Sharonda R. Williams
Sharonda Williams joined Fishman Haygood as Special Counsel in December 2015 following a distinguished career in public service and private practice.
Sharonda served as City Attorney for the City of New Orleans from May 2013-November 2015. As City Attorney, Sharonda was the lead attorney handling the most comprehensive police consent decree in the history of the United States. At the same time, she represented the City in another consent decree aimed at reforming the Orleans Parish Jail, which was then-recognized as one of the worst prisons in America. Both of those consent decrees required Sharonda to engage in negotiations with the United States Department of Justice on a near daily basis. Sharonda also was the lead attorney representing the City in settling a more than 30-year dispute relating to back pay and pension issues for the New Orleans Firefighters. Sharonda had served as Chief Deputy City Attorney from October 2011 until May 2013.
Prior to joining the City of New Orleans legal staff, Sharonda was a partner in the general litigation section of major New Orleans law firm, where she handled cases ranging from construction disputes, medical malpractice, insurance coverage disputes, entertainment law contract negotiations, intellectual property licensing issues, and bankruptcy adversary proceedings.
Before her career as an attorney, Sharonda attended the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and she worked as a research laboratory technician there and at the Duke University School of Medicine. She graduated summa cum laude from Xavier University New Orleans in 1994, and earned her law degree from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law in 2001, where she was a member of Loyola Law Review.
Sharonda is very active in legal and community organizations on the local and statewide level. She served as Chair of the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana from 2010-2011, and was also appointed to the Planning Committees for the National Association of Women Judges Conference in 2013 and the appellate Judges Educational Institute in for the 2012 Summit.
Sharonda has served as President of the Board of Bridge House, and was a Grace House Women of Substance Honoree in 2009. Sharonda was also honored as Loyola University’s Young Alumna of the Year in 2011, and she was also recognized as an Honoree at the Greater New Orleans Urban League Gala in 2011. She served as past president of the Louis A. Martinet Legal Society, Inc., from 2006-2007 and earned the organization’s prestigious A.P. Tureaud Award in 2014. She was also a member of the inaugural class of the Norman C. Francis Leadership Institute from 2012-2014, and has also served on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2010, she was locally recognized by Gambit Weekly as a “40 under 40” honoree. She was also one of the City Business Women of the Year Honorees in 2011.
Sharonda has served as a Trial Advocacy Instructor at Tulane University School of Law, and also as a guest lecturer and Skills Course Instructor at Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans. She regularly lectures on the state and national level at seminars and continuing education events.
J.D., cum laude, from Loyola University School of Law, 2001
- Member of the Loyola Law Review
- from University of North Carolina School Medicine, 1998
- B.S. in Biology, summa cum laude, from Xavier University New Orleans, 1994
- Represented two New Orleans technology companies that had devised the first successful citywide wireless video surveillance system in the United States and the world, as recognized by national news outlets, including USA Today and HDNet. One of the defendants settled with plaintiffs for a generous amount before trial and, on November 2, 2009, after six weeks of trial, a jury rendered verdict in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants in the amount of $16.3 million, finding that Dell, Inc. had, among other things, conspired with other of the defendants to violate Louisiana’s fair trade practices act.
- Represented numerous building owners in construction litigation claims related to mold. Successfully challenged vinyl wall covering manufacturers on their sale of their product in certain climates and for certain buildings under Louisiana redhibition law and the Louisiana Products Liability Act.
- Prevailed in representation of minority shareholders in quo warranto action challenging an attempt to reconstitute a corporate board under Delaware law.
- Successfully represented numerous property owners in insurance claims after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, asserting wind versus flood damages, lost income and business opportunity damages, and loss of income damages related to loss of oil production for damaged oil platforms.
- Represented prominent local business owner in a dispute against his business partner who was a mayoral candidate. Claimed misappropriation of company funds, which resulted in a favorable settlement to the client.
- Successfully defended against a claim of constitutional violations by the passage of an ordinance establishing a pay plan for off-duty police secondary employment. Prevailed at the trial court and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal based upon arguments under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
- Successfully defended against a challenge of a series of ordinances reforming and modernizing the City of New Orleans taxi cab industry. Taxi cab companies argued that they had vested property rights in their certificates of public necessity, which should limit the City’s ability to regulate the taxi industry. Prevailed in the trial court, affirmed by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied the writ, by arguing that certificates of public necessity were permits—not property, and, therefore, were subject to regulation.
- Successfully defended a First Amendment challenge to the City of New Orleans’ tour guide licensing ordinances arguing that the City is entitled to regulate business (i.e. tours given for compensation). Prevailed in the trial court, affirmed by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied the writ.
- Successfully defended the City of New Orleans in a public records dispute related to the privacy of information contained in motor vehicle records. Prevailed in the trial court, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed, and the Louisiana Supreme Court denied the writ.
- Successfully defended the City of New Orleans’ civil service reforms when challenged by three employee unions on constitutional grounds.
- Asserted a separation of powers argument to successfully challenge a trial court ruling placing the Mayor of the City of New Orleans under house arrest for the City’s failure to pay an outstanding judgment against it.
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office