Contributed by Sidley Austin LLP
In a recent study published in the Minnesota Law Review and reported in The New York Times, law professors Lee Epstein and William Landes, and Circuit Judge Richard Posner, found the current Supreme Court to be the most business-friendly Court of the post-World War II era. Whether or not one agrees with that characterization, over the last few terms, the Roberts Court has repeatedly decided significant issues of constitutional, statutory, and procedural law not in the context of social issues or civil liberties, but in commercial cases, and often through a lens of how the law affects business interests.
In this climate, business clients find substantial value in specialized appellate counsel who are best able to identify, frame, and argue important legal issues pending before Court. Over the past thirty years, a specialized United States Supreme Court bar within private law firms has developed. Now business clients, as well as states and municipalities, regularly retain Supreme Court counsel to handle or assist on petitions for review and merits briefing, while trade groups and other constituencies regularly turn to specialized counsel to file amici curiae briefs on high-profile cases raising issues important to the business community. Most Supreme Court cases today involve two or more experienced lawyers. In recent years, some lawyers in private practice have had five or more arguments in a single term.
The rise of specialized appellate counsel reflects an awareness that the Supreme Court’s docket is almost completely discretionary and continues to shrink. The Court heard oral argument in just 74 cases during October term 2012, compared to more than twice that number in the 1980s. The Supreme Court is not a court of “error correction”; it accepts review to promote uniformity in the application of law and to resolve important substantive and procedural issues with national impact. On writ petitions, appellate counsel can help to identify what is most likely to grab the Court’s attention, and in merits briefing, appellate counsel have insight on how to tailor arguments to garner a majority of votes. The stakes in these cases couldn’t be higher, as the Court’s decisions have ripple effects, not only for litigation, but also for how the businesses operate generally.
Clients also are increasingly turning to appellate counsel for litigation in other appellate courts and even in the trial court. How issues are framed and preserved in the trial court substantially affects the likelihood of success on appeal. Given the Supreme Court’s dwindling merits docket, a federal intermediate appellate court or a state appellate court will provide final review in the overwhelming majority of cases. Just as in the Supreme Court, the outcome in these cases often turns on counsel’s ability to present novel and/or complex legal arguments persuasively to judges who are generalists by training. Especially in high-stakes cases, appellate counsel can provide value in assisting at the pre-trial and trial phrases, and in handling post-trial motions and intermediate appeals.
Appellate specialists also play a useful role in any area raising complex legal issues. Below are illustrative areas where appellate expertise is especially valuable, because the areas frequently appear on the Supreme Court’s docket, raise cutting-edge legal issues, and significantly affect the business community.
Because it has exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is at the forefront of some of the country’s most important litigation. The Supreme Court has heard as many as four Federal Circuit cases in some recent terms. This term, the Supreme Court heard argument on the patentability of human genes, and addressed the patent protection of genetically modified soybean seeds while recognizing that complex legal issues will continue to arise over such inventions.
Appellate specialists can serve a crucial “translation” role in patent litigation by communicating highly technical concepts in an understandable way. Federal Circuit Judges have long encouraged the use of non-patent and experienced appellate lawyers, who also are uniquely able to frame issues in the Federal Circuit for review by the Supreme Court. Many sophisticated clients therefore retain appellate specialists regularly to handle patent appeals.
Administrative Law And Litigation Against The Government
Regulatory litigation covers a wide array of substantive areas – including energy, environmental, telecommunications, securities, employment, and food and drug law – and can be as labyrinthine as the regulations themselves. Regulatory implementation and litigation has a profound impact on business, and the Supreme Court has continued to show interest in these kinds of cases. In this and the prior term, for example, the Court found in favor of business interests in cases involving the application of EPA logging regulations, FCC indecency standards, and the determination of criminal fines in government prosecutions. This term, the Court is also poised to issue a decision on the deference owed to agencies charged with interpreting their regulatory scheme.
Appellate specialists add substantial value in such cases, given the complexity of the constitutional and administrative law issues, and because such issues frequently recur in courts like the U.S. Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia. Moreover, clients frequently retain appellate specialists to bring impact litigation against federal, state, or local entities, recognizing that it is often best proactively to challenge new legislation or regulations that threaten the well-being of a company or industry, rather than waiting to assert a defense in response to government or private enforcement.
Starting with the Supreme Court’s decision during the 2010 Term in Wal-Mart v. Dukes – which struck down a massive nationwide class – the Court has taken an increased interest in class action litigation. This term, the Court struck down another class action in Comcast v. Behrend, thus continuing to tighten the federal requirements for certifying a class. And in another case, the Court held that plaintiffs cannot avoid litigating in federal court by stipulating to damages below the Class Action Fairness Act’s jurisdictional threshold. Issues of class certification – and efforts to immediately appeal adverse class rulings – are critically important to business clients. Appellate counsel continue to play a vital role in appellate and trial courts as businesses defend against certification of class actions.
Enforcing Arbitration Provisions
Over the last decade, the Supreme Court frequently has addressed the enforceability of contractual arbitration provisions and class action waivers, which are increasingly common in commercial and consumer agreements. In the current term, the Court will decide two cases likely to be of particular importance on these issues. Because legal questions about whether a given dispute may or must be resolved through arbitration often turn on the intersection of the Federal Arbitration Act and other federal or state statutes or rules, appellate specialists are well-positioned to handle the FAA preemption-related arguments from the outset of the litigation and to frame them for potential Supreme Court review.
Federal preemption under a wide variety of statutes is a potentially powerful defense for businesses seeking to operate under one set of federal rules rather than be subject to the myriad laws, regulations, and judgments of juries under the laws of the 50 states. Challenges to state regulations and to private lawsuits based on state-law tort claims or “consumer protection” statutes are thus of significant concern to many businesses. In recent years, the Supreme Court has decided as many as five preemption cases in a single term, and it is poised to decide six preemption cases this term, including – for the third year in a row – a case involving whether federal labelling law preempts state law claims against pharmaceutical manufacturers. Specialized appellate counsel continue to take a lead role not only in briefing and arguing these cases when they reach the Supreme Court, but also in applying preemption law to new legal disputes in other courts.
Appellate Law - Nationwide
THE FIRM This firm is an obvious leader in the appellate space, featuring an endless supply of top-quality practitioners spread across multiple offices nationwide. The group offers extensive experience in handling complex appellate litigation for a range of clients including Comcast, The Travelers Companies and Walmart. Ongoing cases include the representation of John Wiley & Sons in a dispute concerning the specifics of copyright infringement.
Sources say: "The firm has a variety of advocates who perform appellate work at the highest level."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Theodore Olson remains a preeminent choice of appellate lawyer, hailed as "one of the leading Supreme Court advocates in the country" and "a wise legal strategist." He continues to be involved in some of the country's leading cases in recent times, including acting as co-counsel for the American Foundation for Equal Rights in the historic Proposition 8 litigation. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently upheld the Perry v Brown district court ruling that confirmed the unconstitutionality of the proposition. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court.
The "tremendously effective advocate" Miguel Estrada cochairs the firm's appellate and constitutional law practice and has displayed superb courtroom abilities in numerous Supreme Court appearances. He is currently working on behalf of Comcast in a dispute regarding the role of district courts in the certification of class actions. He is "one smart son of a gun," according to sources.
Fellow practice cochair Theodore Boutrous is held in high regard by market commentators for his work as a "great advocate." Following on from his success in the Wal-Mart v Dukes case, Theodore has played a key role in several other significant matters, including the Proposition 8 case referred to above. Other highlights include his representation of Standard Fire before the Supreme Court in what will be the first case at this level to interpret the 2005 Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).
Thomas Hungar is an acclaimed appellate lawyer based in Washington, DC and has argued multiple cases at Supreme Court level, as well as numerous arguments before federal and state appellate courts. He recently achieved a substantial victory for Facebook in a patent infringement case brought by Leader Technologies.
Mark Perry is a seasoned litigator who specializes in complex commercial litigation. After years of extensive litigation on behalf of Janus Capital Management, he led the team that successfully defeated the final case in this matter. This was brought by First Derivative Traders, and was taken to the Supreme Court.
Daniel Kolkey is a distinguished member of the appellate team, and is based in San Francisco. He currently represents Apple in a California Supreme Court case regarding the recording of a customer's address in an online transaction.
Thomas Dupree is a new addition to the rankings, backed by a rapidly growing reputation for presenting excellent arguments at appellate level. Peers characterize him as "a very fine lawyer who is certainly well regarded."
Helgi Walker recently joined the firm from Wiley Rein. Walker is highly regarded as a "brilliant appellate advocate" who demonstrates admirable commercial awareness when handling complex matters.
THE FIRM This preeminent appellate group continues to win victory after victory in the federal and supreme courts. It is particularly noted for its ability to handle a diverse caseload, representing a wide range of clients in their most significant cases. It achieved a landmark decision on behalf of a death row inmate Cory Maples in the Supreme Court in the Maples v Thomas case. The team also enjoyed an important win in United States v Home Concrete, a case which significantly impacts the ability of the government to collect tax.
Sources say: "From top to bottom the team is five-star quality."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Maureen Mahoney continues to "add an enormous amount of value" to the appellate team. She is described as “unbelievably good in every respect.”
Gregory Garre is a force to be reckoned with and is hailed as "one of the top Supreme Court advocates of his generation." He is making a huge impact in the appellate community, and his recent high-profile representations include acting for University of Texas at Austin. This Supreme Court case will determine whether the University has the right to use an applicant’s race as one of the numerous factors that inform admission choices.
Scott Ballenger is rapidly gaining praise for his impressive appellate work. His recent work includes representing Union Pacific Railroad Company in its Eighth Circuit case against the US Department of Homeland Security.
THE FIRM Mayer Brown remains at the forefront of the appellate field, engaging in many high-stakes appeals at the Supreme Court level. Its impressive client roster spans a diverse range of industries, demonstrating the team's breadth of knowledge. The team is currently working on behalf of Siemens, American Honda Motor, Medtronic and many more. Its recent highlights include acting for Georgia Pacific in a case concerning the Clean Water Act that will be heard before the Supreme Court.
Client Service "They respond immediately to any questions I have; they're always willing to pitch in and do anything, even at the last minute – they have an amazing can-do attitude."
Commercial Awareness "This is a team of superstars who consistently deliver insightful counsel and, when it's go time, superior advocacy and results."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Andrew Frey is a "highly regarded and well-known appellate lawyer" who has amassed an incredible amount of experience at all the varying court levels. "He is incredibly intelligent and knows the law very, very well - I always feel very confident in his answers to legal questions," states one source.
Andrew Pincus is singled out for being particularly active in the Supreme Court, engaging in several high-profile appeals. Commentators praise the breadth of his practice, and state that he "gets tapped for the really important matters." He recently obtained a unanimous summary reversal of a decision made by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals against Clarksburg Nursing Home & Rehabilitation Center.
Stephen Shapiro maintains an impressive presence in the appellate arena, offering extensive experience in arguing noteworthy cases in the Supreme Court. He handles matters on behalf of clients from a wide range of industries, demonstrating his impressive advocacy skills in multiple high-profile cases.
Evan Tager is lauded as a "go-to appellate lawyer" who is able to "deliver truly superior advocacy and actionable solutions for complex and high-stakes problems." He recently succeeded in appealing the decision that CSX Transportation should pay $3.9 million in damages to plaintiff Dominic Choate, who argued that Illinois Harbor Belt Railroad Company should have prevented him from trespassing on its tracks.
Managing partner Kenneth Geller is a significant member of the appellate team, praised for his "exquisite understanding of legal issues from both an analytical and practical viewpoint." Sources also commend his ability to "devise excellent strategies to promote novel theories."
Special counsel Charles Rothfeld is a highly respected appellate advocate who is regarded as "incredibly successful" by market sources. He has been involved in a number of matters on behalf of Siemens, Mayo Medical Labs and The Bank of New York Mellon in recent times. Peers also highlight him as being a "very fine oral advocate."
THE FIRM This highly regarded group of experienced practitioners is capable of handling a broad spread of cases, and has deep-rooted expertise in appearing before all levels of state and federal appellate court. The group recently achieved a victory for Fox Television Stations after a ruling by the Supreme Court determined that certain indecency standards applied by the FCC were unconstitutionally vague.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Carter Phillips is one of the leading lights of the appellate Bar, described as "a truly unique talent" whose incredible expertise sees him appear frequently before the Supreme Court. He recently obtained the reversal of a ruling made by the federal appeals court against Southern Union Company, which had found his client guilty of storing mercury without a permit. Carter argued that it is the jury, rather than the judge, who has the power to increase the fine set in a criminal case.
Peter Keisler is singled out as "one of the most extraordinary advocates" for his outstanding work on behalf of clients from a wide range of industries. His recent work includes successfully representing transportation company CSX in a case concerning the top level of compensation for disabled workers.
THE FIRM WilmerHale is renowned for its considerable experience within the Supreme Court, and also appears before the federal courts of appeals on a regular basis. The team is adroit at tackling a huge range of appellate cases for clients including American Express, Apple, The Walt Disney Company and Citigroup.
Commercial Awareness "They really delve into issues and understand the most important, fundamental points. They are also really good writers, they produce wonderful briefs which makes them stand out for me."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Seth Waxman is held in the highest esteem by peers and clients for his incredible breadth of experience in appellate litigation. "When he walks into a courtroom, everybody stops and listens - he just has that command, and he exudes an air of confidence that means he doesn't have to shout or scream," comments one impressed source. Having argued 61 cases before the Supreme Court, he maintains a very full caseload and is a popular choice with high-profile clients such as Amgen.
Paul Wolfson is a highly respected appellate lawyer who is commended for "his breadth of knowledge and precision." His recent highlights include being involved in the successful representation of Joel Judulang before the Supreme Court in a case concerning the relief obtainable under Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
THE FIRM Jones Day houses a highly talented pool of appellate lawyers, many of whom possess extensive government experience. The team's recent work includes representing Kouichi Taniguchi in a Supreme Court case concerning how litigation costs are allocated in civil disputes. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jones Day, overturning a ruling previously made by the Ninth Circuit.
Sources say: "They are efficient and coordinated and do a very good job. They can field large groups when necessary from different offices."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice chair Glen Nager is praised for his expertise in appellate law, having argued a significant number of matters before the Supreme Court. He recently achieved a successful result on behalf of Innovation Ventures in a Sixth Circuit appeal looking to reverse a decision made regarding trademark infringements.
Michael Carvin is renowned for his ability to take on high-profile cases such as the recent healthcare appeal on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He has a broad practice, handling civil rights, constitutional and civil litigation work alongside his strong appellate caseload.
Donald Ayer offers extensive experience in the field, and is held in high regard by market commentators. He played a key role in the Taniguchi matter described above. "He gave one of the most outstanding appellate arguments I've ever seen - he's excellent," states one client.
THE FIRM This flourishing Washington, DC-based boutique focuses entirely on trial and appellate litigation. It hosts an excellent team of experienced lawyers who have presented arguments before an impressive range of courts, including the US Supreme Court.
Sources say: "They have several individuals there who are very smart and talented with long careers of great success."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Frederick receives praise from market commentators for his experience in appellate work. He offers notable expertise in handling pharmaceutical disputes.
Michael Kellogg is similarly regarded as "an exceptional advocate" who draws on significant experience in arguing cases at the appellate level. His practice includes a particular focus on matters involving the telecommunications industry.
THE FIRM This respected team can draw upon the notable governmental expertise of its members, two of whom have previously served as appellate court judges. It has the experience and advocacy capabilities to handle a raft of high-profile cases, including the recently concluded Filarsky v Delia appeal in the Supreme Court. The team succeeded in its attempt to reverse a decision previously made in the Ninth Circuit.
Sources say: "They go out of their way to help us - they provide excellent client service and their work is always of the highest quality."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice head Patricia Millett is highly respected for her extensive appellate experience, spanning a myriad of industries including retail, healthcare, insurance and construction. "She has the ability to distill a case into what she believes the appellate court will be looking for; she knows what judges are thinking and then delivers the case to them couched in exactly their own thought processes - she's been very successful," confirms one impressed source.
THE FIRM This broad-based appellate team is equipped with substantial government experience and an accomplished track record of success. Clients span a range of industries and include CBS Television Network, Hoffmann-La Roche and Bank of America.
Sources say: "Covington & Burling is strong across the board of appellate law."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Robert Long chairs the firm's appellate and Supreme Court litigation group. Sources enthuse: "He gets tremendous respect from the court, and is a brilliant lawyer with the right tenor to be in front of appellate judges." He has recently acted as amicus curiae in the high-profile Health Care Case, becoming the first attorney to argue before the Supreme Court in this landmark matter.
THE FIRM This flourishing appellate practice is rapidly gaining momentum in the appellate litigation arena. It continues to handle a number of high-profile matters, representing the likes of Google, American Hospital Association and US Airways. It is experienced in appearing before a range of courts, including those at state and federal appellate level, and the Supreme Court.
Client Service "I was very impressed with them; they did everything we asked of them, and were outstanding. It was, all in all, a great experience."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Former acting US Solicitor General Neal Katyal is swiftly establishing himself as "a fantastic advocate," who offers "deep experience in appellate issues," according to sources. He recently obtained a Supreme Court victory in the recent Knox v SEIU First Amendment case.
Catherine Stetson cochairs the firm's appellate practice and garners much admiration from the market, with one source praising her as being "very client conscious and very good at seeing the big picture." Current clients include US Airways, Yankee Atomic and the University of Virginia.
THE FIRM Jenner & Block continue to act as appellate counsel for a significant range of clients, and houses an experienced group of attorneys dedicated to this field. Its recent work includes obtaining a significant win on behalf of Viacom in a copyright infringement dispute against YouTube. The team is based across the country, allowing it to handle matters with a nationwide scope.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice head Paul Smith is renowned for dealing with some of the most cutting-edge issues in the area of appellate law: "He handles big commercial cases but is also the leading gay rights lawyer, which is a very prominent issue in the US right now," states one commentator. His recent highlights include leading the Viacom work referred to above.
THE FIRM King & Spalding maintains a strong presence in the appellate litigation space, impressing clients with its expertise in the field and dedicated approach to client service. Its team features experienced individuals who are experts across a number of areas, including intellectual property, life sciences and energy. It is presently working on behalf of clients such as McKesson Technologies, Google and Allergan.
Client Service "Their turnaround time is as good as it gets, and they are very thoughtful and proactive - I'm thrilled to be working with them."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Daryl Joseffer heads the firm's appellate practice and is lauded as a "fantastic oral advocate."Sources appreciate that his advice is "insightful, powerful and pragmatic," and highlight his understanding of "practical effects of broad appellate rules, and how they affect the business." He recently achieved a substantial victory for McKesson Technologies against Epic Systems.
THE FIRM This large group is adept at handling appellate cases in every possible setting, including the Supreme Court, and state and federal appellate courts. The team purposefully maintains a broad-based approach to litigation, and so can offer an impressive set of skills across a wide range of cases and industries. Current clients range from Barr Pharmaceuticals to Morgan Stanley.
Client Service "One of the great things about this firm is that if you're hiring them in a new area they catch up very quickly. They are very adaptable and flexible, and are very open to dialogue."
Commercial Awareness "They are very practical lawyers who know the law extremely well, write brilliant appellate briefs and motions, and try to tie in advice to what the client wants to do from a business perspective."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Christopher Landau is singled out as a "superb appellate attorney" who is "a very effective advocate, both orally and in written briefs." His recent work includes achieving a significant result for client Morgan Stanley in the Supreme Court in a long-running case concerning Section 16(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
THE FIRM The team is formed of 32 dedicated appellate lawyers who can handle appeals across a wide range of matters. The team recently won a notable landmark victory for Antoine Jones in US v Jones. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that GPS devices could not be used to survey suspects without a valid warrant.
Sources say: "One of our go-to firms for major appellate matters."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "prominent and experienced" Walter Dellinger led the team to victory in the hugely significant US v Jones appeal. Sources praise his "strong intellectual capabilities, and exceptional trial and appellate skills" and add that he is "very client oriented."
Jonathan Hacker is increasingly gaining recognition for his appellate practice. He is regarded by the market for his advocacy skills, and currently represents Viad, CompuCredit and Ford Motor Company in ongoing appeals.
THE FIRM This litigation boutique is firmly established as a go-to firm for high-quality appellate work. It offers impressive experience in dealing with a range of cases presented before the varying court levels.
Sources say: "The team have been extremely responsive, I couldn't ask for a better service, they are always coming up with new ways to serve client interests really well."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The highly respected Roy Englert is hailed as a "brilliant specialist and Supreme Court advocate" who maintains a broad appellate practice covering bankruptcy, tax, transportation and more areas. He displays particular expertise in antitrust matters.
Lawrence Robbins is highly praised by market commentators for his extensive appellate litigation capabilities, and spans both criminal and civil litigation in his practice. He has been involved in several high-profile cases in recent times, and has argued a significant number of them in the Supreme Court.
THE FIRM Headed by the revered Lisa Blatt, this flourishing group of 15 appellate lawyers enters the rankings backed by praise for its experience in the field. It currently works with an impressive range of clients, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Philip Morris USA and Bank of America. The group has been very active in the last year, appearing in numerous cases before the Supreme Court and the federal and state courts of appeals.
Sources say: "As strategists they developed the themes of our case and the arguments we wanted to make, as well as the preparation for potential responses from the opposition. As technicians they drafted briefing papers that were exquisite in their clarity and force. As advocates they were precise and persuasive. The result was a very significant victory for our company."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Heading the practice is Lisa Blatt who holds a superb track record of 30 cases argued before the Supreme Court, 29 of which she has won. Sources are quick to praise her, highlighting her impressive advocacy skills and stating that "she is client-centric even when she doesn't have to be." Her recent work includes successfully representing SLM Corporation (Sallie Mae) in an appeal concerning the first-to-file rule in regards to the False Claims Act.
THE FIRM This highly regarded appellate boutique is a new entry to the rankings, and offers clients extensive experience in arguing cases at the Supreme Court level. Former US Solicitor General Paul Clement is a key name at the firm, but it does also house additional appellate expertise. One example of its recent work is its notable victory representing GlaxoSmithKline in the Supreme Court case Christopher v Smithkline Beecham Corp.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Paul Clement has argued a staggering 65 cases before the Supreme Court, earning himself a reputation as a "spectacular" appellate attorney. Commentators note that he has "a very high profile and consistently conducts interesting work," as reflected in his impressive caseload.
THE FIRM The Supreme Court and appellate litigation practice at this respected firm maintains a strong presence in the market, and has notable experience across a range of cases. The team recently won a substantial victory for ActiveVideo Networks before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The court affirmed the prior decision that Verizon Communications should pay damages of over $260 million to ActiveVideo for patent infringement.
Sources say: "The team were focused, creative, relentless, and effective. They were unfailingly professional, good humored, and responsive."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Allyson Ho is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the appellate community, and is praised by commentators for her ability to "work very hard and produce high-quality content." Her recent work includes handling various federal court appeals on behalf of Bayer, Wyeth, and Johnson & Johnson.
THE FIRM This active firm remains a popular choice for appellate matters, and is particularly experienced in handling complex Supreme Court arguments. The team's impressive work includes achieving an 8-0 win before the Supreme Court in the closely watched RadLAX Gateway Hotel v Amalgamated Bank case, representing the latter party.
Sources say: "I really think their performance is excellent, and they have consistently been very adept as attorneys."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Deanne Maynard chairs the firm's appellate practice, arguing an impressive number of cases before the Supreme Court and is deemed "very skilled" by market commentators. She has recently worked on behalf of Synovus Bank, Bank of America and NuVasive.
THE FIRM This firm enters the rankings after appearing regularly in the Supreme Court and the federal appellate courts. The team is highly regarded for its expertise in handling high-profile disputes for clients such as Shell, Entergy and Google. Its skilled practitioners are able to litigate a broad range of cases, but offer particular expertise in patent appeals.
Sources say: "They're among the best attorneys I've ever worked with; very smart, very diligent - they have an aggressive, creative approach to litigation."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Heading the firm's appellate group is the revered Kathleen Sullivan, whose "absolutely first-rate" and "incredibly talented" practice sees her retained in the most complex of appeals. Her recent work includes representing Shell in the landmark Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Supreme Court case, which features novel issues under the Alien Tort Statute.
THE FIRM This experienced appellate group handles an array of cases involving securities, energy, oil & gas, and IP claims, among many more. The team recently won two appeals on behalf of the local officials of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth against breakaway factions of the church claiming a right to still control local church names and property. Its client base also includes The Port of Houston Authority and Shell.
Sources say: "Each member of the team has been very responsive to our needs, and have also been very helpful in negotiating what we think are reasonable rates."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The much-admired John Elwood is praised for his advocacy skills before the federal courts of appeals and the Supreme Court. He deals with a broad cross-section of areas, including criminal, employment, and environmental disputes.
Marie Yeates cochairs the appellate practice and is singled out as being "very bright and hard-working." She currently represents Midstates Petroleum Company before the Louisiana Supreme Court in a $70 million oil and gas dispute against Clovelly Oil Company. Sources add that "no one is more thorough than Marie when it comes to preparation."
THE FIRM Williams & Connolly is highly regarded for its general litigation practice, and in recent years its appellate practice has been sharing more and more of the spotlight. The team has extensive experience in appearing before a wide range of appellate courts, and houses an impressive group of Supreme Court advocates.
Sources say: "A prominent litigation shop and now really making an entry in the appellate space."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department head Kannon Shanmugam is hailed as an "extraordinary advocate" who possesses "excellent oral skills and also writes beautifully." Although Kannon takes on a varied caseload, he has particular expertise in tackling criminal defense matters and also has notable experience in disputes involving pharmaceutical patents.
Bruce Rogow is a prominent Florida-based appellate lawyer at Alters Law Firm. He draws from extensive and wide-ranging experience in this space, and has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court.
Thomas Phillips of Baker Botts LLP draws upon his prior experience as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in his impressive work as an appellate lawyer. Notable highlights include his recent work representing Riley-Huff Energy Group in its appeal of a $95.5 million judgment brought against them at the trial level.
Donald Dunner of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP is praised for his expertise in arguing appeals concerning intellectual property and patents. His "stature in the Federal Circuit" sees him held in high esteem by commentators.
Thomas Goldstein of Goldstein & Russell, P.C. has argued a substantial number of appeals before the Supreme Court regarding federal patent law, disability law and labor and employment. He maintains his reputation as a "very good advocate."
David Axelrad of Horvitz & Levy LLP is experienced in handling a wide range of appeals at all levels. His recent work includes successfully handling an appeal on behalf of client Crane in the California Supreme Court in a case concerning the boundaries of product liability.
Bartow Farr recently founded the Law Office of H. Bartow Farr after the dissolution of Farr & Taranto. Farr is also a highly regarded individual in the appellate space. He was recently appointed by the Supreme Court to argue a significant point in the Health Care Case.
Mike Hatchell heads the appellate department at Locke Lord LLP and has recently achieved a string of victories, including the representation of Ashford Partners against ECO Resources in the Supreme Court of Texas.
Miller Baker cochairs McDermott Will & Emery LLP's appellate practice. He recently won a victory at the Sixth Circuit level for Static Control in a case against Lexmark.
The "spectacular" Jeffrey Lamken is credited for "creating a great appellate practice" at MoloLamken LLP. He has amassed a tremendous amount of experience arguing cases before the Supreme Court.
Daniel Collins of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP divides his practice between litigation and appellate work. He is lauded by clients for his impressive levels of "writing analysis and oral advocacy."
Jonathan Franklin heads the appellate department of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP and is particularly praised for his brief-writing abilities. His recent work includes representing DNA Saves in appellate cases brought before several different courts, including the Supreme Court.
Joshua Rosenkranz heads the appellate practice at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and is highlighted as a "popular choice among clients." Sources characterize him as "a superb lawyer who is smart, thinks outside the box and obviously terrific at what he does."
Stephen Kinnaird of Paul Hastings LLP maintains his impressive reputation in this field, and is experienced in handling cases before a range of appellate courts. His expertise spans a broad array of matters, including those involving energy, criminal and IP law.
Douglas Hallward-Driemeier heads the appellate group at Ropes & Gray LLP and is renowned for being "extremely thoughtful and strategic about the positioning of his cases." Notable highlights include the filing of an amicus brief on behalf of a number of HIV-rights groups in the landmark Supreme Court case concerning the validity of the Affordable Care Act.
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero heads the appellate practice at White & Case LLP. He is respected for his notable experience at the appellate level, and has particular expertise in handling matters before the Florida District Courts of Appeal.
Linda Coberly is vice chair of the appellate department at Winston & Strawn LLP. She recently acted as part of the team that won a significant victory on behalf of Grant Thornton LLP after Refco admitted having committed criminal fraud.