725 Twelfth Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

+1 202 434 5000

Local Litigation Star

National Practice Area Star


District of Columbia

Practice area:

White collar crime

John K. Villa is a partner at Williams & Connolly who served on the firm’s Executive Committee from 2002 through 2017. John is Co-Chair of the firm’s Financial Services and Banking Practice Group. He focuses on corporate, securities and financial services-related litigation (both civil and criminal) and legal malpractice defense. 

The Financial Times
writes, “John Villa…has a reputation for being the lawyer that law firms turn to when in a spot of bother.” The American Lawyer has called him “perhaps the premier [legal] malpractice defense lawyer in the nation.” The Washington Post reports “John Villa of . . . Williams & Connolly [is] the lawyer and firm that lawyers and law firms turn to when they’re in trouble,” and describes him as “a litigator who has gained national prominence with a somewhat rare specialty: defending top-flight law firms in trouble.” John was named to The National Law Journal’s list of “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” as “the first lawyer that other attorneys and law firms turn to when caught up in the S&L and banking scandals.” In its list of “6 Firms to Have on Speed Dial if Malpractice Trouble Hits,” Law360 puts Williams & Connolly and John Villa first. 

The PLC Global Counsel’s Handbook calls him “an exceptional banking, financial and corporate governance litigator.” For nearly a decade, Chambers has identified him in Tier 1 nationally for Financial Services Regulation: Banking (Enforcement and Investigations), among the leading lawyers nationally in Securities Litigation and Tier 1 in the District of Columbia for General Commercial Litigation and Securities Litigation. Chambers says “John Villa is the ‘first name to come to mind for financial services litigation matters.’” 

John’s lead trial experience includes a complete victory in a $1.6 billion confidential arbitration arising out of the largest Ponzi scheme in history. The American Lawyer named him “Litigator in the Spotlight” - “Lawyers’ lawyer, John Villa…scored three big wins for law firm clients.” It later named him “Litigator of the Week” for a favorable Second Circuit decision stating that “John Villa [has] made a career of getting law firms out of big trouble.” The American Lawyer has described his successful trial victory in In the Matter of USAT… as “the longest trial arising from the savings and loan crisis” – a “trial that stretched over 18 months” and resulted in a decision that “exonerated [his client] on all counts” “a crushing defeat for the federal agency that brought the case.” He has argued before every federal court of appeals and the highest courts of three states and appeared in the federal or state courts of more than twenty states. 

John has authored the following treatises: Banking Crimes: Fraud, Money Laundering and Embezzlement (2 vol.) (Thompson), Bank Directors’ and Officers’ and Lawyers’ Civil Liabilities (Wolters Kluwer), and Corporate Counsel Guidelines (2 vol.), (co-published by Thompson and Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)). He has also co-authored a casebook, Professional Responsibility: Representing Business Organizations, published by WestAcademic in June 2016. John has been the chairman of, or a speaker on, more than 230 professional conferences on issues involving legal malpractice and ethics, the duties of corporate counsel, banking litigation, directors and officers liability, money laundering and other related topics. 

John serves as an adjunct professor on professional responsibility at Georgetown Law School, and has taught similar courses at Columbia and Duke in the past twelve months.


Updated Oct 2021