- Yale University (B.A., Economics and History (honors), magna cum laude)
- Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude).
Law Clerk to The Honorable Jerre S. Williams, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.
Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal). In 2020, Lawdragon named him one of the 500 “best of the best” lawyers in the United States. And Best Lawyers honored him as “Lawyer of the Year” in Houston for Patent Litigation (2020) and Bet-the-Company Litigation (2019 and 2017). With offices in Dallas, Houston, and New York, he has successfully navigated complex matters for sophisticated business clients across the United States for more than three decades.
Barnett’s credentials match his knowledge and skill. He is, for example, a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, an Elected Member of the American Law Institute, and an honors graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. With more than three decades of trial and appellate work representing both plaintiffs and defendants, he is master strategist in commercial litigation.
Barnett focuses on complex matters, especially ones involving antitrust, energy, or intellectual property. He has represented major corporations and institutions like Alaska Airlines, Cisco Systems, KKR, Vistra Energy, and Yale University. He’s also battled for clients against behemoths such as Abbott Labs, Apple, AT&T, Comcast, JPMorgan Chase, 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 told Barnett minutes after a jury returned a favorable verdict that he was one of the two best trial lawyers he’d ever come across—adding that the other one was dead.
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 appellate courts, including the Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and even (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) the Supreme Court of the United States.
Barnett is a sought-after public speaker, serving on panels and talking on topics like the hottest claims, trial of 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 on Frontline.
Clients and other hard graders 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.” Lawdragon honored him in 2020 as one of the 500 “best of the best” lawyers in the United States. Who’s Who Legal says he does “a fantastic job for his clients”. And Best Lawyers named him the 2020 Lawyer of the Year for Patent Litigation and the 2019 and 2017 Lawyer of the Year for Bet-the-Company Litigation in Houston.
Barnett relishes opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of people. At the non-for-profit Center for American and International Law, founded by a former prosecutor at Nuremberg in 1947 and headquartered in the Dallas area, he has served on the Executive Committee, co-chaired the committee that produced CAIL’s first-ever strategic plan, supported CAIL’s Institute for Law Enforcement Administration and other development efforts, and proposed formation of a new Institute for Social Justice Law. He is also a Trustee of the venerable and vibrant New-York Historical Society, a Sterling Fellow at Yale, and a proud contributor to the Yellow Ribbon Program at Harvard Law. His pro bono work includes leading the trial team representing people who are at greatest risk of severe illness and death as a result of being exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 while being detained in the Dallas County jail. At Susman Godfrey, Barnett chairs the Practice Development Committee and has served on the firm’s Executive Committee and various other standing and ad hoc committees.
Barnett appreciates that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that take years to resolve. He encourages clients to call him whenever they have a question or concern and to keep the inevitable ups and downs in perspective. He wants them to know that he will do his level best 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 wide range of business clients have entrusted their critical matters to Barnett, including the ones you see below.
Barnett knows how to get along with all sorts of people. A son of a roughneck and a Texas native, he grew up in Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas. While co-captaining his high school varsity football team, he also served as the Editor of Key Club’s Texas-Oklahoma District and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. His wide-ranging experience helps him connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel.
Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career – 35 years. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York. Their daughter works for H-E-B in Houston, 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. And he knows how important fighting until the end is. 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.