William Bernhardt spent ten years as a litigator and partner at one of Oklahoma's most prominent law firms. After his books consistently hit the New York Times-bestseller list, he left the law to write and teach writing full-time. Bernhardt also holds a Master's Degree in English Literature, giving him a unique résumé–the only legal writing instructor in the nation who has had academic acclaim, a successful, award-winning law practice, and numerous New York Times-bestselling novels.
In law school at the University of Oklahoma, Bernhardt wrote for the Law Review, won the C.L.Love Scholarship for Outstanding Legal Writing, and was a member of the three-person Moot Court team that won the National Championship in 1985. Bernhardt himself was named Best Speaker. While practicing law, he received awards from Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Bar Association for his pro bono work and his work with a law-oriented Explorer Scout post. In 1994, Barrister Magazine named him one of the top twenty young lawyers in America.
His subsequent writing career has been equally impressive. He has over ten million books in print that have been translated into more than two dozen languages. His bestselling series of novels featuring lawyer Ben Kincaid inspired Library Journal to dub him the "master of the courtroom drama."
Bernhardt's novels are renowned for their unexpected twists, breathless pace, humor, and insightful consideration of issues confronting contemporary American society. Bernhardt has twice won the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction, and he has also received the Southern Writers Guild's Gold Medal Award. He was presented with a Career Achievement Award at the 2000 Booklovers Convention in Houston and he is one of only thirty people inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame–the youngest author ever so honored.
In 2000, Bernhardt was honored with the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award, which is given "in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large." He recently received the Royden B. Davis Outstanding Author Award from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
Bernhardt's many activities within and beyond the world of literature led OSU to dub him "Oklahoma's Renaissance Man." Other Bernhardt endeavors have included founding an annual writing workshop, writing the music, lyrics, and script for a musical (he is an accomplished pianist and songwriter), producing two music CDs, constructing crossword puzzles for The New York Times, surfing, digging for dinosaurs, trekking through the Himalayas, paragliding, zip-lining over the canopy of the Costa Rican rain forest, and jumping out of an airplane at 10,000 feet. He likes to stay busy.
Bernhardt lives in Oklahoma with his family.