- Nacogdoches High School (1977)
- Yale University (B.A., Economics and History (honors), magna cum laude, 1981)
- Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1984).
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.
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.
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.
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 wide range of business clients have entrusted their critical matters to Barnett, including the ones you see below.
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.