Kelly P. Dunbar

Kelly Dunbar is a leader of the firm's Administrative Law Group and focuses his practice on government and regulatory litigation, administrative rulemakings, constitutional litigation, and appellate matters. Mr. Dunbar regularly counsels clients regarding regulatory strategy and litigation, represents them before administrative agencies, and litigates Administrative Procedure Act (APA), constitutional, and other matters in federal district and appellate courts across the country.

Mr. Dunbar's administrative law practice spans agencies across the federal government, including the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the Food and Drug Administration, the Small Business Administration, the Surface Transportation Board, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Department of Agriculture. These matters involve complex statutes and regulations governing a wide range of clients, including telecommunications companies, cable operators, airlines, insurance companies, health care providers, Indian tribes, and railroads. These matters regularly involve direct engagement with federal agencies, as well as litigation under the APA.

Mr. Dunbar also has an active appellate practice. He has represented clients in matters before the United States Supreme Court, multiple federal courts of appeals, and state high courts. These appellate matters have involved a wide range of civil and criminal subject matters, including federal preemption, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Sarbanes Oxley, bankruptcy, insurance class actions, federal communications law, the Voting Rights Act, and the First Amendment. Mr. Dunbar has presented oral arguments on behalf of clients in multiple federal courts (appellate and district), including before the Eighth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit, and the DC Circuit.

Mr. Dunbar joined the firm after serving as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. During his time at the Department, Mr. Dunbar assisted in drafting opinions resolving legal disputes between and among executive branch agencies and in providing advice on a range of APA, constitutional, executive privilege, and statutory issues to the Office of the Attorney General, the White House, and other executive branch agencies.  

Professional Activities

Mr. Dunbar is admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court, the US Courts of Appeals for the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and District of Columbia Circuits, and the US District Courts for the District of Columbia, the Northern District of Florida, the Western District of Michigan, and the District of Maryland.


  • Mr. Dunbar has represented numerous individual, corporate, and associational clients in administrative, civil, and criminal matters, including:

    • obtaining a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order on behalf of a leading medical provider in an APA challenge to an emergency rule promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services;
    • representing trade associations in successful APA litigation challenging the Fiduciary Rule promulgated by the Department of Labor to regulate the life insurance and financial services industries, resulting in vacatur of the Rule;
    • representing a leading global security company in an APA whistleblower appeal under the Sarbanes Oxley Act, resulting in appellate vacatur of the administrative decision below;
    • representing a communications client in an enforcement proceeding by the Federal Communications Commission under the Open Internet rules;
    • representing DC public charter schools before the DC Circuit in a constitutional challenge to District of Columbia school funding practices;
    • representing a major passenger railroad company as intervenor in an APA action in defense of a rule promulgated by the Surface Transportation Board;
    • representing domestic citrus growers in an APA challenge to the Department of Agriculture's decision to permit the importation of foreign citrus products into the United States;
    • advising a major insurance company with respect to Dodd-Frank issues involving the Financial Stability Oversight Council;
    • advising technology companies with respect to obligations under the Stored Communications Act;
    • submitting an amicus brief on behalf of a trade association in an APA challenge to the Financial Stability Oversight Council's designation of a non-bank financial institution as a systemically important financial institution;
    • counseling a national air carrier with respect to federal regulations and orders pertaining to international aviation issues;
    • securing multiple trial and appellate court victories in high-profile litigation challenging a state voter photo ID law;
    • representing an Indian tribe in an APA challenge to adverse land-into-trust decisions by the Department of the Interior;
    • counseling a development corporation with respect to a title dispute with the Department of the Interior over land ownership;
    • counseling a government contractor with respect to small business regulations involving the US Small Business Administration;
    • representing a major financial institution in class-action litigation involving alleged violations of state law property inspection fees;
    • securing an appellate victory for an Indian tribe with respect to trust acquisition of land for purposes of casino gaming;
    • securing a US Supreme Court victory for a bankruptcy trustee in case involving the interpretation of the Bankruptcy Code;
    • securing a US Supreme Court victory for a state defending its legislative reapportionment plan from constitutional challenge; and
    • securing a victory in the New York Court of Appeals for a major university in a challenge to its expansion plan.


  • Recommended in the 2017 edition of The Legal 500 United States in the area of telecoms and broadcast: regulatory 
  • Recipient of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Judicial Advocacy Initiative Award for APA litigation

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Yale Law School, 2004

      Articles Editor, Yale Law Journal, Editor, Yale Journal on Regulation, Potter Stewart Prize
    • MA, Communication Studies, Baylor University, 1999

    • BA, History, Baylor University, 1997

      magna cum laude Phi Beta Kappa, Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum
  • Admissions

    • District of Columbia

    • New York

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. Douglas H. Ginsburg, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 2004 - 2005