William F. Lee


Lee, William F.

Bill Lee is a leading intellectual property litigator who has represented a variety of technology-focused clients for more than 35 years. Mr. Lee has tried more than 200 cases to verdict and argued more than 75 cases to the Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit and other appellate courts. Those cases have included some of the highest profile patent cases of the last decade. He also has been a member of the faculty at Harvard Law School for more than 10 years.


Mr. Lee continues to concentrate his practice primarily on intellectual property and commercial litigation. His trial and appellate experience is extensive. Mr. Lee has tried more than 200 patent cases, both jury and jury waived, to judgment and argued more than 75 appeals before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and other Courts of Appeals. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' 2017 Member Class and named the 2017 Massachusetts Outstanding IP Litigator by Managing IP, a 2016 Intellectual Property Trailblazer & Pioneer by The National Law Journal, the 2014 and 2015 "Lawyer of the Year" for litigation/patent by Best Lawyers in America®, the 2014 Distinguished Law Firm Leader by The American Lawyer, and was one of eight finalists selected by The American Lawyer as "Litigator of the Year" in 2012.

Mr. Lee has acted as lead trial counsel for Apple Inc. in the "smart phone war" litigations and in several cases between Broadcom and Qualcomm; and in a number of other federal court cases involving genetically engineered products, laser optics, video compression, cellular communications, remote data storage, secure Internet communications, pharmaceutical products, high-speed chromatography and medical devices. From July 1987 through June 1989, Mr. Lee served as associate counsel to Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh in the Iran-Contra investigation. In that capacity, Mr. Lee was responsible for certain portions of the grand jury investigation and resulting indictments.

He has also served as a special assistant to the Massachusetts Attorney General for the purpose of investigating alleged incidents of racial bias in the Commonwealth's courts.

Honors & Awards

  • Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' 2017 Member Class
  • Named to the inaugural Legal 500 US Hall of Fame list in 2017
  • Highly recommended as a leading lawyer in the IP industry in the 2017 edition of Patents Expert Guide
  • Named an Icon of Intellectual Property in 2016 by Law360
  • Recipient of Concurrences Review and the Competition Law Center's 2016 Academic Article Award for his article "Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Patent Damages"
  • Named a leading IP practitioner in the 2016 World Intellectual Property Review guide
  • Named to The National Law Journal's 2016 list of Intellectual Property Trailblazers & Pioneers, and profiled among the journal's “Winning” lawyers in the 2015 special feature focusing on winning attorneys and their strategies
  • Named to Law360's list of “Intellectual Property's MVPs” in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015
  • Recognized by Law360 in 2015 as a Trial Ace for his talents and victories in intellectual property litigation
  • Named a 2014 Distinguished Law Firm Leader by The American Lawyer for his exemplary management of the successful merger and formation of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
  • Named to the Boston Business Journal's 2014 Power 50 list, honoring the region's 50 most influential business people; this is the fourth consecutive year Mr. Lee has been included on this list 
  • Named a 2013-2016 leading practitioner in patent law by IAM Patent 1000: The World's Leading Patent Practitioners 
  • Selected as one of The National Law Journal's 2013 "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America"
  • Named as the 2017 Massachusetts Outstanding IP Litigator by Managing IP, was recognized as a 2013-2016 IP Star, and was named to Managing IP's 2015 shortlist for Massachusetts IP Litigator of the Year, the 2013 Massachusetts Outstanding IP Litigator of the Year, the 2012 Outstanding IP Practitioners of the Year and the Top 10 Litigators in the life sciences patent industry, and the 2009 Outstanding US IP Practitioner of the Year.
  • Named the 2013 and 2014 Boston "Patent Law Lawyer of the Year" by the Best Lawyers in America
  • Named a "Life Sciences Star" in the 2012-2016 editions of LMG Life Sciences for intellectual property, and named to the 2016 shortlist for General Patent Litigator of the Year (New England)
  • Included in BTI Client Service All-Stars 2016 for combining "exceptional legal expertise with practical advice, business savvy and innovative, effective solutions—all of which help make your clients' lives easier."
  • Recognized as a "2012 Lawyer of the Year" by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
  • Received a 2012 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Trailblazer Award, NAPABA's highest honor, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated vision, courage and tenacity, and those who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the Asian Pacific American (APA) legal profession, as well as the broader APA community
  • Named Litigator of the Week by Litigation Daily, an American Lawyer Media affiliate providing breaking news, for his role in earning a significant victory for Apple Inc. when the full Federal Circuit vacated a prior Federal Circuit panel's decision and reinstated a $120 million jury verdict from May 2014. This is the fifth time Mr. Lee has been recognized by Litigation Daily as a Litigator of the Week.
  • Named a "Litigator of the Year Finalist" by The American Lawyer 2012 and singled out as "Mr. IP"
  • Recipient of the 2011 Founders Award on behalf of the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts for his significant contributions in business, academics and the community in relation to the law
  • Recognized as a "Most Admired Attorney” by Law360 for his success rate in the court room as an IP litigator
  • Listed as a "Leading Lawyer" in the areas of intellectual property: patent litigation in the 2009-2016 editions of The Legal 500 United States
  • Named one of "The 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America," by The National Law Journal in 2008
  • Named one of "The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America" by The National Law Journal in June 2000 and again in June 2006
  • Recognized for his exceptional intellectual property practice (2006-2016) and named a leading litigation: trial lawyer (2013-2016) by Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers. Sources describe him as "just excellent," "a leader in the legal space," and "the guy you'd call up to win the big case for you."
  • Listed as a leading lawyer in each edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business since 2003, and recognized as a “star individual” for life sciences: IP/patent litigation and intellectual property in the 2004-2006 and 2013-2016 editions. He is also ranked as a national leader in the areas of life sciences: IP/patent litigation (2010-2016), international trade: intellectual property (Section 337) (2013-2015), and litigation: trial lawyers (2013-2015). Sources dub him as "easily one of the best patent trial lawyers in the United States."
  • Highly recommended in the PLC Cross-border IP in Business Transactions Handbook 2008/09
  • Listed in the 2006-2007 of the PLC IP & IT Cross-Border Handbook as both a "leading" lawyer for intellectual property in Boston and for patent litigation in the US
  • Ranked as one of the nation's most highly recommended intellectual property attorneys in the 2006/07, 2007/08 and 2009/2010 editions of the PLC Cross-border Life Sciences Handbook
  • Selected as a "patent law expert" in Legal Media Group's Guide to the World's Leading Patent Law Practitioners2007 and a "litigation expert" in The Best of the Best 2011
  • Recognized as one of Boston's top lawyers in the dispute resolution and intellectual property, and as national leader in patent litigation in the PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook 2006. Also listed as one of four "star" lawyers of the firm in the 2005 edition.
  • Selected as one of The National Law Journal's 2005 "Top Ten Lawyers with Successful Trial Strategies"
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in every issue of the Best Lawyers in America since 1995/1996 and was named the 2011, 2012 and 2015 "Boston Intellectual Property Litigation Lawyer of the Year"
  • Selected by clients and peers as a leading intellectual property lawyer in the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 editions of The International Who's Who of Life Sciences Lawyers. He's also recognized in the patents, life sciences - patent litigation and litigation practice areas. 
  • Named a "New England Super Lawyer" (formerly "Massachusetts Super Lawyer") in each edition of Boston Magazine since 2004

Publications & News


April 14, 2017

Partner Bill Lee Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ 2017 Member Class

On April 12, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected Partner Bill Lee to its 2017 class of members. He joins many of the world's most accomplished scientists, academics, journalists, civic leaders, artists and entertainers in receiving this honor.

March 27, 2017

Managing IP Recognizes WilmerHale as the Patent Contentious Firm of the Year

Both in the United States and in the Northeast region, the firm was again named as the 2017 Patent Contentious Firm of the Year—and Bill Lee was named as the Massachusetts Outstanding IP Litigator at the annual Managing IP North American Awards.

March 24, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers Selected for Inclusion in The Legal 500 US Hall of Fame

Charlene Barshefsky, Reed Freeman, Robert Finkel, Robert Novick, Seth Waxman and William Lee are the six WilmerHale partners who have been selected for inclusion in the inaugural Legal 500 US Hall of Fame.

March 21, 2017

WilmerHale Recognized for Outstanding International Lawyers and Practices in Chambers Global 2017

Chambers Global has named 27 WilmerHale lawyers among "The World's Leading Lawyers for Business" in its 2017 edition.

January 23, 2017

Law360 Names WilmerHale a Technology Group of the Year

The firm has been recognized by Law360 as a Technology Practice Group of the Year, showcasing some of the firm's significant successes for clients during the calendar year of 2016.

December 28, 2016

WilmerHale Named to The National Law Journal's Appellate Hot List

The winners were selected based on their federal and state appeals court victories in the US during 2016.

December 14, 2016

Bill Lee Recognized Among The National Law Journal's Intellectual Property Trailblazers & Pioneers

This special supplement celebrates individuals who continue to make their mark in various aspects of legal work in the areas of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret law.

November 9, 2016

LMG Life Sciences Ranks WilmerHale and Attorneys Among the Best

The 2016 supplement highlights nine firm practices and 18 attorneys, recognizing work under three categories—Intellectual Property, Finance and Transactional, and Non-IP Litigation and Enforcement.

October 21, 2016

Bill Lee Earned “Litigator of the Week” for En Banc Federal Circuit Reversal on Behalf of Apple

Partner Bill Lee has been named Litigator of the Week by the Litigation Daily for his role in earning a significant victory for Apple Inc. when the full Federal Circuit vacated a prior Federal Circuit panel's decision and reinstated a $120 million jury verdict from May 2014.

September 14, 2016

LMG Life Sciences Recognizes WilmerHale in Multiple Categories on 2016 Award Shortlist

In its annual recognition of the top law firms, lawyers and in-house counsel in the life sciences industry, LMG Life Sciences named WilmerHale to its 2016 award shortlist.

Speaking Engagements

Professional Activities

Mr. Lee is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

In July 2010, Mr. Lee was appointed a Fellow of the Harvard Corporation. He is a former member of the Harvard Board of Overseers.

Mr. Lee has served as the John A. Reilly Visiting Professor and the Eli Goldston Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Mr. Lee has served on the Advisory Committee of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He has also served on the Advisory Committee of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts on its local rules; its Committee to Evaluate Administration of the Criminal Justice Act; and the Merit Selection Panel on Magistrate Judges. The Governor of Massachusetts appointed Mr. Lee to serve on a special Judicial Nominating Committee for the selection of judges for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

He has also served as a member of the Visiting Committee at Cornell Law School. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Broad Institute.

Community Involvement

A resident of Wellesley, Mr. Lee has served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Tenacre Country Day School.


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JD, magna cum laude, Cornell Law School, 1976, Order of the Coif

MBA, with Distinction, Cornell University, 1976

AB, magna cum laude, Harvard University, 1972

Bar Admissions


United States Supreme Court

Government Experience

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