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 ten 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 100 patent cases, both jury and jury waived, to judgment and argued more than 50 appeals before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and other Courts of Appeals. He was named 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

  • 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
  • Profiled among The National Law 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 and 2014 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 a 2013-2016 IP Star and to Managing IP's 2015 shortlist for Massachusetts IP Litigator of the Year. Previously, Mr. Lee was named as the 2013 Massachusetts Outstanding IP Litigator of the Year 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, 2013, 2014 and 2015 editions of LMG Life Sciences for intellectual property
  • 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 lead role in representing Pfizer in its $2.15 billion settlement with generic drug makers. This is the third time Mr. Lee has been recognized by Litigation Daily as a Litigator of the Week. In 2012, Mr. Lee was recognized for his lead role in representing Apple in its $1.05 billion trial victory against Samsung. In 2008, he was recognized for back-to-back victories for clients Broadcom and Targus.
  • Included on Managing IP magazine's 2012 exclusive list of “Outstanding IP Practitioners of the Year,” and also named among the "Top 10 Litigators" in the life sciences patent industry
  • 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, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 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."
  • Recognized as a Massachusetts leader in the area of intellectual property and a national leader in the area of life sciences: IP/patent litigation in the 2010-2015 editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business. In 2013-2015, Mr. Lee was also recognized in the area of litigation: trial lawyers and international trade: intellectual property (section 337).
  • Listed in each edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business since 2003 and was the only Massachusetts lawyer awarded the "star" ranking in life sciences: IP/patent litigation and intellectual property (a stand-alone award above the number one ranking) in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015
  • 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. 

Publications & News


May 17, 2016

WilmerHale Attorneys and Practices Recognized in 2016 edition of IP Stars Handbook

The fourth edition of the IP Stars Handbook—a Managing IP guide that identifies the leading IP firms and lawyers in the United States—has been released and it prominently ranks WilmerHale and 19 of its partners.

May 12, 2016

Law360 Names Bill Lee an Icon of Intellectual Property

With more than 200 cases to verdict and more than 75 arguments before the Federal Circuit and other appellate courts, there is no doubt that Bill Lee is an intellectual property icon.

April 7, 2016

Bill Lee and Co-Author Doug Melamed Honored with Academic Article Award at 2016 Antitrust Writing Awards

Bill Lee and his co-author Douglas Melamed were the recipients of an Academic Article Award for their article, "Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Patent Damages," which Cornell Law Review published last year.

March 27, 2016

WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices Recognized in 2016 Edition of Chambers USA

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business announced its final rankings for the 2016 edition, with WilmerHale ranking among the nation's best in 47 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 82 WilmerHale lawyers as leaders in their respective fields.

March 23, 2016

Chambers Global 2016 Ranks WilmerHale Lawyers, Practices

Chambers Global has named 28 WilmerHale lawyers among “The World's Leading Lawyers for Business” in its 2016 edition. Additionally, the firm is ranked in 15 practice areas that span five regions.

February 8, 2016

BTI Names Lantier, Lee and Wolfman Among 2016 Client Service All-Stars

Partners Bill Lee, Greg Lantier and Jonathan Wolfman have been included in the 2016 edition of the BTI Client Service All-Stars report.

January 8, 2016

Bill Lee Named Litigator of the Week by Litigation Daily for $74M Federal Circuit Reversal on Behalf of Cisco

Partner Bill Lee has been named Litigator of the Week by the Litigation Daily for his role in earning a Federal Circuit reversal of a $74M judgment in favor of Cisco. This is the fourth Litigator of the Week title that Lee has earned.

December 31, 2015

Federal Circuit Reversed $74M Judgment in Favor of Cisco

On December 28, 2015, WilmerHale achieved a significant victory for Cisco Systems, when a panel of the Federal Circuit unanimously reversed a $74 million judgment against Cisco after concluding that plaintiff Commil USA, LLC had failed to prove at trial that Cisco's products actually infringe Commil's patent.

November 20, 2015

Bill Lee Recognized Among Law360’s IP MVPs of the Year for Fifth Consecutive Year

For the fifth consecutive year, Partner Bill Lee has been named as an Intellectual Property MVP of the Year by Law360.

November 10, 2015

Bill Lee and Michael Summersgill Featured as “Winning” Litigators by The National Law Journal

Partners Bill Lee and Michael Summersgill were honored in this year’s The National Law Journal “Winning” special feature, which profiles successful attorneys and their strategies.

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 University 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