William (Bill) Donovan is co-head for the Firm’s Class Action practice. He focuses his practice on trial and appellate litigation, with an emphasis on accounting, consumer class actions, professional liability and complex commercial cases. He is an accomplished litigator who has handled bet-the-company litigations and has first-chaired multiple trials and arbitrations. He represents Fortune 200 corporations, emerging companies, sharing economy clients, entrepreneurs and technology firms.
Bill has successfully defended accounting firms, financial institutions and insurance companies in multiple cases through trial. He also prosecutes trade secret and unfair competition claims resulting in substantial relief for clients in court and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) actions. Bill has in-depth experience in accounting liability matters and has successfully defended a number of high-profile tax and accounting cases through trial. He played a pivotal role in assisting a major telecommunications company in resolving a high-profile investigation into its accounting practices.
Bill is highly skilled in handling class actions raising common law and statutory claims, including causes of action under Sections 17200 and 17500 of the California Business and Professions Code, Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Unruh Act. He has successfully obtained dismissals on motions to dismiss and demurrers, including cases where the dismissals were affirmed on appeal by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the California Courts of Appeal.
Bill has in-depth experience in complex civil litigation, having successfully represented clients in high-profile matters, including breach of contract, business tort, healthcare, real estate, professional liability and deal disputes. He has argued and won several dozen appeals in federal and state courts, including affirmance of dismissal of multimillion-dollar lawsuits. He has also obtained reversals of lower court decisions refusing to compel arbitration in high-profile civil actions.
Bill maintains an active pro bono practice, having served as lead counsel, and in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, in a precedent-setting case. Through this effort, the State of California is now required to treat absentee ballots equitably and give voters whose ballots were disqualified for perceived signature mismatch a chance to fix their ballot.
In addition to his work in private practice, Bill was senior counsel at a Fortune 50 telecommunications company. He also worked as a trial attorney with the US Department of Justice, where he conducted numerous appellate and trial court arguments.
- First-chaired successful arbitration of contract dispute concerning half-billion dollar energy development project.
- Lead counsel in obtaining dismissal of successor liability lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court where plaintiffs sought more than $262 million by alleging a de facto merger by McDermott client.
- Defeated auto-renewal putative class action on motion to dismiss in the Southern District of New York, with the victory affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
- First-chaired defeat of class certification motion filed against leading technology company, both in Alameda County Superior Court and then on appeal.
- Secured wins for McDermott clients upholding the enforceability of arbitration clauses in consumer and distributor contracts in both federal and state courts in California.
- Represented a leading homebuilder and obtained decertification of a previously certified class action seeking $1 billion in restitution*
- Argued on behalf of seven leading homebuilders in a class action suit in the Ninth Circuit, and obtained and affirmance of the dismissal of class actions*
- Represented a leading consumer products company and obtained victory on a lawsuit challenging organic labeling claims on demurrer in Los Angeles Superior Court and conducted winning oral argument affirming the dismissal in 2018 at the Court of Appeal*
- Served as lead counsel where the California Court of Appeal enforced arbitration clause in a 2017 case involving putative class action challenging contractual disclosures in real estate contracts*
- First-chaired multiple trials, including “tax shelter” cases for a major accounting firm*
- Represented a leading domestic product manufacturer in obtaining dismissals of numerous complex tort claims*
*Matter handled prior to joining McDermott.
- Legal 500 US, 2022
- BTI Client Service All-Star MVP, 2017 to 2018
- Southern California Super Lawyers, 2011 to present
- United Way of Greater Los Angeles Board of Directors, member, 2012-2019
- Jonathan Club, member
University of California – Los Angeles School of Law, 1991
Columbia University, BA, 1987
District of Columbia
Courts / Agencies
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
US District Court for the Northern District of California
US District Court for the Southern District of California
US District Court for the Eastern District of California
US District Court for the Central District of California