Ava E. Lias-Booker Partner

A seasoned trial and appellate lawyer, Ava Lias-Booker serves in a number of leadership roles at McGuireWoods LLP, a leading international law firm. She is Chair of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Committee, a member of its Diversity Action Council and part of the firm’s seven-member Associates Committee.

A partner in the firm’s Baltimore office, Ava leads the Baltimore litigation practice with three decades of first chair trial experience representing businesses from a broad range of industries in complex commercial and civil litigation.

She served as co-lead counsel to a multinational oil and gas corporation that successfully argued for the reversal of jury verdicts awarding plaintiffs more than $1.5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages before Maryland’s highest appellate court. She has successfully defended financial institutions in a myriad of cases at the trial and appellate levels, including a multimillion-dollar claim involving alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and a more than $50 million check fraud matter.

Ava’s dedication to providing excellent client service is matched by her passion for mentoring young lawyers and serving the legal and civic communities of Baltimore, the state and the nation. She serves on the boards of visitors of Duke University School of Law and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and the boards of directors for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Open Society Institute.

She frequently speaks on litigation, leadership and diversity issues.

Experience

Successfully represented multinational oil and gas corporation in its appeals of more than $1.5 billion in verdicts rendered by juries in two cases stemming from a 2006 underground gasoline leak at a service station located in Jacksonville, Maryland. The plaintiffs claimed contamination of their water supply with MTBE, and claimed that the additive was a carcinogen. Currently one of the lead trial counsel for MTBE litigation pending in Maryland and served as appellate counsel successfully arguing for the reversal of adverse jury verdicts awarding plaintiffs hundreds of millions of dollars in compensatory damages and in helping to secure the reversal of over a billion dollars in punitive damages before the State’s highest appellate court.

Lead trial counsel to oil company subsidiary engaged in solar panel manufacturing in a multimillion-dollar breach of contract action, in which solar company obtained an almost $9 million jury verdict against a St. Louis-based company for breach of a three-year silicon powder supply agreement under the Uniform Commercial Code.

Lead hearing and trial counsel for information technology company in a shareholder action brought by two hedge funds claiming non-payment of more than $100 million in dividends and redemption payments for preferred shares, and seeking monetary relief along with receivership and dissolution of company. After extensive motions practice and a Maryland 2-502 hearing on the merits, the trial court dismissed the shareholder action upholding the recommendation of the Special Litigation Committee and dismissed with prejudice all remaining direct claims. Matter appealed and remanded for further consideration of the impact of another decision by the state’s highest court in a similar matter. Decision pending.

Lead counsel for information technology company in a “right-to-inspect” case brought by two directors who also were principals of activist hedge fund. After company auditors resigned citing impairment to their independence as a result of interference by the investor directors, company sought and obtained a preliminary injunction to stop further interference with company’s new auditors which allowed company to obtain audited financial statements and file its Form 10-K with the Securities Exchange Commission.

Lead counsel for plaintiff telecommunications company securing entry and payment of a consent judgment in a breach of interconnection agreement case in the amount of $2, 209, 886.44 plus post-judgment interest.

Represented telecommunications company as co-counsel to resolve multi-state action pending in Virginia, New Jersey and Maryland and other jurisdictions and state commissions arising from interconnection agreement billing dispute.

Co-counsel to one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in numerous individual cases asserting claims arising from alleged exposure of minor plaintiffs to Thimerosal. Judge granted summary judgment to vaccine defendants and denied plaintiff’s motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland affirmed.

Lead counsel for bank defendants at the trial and appellate level in an action filed by 25 plaintiffs for alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and its Maryland counterpart as well as claims asserted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Plaintiffs sought $81 million in damages. Trial court granted summary judgment on behalf of the bank defendants. Plaintiffs appealed the grant of summary judgment and the Fourth Circuit affirmed in a published opinion.

Represented plaintiff bank and related entities as co-counsel in litigation related to insurance coverage issues against various insurers for claims seeking damages for their failure to pay defense costs and settlement expenses incurred in: 18 lawsuits filed against them following the Enron collapse; six lawsuits filed against them stemming from hedge funds that were designed to diversify investor holdings without triggering tax liability in The Exchange Fund claims; lawsuits arising from IPO claims; and lawsuits filed against brokerage for an alleged scheme and conspiracy to design, market and implement tax shelters. These claims amounted to an excess of $600 million and were all considered covered under the insurance policy. Ultimately a favorable settlement was reached with the insurers on behalf of the bank.

  • Maryland
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Wisconsin

Named a "Local Litigation Star," Benchmark Litigation, 2018

Selected for inclusion in America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Litigation: General Commercial, Maryland, Chambers USA, 2017-2018

Named the 2017 “Graduate of the Year” by the Black Law Students Association at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Recipient, 2015-2016 “Litigator of the Year,” Maryland State Bar Association’s Litigation Section

Named to The Daily Record’s 2016 list of Maryland’s Top 100 Women and inducted into its Circle of Excellence, an honor exclusive to three-time honorees

Recipient, Outstanding State Chair Award, The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, 2015

Recipient, Trailblazer in Excellence and Diversity Award, Black Women Lawyers Association of Greater Chicago, 2015

Recipient, Trailblazer Award, The Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland, Inc., 2014

Named to "Influential Marylanders," Business and Securities Litigation, Maryland Daily Record, 2014

Named to "Power 100," On Being A Black Lawyer, 2013

Named one of Top 250 Women in Litigation, Benchmark Litigation, 2012, 2013

Girl Scouts 2012 Distinguished Woman Honoree

Recipient, Leadership in Law Award, The Daily Record, 2011

Named to “Power 20: The Next Generation,” Baltimore Business Journal, 2011

AV Rated, Martindale-Hubbell (Highest Ranking)

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Business Litigation, 1999-2006; Commercial Litigation, 2006-2019; Litigation-Banking & Finance, 2011-2019; Litigation-Securities, 2011-2019, Woodward/White, Inc.

Named to “Leading Law Firm Rainmakers,” Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)’s Diversity & The Bar Magazine, 2010 Nov/Dec Issue

Recognized by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) in their "Movers and Shakers" feature, 2010

Recipient, Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award of Excellence for Outstanding Achievements in the Field of Law, 2009

Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, 2008

Practitioner of the Year Award, BLSA, University of Maryland School of Law, 2008

Named to "Maryland Super Lawyers," Business Litigation, Civil Litigation Defense, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2007-2015

Named to Maryland’s "Top 25 Women Super Attorneys", Super Lawyers, 2009, 2010

Named to Maryland’s “Top 100 Women,” The Daily Record, 1997, 2003, 2016

  • University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, JD, 1986
  • Duke University, BA, 1982

Board Member, Duke Law School Board of Visitors

Member, Transition Team for Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby

Appointed Panel Member, Magistrate Judges' Merit Selection, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Board of Visitors, University of Maryland School of Law

Honorary Committee, The Maryland Finding Justice Project

Gubernatorial Appointee, The Maryland Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission, 2007-present

Board of Directors, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Member, Serjeants Inn Law Club

Member, Rule Day Law Club

Member, James McGill Inns of Court

Member, National Bar Association

Fellow; Section of Litigation, American Bar Association

Member, Maryland State Bar Association

Member, Monumental Bar Association

Member, Maryland Business and Technology Court Task Force, 2000

Past Member, Judicial Institute Business/Technology Case Management Program Curriculum Development Working Group

Past Member, Business/Technology Case Management Program Statewide Advisory Committee

Past Chair, Maryland State Bar Association Judicial Administration Section Council

Past President and Member, Board of Governors, Citizens Planning and Housing Association

Past Member, Board of Governors, Maryland Federal Bar Association

Past Member, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Public Justice Center, Inc.

Past Board of Directors, Friends of the Family

Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Class, 1994

  • Panelist, Promoting Law Firm Diversity, The Bar Association of Baltimore City Diversity Committee, Baltimore, Maryland, March 28, 2018
  • Moderator, "Residential Mortgage Watch: Lender and Servicer Class Action, Litigation, Settlement, and Procedural Trends With Regard to the Updated and Finalized CFPB Mortgage Servicing Rule, Loan Mods/The Expiration of HAMP, Lender-Placed Insurance, Duty of Care, and More; Latest Foreclosure Challenges Tied to Statutes of Limitation; and Best-in-Class Risk Management and Regulatory Practices," ACI’s 27th National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions & Litigation, January 24, 2017
  • Speaker, "Telephone Consumer Protection Act," Current Legal Issues and Trends in Mortgage Origination and Servicing , Mortgage Servicing In-House Counsel Forum, February 4, 2016
  • Moderator, "In-House Viewpoints: How Corporate Counsel Are Managing Consumer Finance Claims/Class Actions, Compliance Challenges and Enforcement Actions and Examinations, Selecting and Working with Outside Counsel to Enhance the Client-Attorney Relationship, and Achieving Efficiencies with Reduced Budgets and Smaller Staffs," ACI’s 24th National Conference on Consumer Finance Class Actions & Litigation, January 26, 2016
  • Speaker, "Charlotte Ray: An Unsung Legal Pioneer," Rule Day Law Club, January 13, 2015
  • Moderator, "Diversity, Inclusion and Retention," Maryland Law 20/20 Symposium sponsored by The Maryland Professionalism Center, Inc. and the Maryland State Bar Association, October 31, 2014
  • Panelist, "Race & Gender Embracing Diversity in the Legal Profession," The Monumental City Bar Foundation and Baltimore Bar Foundation Symposium, October 13, 2014
  • Keynote Speaker, "Footprints of the Past as a Blueprint for the Future: 150 Years Since Emancipation," J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, Inc., November 7, 2013
  • Panelist, "Are Mortgages Really the Same as Toasters? Is a Credit Card Akin to an Anti-Depressant? A Deep Dive Into Defending Industries Subject to Federal Regulations," DRI Annual Meeting, October 25, 2012
  • Panelist, "Leading Change," Baltimore Business Journal Enterprising Women Breakfast, August 3, 2012
  • Speaker, "Diversity in the Legal Profession," Charles Hamilton Houston Scholars Program, June 28, 2012
  • Panelist, "Legal Industry Trends," SmartCEO Managing Partner Attorneys Roundtable, March 7, 2012
  • Opening Remarks, "Financial Engineering's the Key: How a Long-Term Energy Sale Agreement and Bond Offering Transformed the McCommas Bluff LFG Project – The Legal Perspective," 15th Annual Landfill Methane Outreach Program Conference and Project Expo, McGuireWoods Sponsored Dinner, January 7, 2012
  • Speaker, "The Art of War," National Bar Association Corporate Leadership Forum, August 2, 2011
  • Speaker, "Fending off Shareholder Strike Suits or Eroding the Effectiveness of the Shareholder Derivative Action as a Tool for Corporate Governance," Judicial Institute of Maryland, 2009; Rule Day Law Club 2009; and Litigation Counsel of America Fall Conference, 2008
  • Closing Remarks, Thurgood Marshall College Fund Awards of Excellence, April 2, 2009
  • Panelist, "Inspiring Leadership," Leadership Conference, 2009
  • Faculty, Maryland Trial Advocacy Institute, MICPEL, 2003; 2006; 2008
  • Faculty, "Deposition Practice and Procedure," MICPEL, Maryland State Bar Association, 2002-2006
  • Faculty, Business/Technology Case Management Program, Judicial Institute, 2004
  • Panelist, "Strategies for Defending Punitive Damages Claims, Innovative Defense Strategies in Drug & Medical Device Litigation," LexisNexis Mealey, 2004
  • Moderator, "Recognizing Best Practices, Addressing Diversity in a Challenging Legal Market: Re-Grouping, Re-Energizing, and Re-Affirming the Mission," University of Maryland School of Law, Career Development Office, 2004
  • Panelist, "Advice from the Experts: Successful Strategies for Winning Commercial Cases in Federal Courts," Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers, Inc. (MICPEL), Maryland State Bar Association, 2004
  • Guest, "Issues & Answers," Public Affairs Show Produced by Comcast in Partnership with the Greater Baltimore Committee, 2003
  • Panelist, "Taking Care of Business: Business & Technology in the 21st Century," Second Annual Symposium, University of Maryland School of Law, Business Law Program, 2003
  • Panelist, "Managing Internal Corporate Investigations in the Face of High Profile Litigation," 1st Annual CLE Expo-Principles in Action, Minority Corporate Counsel Association, 2002
  • Panelist, "Addressing Harassment, Bias and Diversity in the Legal Profession," Maryland State Bar Association, MICPEL, 2002
  • Speaker, "Women in Law Firms," Women’s Bar Association, 2002
  • Speaker, "Implementing the Business and Technology Court Program," Maryland State Bar Association Annual Meeting, 2001
  • Panelist, "Square Off," WJZ-TV, Public Affairs Television Program, January 1, 2001
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