Bill Athanas represents companies and individuals in government enforcement matters, focusing on federal grand jury investigations. He has almost 30 years of white-collar experience, roughly a third of which was spent as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. and Birmingham. Bill has handled hundreds of complex criminal cases and represented clients in all facets of those matters – whether as subjects, targets or witnesses, or those who simply receive subpoenas for documents.
In representing clients facing investigation, Bill devotes a significant amount of his practice to pre-indictment advocacy. He has considerable experience identifying and gathering the vital factual context necessary to allow for informed determinations of contemplated charges, and in presenting that information to prosecutors in a manner that allows for a critical assessment of the allegations’ merits. On numerous occasions over the course of his career, Bill has successfully dissuaded prosecutors from ever filing charges against his clients.
When clients are charged with wrongdoing, Bill recognizes the value of a vigorous response to the government's allegations. Where the circumstances favor reaching a negotiated resolution, he has vast experience securing favorable plea agreements and representing cooperating witnesses. When the matter cannot be resolved, Bill calls upon his extensive trial experience to test the government's evidence before a jury. During his career, he has tried more than 20 cases to verdict, including 15 in federal court. That experience includes serving as lead counsel in numerous high-profile matters, including the largest and most complex bank fraud case ever tried in the history of the Northern District of Alabama – a trial that lasted two months, resulting in testimony from roughly 70 witnesses, the admission of over 600 exhibits, and required a three-hour closing argument.
In addition to this work, Bill regularly counsels institutional clients on compliance measures calculated to help ensure full compliance with applicable law. He has worked extensively in anti-corruption matters, where his in-depth knowledge of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enables him to assist clients engaged in international business. His experience includes handling FPCA cases as a prosecutor and advising companies in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, gaming, pharmaceutical, automotive, apparel, resource extraction and professional sports. As part of this work, he regularly provides training for key employees, creates and enhances anti-corruption policies and protocols, conducts internal investigations and provides day-to-day advice and counsel as anti-corruption issues arise.
Additionally, Bill conducts internal investigations on behalf of clients in the healthcare, manufacturing and financial services industries – whether as part of ongoing government inquiries or otherwise. He has written and lectured extensively on how to conduct internal investigations efficiently and effectively, and in a manner that inspires the confidence of prosecutors and regulators. Whether in the wake of such investigations or otherwise, Bill regularly calls upon his prosecutorial experience to represent individuals and institutions in their efforts to recover for harm suffered as a result of wrongdoing by internal or external actors.
Bill also maintains an active pro bono practice. He is a recurrent volunteer at clinics presented by Volunteer Lawyers Birmingham, assisting indigent clients in efforts to obtain relief under Alabama’s expungement statute. In addition, he regularly represents clients pro bono in federal criminal matters. As part of that effort, he recently secured the full dismissal of two separate matters where the clients faced decades of imprisonment.