Bill Athanas is a litigation attorney in Holland & Knight's Birmingham office. Mr. Athanas represents institutional clients and individuals involved in government enforcement matters, with a focus on federal grand jury investigations.
Mr. Athanas draws on more than 25 years of white collar experience, roughly a third of which was spent as a federal prosecutor. He 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. Wherever the road leads in a federal criminal investigation, he knows the path because he has traveled it before.
In representing clients under investigation for potential wrongdoing, Mr. Athanas devotes a significant amount of his practice to pre-indictment advocacy. This involves gathering vital factual context and providing legal analysis and argument in an effort to dissuade prosecutors from ever filing charges against his clients. This approach has been successful in helping numerous individuals – including several formally identified as "targets" – avoid prosecution entirely. Clients benefit from his understanding of how government charging decisions are made. Mr. Athanas recently authored an article setting forth the factors that drive those decisions and explaining how knowledge of that process can illuminate a client's strategic choices during the investigation phase.
For clients charged with wrongdoing, Mr. Athanas recognizes the value of vigorous response to the government's allegations. He was recently engaged to represent a client facing charges of insurance fraud and identity theft. He quickly conducted a thorough factual investigation, the results of which he presented to the government along with a detailed review of the law explaining why the case was unsound. The prosecutor agreed and dismissed the matter with prejudice.
When indicted cases move forward, Mr. Athanas calls upon his extensive trial experience to test the government's evidence where the circumstances warrant. During his career, he has tried more than 20 cases to verdict, including 15 in federal court.
Where the circumstances favor reaching a negotiated resolution, Mr. Athanas has vast experience securing favorable plea agreements. He recently resolved a lengthy public corruption prosecution by securing a binding plea from the government to a year and day incarceration – a mere fraction of the exposure the client faced. He is particularly effective representing cooperating witnesses, including his recent representation of a cooperator who faced a substantial sentence in a compounding pharmacy prosecution. Mr. Athanas worked to ensure that the information his client provided – which led directly to the pleas of two other individuals – was taken into account when the defendant was sentenced to a year of incarceration. Once again, this sentence was a mere fraction of the sentence faced. He recently published an article in The Champion, the official publication of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, detailing this process.
In addition to this work, Mr. Athanas 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 counsel 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, Mr. Athanas 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. His prosecutorial experience helps him maximize his corporate clients' ability to recover for harm suffered as a result of wrongdoing by internal or external actors.
- Suffolk University Law School, J.D., cum laude
- University of New Hampshire, B.S.
- All U.S. District Courts in Alabama
- All U.S. District Courts in Massachusetts
- All U.S. District Courts in New Hampshire
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
- Birmingham Bar Foundation, Fellow, 2021-Present
- Alabama State Bar, Criminal Justice Section, White Collar Crime Committee, Chair, 2014-Present
- Alabama Bar Association, International Law Section, Chair, 2011-Present
- Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Litigation: General Commercial (Alabama), 2019-2023
- The Best Lawyers in America guide, Birmingham Lawyer of the Year, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, 2023
- The Best Lawyers in America guide, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, 2019-2024; Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy), 2022-2024; Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2022-2024
- Mid-South Super Lawyers magazine, 2013-2023
- Top 50: Birmingham, Mid-South Super Lawyers magazine, 2023
- B-Metro Top Lawyers, White Collar Criminal Defense, 2018