William J. Carroll has focused his practice on labor and employment law. He puts his extensive experience to work representing employers in trial and appellate courts, and before a wide range of state and federal agencies. He represents clients from a variety of industries -- including high technology, financial, manufacturing, transportation, higher education and retail – who benefit from his knowledgeable advice and effective counsel.

Will has successfully tried jury and non-jury trials alleging discrimination, retaliation, and other employment claims. He has argued on behalf of employers before the California Supreme Court on several occasions, and has a distinguished record of appellate advocacy in both state and federal courts of appeal.

While Will’s practice encompasses all aspects of employment law, he is especially experienced in litigating complex wage and other class and collective actions.

Beyond the litigation context, Will routinely advises California employers regarding preventive personnel practices, wage and hour issues, employee terminations, internal harassment and retaliation complaints, reductions in force and all other aspects of the employment relationship. He also conducts workplace investigations and compliance audits.

Will also regularly counsels companies on employee mobility and trade secret misappropriation issues, such as employee raiding and solicitation matters, the interpretation and enforceability of non-compete agreements, and counsels clients seeking to minimize the risks associated with hiring competitors' employees.

Previous Experience

Will tried criminal felony cases and conducted preliminary hearings as a deputy trial attorney for the San Francisco Public Defender's office during a four-month internship.

He also was part of a California Bar Association-sponsored delegation to the former U.S.S.R., where the delegation met with political leaders, academics, law enforcement officials, and attorneys in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan in furthering the development of a Western-style legal system.

  • Experience

    • Will defeated a class certification sought by a putative class of hair models who alleged that a cosmetics company misclassified them as independent contractors.
    • When a putative class of workers brought donning and doffing wage and hour claims against a large pharmaceutical manufacturer, Will succeeded in achieving a favorable class-wide settlement.
    • Will obtained summary judgment on Fourth Amendment claims brought by a putative class alleging civil rights violations against a public university.
    • Will argued before the California Supreme Court in seeking affirmation of summary judgment in the employer’s favor in a class action seeking imposition of “waiting time” penalties for failure to pay temporary workers within 24 hours of completion of their work. Smith v. Superior Court, 39 Cal.4th 77 (2006).
    • In Yanowitz v. L'Oreal USA, Inc., 36 Cal.4th 1028 (2005), Will argued before the California Supreme Court on behalf of the employer in a seminal retaliation case. Among its other rulings in this complex case, the Supreme Court rejected the employee’s “deterrence test,” which would have dramatically expanded the range of conduct actionable as “retaliation” under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.
    • Will argued before the California Supreme Court on behalf of the employer in Campbell v. Regents of the University of California, 35 Cal.4th 311 (2005). In an important victory for public sector employers, the Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of an employee’s claims due to her failure to exhaust the University’s grievance procedures, and established for the first time that claims brought under California’s whistleblower protection statutes are subject to administrative exhaustion requirements.
    • In Caldwell v. Caldwell, 545 F.3d 1126, 2008 WL 4444310 (9th Cir 2008), Will succeeded in securing the dismissal of First Amendment claims brought in federal court by a plaintiff who sought to shut down portions of an educational website, “Understanding Evolution,” maintained by the University of California’s Museum of Paleontology.
    • The Government of Canada appointed Will to represent it in a sex and age discrimination suit arising out of closure of its San Francisco Consulate General.
  • Credentials


    • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., 1982, cum laude
    • University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1979, summa cum laude
      Phi Beta Kappa

    Bar Admissions

    • California
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
    • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
    • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
    • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

        Professional Memberships

        • American Bar Association, Section of Labor and Employment Law
        • Bar Association of San Francisco
        • National Association of College and University Attorneys, Committee on Legal Education
        • State Bar of California, Labor and Employment Law Section
      • Insights

        Blog Post

        Federal Contractor Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Rules Revoked

        Schiff Hardin Employment Law Landscape

        Blog Post
        Blog Post

        2017 Legislative Developments

        Schiff Hardin Employment Law Landscape

        Blog Post
        Blog Post

        DOL Overtime Rule Blocked by Federal Court

        Schiff Hardin Employment Law Landscape

        Blog Post

        Other Publications

        • Co-author with Charles F. Robinson, General Counsel of the University of California: Chapter 7, “Selection of Outside Counsel,” Successful Partnering Between Inside and Outside Counsel, Thomson Reuters Westlaw and the Association of Corporate Counsel (2016)
        • “Court Rules Pregnancy Leave is Supplemental to General Disability Rights,” Daily Journal (Mar. 19, 2013)
        • “The Ongoing Battle Over Overtime,” Mortgage Banking (Sep. 2011)

        Speeches & Presentations

        • "It’s Time to Act: DOL’s New Rule Expanding Overtime Eligibility," Schiff Hardin Webinar (Jun. 2, 2016)
        • "Independent Contractors: Another Legal Minefield for Employers," (co-presenter) Schiff Hardin Webinar (Dec. 11, 2012)
        • "Independent Contractors vs. Employees: The Latest Developments," The Network Trial of Law Firms, New York (Aug. 2012)
        • "Waiting To Exhale: The Developing Law Regarding Medical Marijuana In The Workplace," National Retail Federation Human Resources Executive Summit, Dallas, Texas (Oct. 13, 2011)
        • "Cyberspace and Beyond: Handling Electronic Connections and Media Issues," University of California (May 2011)
        • "Employee Privacy and Social Networking," Social Networking Goes to Work: Employment Law Issues in The Digital Age, Schiff Hardin LLP, San Francisco, CA. (Nov. 3, 2009)

      Employment Law Landscape

      Reporting for Duty: In California, It’s Compensable, Even When Employees are Told Not to Come to Work

      Last week’s decision in Ward v. Tilly’s Inc. means that California employers with on-call policies are required to pay a minimum of two hours reporting time pay, even if the employee is told there is no need to come in to work that day. A California Court of Appeal held that a company’s on-call scheduling... Continue Reading

      image description

      Webinar: new FLSA overtime requirements

      Partner William J. Carroll presented "It's Time To Act: DOL's New Rule Expanding Overtime Eligibility" during a BeaconLive Webinar. Will discusses strategies for implementing the new rule, which takes effect Dec. 1, 2016. VIEW WEBINAR