Joel V. Williamson: Lawyer with Mayer Brown LLP

Joel V. Williamson

Chicago,  IL  U.S.A.
Phone+1 312 701 7229

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Experience & Credentials

Practice Areas

  • Insurance
  • Life Sciences
  • Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Health Care Litigation
  • Tax
  • Tax Controversy
  • Tax Transactions & Consulting
  • Transfer Pricing
Contact InfoTelephone: +1 312 701 7229
Fax: +1 312 706 9204
University Davidson College, B.A.
Law SchoolUniversity of Kentucky College of Law, J.D.
Admitted1970, Kentucky; 1972, US Tax Court; 1986, Illinois; 1986, Illinois Supreme Court; 1987, Trial Bar of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; 1987, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; 1989, US Court of Federal Claims; 1993, US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; 1993, US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; 1994, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; 1998, US District Court for the District of Columbia; 1999, US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; 2002, US Supreme Court; 2010, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; 2012, US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio; 2012, US District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania


Board of Visitors, Davidson College

Board of Governors, University of Kentucky School of Law

Kentucky Bar Association

United States District Court Trial Bar, Northern District, Illinois

American Bar Association

The American Club of Paris

The Chicago Club


A dean of the tax controversy Bar, revered for his 'spectacular courtroom manner and skills.'

Chambers USA 2010

Joel Williamson is widely acknowledged as one of the nation's leading tax attorneys and litigators. He has litigated over 60 tax cases. His experience includes the trial of six major IRC 482 transfer pricing cases, including Eli Lilly, G.D. Searle, Westreco (Nestle), Seagate Technology, National Semiconductor, and United Parcel Service. Presently, Joel is serving as lead trial counsel in Guidant LLC and Eaton, two cases involving IRC 482 issues. Joel has also litigated numerous cases involving economic substance of transactions, including the United Parcel Service case noted above, as well as the Saba Partnership (Brunswick) case, and Mukerji (Comdisco), an important test case for tax-advantaged computer leasing transactions involving Comdisco. More recently, Joel Litigated ConEd which involved an international Lease-In-Lease-Out transaction and Flextronics which involved an international merger and acquisition transaction. Both ConEd and Flextronics witnessed IRS arguments of economic substance and generic tax doctrines including substance over form and step transaction.

In the international tax area, Joel has litigated Subpart F, constructive triangular dividend, R&D Moratorium, Brazilian and other foreign tax credit for banks, including Bankers Trust and Riggs Bank, as well as Iranian loss investment in U.S. property (IRC 956) and foreign-versus-domestic-source income (IRC 863(b)) questions. He has litigated two significant captive insurance cases involving Humana, Inc. and Gulf Oil Corporation. In addition, Joel has litigated IRC 338 corporate acquisition related issues, including goodwill, intangible and inventory valuations and second-tier allocations involving Nestle's acquisition of Carnation.

Joel litigated the Tribune Company case, which dealt with whether a divestiture of a subsidiary qualified as a tax-free corporate reorganization. He has litigated significant tax accounting issues, including unbilled revenue and cap interest rate loan questions. Joel has also litigated significant procedural questions, including the proper role of IRS trial counsel in the audit examination process. He is also experienced in summons enforcement actions for both foreign and domestic records.

Chambers, a leading professional directory, consistently recognizes Joel as an industry leader. Chambers USA 2010 called Joel a dean of the tax controversy Bar, revered for his 'spectacular courtroom manner and skills.' In 2009, Chambers USA noted his unparalleled battleground experience. According to Chambers USA 2008, Williamson utilizes his great courtroom presence to remain constantly on top of his game. He attracts compliments for his skilful handling of executive clients, strategic insights and exhaustive preparation. Sources conclude that this fearless and tireless attorney never fails to imbue clients with complete confidence. In 2007, Chambers USA observed that Joel is one of the most successful controversy attorneys in the USA . . . his experience is almost unrivaled . . . [he is an] 'obvious standout' in the national tax market . . . [and is] 'especially adept at arguing the most technical issues.' Chambers USA 2006 wrote that he was much admired in the profession for his ability to identify the issues at hand quickly and incisively. Chambers Global 2006 wrote that he 'probably has more experience in litigating cases than any lawyer in the USA'...'enormous presence and stature' [with] 'long history with transfer pricing litigation.'

Joel is proud to have been recognized by Chambers USA as: Leading Lawyers, 2003-2004, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and by Chambers Global as: Leading Lawyers, Tax - Chicago, 2001-2002; Leading Lawyers, Tax - Illinois, 2003; Leading Lawyers, Tax - National, 2006; Leading Lawyers, 2003-2004, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. In addition, he was recognized by Legal 500 as a Leading Lawyer in 2008 and 2011. He is also further recognized as a leading Tax Controversy adviser in the 2012 International Tax Review Tax Controversy Leaders Guide, as well as a leading Transfer Pricing advisor in Expert Guides The Best of the Best USA 2013 - Transfer Pricing.

Joel served as an officer in the United States Army from 1970 through 1972, assigned to the Offices of the Staff Judge Advocate, 12th Support Brigade, Ft. Bragg, NC, and subsequently to Saigon Support Command, the Republic of South Vietnam. After his return from Vietnam in 1972, Joel joined the Chief Counsel's Office, US Department of Treasury. In 1978, he was appointed one of 20 Special Trial Attorneys located throughout the United States. Joel joined Mayer Brown in 1986 and was named partner that same year.

Mayer Brown was recently named Tax Controversy Team of the Year in the Legal 500 United States Awards 2014. Mayer Brown is 'among the best' and fields a large team...dedicated exclusively to tax controversy and transfer pricing, said Legal 500 and its sources in the 2014 US edition. The firm's extensive experience spans the full gamut of controversy work, from administrative appeals to litigation in the trial court and at appellate court level.

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Office Information

Joel V. Williamson

71 S. Wacker Drive
ChicagoIL 60606


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