TipsFor many years, I have written a memo for lawyers, paralegals, and support staff who work on trial teams that I lead at Susman Godfrey. I call it Tips on Working with Me. Check it out to see whether you’d benefit from writing your own — or getting one from people who head teams that you work on. 

The memo aims to help trial team members excel. Although it speaks about my way of doing things, it stresses teamwork and offers a framework for team members to bring their talents to bear on our common purpose — winning the case while also meeting our client’s other key goals. And clients like to read it because they can see what to expect from us.

I’ve copied the first half of the current version of Tips below. The second part will appear this Thursday, September 17.

Tips on Working with Me

Barry Barnett

Our mission

Always remember why we have fun and rewarding work to do – because our clients need our help. We must make top-notch lawyering and service to the client our first priority. Everything we do follows from that.

Your success

​I want you to develop into the best lawyer, paralegal, administrative assistant, or staff member you have the capacity to become. You wouldn’t work here if we didn’t believe you have the qualities necessary to succeed. Everyone – our clients, our firm, you, and me – benefits from your progress. Keep that in mind any time you feel you shouldn’t ask me about something. You should talk with me if it will further the interests of our clients or help you get better.

​You should feel the same way towards the people who come after you. Remember that your future success, far more than mine, depends on theirs.

Time for you

​If you ask me, I will set a time each week when you and I can meet or talk on the telephone. The session doesn’t have to relate to specific cases. It could deal with things like an issue you’ve run across in a matter that doesn’t involve me, preparing for a meeting or hearing, business development, or your progress.

Take action

​​I love for you to seize the initiative in moving cases forward and to make tactical decisions on your own. Charge!

Taking initiative requires you to use your judgment. It will at times make you uncomfortable. Don’t let that stop you from deciding what to do and doing it. Get help (from me or others) if you need it, but don’t let worry about making mistakes paralyze you.
In the rare instance of a problem that you can’t resolve yourself, take a few minutes to think through possible solutions and recommend to me a course of action. That will help me focus on the alternatives and will help you learn how to deal with similar problems in the future.

Your best work

When drafting any kind of document (memo, letter, pleading, email, brief) for me, get it in final shape before sending it to me. You should consider it ready to go out – complete, comprehensive, and with all the polish it could ever need. I don’t expect perfection, but I do insist on your best work. Sloppiness drives me nuts – including in things like incorrect citation form, improper punctuation, bad grammar, and misspellings – because I suspect that it reflects inattention, fuzzy thinking, or worse.

​Send drafts to me as Word attachments to emails. Make sure to include on each draft a date/time stamp, page numbers, and the FileSite footer. Do not send me only a FileSite link to the draft! The Apple devices I use won’t open it.

​I will usually finish off drafts of short items that you send me and get them out myself. Unless time pressures intervene, I will do my best to make suggestions on improving the draft by putting them in a redline version of the document and sending the draft with redlining back to you via email for further work. I may add other thoughts in the email. You should then turn out a new draft and return it to me – in redline so I can see what you’ve changed from your last draft — as soon as you can so I don’t lose track of the project. You may also bring the draft to me so we can discuss my suggestions and your thoughts about the best ways to improve our work product. Do it soon, though, because I clear my mind of projects that I’ve finished, and new projects will crowd out my memory of the details of your work product.

​I generally prefer to draft case acceptance memos myself. Sometimes, though, I will ask you to assist. Usually I will want you to research and add factual details or to insert legal analysis. I will take care of writing the fee proposal.

Use my time efficiently

​I want you to consult me any time you want or need my attention, but please make efficient use of my time.

I always have several cases and case acceptance matters going at once. When visiting me about a matter, start by taking a few seconds to refresh my memory about it. A lot of times that reorients my thinking so that I can respond more quickly.

​Keep emails to me short. If something requires more than brief explanation, call me or see me about it in person. Don’t assume that I’ve read long emails.

Feel free to contact me

​You can contact me any time. Email usually works best, but feel free to call me in the office (1903 in Dallas, 8357 in New York, and 7891 in Houston) or on my cell phone (866-754-1900-****) if you need to. Texting works too.

​I usually average two weeks in the Dallas office and one each in the New York and Houston offices. My administrative assistant Maggie Kwiek will know how to reach me if all else fails.

Ask me to clarify

​If you don’t understand something I’ve told you or done, ask me to clarify or elaborate. I may assume you get what I’ve said or done even though I didn’t tell you enough or I told you or did something wrong or confusing. I don’t mind gentle correction. In fact, I depend on you to help me avoid mistakes. Do this part of your job especially well!

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Next post

In the post on Thursday, Tips will cover Write well, Errors, Keep me up to date, Trial team practices, Don’t fight (unless you have to), Keep yourself up to date, Respect, Tell the truth, Ask questions, and Have fun.




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Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck…

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck Redden).

Barnett is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Lawdragon has named him one of the top 500 lawyers in the United States three years in a row. Best Lawyers in America has honored him as “Lawyer of the Year” for Bet-the-Company Litigation (2019 and 2017) and Patent Litigation (2020) in Houston. Based in Texas and New York, Barnett has tried complex business disputes across the United States.

Barnett’s background, training, and experience make him indispensable to his clients. The small-town son of a Texas roughneck and grandson of a Texas sharecropper, Barnett “developed an unusual common sense about people, their motivations, and their dilemmas,” according to former client Michael Lewis.

Barnett has been historically recognized for his effectiveness and judgment. His peers chose him, for example, to the American College of Trial Lawyers and American Law Institute. His decades of trial and appellate work representing both plaintiffs and defendants have made him a master strategist and nimble tactician in complex disputes.

Barnett focuses on enforcement of antitrust laws, the “Magna Carta of free enterprise,” in Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s memorable phrase. “Barry is one of the nation’s outstanding antitrust lawyers,” according to Joseph Goldberg, a member of the Private Antitrust Enforcement Hall of Fame. Named among Texas’s top ten antitrust lawyers of 2023, Business Today calls Barnett a “trailblazer” among the “distinguished legal minds” who “dedicate their skill and expertise to the maintenance of healthy competition in various sectors” of the Lone Star State’s booming economy. Barnett is also adept in energy and intellectual property matters and has battled for clients against a Who’s Who list of corporate behemoths, including Abbott Labs, Alcoa, Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Broadcom, Comcast, Dow, JPMorgan Chase, Samsung, and Visa.

Barnett commands a courtroom with calm and credibility and “is the perfect lawyer for bet the company litigation,” said Scott Regan, General Counsel of former client Whiting Petroleum. 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 trial involving mobile phone technology called Barnett “one of the best” and that his opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge told Barnett minutes after a jury returned a favorable verdict against the county’s biggest employer that he was one of the two best trial lawyers he’d ever come across—adding that the other one was dead.

A versatile trial lawyer, Barnett knows how to handle a case all the way from strategic pre-suit planning to affirmance on appeal. He’s tried cases to verdict and then briefed and argued them when they went before appellate courts, including the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) the Supreme Court of the United States.

Barnett is a sought-after public speaker, often serving on panels and talking about topics like the trials of antitrust class actions and techniques for streamlining complex 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 a Frontline program about underfunding of state pensions, authored chapters on “Fee Arrangements” and “Techniques for Expediting and Streamlining Litigation” (the latter with Steve Susman) in the ABA’s definitive treatise on Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, 5th, and commented on How Antitrust Enforcers Might Think Like Plaintiffs’ Lawyers.

Clients and other hard graders have praised Barnett for his courtroom skills and legal acumen.

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.” David McCombs at Haynes and Boone said Barnett “has a natural presence that goes over well with juries and judges.”

Even former adversaries give Barnett high marks. Lead opposing counsel in a decade-long antitrust slugfest said “Barry is a highly skilled advocate. He understands what really matters in telling a narrative and does so in a very compelling manner.”

Barnett relishes opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of people. At the Center for American and International Law (CAIL), founded by a former prosecutor at Nuremberg in 1947 and headquartered in the Dallas area, he has served on the Executive Committee, co-chaired the committee that produced CAIL’s first-ever strategic plan, supported CAIL’s Institute for Law Enforcement Administration and other development efforts, and proposed formation of a new Institute for Social Justice Law. CAIL’s former President David Beck said “Barry is extremely bright” and is “very well prepared in every lawsuit or professional task he undertakes.”

Barnett is also a Trustee of the New-York Historical Society, a Sterling Fellow at Yale, a member of the Yale University Art Gallery’s Governing Board, a winner of the Class Award for his work on behalf of his college class, and a proud contributor to the Yellow Ribbon Program at Harvard Law. Barnett’s pro bono work includes leading the trial team representing people who are at greatest risk of severe illness and death as a result of being exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 while being detained in the Dallas County jail—work for which he received the NGAN Legal Advocacy Fund RBG Award.

At Susman Godfrey, Barnett has served on the firm’s Executive Committee, Employment Committee, and ad hoc committees on partner compensation, succession of leadership, and revision of the firm’s partnership agreement. He also twice chaired the Practice Development Committee.

Barnett understands that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that take years to resolve. He encourages clients to call him whenever they have a question or concern and to keep the inevitable ups and downs in perspective. He wants them to know that he will do his level best to help them achieve their goals. He also strives to foster trust and to make working with him a pleasure.

Cyrus “Skip” Marter, the General Counsel of Bonanza Creek in Denver and a former Susman Godfrey partner and client, said Barnett is “excellent about communicating with clients in a full and honest manner” and can “negotiate for his clients from a position of strength, because he is not afraid to take a case through a full trial on the merits.” Stacey Doré, the President of Hunt Utility Services and a former client, said that Barnett is “an excellent trial lawyer and the person you want to hire for your bet-the-company cases. He is client focused, responsive, and uniquely savvy about trial and settlement strategy.” A New York colleague said, “Barry is a joy to work with as co-counsel. He tackles complex procedural and factual hurdles capably, efficiently, and without drama.”

Barnett’s wide-ranging experience and calm, down-to-earth approach enable him to connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel. He grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas. He co-captained his high school varsity football team as an All-East Texas middle linebacker while also serving as the Editor of Key Club’s Texas-Oklahoma District, won the Best Typist award, took the History Team to glory, and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. As Dan Kelly of client Vistra Corp. put it, Barnett is “a great person to be around.”

Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York. Their daughter works for H-E-B in Houston, and their son is a Haynes and Boone transactions lawyer in Dallas.

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. And he knows how important fighting all the way to the end is. On his last play from scrimmage, in the waning minutes of The Game on Nov. 22, 1980, he recovered a Crimson fumble.

Yale won, 14-0.