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Marguerite S. Willis

Member

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Overview

Marguerite Willis loves a good challenge.  And no issue is too big or too small for her to handle – whether she’s defending clients in complex commercial litigation or doing her part to build the next generation of women business leaders. 

Tackling the Toughest Antitrust Issues

In the courtroom, she’s established a reputation for delivering highly effective and highly successful litigation strategies.  As the Co-Chair of Nexsen Pruet’s Antitrust and Unfair Competition Practice, she leads a team of attorneys in developing proactive solutions to help clients achieve business objectives while avoiding issues with federal and state antitrust and trade regulation laws. 

With a track-record that spans decades, Marguerite has been involved in some of the firm’s biggest verdicts.  She has served as national counsel for a number of cases, including federal and state class actions, and prosecuted major antitrust matters involving a wide range of claims, from unfair trade practices and false advertising to monopolization and vicarious corporate liability. 

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Education
  • Stetson University, J.D., cum laude
  • University of Michigan, B.A., High Distinction
Bar Admissions
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • US Supreme Court
  • US Court of Appeals - 4th Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • USDC - SC
  • Northern District of Georgia
  • US Court of Appeals - 11th Circuit
  • USDC - Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of North Carolina
  • USDC - Middle District of Florida
Civic & Professional Memberships
  • The Academy of Antitrust Law - Founding Member, 2011
  • American Association for Justice
  • South Carolina Democratic Women
  • American Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Federal Bar Association, Member
  • American Bar Association – Section of Antitrust Law
  • South Carolina Women Lawyers Association - Past President; Treasurer; Board Member
  • University of South Carolina School of Law Partnership Board
  • Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia - Past President
  • Florida Bar Association - Former Out-of-State Governor
  • Columbia College Board of Trustees
  • Eastern Carolina Community Foundation - Former Board Member
  • South Carolina Chamber of Commerce - Former Director
  • Litigation Counsel of America - Fellow, 2009; Member, Advisory Board, 2014-2015
Recognitions
  • Included in the South Carolina Super Lawyers® list since 2011 in the areas of Antitrust Litigation, Class Action/Mass Torts and Business Litigation
  • "Legal Elite of the Midlands" - Civil Litigation, 2013
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America® - Commercial Litigation, 2016
  • "2016 Legal Elite of the Midlands" - Top Attorney Vote for Anti-Trust Law 
  • Ms. Willis began her legal career working on the massive antitrust cases known collectively as “The Uranium Cartel Litigation.”  She litigated private antitrust cases in Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina and worked as well on the related federal grand jury investigation in the District of Columbia.  These cases all alleged horizontal price-fixing under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.
  • Ms. Willis defended numerous witnesses in federal grand jury proceedings investigating alleged horizontal price fixing under Section 1 of the Sherman Act in Puerto Rico. 
  • Dunlop Sports Co. v. Wilson Sporting Goods Co.  In the early to mid-1980s, Ms. Willis defended a major antitrust case in federal court in Chicago, Illinois.  This case, which alleged a violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act by attempting to monopolize through predatory pricing, involved the production of millions of documents and the depositions of over 100 individuals, both in the United States and abroad. 
  • Mead Data Central v. West Publishing Company.  Ms. Willis prosecuted a major antitrust case alleging violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Act (monopolization, attempted monopolization through control of an essential facility), as well as violations of the Robinson-Patman Act. 
  • 1990-1995.  Ms. Willis served as national counsel for a Fortune 100 company in its asbestos property damage litigation.  In this capacity, Ms. Willis coordinated the defense of four national class actions, as well as numerous other lawsuits across the country. 
  • 1994-2001.  Ms. Willis served as national counsel for a major pharmaceutical company in over 4,000 cases, including federal and state class actions, involving claims of price-fixing and price discrimination under federal and state law.  The federal cases, which involved both retail drug stores and consumers as plaintiffs, were consolidated in Chicago, Illinois as MDL 997, In re Brand Name Prescription Drugs Antitrust Litigation.  State court cases included proceedings in Alabama, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • 1998-2001.  Ms. Willis served as national counsel for a billboard company in a case alleging monopolization under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.
  • 1999-2000.  Ms. Willis served as national counsel for a major options exchange in governmental investigations and parallel federal class action lawsuits involving claims of violations of the antitrust and securities laws.  The federal lawsuits were consolidated for pretrial proceedings in New York as In re Stock Exchanges Options Trading Antitrust Litigation.
  • Since joining Nexsen Pruet in the spring of 2000, Ms. Willis has represented defendants in state court class action lawsuits, and Ms. Willis served as lead counsel in a federal antitrust class action alleging the price-fixing of pulpwood timber.
  • Ms. Willis prosecuted multiple opt-out antitrust actions in MDL 1516 (In re Polyester Staple Fiber Antitrust Litigation) for damages caused by price-fixing and customer allocation of polyester staple fiber.
  • Ms. Willis led the defense of Southeastern Freight Lines in an antitrust class action for alleged price fixing of fuel surcharges in MDL 1895 (In re LTL Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation).
  • Ms. Willis was also lead attorney for Bristow Oil Company in a four-week trial against ExxonMobil in 2008 in state court in Darlington, SC.
Overview

Writing

Author, Monthly President's Letter, South Carolina Women Lawyers Association, 2015:
JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune, JulySpecial Message re: Charleston TragedyAugustSeptemberLetter to Gov. Haley re: SCWLA Day of Service, OctoberNovemberDecemberFinal Message

Interviewed for DRI Women in the Law book, "Women Rainmakers: Roadmap to Success," November 2014.

Marion Crane, Benjamin Porter, and Robert Taylor, Plaintiffs, v. International Paper Company and CWC of North Carolina, Inc., Defendants

"Antitrust Damages Under South Carolina Antitrust Statute"

Speaking

"Health Care Antitrust Cases to Watch in 2015"
SC Bar - May 1, 2015

"Glass Slippers, Glass Ceilings"
Litigation Counsel of America National Conference - April 16, 2015

"Niche Marketing:  Why, How To, and Now What?"
ABA Women Rainmakers Spring 2013 Program:   April 24, 2013

“The Trial of a Class Action Antitrust Case with a Jury”
14th Annual Sedona Conference on Antitrust Law and Litigation, Del Mar, California, Chaired Panel - October 25-26, 2012

“Secrets of Successful Rainmakers”
DRI Sharing Success – A Seminar for Women Lawyers; Moderator – February, 2011

“Understanding E-Discovery:  Is There an App for That?”

DRI Sharing Success – A Seminar for Women Lawyers - February, 2011

“Sayings”
Pee Dee Women in Philanthropy, Floyd Conference Center, Florence, SC on September 23, 2010

“Seeing, Believing, and Achieving”

Carolinas Hospital System - September 8, 2010

“Pre-Suit Document Preservation and Compliance in the Electronic Age:  Avoiding the Pitfalls”
Litigation Counsel of America 2010 Spring Conference, Monterey, California - May 6, 2010

“Antitrust Damages Under South Carolina Law”
SC Bar CLE:  Beyond the Elements II:  South Carolina Damages from A to Z, September 25, 2009

“What’s in Your Pocketbook?”
The Alliance for Women:  Food for Thought Series, March 3, 2009

Tribute to Women and Industry
Floyd Conference Center, Florence, SC, September 14, 2009

South Carolina Women Lawyers Association
August 6, 2009

Releasing Your Leadership Potential, Update
Furman University, Greenville, SC, April 3, 2006

Class Action Practice–2006
February 2, 2006

Everything You Wanted to Know about Antitrust Laws and Managed Care, Part II
October 6, 2005

Releasing Your Leadership Potential
Furman University, Greenville, SC, April 11, 2005

Nelson Symposium, Antitrust and The Outdoor Advertising Industry
Gainesville, FL, February 11, 2005

Everything You Wanted to Know about Antitrust Laws and Managed Care
October 1, 2004

South Carolina Bar CLE: Beyond the Elements:  South Carolina Damages from A to Z
May 21, 2004

Antitrust Update, In-House Counsel Ethics Seminar
, Columbia, SC, October 25, 2002

A “Do It Yourself” Guide to Class Action Practice
ABA Forum on the Construction Industry / 2002 Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, October 4-5, 2002

State Law Preemption: A Case Study... In Progress
Outdoor Advertising Association of America, Inc., 2002 Legal Seminar, Washington, DC, September 23, 2002

Bid-Rigging . . . A “Refresher” Course
Carolinas Associated General Contractors Highway – Heavy Division, Annual Meeting, Hilton Head, SC, June 20-23, 2002

Helping Women Succeed

Outside the courtroom, Marguerite brings her unique blend of ingenuity and tenacity to championing women’s initiatives.  She is particularly passionate about helping women develop a strong understanding of financial issues and how to leverage that knowledge to the best of their advantage. 

In addition to lecturing, she is actively involved as Past President of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association and of the Board of Trustees of Columbia College, a private all-girls school in South Carolina devoted to instilling the principles of leadership.

She also led the effort to establish the Nexsen Pruet Women’s Leadership Institute with the goal of developing and mentoring the firm’s next generation of influential women.  And she founded Women in Philanthropy, an organization dedicated to harnessing the power of women and compounding individual capabilities to make charitable contributions.

Marguerite is a South Carolina native and was born in Greenville.  She currently lives with her husband, former Mayor Frank E. Willis, in Florence.

Marguerite Willis' main bio photoMarguerite Willis outside NP photo

"If it's easy, you don't need me."