Profiles: William M. Audet

William M. Audet

William M. Audet

JD 84, LLD 13

Attorney and Founding Partner at Audet and Partners, LLP

Super Lawyer of the Year

It was little surprise to anyone when William graduated at the top of his law school class, and went on to establish a stellar career as one of the top plaintiff's attorneys in the nation. Since the third grade, his mother identified his lawyer potential through arguments with his siblings.

Ultimately, Audet & Partners, LLP was established in 2004. The firm was involved in many newsworthy class-action cases throughout the United States. The firm has taken on such corporate giants as Hewlett-Packard, Whirlpool, Apple, Google, and dozens of other household names. In recognition of this, In 2005, Audet was named "Champion of Justice" by the Bar Association of San Francisco, recognizing his longstanding contributions to the legal community and his pro bono activities. He has been named a California Super Lawyer repeatedly. In 2011, Super Lawyers magazine named him, "Super Lawyer of the Year," and he has been recognized as a "Top Attorney" for the Northern District of California for class action and mass tort cases. He has received several awards and honorariums, as well as appeared on CNN, NPR and other national and local news outlets, and has authored a book on federal discovery.

Among his many honors, the Golden Gate School of Law awarded him an honorary doctorate of law (LLD) in 2013, recognizing his "significant legal and financial contributions to the law community, scholarly work, pro bono activities, and his enduring commitment" to his alma mater. He was a keynote speaker during the commencement 2013 ceremony. As it turns out nearly thirty years earlier, he had been elected by his classmates to deliver the student farewell address during the 1984 Law School commencement.

Through one of his former law classmates, Bill learned that there was a job opening for a law clerk for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. During that period, his supervisor sent Audet a news clipping about a newly appointed federal judge, Fern Smith. For the next year, he clerked for the judge and looked for his next job, as is the custom with judicial clerkships. Judge Zirpoli was appointed by President Kennedy in 1961. At the time, he was the longest-serving judge in the Northern District. Bill Audet clerked for him for almost a year, until he retired.

Leaving the court behind, Audet ultimately landed a position at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein. Today, his old firm has over 60 lawyers, but when Audet arrived, he was the ninth lawyer at the firm. For the next seven years, he honed his skills as a plaintiff's attorney, making partner within a few years. After that in 2002, he joined forces with another plaintiff's attorney in a small independent practice.

Five years passed quickly and, by 2007, Audet was ready to start his own law firm and work only with attorneys he personally wanted to work with from the start. He settled for a suite on Montgomery Street in downtown San Francisco, just blocks from Golden Gate Law School. "It was more important to control my own destiny than make a lot of money. My current practice of law allows me that privilege"

Bill Audet calls it a combination of "guts" and the wife. He and Irene have been married for 20 years. Their eldest Liam is seventeen and bound for Ithaca College in upstate New York next fall. Their younger son, Shane, is fourteen and in high school. Both boys have an eye on law school, like their father.

After practicing law for 30 years, Bill Audet is well-settled in his career and continues to thirst for learning, as he was when he started law school. At the moment, Audet is studying the Koran and its impact on the world, trying to figure out the current state of affairs in the Middle East. He tries to read at least one book a week, and his subject matter is as wide-ranging as his curiosity.

Sometimes he thinks about what the future might hold. "I'd love to be back a little more in academia," he says. Maybe doing something to help the university's law clinics, or perhaps as a law professor. For now, Audet is making a difference for thousands of plaintiffs -- one case at a time.