A seasoned trial and appellate lawyer, partner Ava Lias-Booker has served in many leadership roles at McGuireWoods, a leading international law firm, and in the legal and business communities. She serves on the board of directors of University of Maryland St. Joseph’s Hospital and chairs its Governance Committee, and on the board of Physicians Realty Trust. She is a member and past chair of McGuireWoods’ Diversity & Inclusion Committee and a former Baltimore office managing partner. She also served on the firm’s Board of Partners, Diversity Action Committee and Associates Committee.
Ava leads the Baltimore litigation practice with three decades of experience representing businesses in complex commercial and civil litigation. She served as co-lead counsel to a multinational oil and gas corporation that successfully argued for reversal of jury verdicts awarding plaintiffs more than $1.5 billion in damages before Maryland’s highest appellate court. She successfully defended financial institutions in cases at the trial and appellate levels, including a multimillion-dollar claim alleging 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 is an emeritus member of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law board of visitors and served on Duke University School of Law’s board of visitors. She is a founding member of the Cole-Davidson American Inns of Court and a Litigation Counsel of America senior fellow. And she served on the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Open Society Institute boards of directors.
Ava chairs the Magistrate Judges’ Merit Selection Panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and was a gubernatorial appointee to the Maryland Appellate Judicial Nominating Committee.
The Best Lawyers in America named Ava “Lawyer of the Year” for Baltimore litigation-banking and finance, and she is recognized for commercial litigation and litigation-securities. She was included in Chambers’ “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” in the general commercial litigation category and she was a “Lawyer of the Year” finalist in Chambers’ Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America. Savoy magazine named her to its list of “Most Influential Black Lawyers” and she received a Women, Influence & Power in Law Award from Corporate Counsel magazine.
- Currently serves as co-lead counsel for major financial institution in Fair Housing Act case involving allegations of racial discrimination in the maintenance of Real Estate Owned properties.
- Obtained favorable result for major financial institution in matter alleging section 1981 claims related to bank branch deposits.
- 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.
- Successfully excluded expert and obtained summary judgment on behalf of major financial institution in dispute involving ownership and control of the funds of an African-American megachurch.
- 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
Recipient, “Exceptional Service Award,” 12th Biennial Bench-Bar Conference, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and Federal Bar Association Maryland Chapter, 2023
Named a “Benchmark Litigation Star,” Benchmark Litigation, 2024
Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, 2006-2024; Litigation-Banking & Finance, 2011-2024; Litigation-Securities, 2011-2024; Woodward/White, Inc.
Selected for inclusion in America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Litigation: General Commercial, Maryland, Chambers USA, 2017-2023
Named “Lawyer of the Year,” Baltimore, Litigation – Banking and Finance, Best Lawyers, 2023
Named to “Maryland Super Lawyers,” Business Litigation, Civil Litigation Defense, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2007-2023
Selected for inclusion in “Legal 500 United States,” Leading Trial Lawyers, 2022, 2023; General Commercial Disputes, 2021, 2022
Finalist, “Diversity & Inclusion Lawyer of the Year,” Diversity & Inclusion Awards: North America, Chambers and Partners, 2022
Named to “Most Influential Black Lawyers, Savoy, 2022
Recipient, “2020 Leader in Diversity Award” Baltimore Business Journal, 2020
Named to “Most Influential Women in Corporate America,” Savoy, 2019
Named a “Local Litigation Star,” Benchmark Litigation, 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)
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’s “Top 25 Women Super Attorneys”, Super Lawyers, 2009, 2010
Named to Maryland’s “Top 100 Women,” The Daily Record, 1997, 2003, 2016
- Featured, "The University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center Has Named Ava Lias-Booker to Its Operating Board", The Daily Record, March 1, 2021
- University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of LawJD1986
- Duke UniversityBA1982
Board Member, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, Compensation Committee, Physicians Realty Trust
Board Member, University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center
Board Member, Duke Law School Board of Visitors
Board Member Emeritus, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law Board of Visitors
Appointed Chair, Magistrate Judges’ Merit Selection Panel, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
Board Member, Open Society Institute
Honorary Committee, The Maryland Finding Justice Project
Gubernatorial Appointee, The Maryland Appellate Courts Judicial Nominating Commission, 2007-2014
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
Member, Transition Team for Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby
Past Member, Board of Directors, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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, "The Anatomy of a Law Firm and Summer Associates: Your Goals and Theirs", 2021 Virtual DAPP Direct Client-Readiness Boot Camp, May 23, 2021
- Speaker, Gilman School Cum Laude Ceremony – Class of 2021, May 17, 2021
- Panelist, "Experts 101: What Every Young Lawyer Needs to Know About Working with an Expert Witness", American Bar Association 2021 Virtual Litigation Section Annual Conference, May 5, 2021
- Panelist, "Plenary: Equity Partners of Color: Unicorns Breaking Glass Ceilings", 2021 ABA Virtual Professional Success Summit, March 29, 2021
- Guest Speaker, Foundations in Business Law Program of Introductory Classes, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, March 3, 2021
- Speaker, Coffee With a Lawyer, George Washington University, Undergraduate Chapter of the GW Black Law Student Association, February 24, 2021
- Speaker, "Pathways to Partnership Panel", Pathways to Partnership, October 6, 2020
- Speaker, Partner Ava Lias-Booker Speaks on Panel at Verizon’s 4th Annual Legal Diversity & Inclusion Summit, July 17, 2019
- Speaker, Exelon and McGuireWoods Co-Host LCLD Fellows Event, June 14, 2019
- Panelist, "Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership, Recruiting, Talent Development and Retention: What Works, What Doesn’t?", Beckers Hospital Review 10th Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 2, 2019
- 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, "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
- Speaker, "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
- Panelist, "Strategies for Defending Punitive Damages Claims, Innovative Defense Strategies in Drug & Medical Device Litigation", LexisNexis Mealey, 2004
- Faculty, Business/Technology Case Management Program, Judicial Institute, 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", Public Affairs Television Program, January 1, 2001