Practice Focus

Class Actions/Mass Actions/MDLs, Environmental, Governmental Securities Litigation, International Arbitration, Ponzi/Banking Schemes, Securities and Antitrust, Tax

Jim Swanson is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Section. He represents state and local governments, corporations, and individuals in cases involving municipal finance, derivatives, CDOs, Ponzi schemes, corporate tax, coastal land loss, environmental damage, industrial and environmental accidents, and a range of other subject areas. Jim’s efforts are recorded in over 100 reported decisions.

Jim is particularly known for his securities practice and has obtained multimillion-dollar judgments for his clients in jury and bench trials and commercial arbitrations. Most recently, Jim was counsel to investors defrauded in R. Allen Stanford’s $7 billion Ponzi scheme in their lawsuit against the five banks that the investors allege aided and abetted or knowingly participated in the scheme. Settlements totaling $1.6 billion were reached with five bank defendants on the eve of trial in early 2023. 

In addition to his established securities practice, Jim is working on a series of cases involving coastal land loss and other forms of environmental damage for governmental entities and private landowners. He also represents several commercial contractors in confidential international treaty arbitrations arising out of large-scale infrastructure and industrial development projects. Most recently, Jim and his team prosecuted bilateral investment treaty claims before a tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in London on behalf of a Turkish contractor against a North African nation for defaulting on housing and infrastructure contracts and won a substantial unanimous award from the ICC panel.

While the majority of Jim’s practice is plaintiff focused, he also represents defendants.

Best Lawyers named Jim Lawyer of the Year for Louisiana Bet the Company Litigation in 2011 and clients praise him as being “intelligent, creative, and his legal applications are on point.” Chambers & Partners calls him “a terrific strategist” and “a strong, thoughtful, and tenacious trial lawyer.”

Jim is a member of the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees, serving on the Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Investment Committee. Jim is also a member of both the Baylor College of Medicine’s President’s Circle and its Board of Advisors. He is a former board member of the Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought and New Orleans Opera Association. He is the former Chairman of the Choice Foundation, the governing board of three turnaround public charter schools in New Orleans that educate 1500 high poverty students.

Jim is a fellow of the American and Louisiana Bar Foundations and a member of the International Society of Barristers. Jim has been a regular faculty member of the Practicing Law Institute’s (PLI) annual program Securities Litigation: From Investigation to Trial. He has also taught at Loyola Law School and Tulane University.

Jim is a founding member of Fishman Haygood and served as Managing Partner of the firm from 2007 through 2019.


  • 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

  • Represented individuals and the Official Stanford Investor’s Committee against five banks, with particular concentration on claims against Trustmark National Bank and Independent Bank of Texas (formerly known as Bank of Houston), in a lawsuit alleging the banks’ aiding and abetting of the $7 billion Ponzi scheme perpetrated by R. Allen Stanford; settlements of $100 million were reached with both Trustmark and Bank of Houston in early 2023, with total recoveries from all five bank defendants (The Toronto-Dominion Bank, Société Générale Private Banking (Suisse) S.A., HSBC Bank plc, Trustmark, and Bank of Houston) amounting to more than $1.6 billion.
  • 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 several landowners in suits against major pipeline companies for coastal erosion.
  • Currently represents various contractors in international treaty arbitrations against Libya, Ethiopia, and Pakistan.
  • Currently represents various landowners in pollution cases arising out of oil and gas production.
  • Currently represents the Louisiana Department of Revenue in cases against several online travel companies for sales taxes.