Steve was born and educated in New York and moved to California in 1996. He practises in federal and state courts throughout the United States. Steve’s primary area of practice is in complex civil actions, particularly class and representative actions involving antitrust, securities and environmental law, and cutting-edge issues involving tech giants such as Apple, Facebook and Google. He is regularly in lead or co-lead counsel roles on high-profile cases resulting in ground-breaking law and successful settlements. He has received many worldwide accolades.
Describe your career to date.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with some of the best and brightest judges, clients and counsel in the world. Whether on the same side or opposing, I think that all of us who work together in our justice systems are ultimately working on the same page to uphold the rule of law. The changes brought by covid-19 are transformational and have severed the link to a physical location. The economy is global, and the freedom to work with anyone anywhere is beyond anything we have had before. Not only is it a tremendous change from when I first began my career, it is a dramatic difference from where we were just a year ago.
What did you find most difficult about entering practice as a competition lawyer?
Honestly – nothing. I have found the competition bar to be exceptionally friendly and collegial. This applies across the “v.”, and across borders. It has been true since I started practising and remains true today. As a result, young attorneys tend to be welcomed and their work tends to be appreciated.
How has the competition market changed since you first started practising?
The most obvious and direct answer is the pandemic. Meeting in person has become a thing of the past. Thankfully, we are not flying a dozen lawyers across the country for depositions and hearings. This is removing what was an unnecessarily taxing aspect of our lives as competition lawyers. This gives all of us an opportunity to be more productive and to focus on what truly matters: our clients.
In your opinion, what will be the long-term effects of the covid-19 pandemic on competition law and policy?
It is so hard to predict, because we are just at the beginning of the pandemic’s influence. The pandemic may exacerbate the trends towards economic concentration that were moving rapidly before it arrived earlier this year. Good policy is virtually never set during a crisis, and this crisis is quite fluid, changing from moment to moment in ways that are sometimes hard to predict.
What impact has the development of technology had on the practice of competition in recent years?
Competition lawyers barely slowed down when the pandemic came, and most are back up to full capacity because we already had in hand the hardware and software that let us continue our work unabated. In that way, technology has been a lifeline for our work to continue, in an effective way that would have been difficult if not impossible a generation ago.
How do you see the Federal Trade Commission changing its focus in the next five years?
That depends upon the November 2020 election, the results of which will influence policies and appointments. In either instance, the rapidity of change presents extraordinary challenges to all regulatory agencies, both during the pandemic and once it has passed.
To what extent is antitrust becoming more politicised?
To a horrifying, frightening extent in recent years, and in a way that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. The saving grace has been the consistency of private enforcement.
How would you like to develop your practice in the next few years?
I would like a practice that can work worldwide, made up of a team that reflects the world’s diversity. As the pandemic has revealed, we are more connected now through technology as opposed to physical space, so “global” is the wave of the future since we are able to connect with all corners of the world. Diversity is also the wave of the future. Some of our federal courts are now mandating diverse teams when firms apply for leadership in class actions across multiple jurisdictions. Our clients are often quite diverse, and the courts are recognising that and insisting that firms mirror that diversity.
Steven Williams is identified as a top-notch competition lawyer and a "highly intelligent strategic thinker".
Peers and clients say:
"Steven works hard for his clients, but manages to do so without making enemies in the process. He knows the area of antitrust class actions cold, and he is easy to get along with."
With over 25 years of practice, Steve Williams, a partner at the Joseph Saveri Law Firm, has handled, successfully and with distinction, all aspects of litigation and trial in state and federal courts and in private arbitration.
Mr Williams has played a lead role in many of the most prominent antitrust class cases litigated in the US over the past decade, including In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation, In re Static Random Access Memory Litigation, Precision Associates v Panalpina World Transport, and In re Transpacific Air Transportation Litigation. Mr Williams has helped recover more than US$2 billion and has been responsible for new law, including groundbreaking decisions narrowing the scope of the Filed Rate Doctrine and permitting civil damage claims in E&J Gallo Winery v EnCana Corp, 503 F.3d 1027 (9th circuit) (2007) and Wortman v All Nippon Airways, 854 F.3d 606 (9th circuit) (2017), and a ruling that “umbrella damages” are available under California state law (County of San Mateo v CSL Ltd, 2014 US Dist. LEXIS 116342 (ND Cal (20 August 2014)).
Mr Williams has been named to leadership positions by federal courts throughout the USA. He has represented claimants in cases involving memory chips, pharmaceuticals, air passenger transportation, air cargo transportation, cathode ray tubes, capacitors, resistors, flash memory, lithium ion batteries, financial products and services, poultry and water. He has been appointed to represent classes, and in non-class cases he has represented the Chief Justice of California, the Judicial Council of California, the Consumers Union of the United States, public pension funds, private investment funds, many cities and counties of California, public utilities including water districts, and individual consumers.