William F. Ray


William Ray has practiced law with Watkins & Eager PLLC for thirty years.    His practice focuses on commercial litigation and arbitration, including representation of banks, securities brokers, financial advisors, insurance companies, and fiduciaries.  William has served as lead counsel in defending class actions in Mississippi and elsewhere.  

William has served as a securities arbitrator for FINRA, and obtained his mediator certification from the Duke University Private Adjudication Center in 2002.  He was appointed by the Mississippi Secretary of State to the task force that drafted the current version of the Mississippi Securities Act, and served as chair of that task force's subcommittee on fraud and civil liability.            

William has authored amicus curiae briefs in the Fifth Circuit and the Mississippi Supreme Court on behalf of the Mississippi Consumer Finance Association, the Mississippi Bankers Association, and the American Bankers Association.  He has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a Local Litigation Star in 2016; by Chambers USA as a leader in Litigation; by The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and Banking & Finance Litigation; and by Mid-South Super Lawyers in the areas of Business Litigation, Employee Benefits/ERISA, and Banking.  William has also been named as a member of the "Super Lawyers Top 50 in Mississippi" on five occasions.  

Contact Information:

Telephone number: 601.965.1974
Email: wray@watkinseager.com
Practice Areas
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Banking and Financial Institutions
Banking Financial Services and Securities Litigation
Class Action
Commercial Litigation
Employment and Labor Litigation
Insurance Litigation

Bachelor's Degree: English, University of Mississippi, 1983
Juris Doctor: University of Mississippi School of Law, 1986

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  • Appointed by Mississippi Secretary of State to panel charged with proposing revisions to Mississippi Uniform Securities Act; Chairman of subcommittee on fraud and civil liability (2008)
  • AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Benchmark Litigation: Local Litigation Star, 2016-2017
  • Chambers USA-America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2009-2017, Litigation)
  • Defense Research Institute, Chair of the Business Litigation Committee (1997-1999)
  • Defense Research Institute, Law Institute (2002-present)
  • Defense Research Institute, Law Institute Chairman (2008-2010)
  • Defense Research Institute, Board of Directors (2012 - 2015)
  • Duke University Private Adjudication Center Mediator Training (2002)
  • Mid-South Super Lawyers® (2006-2017, Business Litigation, Employee Benefits/ERISA, Banking; 2011 - 2014 Top 50 in Mississippi)
  • NASD/FINRA Securities Arbitrator
  • The Best Lawyers in America® (2009-2018, Bet-the-Company Litigation,  Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Banking & Finance, Litigation - Trusts and Estates)
  • The Best Lawyers in America® 2018 Lawyer of the Year - Litigation - Banking and Finance, Jackson, Mississippi
  • Top Ten Recipient of Mississippi Business Journal's Leadership in Law Award, 2016.


  • Co-Presenter: "Death of a Salesman? The Regulatory and Litigation Risk Facing Life Insurance Companies."  ABA Tips Seminar, 2016
  • "Mississippi Does Not Need State Court Class Actions," Mississippi Bar Association Summer School for Lawyers, 2016
  • "Litigation Trends and Emerging Risks," Mississippi Bankers Association, Bank Director Training Seminar, 2015
  • "Litigation Implications of Asset Protection Trusts," CLE presentation sponsored by Trustmark Wealth Management, Jackson, Mississippi, 2014
  • Co-Author: "Protecting Your  Corporate Representative from Ambush at Trial," IADC Trial Techniques and Tactics Committee Newsletter, September 2014
  • Identity Theft 2010: Civil Liabilities and Regulatory Red Flags study, DRI Strictly Retail seminar (2010)
  • Punitive Damages: Strategies and Reality Checks, 2003-2006, DRI Life, Heath, Disability and ERISA Seminar (2006)
  • Evaluating and Defending the Punitive Damages Case, DRI Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Seminar (2005)
  • Moderator, panel of U.S. District Judges, Issues Affecting Removal in Mississippi: Remand and Abstention, University of Mississippi's 19th Annual Federal Practice and Procedure Seminar (2004);
  • Injunctions in Commercial Cases, DRI Business Litigation Seminar (1999);
  • Moderator, Representing Businesses in High-Profile Litigation, DRI Annual Meeting (1999);
  • Defending the Claim for Punitive Damages, DRI Business Torts Seminar (1998)
  • Depositions and Ethics, Effective Deposition Practice, The University of Mississippi Center for Continuing Legal Education (1996)

Professional And Community Involvement

  • Christ United Methodist Church
  • Since 2014, William has also served on the programming committee for the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence, a non-profit foundation dedicated to providing cutting-edge continuing education for state-court appellate judges from across the country.