Recognized as one of the most successful plaintiff’s attorneys in the United States, Stephen Susman has built an unparalleled history of legal victory on an extremely straightforward idea — he gets paid for results not effort. Although his career can be measured in many ways — the dozens of professional awards he has received, the very successful firm he has built, his remarkable record of winning very high-profile cases, working for plaintiffs against an array of large corporate interests, his defense work for select corporate and individual clients, it can all be traced back to Susman’s deep-rooted belief that his compensation should come from getting results.
Honored as one of the nation’s Top 10 litigators the The National Law Journal (June 5, 2006) issue, Susman is among a highly select group to have been included Chambers USA for over 10 years in The Best Lawyers in America for over 25 years. The Business Insider, Law Review (January 20, 2010 issue), named him one of the eleven lawyers you definitely do not want to see across the aisle. Jury consultant, Don Vinson, in his book America’s Top Trial Lawyers, ranks Susman among the 14 best trial lawyers in the United States and International Commercial Litigation’s worldwide annual poll of lawyers ranked Susman as the Litigator of the Year and then top litigator in the United States in two separate years.
Recognized by clients and peers as being among the top 483 litigators of the world, Susman has appeared again on The International Who’s Who of Lawyers 2012 list (Law Business Research Ltd.). Susman has been consistently hailed as one of the Top 10 lawyers in Texas (2003-2013) by Texas Super Lawyers (Thompson Reuters).
Susman first established his national reputation when he won a landmark victory as a plaintiff’s attorney in 1980 with an award of more than $550 million to victims of a nationwide price-fixing conspiracy, the largest jury verdict of its time. Throughout his career he has represented both plaintiffs and defendants ranging from Northop in its suit against McDonnel Douglas over the F-18 jet fighter, House Speaker Jim Wright in his ethics battle, the Hunt brothers in the largest lender liability case in history, and the state of Arkansas in a milk price-fixing case.
A native Houstonian from a highly respected family of lawyers, Susman worked his way through Yale University, graduating magna cum laude. Returning to his home state and the University of Texas Law School, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and graduated first in his class, with the highest grade point average in the school’s history.
After serving as law clerk to The Honorable John R. Brown of the Fifth Circuit Court of appeals, Susman clerked for the United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. A biography of Justice Black revealed that Susman was the first law clerk whom Black trusted to draft opinions for him. In his early career path, Susman joined a large Houston firm and became a partner, took a year’s leave of absence to teach law at the University of Texas, and hit on the magic niche that led to a new style of law practice representing plaintiffs in complex commercial disputes. In 1980, he founded Susman Godfrey, the first firm in this part of the country to limit its specialty to commercial litigation. Susman Godfrey has 90 lawyers in Houston, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York. In 2005, the firm was chosen by the American Lawyer as one of the top two litigation boutiques in the country.
Over the years, Susman has continued to be recognized in many different ways. He was among four of the best trial lawyers in the country selected to compete in the “Best of the Best Shoot-Out” at the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association’s annual meeting. After final arguments by each top lawyer, the 30 person jury voted unanimously for Susman as the most persuasive.
Susman was featured in John Jenkins’ best seller, The Litigators, and Texas Lawyer placed him among the ten “whose actions had the greatest impact on the Texas legal profession from 1985 to 1995.” Business Week has called him “a lion of the Texas Bar”; Town & Country, “the Houston courtroom gladiator best known nationally”; the Houston Business Journal, “the reigning prince of Houston business litigators.”
Although the stakes are high and the challenges immense in his private practice, that doesn’t stop Susman from tirelessly pursuing issues of justice and reform. Teaching lawyers around the world effective advocacy, instituting reforms in the civil justice system, improving jury comprehension, streamlining class actions, and promoting efficient trials are top priorities in his dedication to law. He is known for the Susman Agreements promoted by his website TrialbyAgreement.com. A board-certified civil trial specialist, Susman serves on the national board of the American Board of Trial Advocates and is co-chair of its Jury Trial Committee. He is on the Advisory Board of the Center of Civil Justice at NYU Law School, the Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee and co-chair of the Judicial Nominations Task Force of the American Constitution Society. He also serves as co-chair of the Aspen Institute’s Justice Circle. Susman was profiled by The Brunswick Review in 2016 where he discussed the media and the benefit of challenging conventional wisdom.