Managing Member: James J. Crongeyer, Jr
CEO: J. Grant Sellers
Number of members: 56 Number of other lawyers: 18
Watkins & Eager has represented national and international businesses, as well as leading Mississippi businesses and individuals, since 1895. In 2017, the firm opened its office in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and expanded its footprint to Alabama, opening an office in Birmingham. The firm has extensive real estate, banking, corporate, and business practices, in addition to a broad litigation practice in federal and state trial and appellate courts. The name Watkins & Eager is synonymous with integrity, experience, dedication, responsiveness, critical thinking, and creativity. The firm possesses the skills and the commitment to responsibly address complex legal problems and is dedicated to building long-term client relationships. Clients benefit from the firm’s institutional knowledge and culture of collaboration across all practice areas.
Main Areas of Practice:
Commercial & Business Litigation:
Watkins & Eager is deeply experienced in contract and business litigation and arbitration, including commercial controversies, business tort disputes, antitrust, lender liability, consumer fraud, and securities litigation. Several of its lawyers serve as arbitrators and mediators for business disputes.
Tort/Mass Tort Litigation:
Watkins & Eager is heavily engaged in the defense of product liability actions of all types, including aircraft, automotive, chemicals, farm implements, firearms, heavy equipment, tires, tools, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. The firm has taken the lead nationally and regionally in defense of toxic tort and mass tort matters such as pharmaceutical products, chemical exposure, silica, asbestos, and welding. Its lawyers defend commercial clients in high-risk premises liability litigation. The firm is also deeply experienced in malpractice defense on behalf of professionals including doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, engineers, and accountants.
Banking & Finance:
Watkins & Eager represents financial institutions of all types, maintaining a regular clientele of leading financial institutions. The firm’s banking work includes advising institutional management, transactional work, letters of credit, regulatory guidance, drafting bank forms, litigation, and loan workouts.
The firm’s corporate practice includes mergers and acquisitions, commercial finance, the formation of and counsel to business entities, securities and capital formation, and the drafting of commercial contracts.
The firm includes experienced tax attorneys who are also CPAs. The firm provides tax advice to businesses, individuals, and foundations and represents clients in tax disputes before the IRS, the Mississippi Department of Revenue, and local public bodies.
Wills, Trusts & Estates:
Estate planning, wills, trusts and probate are an integral part of the firm’s practice. The firm also has significant and ongoing experience in representing fiduciaries in litigation and dispute resolution.
Public Utility Law:
Watkins & Eager has extensive experience representing utilities before the Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities in Mississippi.
The firm represents owners, architects, engineers, contractors and sureties in construction disputes, project development, and general business activities.
Watkins & Eager has a substantial bankruptcy practice representing lenders and other creditors in workouts and other proceedings.
Labor & Employment:
The firm regularly represents some of the largest employers in Mississippi in various employer-related transactions and disputes, including day to day employment issues, litigation, collective bargaining and proceedings before the federal and state regulatory bodies. Its employment lawyers have defended employee class actions both in and out of Mississippi.
Watkins & Eager’s environmental practice includes litigation in both federal and state courts, as well as proceedings before the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the EPA, and other administrative agencies. Representation includes the defense of toxic claims, environmental permitting and compliance matters, and negotiating and drafting of environmental related contract provisions.
Watkins & Eager has the largest and most experienced commercial real estate practice group in Mississippi. The firm’s real estate practice includes representation of local residential and commercial developers, and involves new urbanism, multifamily, commercial developments and tax credit financing in Mississippi and neighboring states. The firm also serves as local counsel for numerous out-of-state lending institutions.
The firm has an extensive insurance practice handling claims involving coverage, fire, property, casualty, workers’ compensation, fidelity and surety, officers and directors, errors and omissions insurance, as well ERISA and non-ERISA matters regarding life, health, disability and accident insurance.
Watkins & Eager represents governmental bodies on various matters. The firm is experienced in tax and economic development incentives, and has been involved in a variety of public/private projects. The firm provides legal services related to the post-Hurricane Katrina Restoration of the Port of Gulfport, Mississippi, a $1.5 billion project, which former Governors Haley Barbour and William Winter describe as ‘the most important economic development project in the history of the state.’
Watkins & Eager’s clients include many of the best-known companies in Mississippi and the world. The firm regularly represents local, regional, and national banks and financial services institutions; manufacturers of automobiles, heavy equipment, and consumer products; major international oil and gas companies as well as independent energy companies; pharmaceutical companies; commercial real estate developers; health care providers; institutional investors; insurers; institutions of higher learning; and government agencies at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels.