Barry Barnett
Partner
Houston Office Phone: (713) 653-7891 New York Office Phone: (212) 729-2024 Mobile: (866) 754-1900 Email Download vCard Print Bio to PDF
Education
  • Yale University (B.A., Economics and History (honors), magna cum laude)
  • Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude).
Judicial Clerkship

Law Clerk to The Honorable Jerre S. Williams, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Barry Barnett
Partner

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal) and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck Redden).

“Barry is an outstanding lawyer. Extremely practical, creative, and brilliant when it comes to strategic legal questions. My advice would be to retain him, even if just to make sure he is not in a case on the other side of you.” 
– John Monsky, General Counsel, Oak Hill Capital

In 2021 and 2020, Lawdragon named Barnett one of the 500 “best of the best” lawyers in the United States. And Best Lawyers in America has honored him as “Lawyer of the Year” in Houston for Bet-the-Company Litigation (2019 and 2017) and Patent Litigation (2020). With offices in Dallas, Houston, and New York, Barnett has successfully navigated complex matters for sophisticated business clients across the United States for more than three decades.

Trial Counsel

Barnett’s unique combination of background, credentials, and experience make him indispensable to his clients. The small-town son of a Texas roughneck and grandson of a Texas sharecropper, Barnett “developed an unusual common sense about people, their motivations, and their dilemmas,” according to former client Michael Lewis.

Barnett has been historically recognized for his litigation savvy. For his trial work, he won selection to the American College of Trial Lawyers; for his legal scholarship, he became an Elected Member of the American Law Institute; and for his academic performance, he received high honors from Yale University and graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. His over three decades of trial and appellate work representing both plaintiffs and defendants have made him a master strategist and nimble tactician in complex disputes.

Barnett focuses on enforcement of antitrust laws, the “Magna Carta of free enterprise,” in Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s memorable phrase. “Barry is one of the nation’s outstanding antitrust lawyers,” according to Joseph Goldberg, a member of the Private Antitrust Enforcement Hall of Fame. Barnett is also adept in energy and intellectual property matters and has battled for clients against a Who’s Who list of corporate behemoths, including Abbott Labs, Alcoa, Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Broadcom, Comcast, Dow, JPMorgan Chase, Samsung, and Visa.

Barnett commands a compelling courtroom presence and “is the perfect lawyer for bet the company litigation,” said Scott Regan, General Counsel of former client Whiting Petroleum. 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 trial involving mobile phone technology called Barnett “one of the best” and that his opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge told Barnett minutes after a jury returned a favorable verdict against the county’s biggest employer that he was one of the two best trial lawyers he’d ever come across—adding that the other one was dead.

Complete package

A versatile trial lawyer, Barnett knows how to handle a case all the way from strategic pre-suit planning to affirmance on appeal. He’s tried cases to verdict and then briefed and argued them when they went before appellate courts, including the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) the Supreme Court of the United States.

“Great manner—substantively intense, but friendly and relaxed presentation. Great practical knowledge. Knows what to do to win.” 
– David Sorkin, General Counsel, KKR & Co. Inc.

Barnett is a sought-after public speaker, often serving on panels and talking about topics like the trials of antitrust class actions and techniques for streamlining complex litigation. He also comments on trends in commercial litigation and the implications of major rulings for outlets such as NPR, Reuters, Law360Corporate Counsel, and The Dallas Morning News. He’s even appeared in a Frontline program.

Hard Graders

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

“Barry Barnett was magnificent in trying this case,” said his client’s 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.”

“Barry’s a brilliant fellow. He thinks deeply about issues. When he advocates for a position, he does so in a powerfully persuasive and articulate manner, but he’s always respectful of those who might hold different views. He’s a wonderful colleague.” 
– John Eichman, The Eichman Firm

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.” David McCombs at Haynes and Boone said Barnett “has a natural presence that goes over well with juries and judges.”

Even former adversaries give Barnett high marks. Lead opposing counsel in a decade-long antitrust slugfest said, “Barry is a highly skilled advocate. He understands what really matters in telling a narrative and does so in a very compelling manner.

Civic Engagement

Barnett relishes opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of people. At the Center for American and International Law (CAIL), 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. CAIL’s former President David Beck said, “Barry is extremely bright” and is “very well prepared in every lawsuit or professional task he undertakes.”

Barnett is also a Trustee of the venerable and vibrant New-York Historical Society, a Sterling Fellow at Yale, a winner of the Class Award for his work on behalf of his Yale class, and a proud contributor to the Yellow Ribbon Program  at Harvard Law. Barnett’s 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 twice chaired the Practice Development Committee and has served on the firm’s Executive Committee, Employment Committee, and ad hoc committees on partner compensation, succession of leadership, and revision of the firm’s partnership agreement.

Keeping Perspective

Barnett understands 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 goals. He also strives to foster trust and to make working with him a pleasure.

“Barry is a man of incredible integrity, knowledge, and character. Extraordinarily talented as a lawyer, he is both strategically thoughtful and candid in his feedback. He not only provides great advice, he prepares you to make intelligent decisions. I highly recommend Barry to anyone in need of his services.” 
Juan Sabatar, President, Valor Equity Partners

Cyrus “Skip” Marter, the General Counsel of Bonanza Creek in Denver and a former Susman Godfrey partner and client, said Barnett is “excellent about communicating with clients in a full and honest manner” and can “negotiate for his clients from a position of strength, because he is not afraid to take a case through a full trial on the merits.” Stacey Dore, the President of Hunt Utility Services and a former client, said that Barnett is “an excellent trial lawyer and the person you want to hire for your bet-the-company cases. He is client-focused, responsive, and uniquely savvy about trial and settlement strategy.” A New York colleague said, “Barry is a joy to work with as co-counsel. He tackles complex procedural and factual hurdles capably, efficiently, and without drama.”

Superb clients

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

Public Companies:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Encana Oil & Gas
  • Hinduja Global
  • KKR & Co.
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Trammell Crow Company
  • Texas Instruments
  • Vistra Energy

Private Companies:

  • Duane Reade
  • Joulon Holdings
  • Luminant Generation
  • Yale University
  • Morris & Dickson Co.
  • Oak Hill Capital
  • Olympia Minerals
  • TXU Energy
Personal

Barnett’s wide-ranging experience and down-to-earth approach enable him to connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel. He grew up in a small community (Nacogdoches, Texas). While leading his high school varsity football team as co-captain as an All-East Texas middle linebacker, he also served as the Editor of Key Club’s Texas-Oklahoma District, won the Best Typist award, took the History Team to glory, and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. As Dan Kelly of client Vistra Energy put it, Barnett is “a great person to be around.”

“He’s a very good man; an honorable individual who cares deeply about his family and friends. I trust Barry completely. He’s truly someone I admire deeply and enjoy a lot.”
– Jeffrey Chapman, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career. 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 (and budding Haynes and Boone transactions lawyer) 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 all the way to 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.

Honors and Distinctions

Academy of American Legal Writers, Board Member (2012-2021).

American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow (2014-2021).

American Law Institute, Elected Member (2007-2021).

Benchmark Litigation, Litigation Star (2022, Euromoney)

The Best Lawyers in America, Houston Lawyer of the Year in Patent Litigation (2020) and Bet-the-Company Litigation (2017 and 2019), Bet-the-Company Litigation (2010-2022), Class Actions (2015-21), Commercial Litigation (2003-2022), Litigation – Antitrust (2012-2022),  Litigation  –  Intellectual  Property  (2012-2022), and Litigation – Patent (2012-2022) (Copyright by Woodward White Inc.).

Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in Antitrust and General Commercial Litigation (2007-2021).

Martindale-Hubbell AV (highest) rating (1995-2021).

Lawdragon, The Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers (2020, 2021) and Lawdragon 500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers (2019, 2020, 2021)

Legal 500. Antitrust: Civil Litigation/Class Actions (Plaintiff) (2021)

SuperLawyers. Texas (2003 – 2021, Thomson Rueters)

Articles
  • Creator and blogger-in-chief, The Contingency.
  • Interviews by and articles for NPR’s “Marketplace” report, Law Blog of The Wall Street Journal, Texas Lawyer, ABA Journal, business 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; 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; Federal Bar Association Houston Bar Association.

Center for American and International Law, Executive Committee (2016-21) and Trustee (2011-2021). 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 (2016-2021) and Chairman’s Council (2012-2021).

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