Mary Ellen Conner Headshot

Mary Ellen Conner


Ms. Conner is a partner in the Georgia office of Johnson Fistel with extensive experience in shareholder, complex commercial, and class action litigation and appeals.  As part of her shareholder litigation practice, Ms. Conner has recovered significant cash payments and negotiated comprehensive corporate governance reforms on behalf of numerous Fortune 500 companies, including FirstEnergy, Inc. and X (f/k/a Twitter Inc.).  Ms. Conner has also successfully represented investor and consumer classes throughout litigation and appeals in federal and state courts nationwide. 

Prior to joining Johnson Fistel, Ms. Conner practiced law at JONES DAY, a full-service law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers and 43 offices around the world, representing companies in complex commercial and securities litigation and defending corporate officers and directors against allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and insider trading.  Ms. Conner also previously represented numerous businesses, healthcare providers, and individuals in connection with government investigations and litigation brought by the Department of Justice and Office of Inspector General for alleged violations of the False Claims Act, federal securities and commodities fraud statutes, and insider trading prohibitions.  In addition to her prior practice experience, Ms. Conner also previously served on the faculty of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School teaching Civil Procedure I and II; Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis I; and Legal Communications and Process.

Ms. Conner’s experience in shareholder litigation is exemplified by her active role in Gendrich v. Anderson et al., Civil Action No. CV-2020-07-2107 (Court of Common Pleas, Summit County, Ohio) (FirstEnergy, Inc. Derivative Litig.), where Johnson Fistel, serving as co-lead counsel on behalf of the state court plaintiffs, helped to secure a historic settlement for the benefit of FirstEnergy, a company whose fiduciaries caused the Company to engage in the largest bribery and money laundering scheme in Ohio.  The settlement included a cash payment to the Company of $180 million (less court-approved attorneys’ fees) and substantial corporate reforms, including the agreement that six of the company’s then-directors who were on the board a minimum of five years would not stand for re-election, as well as additional reforms relating to the Company’s political spending and lobbying. 

Ms. Conner was also instrumental in In re: Twitter, Inc. Shareholder Derivative Litigation, C.A. No. 18-062 (D. Del.), where she assisted in the recoupment of $38 million and the negotiation of robust corporate governance reforms for Twitter arising out of certain Twitter directors’ and officers’ alleged breaches of fiduciary duties by issuing materially false and misleading statements about Twitter’s user growth and user engagement metrics.  In addition, Ms. Conner was a key player in securing an $18.75 million settlement on behalf of a proposed class of investors alleging the biopharmaceutical company Chiasma, Inc. misled investors in its 2015 initial public offering about the prospects for regulatory approval of the company’s drug candidate, Mycapssa, in violation of §§ 11 and 15 of the Securities Act of 1933. 

Ms. Conner’s fiduciary duty litigation experience is further highlighted by her work in negotiating a favorable settlement for her client in the In re International Textile Group Merger Litigation, brought by Safety Components International (“SCI”) minority shareholders against WL Ross & Co., certain current and former officers and directors of International Textile Group (“ITG”), and others, arising out of the merger of ITG and SCI in which minority shareholders alleged breach of fiduciary duties by controlling shareholders. 

Ms. Conner concentrates her practice on securities and shareholder litigation and complex commercial disputes, representing businesses and individuals who have been wronged by corporate fraud, including in direct and derivative actions.

Ms. Conner was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 2011 and is admitted to practice and in good standing with the following courts:

  • All courts in the State of Georgia
  • The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
  • The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Ms. Conner graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Public Service Scholar with Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Psychology.  She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law with Honors in 2011, where she served on the editorial board for The North Carolina Law Review and received the Gressman-Pollitt Award for Excellence in Oral Advocacy from the Holderness Moot Court.  While in law school, Ms. Conner also served as a summer clerk to The Honorable Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr., Chief Judge for the Western District of North Carolina.

For her professional achievements, Ms. Conner has received multiple industry and national recognitions, including “2022 and 2023 Georgia Rising Star” status by Super Lawyers, as well as the Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent peer rating—the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards based upon peer reviews—for consecutive years spanning 2019 through 2024.  Ms. Conner was also recognized as a member of the General Litigation Department of the Year, awarded by The Daily Report, for the years 2013 and 2014.  She also received the Safe Haven Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Representation in 2012.

“The ‘Advice-of-Counsel’ Defense: Cautionary Tales for Counsel in False Claims Act Cases,” American Health Lawyers Association.

“Buyers Beware: The Drug Supply Chain Security Act and the False Claims Act,” American Health Lawyers Association Fraud & Abuse, April 2017.

Speaker, “Responding to Governmental Civil Investigative Demands and Government Subpoenas,” Clear Law Institute, February 21, 2017.

Ms. Conner remains active in legal education.  She has served as an instructor at Emory University’s School of Law Keissler Eidson Trial Techniques Program and volunteers as an instructor for Empire Mock Trial.

Ms. Conner has been recognized as one of Atlanta’s top lawyers by a number of third-party sources based upon peer reviews, including the following: