one of the best" and his opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge said Barnett was one of the two best trial lawyers he'd ever come across. The other one was dead, he said.

Complete package

Barnett can handle a case from start to finish. He’s briefed and argued appeals in cases that he had tried when they went before the Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits; Texas appellate courts; the Supreme Court of Louisiana; and (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) even the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Contingency, Barnett’s law blog that provides insights on sharing the risks and rewards of high-stakes business disputes, is a resource for attorneys and senior corporate executives facing major litigation. Barnett is also a sought-after public speaker, serving on panels and speaking on topics such as the hottest claims, trying class actions, and techniques for streamlining litigation. He also comments on trends in commercial litigation and the implications of major rulings for outlets such as NPR, ReutersLaw360Corporate CounselTexasLawbook, and The Dallas Morning News.

Hard graders

Clients and other hard graders have praised Barnett for his courtroom skills and legal smarts.

“Barry Barnett was magnificent in trying this case,” said Energy Future Holdings' general counsel after Barnett led a trial team that defeated $500 million claims relating to power plants and an aluminum smelter. “We couldn’t ask for more able trial counsel.”

A client in a $100 million oil and gas case, which Barnett won at trial and has held on appeal, said Barnett’s team “presented a rare combination of strong legal intellect, common sense about right and wrong, and credibility in the courtroom.” 

Chambers and Partners calls him a "an incredibly gifted lawyer" who earns "widespread praise from peers", "particularly [for] his notable courtroom skills." Who's Who Legal says he does "a fantastic job for his clients" and is "magic in the courtroom". 

Superb clients

A wide range of business clients have entrusted their critical matters to Barnett, including the ones you see below.

Public Companies:

  • AmWINS
  • Cisco Systems
  • EMC
  • Encana Oil & Gas
  • Forest Oil
  • International Securities Exchange
  • Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
  • New Century Financial
  • The Shaw Group
  • Trammell Crow Company
  • Texas Instruments
  • Virgin America


Private Companies:

  • Duane Reade
  • Energy Future Holdings
  • Firth Rixson
  • Innovative Sonic
  • Insight Equity
  • Luminant Generation
  • Mewbourne Oil & Gas
  • Morris & Dickson Co.
  • Oak Hill Capital
  • Olympia Minerals
  • Neiman Marcus Group
  • RainTree Oncology
  • TXU Energy
  • Valor Equity
  • Wagner & Brown


Keeping perspective

Barnett appreciates that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that may take years to resolve. He encourages clients to keep the risks and rewards in perspective. He wants them to know that he has their back and will work hard to help them achieve their legitimate goals. He also strives to foster trust and to make working with him a pleasure. Winning makes that easier.


A Texas native and son of a roughneck, Barnett grew up in Nacogdoches. He co-captained his high school varsity football team and served as the Editor of Key Club's Texas-Oklahoma District and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. Barnett knows how to get along with all sorts of people. That helps him connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel.

Barnett is at ease in corporate boardrooms. His East Texas upbringing led to college at Yale, where Barnett graduated magna cum laude, and then Harvard Law School, where he received cum laude honors.

Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career – 31 years. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York, where they have apartments. Their daughter works in Austin, and their son attends Yale.

As a member of Ivy League championship football teams in his junior and senior years at Yale and a parent of two Yalies, Barnett has no trouble choosing sides for The Game in November. Indeed, on his last play from scrimmage, during the waning minutes of The Game on Nov. 22, 1980, he recovered a Crimson fumble.

Yale won, 14-0.

Yale UniversityBA 1981Harvard Law SchoolJ.D. 1984
American College of Trial LawyersAmerican Law InstituteCenter for American and International LawNew-York Historical SocietyYale University

Case History

Glaberson v. Comcast Corp. — This antitrust class action produced multiple important trial, appellate, and U.S. Supreme Court rulings on substantive antitrust law as well as arbitrability and class certification, including Kristian v. Comcast Corp., 446 F.3d 25 (1st Cir. 2006) and Comcast Corp. v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2015).
Alcoa, Inc. v. Luminant Generation — This $500 million case went to trial on Alcoa's claims that Luminant forced curtailment of an aluminum smelter in central Texas, misled Alcoa about the cost of pollution control equipment, and mismanaged a lignite coal mine. The jury ruled against Alcoa and awarded Luminant $10 million in damages. Luminant also prevailed in an ensuing trial to the court on the mining claim.
Positive Software v. New Century Mortgage — Positive Software sought billions of dollars in a AAA arbitration against New Century Mortgage. Positive accused New Century of infringing copyright in computer software, misappropriating trade secrets, and violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. After hearing evidence over several days, the arbitrator ruled against Positive in all respects and awarded damages to New Century.
Olympia Minerals v. Aspect Energy — This oil and gas dispute went to trial in Beauregard Parish and generated landmark decisions by the Louisiana Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Olympia Minerals won an award of $16 million in damages and defeated reconventional demands (counterclaims) seeking more than $70 million under a claim that Olympia misappropriated 3D seismic survey results.

Office Location

1000 Louisiana Street, Suite 5100
Houston, TX 77002-5096
United States

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2017 Lawyer of the Year in Bet-the-Company Litigation of the Houston Metro Area
Barry C. Barnett has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2017!

Practice Areas

Bet-the-Company Litigation
Commercial Litigation (Antitrust, Class Actions, Complex Litigation, Intellectual Property, Securities)
Litigation - Antitrust
Litigation - Intellectual Property
Litigation - Patent