Firm Welcomes James M. Williams as Major Partner

Our firm has taken a major step for the future today as attorney James M. Williams joins our firm, which we have rebranded as Chehardy Sherman Williams. Attorney Inemesit U. O’Boyle has joined Williams as a partner, as well.

Managing Partner Lawrence E. Chehardy said the firm will focus on its traditional strengths and dedicate its resources to supporting Williams’ expertise. “This is a big step for us to become a true regional law firm. The addition of James Williams cannot be understated. He has an impeccable record in the areas of personal injury and complex business litigation, and the firm has the resources to support him in ways that will enable him to excel even further,” he said.

“Perhaps Jefferson Parish’s best-known firm, Chehardy Sherman’s record of supporting its attorneys in complex litigation was a big factor in my joining the firm,” said Williams. “I am excited to merge my team’s talents, experience and litigation prowess with Chehardy Sherman’s sterling reputation and their army of highly skilled attorneys. Together, we will be a formidable force on behalf of our clients who are involved in high stakes litigation that is too important to leave to chance. Whether it is a life-changing personal injury or a ‘bet the company’ lawsuit, Chehardy Sherman Williams is perfectly positioned to deliver victories for our clients in their toughest legal battles.”

With the addition of Williams, the firm will also be able to focus on a wider geographic region.

“Williams is an outstanding attorney with deep roots and a deep commitment to New Orleans,” said David R. Sherman, major partner. “He was born and raised in New Orleans, is a product of Orleans Parish Public Schools and has been active in the New Orleans community his entire life. He has served as a judge (pro tempore) in Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, a board member of New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, vice president of the New Orleans Bar Association and past president of the Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society – a specialty bar association to which New Orleans’ African American lawyers and judges belong.”

James M. Williams

James Williams is a nationally recognized trial attorney who has litigated cases in 15 different states. He is one of the “Nation’s Top One Percent” of attorneys according to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. He has been named a “Super lawyer” by the rating service that recognizes the top 5 percent of lawyers in each state. He has also been selected to the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the American Trial Lawyers Association. He is a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, a society to which only one half of one percent (0.5%) of American lawyers are invited to belong. In addition, Williams has been certified as one of the “Top Trial Lawyers in America” by the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Williams has an unprecedented record of success as a personal injury and business litigator. He has collected more than $150 million for individual clients (excluding class actions). He also has a litany of jury verdicts each worth in excess of $1 million, including a jury verdict worth $10 million in West Palm Beach, Florida. Referred to as “rescue counsel” by some of the top 10 largest companies in the world, Williams is often hired as trial counsel to be implanted into existing high stakes and problematic litigation. His litigation success on behalf of businesses caused him to be one of only seven lawyers inducted into the inaugural class of the New Orleans CityBusiness magazine “Hall of Fame.” It also earned him a six-year stint on the board of directors for the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, he was the keynote speaker for an annual meeting of the Defense Research Institute (DRI).

In 2009-2010, Williams took a leave of absence from practicing law to serve as the judge (pro tempore) presiding over Division “J” of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. He was unanimously appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to fill a vacancy on the court. Williams was only 35-years old at the time, making him the youngest judge in the State of Louisiana.

Williams also has a reputation for handling high profile litigation in a tasteful and effective way. He has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to achieve legal victories in these cases while strategically working to preserve positive public perception. In 2012, he was lead counsel for Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson in a civil rights lawsuit she filed when the State of Louisiana attempted to block her ascension to Chief Justice. He argued and won her case before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and she became the first African-American Chief Justice in the 200-year history of the Louisiana Supreme Court. In 2014, Williams represented Dorian Johnson who was with Michael Brown when he was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. That same year, he successfully represented then-United States Senator Mary Landrieu in a challenge to her residency.

Williams’ professional success is matched by his community involvement. In 2008, he donated $35,000 to the National Bar Association local affiliate chapter, Greater New Orleans Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, to commemorate its 50 th anniversary. He is also a past president of the Martinet Society. He funds the Louise Halper Award, an annual award in the memory of a dear deceased professor at his alma mater, Washington & Lee University School of Law. The award recognizes a student who publishes a scholarly article in the area of civil rights and social justice. Williams also funded an $80,000 scholarship for a student at “The Good Shepherd School,” a privately funded New Orleans school for children living below the poverty line. Williams sponsors a teacher in the “Teach for America” program in New Orleans. He has also been a little league basketball coach and a Sunday school teacher. He served as chapter advisor to the Rho Iota Chapter at Tulane University of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and was an adjunct professor at Tulane University teaching Legal Aspects of Sports.

Williams received a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University and his juris doctor degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law. In his third year at Washington & Lee, he was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice. As a third year law student, he collaborated with United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on a law journal publication entitled “Civility.” And as a second year student, he published a journal article analyzing the United States Supreme Court’s treatment of the federal sentencing guidelines’ disparity between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. In his second year, he was also president of the Black Law Students Association. After law school, Williams served as a law clerk to Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Bernette J. Johnson.

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