Paul R.Q. Wolfson


Paul R.Q. Wolfson


  • Co-Chair, Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice

Paul Wolfson is a partner in the firm's Litigation/Controversy Department, and co-chair of the Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice. He is also a member of the Government and Regulatory Litigation Practice. He rejoined the firm in 2002.


Mr. Wolfson's practice focuses on Supreme Court and appellate litigation, and on advising clients on complex issues of federal and state law.

Mr. Wolfson has argued 21 cases in the United States Supreme Court and has also argued before nine federal courts of appeals. He has represented parties and amici curiae in dozens of Supreme Court cases, including Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District (Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment); Messerschmidt v. Millender (Fourth Amendment); Dutra Group v. Batterton (punitive damages); Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. (ERISA preemption); Bowman v. Monsanto Co. (patent exhaustion); Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC (preemption under FIFRA); Beneficial National Bank v. Anderson (National Bank Act preemption); and Boumediene v. Bush (challenging the detention of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay).

In the courts of appeals and district courts, Mr. Wolfson has a diverse practice, including several universities and governmental entities. He has represented a leading university defending its admissions policy and opposing efforts to attach antiquities in its collection, another leading university defending its plans for expansion of its campus, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in defending its landmark fiscal-stabilization program, the State of Georgia in litigation over the water supply for the metropolitan Atlanta region, the State of Hawaii in litigation over statutory caps on rents paid by service stations, and a federal agency in challenging sanctions imposed under Rule 11.

Mr. Wolfson has also represented numerous parties in patent litigation, including Monsanto Company in several successful defenses against challenges to its patents on genetically modified soybeans. He successfully represented Rambus Inc. in its challenge to a ruling of the Federal Trade Commission that Rambus had violated the antitrust laws. And he represented a Washington DC real estate developer in litigation in the DC trial and appellate courts over a shopping mall in Georgetown.

Before rejoining the firm, Mr. Wolfson worked for eight years in the Solicitor General's Office of the Department of Justice, where he received the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award for “exemplary representation of the United States before the Supreme Court.” After law school, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White.

Mr. Wolfson is active in the American Bar Association (ABA), where he serves as chair of the Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs, which authorizes amicus briefs to be filed by the ABA. He also serves on the Council of the Section for Civil Rights and Social Justice. He has served on the ABA Presidential Task Force on Federal Pleading Standards, examining the effect of the Twombly and Iqbal decisions, and the ABA Standing Committee on the American Judicial System. He currently serves as president of the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court. He previously served two terms on the District of Columbia Board on Professional Responsibility. 

Mr. Wolfson is active in pro bono matters. In the Supreme Court, he has represented a Los Angeles family whose house was searched pursuant to an invalid warrant, and a group of scientists challenging a government background investigation. He successfully represented a mother challenging a grandparents' visitation order as a violation of her parental rights, and obtained withholding of deportation for a Cameroonian dissident. He also represented the Texas chapter of the NAACP defending the constitutionality of the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.

Professional Activities

  • American Bar Association—Chair, Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs
  • Chair, Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Council, ABA Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice


  • Recognized as a leader in appellate law in the 2009–2021 editions of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers in Business
  • Recommended as a leading lawyer in Supreme Court and appellate litigation by The Legal 500 United States in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Selected as a 2013–2020 IP Star by Managing IP, a guidebook that identifies leading IP lawyers in the United States
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America in the area of appellate law (2006, 2008–2021) and First Amendment Law (2021)
  • Named a top-rated appellate attorney in the 2007–2021 editions of Washington DC Super Lawyers

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Yale Law School, 1987

      Notes Editor, Yale Law Journal
    • MPhil, University of Cambridge, Trinity College, 1984

      Phi Beta Kappa
    • AB, Harvard University, 1982

      magna cum laude
  • Admissions

    • District of Columbia

    • US Supreme Court

  • Government Experience

    • Department of Justice

      Office of the Solicitor General

      Assistant to the Solicitor General