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Pierce O’Donnell is one of the most influential and accomplished trial attorneys in the U.S., with groundbreaking success representing clients in closely watched matters across virtually every major industry and area of litigation. Pierce was lead counsel to Shelly Sterling on the litigation surrounding the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer.

A graduate of Georgetown University and both Georgetown and Yale Law Schools, Pierce’s legal career began with prestigious clerkships for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White and Ninth Circuit Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler. This early experience set him on a path that would always combine his passions for trying cases in the courtroom and for writing provocative articles and books outside of his law practice.

A Decorated Litigator

Pierce was named one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal, as one of "California's Top Entertainment Lawyers" by the Daily Journal, and "MVP of the Year" by Law360.  The Los Angeles Business Journal named him one of the 500 Most Influential People in Los Angeles (2016, 2018). In 2014, the Daily Journal recognized Pierce as one of the "Top 100 Lawyers in California" and as a "Top Entertainment Lawyer in California."  He is a member of the elite International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Law Institute, the American Board of Trial Lawyers, and the American Trial Lawyers Association. In addition, he is routinely named as one of the premier trial lawyers in his hometown of Los Angeles, California and in the U.S. by legal publications such as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Chambers & Partners and the Daily Journal, and he has achieved the highest possible AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Forbes called him the “new Perry Mason in Hollywood.”

A Legendary Trial Lawyer

Over his 40-year legal career, Pierce has tried a long list of significant cases for major clients, such as the famed Buchwald v. Paramount Pictures case related to the movie “Coming to America,” litigation on behalf of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the Metro Goldwyn Mayer v. American Honda case that recognized federal copyright protection for James Bond. In 2009, he led a team that secured the largest jury verdict in California ($350 million), making him Trial Lawyer of the Year.  In addition to dozens of trials across the country, Pierce has argued more than 25 cases in federal and state appellate courts, and handled more than 500 civil and white collar criminal cases in 38 states.  He has collected nearly $5 billion for clients in a variety of cases ranging from antitrust to environmental cost recovery to business litigation.

A Renowned Author

Pierce is also the author of more than 200 articles and five books. His scholarly articles have covered important legal topics such as constitutional law, intellectual property, toxic torts and criminal justice reform, and have been published in respected journals such as American Bar Association Journal, Colorado Law Review and Georgetown Law Journal. Mr. O’Donnell has also published a number of highly acclaimed books and other creative works. He co-authored Fatal Subtraction: How Hollywood Really Does Business, a best-selling account of his role in the Buchwald v. Paramount Pictures case, co-authored the screenplay for the feature film “Home Team” starring Steve Guttenberg, and authored a critically-acclaimed book regarding a forgotten episode of World War II (In Time of War: Hitler’s Terrorist Attack on America).

Professional Affiliations

  • International Academy of Trial Lawyers
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • American Law Institute
  • American Trial Lawyers Association
  • Economic Roundtable of Los Angeles

Bar Admissions

  • California


  • Yale Law School  (LL.M.)
  • Georgetown University  (J.D.)
  • Georgetown University  (B.A.)

Representative Experience


  • Serving as lead counsel to Shelly Sterling on the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer
  • Served as lead trial counsel in a business tort case involving the theft of an investment opportunity in a credit card processing company, obtaining a $350 million jury award that resulted in Mr. O’Donnell being named California Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2009


  • From 2000 to 2008, served as lead trial counsel of a team of lawyers who obtained $3.5 billion settlement from various energy companies in California Energy Crisis antitrust litigation


  • In 1995, won the landmark case of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. v. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., which recognized federal copyright protection of the fictional movie character James Bond
  • In 1998, successfully represented Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. in enjoining Sony Corp. from launching its own competing James Bond movie franchise
  • In 2000, following securing a preliminary injunction and an appellate victory, obtained a $21.5 million trademark infringement settlement for his client in a dispute with Walt Disney Company


  • Served as lead trial counsel for several hundred thousand victims of Hurricane Katrina – including individuals, the State of Louisiana, City of New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish, and major corporations and universities – in a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Successfully defended Lockheed Martin Corp. against 3,200 toxic tort claims in state and federal courts
  • In a series of environmental cost recovery cases under CERCLA, won judgments or settlements for clients in excess of $350 million, including $230 million for Lockheed Martin against the U.S. government
  • Engaged by the South Coast Air Quality Management District to prosecute a civil penalty action against BP Arco for 10 years of alleged pollution violations at its Torrance refinery, securing a record $106 million settlement for an air pollution enforcement action
  • Represented City of Los Angeles, City of Newport Beach, and City of Anaheim in blocking various developments (prisons, airport expansion, and jails) on environmental grounds

Family Law Property Litigation

  • Represents wife in battle with husband over a marital estate worth more than $1 billion
  • Represents Academy Award-winning actress in divorce from her prominent actor/husband
  • Represented successfully high net worth husband in dispute with wife over management and control of hedge fund
  • Represented successfully Amber Heard in her high profile divorce from Johnny Depp and securing $7 million for a 15-month marriage
  • Represented Shelly Sterling in widely-publicized victory in recovering $2.6 million in money and property from her husband’s mistress
  • Disqualified major law firm from representing opposing spouse on grounds of conflict of interest

Intellectual Property

  • Successfully represented celebrity stylist Vidal Sassoon against Procter & Gamble
  • Successfully represented Ron Isley in an appeal that preserved his $6.5 million copyright infringement verdict against Michael Bolton
  • Successfully represented creators of James Bond, Survivor, Forrest Gump, Mighty Ducks, 42, and other works in securing compensation

Labor & Employment

  • Served as counsel for Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway in her lawsuit against Andrew Lloyd Weber over her wrongful termination from the Los Angeles production of “Sunset Boulevard”
  • Represented senior executives in the entertainment industry in negotiating their employment and exit agreements

Products Liability

  • Lead counsel for Firestone in the landmark “fear of cancer” case in 1993 (Potter v. Firestone Tire & Rubber)
  • Lead trial counsel for Pfizer Inc., successfully defending 375 anxiety/emotional distress cases involving allegedly defective heart valves
  • Lead trial counsel for Pfizer Inc. in three cases related to the drug Rezulin that led to the settlement of 4,500 claims