Barry Barnett

Barry Barnett


Susman Godfrey L.L.P.

Recognized since 2003

Houston, Texas

Practice Areas

Bet-the-Company Litigation

Commercial Litigation

Commercial Litigation

Litigation - Antitrust

Litigation - Intellectual Property

Litigation - Patent

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2020 - Litigation - Patent Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2019 - Bet-the-Company Litigation Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2017 - Bet-the-Company Litigation
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In the course of your career, you will likely face at least one complex, high-stakes legal dispute that doesn't have a quick or obvious solution. To sort it out successfully, you will need experienced and reliable help. For more than three decades, people in your position have sought to engage me to do just that, describing me as an "incredibly gifted lawyer" (Chambers and Partners) who is "magic in the courtroom" (Who's Who Legal).

Trial counsel

I am a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a career-long 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, I have developed and implemented winning strategies in commercial litigation many dozens of times.

My nationwide practice focuses on complex matters, particularly ones involving antitrust, energy, or intellectual property. I have represented elite corporations such as Cisco Systems, Encana Oil & Gas, Texas Instruments, Duane Reade, KKR, A.H. Belo, Virgin America, and Neiman Marcus Group. And 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.

People say I project a compelling courtroom presence. My 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 me "one of the best" and my opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge said I was one of the two best trial lawyers he'd ever come across. The other one was dead, he said.

Complete package

I typically handle cases from start to finish. I've briefed and argued appeals in cases that I 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, my 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. I also frequently serve on panels and speak on topics such as the hottest claims, trying class actions, and techniques for streamlining litigation. I've also commented on trends in commercial litigation and the implications of major rulings for outlets such as NPR, Reuters, Law360, Corporate Counsel, TexasLawbook, and The Dallas Morning News.

Hard graders

Clients and other hard graders have praised me for my 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 my team won at trial and held on appeal, said the team “presented a rare combination of strong legal intellect, common sense about right and wrong, and credibility in the courtroom.”

Chambers and Partners calls me a "an incredibly gifted lawyer" who is “very strategic” and earns "widespread praise from peers", "particularly [for] his notable courtroom skills." Who's Who Legal says I do "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 me, including the ones you see below.

Public Companies:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Cisco Systems
  • EMC
  • Encana Oil & Gas
  • Forest Oil
  • International Securities Exchange
  • KKR & Co. Inc.


  • Neiman Marcus Group
  • New Century Financial
  • Raytheon
  • Trammell Crow Company
  • Texas Instruments
  • Vistra Energy
  • Whiting Petroleum

Private Companies:

  • Delaware Basin Resources
  • Duane Reade
  • Energy Future Holdings
  • Firth Rixson
  • Innovative Sonic
  • Insight Equity
  • INVeSHARE
  • Luminant Mining
  • Mewbourne Oil & Gas
  • Morris & Dickson Co.
  • Oak Hill Capital
  • Olympia Minerals
  • RainTree Oncology
  • TXU Energy
  • Valor Equity
  • Wagner & Brown

Keeping perspective

I appreciate that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that may take years to resolve. I encourage clients to keep the risks and rewards in perspective. I want them to know that I have their back and will work hard to help them achieve their legitimate goals. I also strive to foster trust and to make working with me a pleasure. Winning makes that easier.

Personal

A Texas native and son of a roughneck, I grew up in the piney woods of Nacogdoches. I co-captained his high school varsity football team, served as the Editor of Key Club's Texas-Oklahoma District, and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir.

My East Texas upbringing led to college at Yale, where I graduated magna cum laude, and then Harvard Law School, where I received cum laude honors. I know how to get along with all sorts of people and comfortable in corporate boardrooms, factory floors, and roadside stores that sell Moon Pies. My broad experience, courtly manner, and Texas accent all help me connect with clients and judges, with jurors and witnesses, and — yes — with opposing counsel.

Notably, I am both steady and loyal. I've practiced at Susman Godfrey my entire career – 33 years and counting. My wife Nancy and I live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York. Our daughter works in Houston, and our son is a law student at Columbia.

As a member of Ivy League championship football teams in my junior and senior years at Yale and a parent of two Yalies, I have no trouble choosing sides for The Game in November. On my last play from scrimmage, in the waning minutes of The Game on Nov. 22, 1980, I had the good luck to recover a Crimson fumble.

Yale won, 14-0.

Locations

  • 1000 Louisiana Street, Suite 5100
    Houston, TX 77002-5096
  • 1301 Avenue of the Americas, 32nd Floor
    New York, NY 10019-6023

Education

  • Harvard University Law School , J.D., graduated 1984
  • Yale University , BA, graduated 1981

Bar Admissions

  • New York, 2015
  • Texas, 1985

Affiliations

  • American College of Trial Lawyers - Fellow
  • American Law Institute - Elected Member
  • Center for American and International Law - Trustee
  • New-York Historical Society - Trustee
  • Yale University - Sterling Fellow

Federal Clerkships

  • United States Court of Appeals

Susman Godfrey L.L.P.
Headquarters: Houston, Texas

29 The Best Lawyers in America® awards

8 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America awards

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2020 - Litigation - Patent Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2019 - Bet-the-Company Litigation Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2017 - Bet-the-Company Litigation

Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® for:

  • Litigation - Patent, Houston (2020)
  • Bet-the-Company Litigation, Houston (2019)
  • Bet-the-Company Litigation, Houston (2017)

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2023 for work in:

  • Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Litigation - Antitrust
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Litigation - Intellectual Property
  • Litigation - Patent

Special Focus

  • Antitrust
  • Class Actions
  • Complex Litigation
  • Intellectual Property
  • Securities

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Tell us a little bit about your practice and what makes it unique.

My clients have tough problems that don’t have obvious or simple answers. We work incredibly hard together, and pay tremendous attention to detail, to develop and execute a durable strategy that best positions us to win the things that matter most to them. My clients are smart, honest, and fiercely determined. I have the best job in the world.

What common questions are you asked by clients, and what are your answers?

Question: How long will the lawsuit take?

Answer: Probably years, unless we can find a way to speed it up — by, say, seeking preliminary injunctive relief, agreeing with the other side to sharp limits on discovery, and waiving a jury trial in order to arbitrate the dispute or try it to the judge.

Question: Will you work on a contingent-fee basis?

Answer: You bet! — if the case looks like it will, if we go all the way, yield a damages award or settlement big enough for me to make 3 or 4 times my firm’s investment or hours and expenses.

Question: You charge more than $1,000 for an hour of your time if you work on an hourly basis. How can you justify that?

Answer: As I said earlier, I have the best job in the world. I am very grateful that I have clients who find my help worth at least as much as they pay my firm for my personal attention to their challenging problems.

Describe one of your most interesting or memorable cases in the past year.

In late 2016, after several years of litigation on a big antitrust case, the judge seemed unlikely to grant class certification. My partners asked me at that point to step into the case for the purpose of leading our firm’s efforts to get the case certified as a class action. I agreed to work with experts who submitted reports in connection with class certification, to brief the motion to certify, and to argue the case to the judge. I did all that, and as I did it I focused as hard as I could on anticipating and respectfully providing honest, clear, and simple answers to the seemingly complex issues that gave the judge pause. It was gratifying when the judge granted our motion.

What is most challenging about your area(s) of expertise?

Even the most complex set of facts has within it a simpler human story. Finding and telling that story are the most challenging and gratifying aspects of mypractice.

Were there any particular inspirations (people or events) that spurred your interest in your practice area(s)?

I benefited enormously from working with and learning from two of the greatest trial lawyers of their generation--Steve Susman and Lee Godfrey. Steve and Lee had very different styles, but were tremendously successful in persuading judges, juries, opposing counsel, and clients.

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