Clarence Wilbon is a leader, innovator, mentor, and litigator – these interchangeable roles have defined his 24-year legal career, including leading one of the nation’s largest law firms over the last decade.
In 2023, Clarence was elected as Executive Committee Chair of Adams and Reese, an AmLaw 200, NLJ 500, and Law360 Top 400 firm with over 300 attorneys and advisors across 20 offices and 10 states. After serving a one-year tenure in the firm's leadership role, Clarence currently serves in his second term as Chair of the DEI Committee.
As EC Chair, Clarence collaborated with Managing Partner Gif Thornton to develop and drive the firm’s strategic plan. These efforts resulted in Adams and Reese gaining national recognition as leaders in emerging practice areas and growth industries. This expansion also involved increasing the attorney headcount to better serve specific client needs, offering continuous advancement opportunities for our professionals, and nurturing the unique cultural values that set Adams and Reese apart from other firms, such as promoting collaboration, teamwork, and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Clarence Wilbon represents financial services clients and companies throughout the Southeast on a multitude of commercial litigation matters. Clarence’s practice areas span financial services, creditors’ rights/special assets/workouts, commercial litigation, products liability and torts, employment litigation, education and operational matters impacting HBCUs, and healthcare disputes.
Clarence advises financial services clients, including institutions and companies in state and federal cases, in a wide array of commercial litigation matters, loan workouts and restructures, as well as disputes involving lender liability, loan practices, fraudulent transfers, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, fraud and misrepresentation, mergers and acquisitions, and class actions.
Within his consumer financial services litigation practice, Clarence assists clients with mortgage litigation and consumer financial litigation involving the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), Fair Lending Act (FLA), Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and other statutory and regulatory laws and rules.
“My goal is to get a solid result for my client without resorting to litigation. But when that’s not possible, I will take the case as far as the client needs me to – through trial and appeal.”
Clarence’s litigation practice covers businesses’ concerns across multiple industries, including representation of health care and life sciences companies concerning risk management, products liability, contract disputes, employment, restrictive covenants, and a full range of business disputes. His products liability practice centers on representing pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in state and federal court product liability actions, handling cases involving a variety of products, including medicines and medical devices.
In the labor and employment arena, Clarence counsels and represents clients on a variety of issues including restrictive covenants, race, gender, age, and disability discrimination; sexual harassment; defamation; wrongful termination; and retaliation.
Clarence helped launch Adams and Reese’s newly formed HBCU and Minority Serving Institutions Practice Team, addressing the full range of legal issues facing these institutions, including technology matters, employment disputes, employee benefits and compensation, and issues related to athletics programs. Clarence also advises on business law matters unique to the education sector, including public bidding, bond issues, grant acquisition, and finance.
Admitted to practice in Tennessee and Kentucky, Clarence has taken cases to trial and verdict, in state and federal court, in bench and jury trials, and in appellate actions before state courts in Tennessee and Kentucky and the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal.
Clarence is recognized by clients and peers among LawDragon’s “500 Leading Litigators in America” and Best Lawyers in Commercial Litigation and Litigation – Banking and Finance.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In his first term as DEI Chair, Clarence led the charge for the firm to achieve Mansfield Rule 5.0 Certification, a national standard recognizing law firms’ commitment to DEI and progress in diversifying leadership.
Throughout his tenure as DEI chair, Clarence worked with DEI committee members and firm management to introduce and implement mentorship programs such as Adams and Reese's ARROW (Advancement, Recruitment, and Retention of Women), AdvanceLaw Diversity Mentorship, and DAAP (Diverse Attorney Advancement and Promotion).
Clarence has installed programs that support law students and younger students to consider law careers, such as the National Association for Law Placement/Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline, ABA Legal Opportunity Scholarship, and Memphis Bar Association Summer Law Internship.
Professional Involvement and Community
A Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, Clarence is a member of both the LCA Trial Law Institute and Diversity Law Institute. Also, he is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel, Defense Research Institute, Trial Attorneys of America, and The Leo Bearman, Sr. American Inn of Court.
Clarence was a former co-chair of the Banking and Lender Liability Litigation Subcommittee for the American Bar Association.
An active member of the Memphis, Tennessee and Kentucky bar associations, Clarence graduated from the Tennessee Bar Association Law Leadership Class and Memphis Bar Association Leadership Forum.
He is a former adjunct professor of law with the University of Louisville. Clarence received the University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law Distinguished Alumnus award.
In the community, Clarence serves on the board of directors of Germantown Baseball Club. He was a former board of trustees member for Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal School.
- University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, J.D., 2000
- Arkansas State University, B.A., 1996
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Areas of Practice
- Litigation Counsel of America, Senior Fellow
- Best Lawyers® - Commercial Litigation, Litigation – Banking and Finance
- LawDragon 500 Leading Litigators in America, 2023, 2024
- Barrister, Order of Centurions
Professional Affiliations & Memberships
- International Association of Defense Counsel
- Litigation Counsel of America Trial Law Institute, Diversity Law Institute
- Trial Attorneys of America
- Tennessee Bar Association
- Memphis Bar Association, Fellow
- Kentucky Bar Association
- American Bar Association (Former Co-Chair of Banking and Lender Liability Litigation Subcommittee)
- Defense Research Institute
- Tennessee Bar Association, Law Leadership, Class of 2008
- Memphis Bar Association Leadership Forum, Class of 2006
- University of Louisville, Former Adjunct Professor of Law, 2002-2003
- Journal of Law and Education, Member
- Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal School, Former Member of Board of Trustees
- Germantown Baseball Club, Board of Directors
- Represent the leading global industrial water treatment company in a breach of contract case against a global chemical supplier relating to a long-term purchase contract with a fixed price on products. The chemical supplier defaulted on the contract. Successfully obtained injunctive relief forcing the chemical supplier’s strict compliance with the contract.
- Represented a nationwide healthcare provider in a breach of contract suit against a County government following the County’s improper termination of a successful RFP bid to continue providing clinical services. Obtained a complete reversal of the County’s actions and extension of the client’s existing services contract.
- Representing leading tourism and hospitality company in multi-action litigation involving various government agencies and an NBA team. Successfully argued before the Tennessee Supreme Court and reversed the lower court’s decision.
- Representing a British multinational medical equipment manufacturing company in a suit alleging violation of a non-compete agreement. Obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction prohibiting the employee from working for the competitor in violation of the agreement.
- Representing a British multinational medical equipment manufacturing company in a suit arising from the death of an employee who overdosed on the premises.
Financial Services Litigation
- Representing financial institutions and major companies in state and federal cases, including lender liability, loan practices, fraudulent transfers, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, fraud and misrepresentation, mergers and acquisitions, class actions, and more.
- Representing health care and life sciences companies concerning risk management, product liability, contract disputes, labor and employment, restrictive covenants, mergers and acquisitions, and the full range of business disputes.
Products Liability and Torts
- Representing pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers in various state and federal court product liability actions, handling cases involving a variety of products, including medicines and medical devices.
- Representing a chemical product manufacturer in a products liability suit arising out of the use of stripping gel.
- Counseling and representing clients in various state and federal forums and jurisdictions on a variety of issues including restrictive covenants, race, gender, age, and disability discrimination; sexual harassment; defamation; wrongful termination; and retaliation.
- Represented one of the world’s largest publishers of magazine media in a racial and civil rights discrimination lawsuit stemming from the separation of minority employees of the company.