James R. Swanson

Contact Information

t: (504) 586-5267

f: (504) 586-5250


As a founding member of Fishman Haygood and its managing partner, Jim Swanson takes great pride in the firm’s growth and success over the past 20 years.  Clients praise Jim as “an incredibly smart, focused, tenacious and outstanding trial lawyer,” and he has built a Litigation Section that shares those attributes.   Jim and his team possess a breadth of knowledge, expertise, and professionalism that is unparalleled.

Jim is regarded as the go-to litigator for complex disputes within Louisiana and across the nation, tackling bet-the-company commercial litigation, billion-dollar securities disputes, and a vast array of other cases. No attorney will know more about a case than Jim, whose dedication to learning the smallest details help him represent his clients with precision.

Jim represents state and local governments, corporations and individuals in securities disputes as well as a range of commercial matters.  His cases have spanned a range of subject areas, including municipal finance, derivatives, CDOs, Ponzi schemes, corporate tax, coastal land loss and industrial and environmental accidents.  His efforts are recorded in over 100 reported decisions and he has obtained multi-million dollar judgments  in jury and bench trials and commercial arbitrations.  He represents plaintiffs and defendants.

Chambers & Partners calls Jim “dynamic and talented” and Benchmark calls him a “definite star.”  Best Lawyers named him Lawyer of the Year for Louisiana Bet the Company Litigation in 2011.

Jim is the President of the Choice Foundation, the governing board of three turnaround public charter schools in New Orleans that educate 2000 high poverty students.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Xavier University of Louisiana.  He is a member of the International Society of Barristers and a Fellow of the American and Louisiana Bar Associations.  He is the former Treasurer of the Innocence Project New Orleans and a member of the New Orleans Opera Association Board.   Jim was a recipient of the Defender of Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU in 2011 for work on solitary confinement issues at Angola.  He has taught at Loyola Law School and Tulane University in trial advocacy and media law.


  • J.D., magna cum laude, from Tulane University School of Law, 1987
    • Associate Editor of the Tulane Law Review
    • Order of the Coif
  • B.A. in Economics from Tulane University, 1984

Representative Matters

  • Tried a 90-plus day securities arbitration for a group of individual investors that resulted in a $23 million judgment, including punitive damages.
  • Tried a corporate income tax case for the State of Louisiana which resulted in a $26 million jury verdict, including bad faith penalties.
  • Tried a securities fraud case for the City of New Orleans involving pension obligation bonds that was settled post-trial for a confidential amount.
  • Tried a business tort case for Rouse’s Enterprises, Louisiana’s largest grocer, against its major supplier cooperative that settled in the middle of trial for a confidential amount.
  • Tried a securities fraud case for Baylor College of Medicine arising out of an issuance of Auction Rate Securities that settled for a confidential amount after the merits hearing, but prior to judgment.
  • Tried a jury case in Texas federal court for HPI arising out of an offshore rig explosion and consequential environmental damages and obtained a verdict in the client’s favor.
  • Tried a case for Manpower, Inc. arising out of the Kaiser plant explosion in Gramercy, Louisiana that settled mid-trial.
  • Represented numerous states, cities, political subdivisions and hospitals in individual cases against underwriters involving failures of their financing structures, especially structures involving auction rate securities and interest rate swaps.
  • Represented SMG and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District in numerous cases including several disputes with major tenants, such as the New Orleans Saints.
  • Currently represents a proposed world-wide class of investors against five banks for aiding the Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme.
  • Currently represents the Board of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority in a suit against major oil companies for coastal erosion.




  • Louisiana
  • U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Louisiana
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court