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Richard H. Willis

Richard H. Willis


Richard Willis is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 35 years of experience practicing in the areas of product liability defense, environmental litigation, toxic torts, insurance defense and commercial litigation. He has acted as lead counsel in trials throughout the Southeast, and argued appeals in Third, Fourth, Sixth and Eleventh Circuits and all (South Carolina, Georgia) appellate courts in the states in which he is admitted to practice.

Richard has served as lead counsel in catastrophic injury cases and significant business disputes for numerous corporate clients, including those in the communications industry, automotive and tire manufacturers, medical device manufacturers, retail distributors, pulp and paper companies, specialty chemical companies and consumer product manufacturers. Richard's case experiences include a wide variety of automotive and consumer products, disputes over the performance of large industrial equipment, Lanham Act and Unfair Trade Practice claims, construction defects, fire cause and origin claims and mass tort chemical exposure cases. He serves as regional counsel for various manufacturing and corporate clients, directing the supervision and management of their cases. Richard has participated in many cases and trials defending motor vehicles, cribs, heaters, car seats, bicycles and wakeboards against child plaintiffs’ claims.

Richard holds an adjunct professor position at the University of South Carolina, teaching trial advocacy. He is a certified mediator and arbitrator in South Carolina. Richard is a regular writer and speaker on trial advocacy and product liability issues.



Bar Admissions

  • South Carolina, 1981
  • Georgia, 1993

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit


  • University of South Carolina School of Law, J.D., 1981
  • The University of the South, Sewanee, B.A., 1978

Professional Associations

    • American College of Trial Lawyers
      —Fellow, 2019
    • American Board of Trial Advocates
      —President, 2021
      —President Elect, 2020
      —Board of Directors, 2017 – 2019
      —Treasurer, 2019
    • Georgia Defense Lawyers Association 
      —Faculty, 1994 – 2019
    • Defense Research Institute
      —Trial Tactics Committee 
    • South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys Association
      —Board of Directors, 2015 – 2019
    • South Carolina Bar
      —Mediation and Arbitration Certificates
      —Trial and Appellate Advocacy Section
    • State Bar of Georgia
    • John Belton O'Neall American Inn of Court
      —Board of Directors, 2017 – 2019
      —Program Chair, 2018
    • International Association of Defense Counsel


    • American Board of Trial Advocates
      —Chapter Service Award, 2019
    • South Carolina Bar
      —Trial and Appellate Advocacy Award, 2015
    • South Carolina Lawyers Weekly
      —"Leadership in Law" Award, 2015
    • Burton Award
      —Excellence in Legal Writing, 2012
    • Super Lawyers Magazine
      —South Carolina Super Lawyers, 2009 – 2020
    • Atlanta Magazine
      —Top Environmental Litigators - Georgia, 2000
    • Georgia Defense Lawyers Trial Academy
      —Faculty, 2000 – 2019
    • University of South Carolina School of Law
      —Adjunct Professor, 2003 – 2019

Recent News, Events and Blogs

Speaking Engagements

  • "To Zoom or Not to Zoom? Virtual Trials and Litigation in a COVID Environment," Co-Presenter, IADC Partnership Webinar, September 2020
  • “Hold onto Your Hat: Exceptions to the Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity Rule,” Speaker, ACC South Carolina Midyear, May 2019
  • “DRI Trial Skills Series: Jury Selection,” Co-Presenter, DRI Trial Skills Series Webcast, April 2019
  • “Products Liability Update: Comparative Fault, Workers Comp, Sophisticated User,” Presenter, ACC Midyear Meeting, May 2018
  • "Cross Examination, Hollywood Style: What the Movies Can Teach us About Effective Cross Exams," Speaker, Georgia Defense Lawyers Annual Meeting, June 2015
  • "Valukas Report Review - Protecting Your Client While Staying Out of Jail," Speaker, Association of Corporate Counsel, May 2015
  • "Preparing the 30(b)(6) Witness for Deposition: Preventing the Crash and Burn," Speaker, Association of Corporate Counsel - South Carolina, October 2014
  • "The Ethics of Corporate Witness Preparation, and Other Headaches," Co-Presenter, Association of Corporate Counsel - South Carolina, October 2014
  • "Shakespeare in the Courtroom," Presenter, American Bar Association Annual Meeting, August 2013
  • "Comparative Fault in Crashworthiness Cases: A Defense Whose Time Has Come," Speaker, South Carolina Defense Attorney Association, July 2013


  • “A Dose of Reality: Medicating Health Care Damages In South Carolina,” Co-Author, ACC South Carolina FOCUS Newsletter, March 2020
  • "Making it Stick: Drafting Enforceable Arbitration Clauses in South Carolina," Co-Author, ACC South Carolina FOCUS Newsletter, March 2017
  • "'It Ain't Necessarily So' - Lessons in Jury Selection," Author, South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, April 2011
  • "The Ten Commandments of Cross-Examination, Revisited," Author, South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, November 2010
  • "Meeting the Enemy: 10 Tips for Interesting Direct Examinations," Co-Author, South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, July 2010