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William Cole

Partner Emeritus - los angeles


Legal Expertise

Serving as lead counsel in numerous employment discrimination, whistle blower, ERISA, LMRA Section 301 and wrongful termination cases, labor arbitrations, National Labor Relations Board hearings, and other administrative proceedings. Serving as lead counsel defending multiple employers in wage and hour and employment discrimination actions. Chief negotiator in numerous private and public sector collective bargaining negotiations. Representation of multi-employer Taft-Hartley Benefit Plans. Representation of and advising employers regarding ERISA issues.

Representative Matters

  • Representation of major motion picture studios and producers in several industry-wide arbitrations with the Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild and Writers Guild. 
  • Ongoing representation of several significant benefit plans providing both day-to-day and litigation counsel. 
  • Represented major motion picture and television companies in class action wage and hour and age discrimination cases. 
  • Represented a large aerospace corporation in several wrongful discharge and employment discrimination litigation and arbitration matters. 
  • Successfully represented major motion picture company in jury trial of Federal Section 301 action. 
  • Successfully represented employers in numerous arbitrations including industry-wide cases for multiple employers. 
  • Chief negotiator for a major beer distributor in talks with the Teamsters union. 
  • Negotiating national collective bargaining agreements for a group of television producers.
  • Successfully represented all of the major studios and networks in a closely-watched arbitration against the WGA in which it was determined that a portion of the 2008 New Media deal is not retroactive.

Honors & Awards

  • Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers for:

    • Litigation - Labor and Employment, Los Angeles (2018)
    • Labor Law - Management, Los Angeles (2012)

  • “Leading Labor & Employment Lawyers in California,” Chambers USA (2006-2007, 2009-2014)
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of:
    • Employment Law - Management (2011-2015, 2019-2024)
    • Entertainment Law - Motion Pictures and Television (2011-2015, 2019-2024)
    • Labor Law - Management (2011-2015, 2019-2024)
    • Litigation - Labor and Employment (2011-2015, 2019-2024)
  • "Top Labor & Employment Lawyers in California," Daily Journal (2011)
  • "100 Most Powerful Employment Attorneys," Human Resource Executive (2011, 2018)
  • “The Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys,” Lawdragon (2008-2016)
  • "Top 5% of lawyers in Southern California," Southern California Super Lawyers (2004-2024)
  • "Top 100 Power Lawyers" list, The Hollywood Reporter (2008-2010)
  • "Leading Management Labor & Employment attorneys in California," Who’s Who Legal: California (2008-2010)
  • "Who's Who in Entertainment Law," Los Angeles Business Journal (2010)
  • "Top Labor & Employment Attorneys," Los Angeles Business Journal (2009)
  • "Top 3% of Attorneys Nationwide," The Legal News (2009)
  • “Who’s Who in LA Law,” Los Angeles Business Journal (2007)
  • AV® Preeminent™ Rating, Martindale-Hubbell

Professional, Business and civic Affiliations

  • Former Management Co-Chair, American Bar Association Sports and Entertainment Committee, Labor and Employment Law Section (2001 - 2005)
  • Executive Committee, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Labor Law Section (1989-1990)
  • Board of Directors, PBS Foundation
  • Co-chair, MSK Labor Department
  • MSK Governing Board 
  • MSK Executive Committee
  • Former MSK Managing Partner (1991-1997)



Events & Speaking Engagements


  • California
  • U.S. District Court
  • Central District of California
  • Eastern District of California
  • Southern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeal
  • Fourth Circuit
  • Ninth Circuit 


Stanford University, J.D., 1977; Order of the Coif

University of California, Irvine, B.A., 1974; magna cum laude; Phi Beta Kappa

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