Barry Barnett
Houston Office Phone: (713) 653-7891 New York Office Phone: (212) 729-2024 Email Download vCard Print Bio to PDF
  • Nacogdoches High School (1977)
  • Yale University (B.A., Economics and History (honors), magna cum laude, 1981)
  • Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1984).
Judicial Clerkship

Law Clerk to The Honorable Jerre S. Williams, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit (1984-85).

For more than three decades, business people have hired this “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal) and 2019 Lawyer of the Year for Bet-the-Company Litigation in Houston (Best Lawyers) to help them navigate the risks and rewards of high-stakes business disputes in Texas, New York, and around the country.

Trial counsel

Barnett is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, a partner in Susman Godfrey’s Houston and New York offices, and a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. With three decades of trial work representing both plaintiffs and defendants, he is a master of strategy in commercial litigation.

Barnett focuses on complex matters, particularly ones involving antitrust, energy, or intellectual property. He has represented major corporations like Alaska Airlines, Cisco Systems, Encana Oil & Gas, Texas Instruments, Duane Reade, KKR, and Neiman Marcus Group. He’s also battled for his clients against behemoths like 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 tried cases to verdict and then briefed and argued them when they went before the Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, 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, Reuters, Law360, Corporate Counsel, and The Dallas Morning News.  He’s even appeared in Frontline.


Clients and other hardgraders have praised Barnett for his courtroom skills and legal acumen.

“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, a lignite mine, 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’s team won at trial and held on appeal, said Barnett and his 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 “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 Best Lawyers named him the 2017 and 2019 Lawyer of the Year for Bet-the-Company Litigation in Houston.

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.

Superb clients

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

Public Companies:
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Cisco Systems
  • EMC
  • Encana Oil & Gas
  • International Securities Exchange
  • KKR & Co.
  • New Century Financial
  • The Shaw Group
  • Trammell Crow Company
  • Texas Instruments
  • Vistra Energy
  • Whiting Petroleum
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

A son of a roughneck and Texas native, 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 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 – 33 years. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York.  Their daughter attends Yale, and their son is a student at Columbia Law School.

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.  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.


To see a list of the cases Barnett has tried and get contact information for judges, arbitrators, and opposing counsel, click on this List of Trials.

Honors and Distinctions

Academy of American Legal Writers, Board Member (2012-2016).

American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow (2014-2016).

American Law Institute, Elected Member (2007-2016).

The Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year in Bet-the-Company Litigation (2017), Bet-the-Company Litigation (2010-2017), Class Actions (2015-17), Commercial Litigation (2003-2017), Litigation – Antitrust (2012-2017), Litigation – Intellectual Property (2012-2017), and Litigation – Patent (2012-2017) (Copyright by Woodward White Inc.).

Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in Antitrust and General Commercial Litigation (2007-2016).

Martindale-Hubbell AV (highest) rating (1995-2016).

Texas Super Lawyer in Business Litigation, Antitrust Litigation, Class Action/Mass Torts, and Energy & Natural Resources (variously 2003-2016), Law & Politics Magazine (Thomson Reuters).

Top 100 Texas Super Lawyer (Thomson Reuters) in Dallas/Fort Worth (2014)

Who’s Who Legal – Competition: US Plaintiff (2013-2016).

  • Co-author, “Techniques for Expediting and Streamlining Litigation” for American Bar Association Section of Litigation’s second and third editions of Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts (2005-15).
  • Contributor, ABA Section of Antitrust Law, Antitrust Law Developments (Seventh)(2014 update).
  • Creator and blogger-in-chief, The Contingency, one of the top 10 law blogs in LexBlog.
  • Interviews by and articles for NPR’s “Marketplace” report, Law Blogof The Wall Street Journal, Texas Lawyer, ABA Journalbusiness torts “Hot Topics” by the Litigation Section of the Texas Bar Association, Global Competition Review, Kansas City Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Blawg Review, Texas Cable News, D CEO, and Dallas Business Journal.
  • Author and speaker at continuing legal education seminars, including “The Hottest Oil & Gas Claims” at the 66th Annual Oil & Gas Law Conference, Current Issues in Multidistrict Litigation and Class Actions” at the Third Circuit Judicial Conference; “Daubert in Class Certification Hearings: The Standard After Comcast” for ABA Section of Antitrust Law; “How to Bust or Follow Through with an Arbitration” for the State Bar of Texas’s Advanced Civil Trial Course; and “Current Developments in Business Litigation”, American Bar Association.
Professional Associations and Memberships
Bar Memberships

State Bar of New York.

State Bar of Texas.

Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Bars of the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits.

Bars of the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas; the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York; the District of Arizona; and the District of Colorado.

Professional and Civic Associations

American Bar Association; Section of Litigation and Section of Antitrust Law; American Association for Justice; Dallas Bar Association; Houston Bar Association.

Center for American and International Law, Executive Committee (2016-17) and Trustee (2011-2017).

Yale Club of Dallas; Harvard Club of Dallas; Yale Club of New York City.

Greenhill School, Addison, Texas, Trustee (2007-2013).

New-York Historical Society, Trustee (2016) and Chairman’s Council (2012-2016).

Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation, Texas Bar Foundation, Dallas Bar Foundation, and Houston Bar Foundation.