Thomas Sprankling is a Partner in WilmerHale’s Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice, resident in the Palo Alto Office. His practice focuses on briefing complex legal issues in appellate and trial courts, with a particular focus on matters involving intellectual property and technology. He also handles a wide range of appellate matters arising out of the western United States, on issues spanning breach-of-contract disputes to federal preemption.

Mr. Sprankling has presented oral argument in the Ninth Circuit and the California Court of Appeal on multiple occasions, as well as in California’s state and federal trial courts. Mr. Sprankling has presented oral argument in front of—and filed over two dozen briefs in—the Federal Circuit, where he was a member of WilmerHale teams that secured a ruling vacating a $2.75 billion patent judgment in 2022 and a ruling vacating a $500 million award in 2023. He has also filed briefs in more than 20 U.S. Supreme Court cases—at the petition stage, on the merits, and as an amicus—on topics ranging from patent law to immigration law to constitutional law. In 2022 alone, he filed two amicus briefs as counsel of record (on behalf of climate change scientists in one case and legal scholars in another) that were both cited in the ultimate decisions.

Mr. Sprankling maintains an active pro bono practice, which focuses on giving a voice to those who are not often heard in courts (such as survivors of domestic violence and injured coal miners) and protecting rights guaranteed to all Americans by the U.S. Constitution and by statute. In 2022, for example, Mr. Sprankling led the briefing on a petition for writ of certiorari challenging the use of an 8-person (as opposed to a 12-person) jury in criminal proceedings, leading to a statement from Justice Gorsuch criticizing the rule permitting a smaller jury as “undermin[ing] the integrity of the Nation’s judicial proceedings and den[ying] the American people a liberty their predecessors long and justly considered inviolable.” And in 2023, Mr. Sprankling was named a California Attorney of the Year by the Daily Journal for securing a California Court of Appeal ruling requiring family law judges who grant custody to an abusive parent to provide an explanation for doing so.

A California native, Mr. Sprankling attended Columbia Law School, where he was awarded the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Prize for his academic performance—an award given to the top one percent of the class of 2012. Mr. Sprankling joined WilmerHale as a summer associate in 2011 and returned to the firm following clerkships with Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and US Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.

Selected Publications

  • The appeal of putting an appellate lawyer on a trial team, Daily Journal (May 2023)
  • Understanding Trade Secret Law (Carolina Academic Press 2020) (with John G. Sprankling)
  • Note, "Does Five Equal Three? Reading the Takings Clause in Light of the Third Amendment's Protection of Houses," 112 Colum. L. Rev. 112 (2012)
  • Thomas Sprankling Named a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year by the Daily Journal

    The Daily Journal has recognized Partner Thomas Sprankling as a 2023 CLAY Awards recipient for his significant appellate victory for domestic violence survivors.

    April 18, 2023
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  • WilmerHale’s Thomas Sprankling Co-Authors New Treatise on Trade Secrets Law

    Thomas Sprankling co-authored and published a book titled “Understanding Trade Secret Law.” 

    May 13, 2020
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  • WilmerHale Named a Technology Practice Group of the Year by Law360

    Law360 has recognized WilmerHale as a leader among competitor firms with its 2022 Technology Practice Group of the Year award, making it the fourth year the firm has received this distinguished honor. 

    March 10, 2023
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    • Award Text

      Lawyer on the Fast Track

       The Recorder 


    • Award Text

      CLAY Award

      Daily Journal


    • Award Text

      Top 40 Under 40

      Daily Journal


  • Selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for government relations practice, appellate practice and commercial litigation in 2024.
  • Named a California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) Award recipient by the Daily Journal in 2023 for his significant appellate victory for domestic violence survivors.
  • Named a Lawyer On The Fast Track by The Recorder in 2023 for being one of the next generation of legal leaders in California.  
  • Named to the Daily Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” list in 2021 for appellate and supreme court litigation in California
  • Named a Northern California Super Lawyers "Rising Star" in 2021–2023 for appellate litigation.

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Columbia Law School, 2012

      James Kent Scholar, Charles Bathgate Beck Prize, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Prize, Executive Articles Editor, Columbia Law Review
    • BA, History and Politics, Pomona College, 2008

      with distinction
  • Admissions

    • California

    • District of Columbia

    • US Supreme Court

    • US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

    • US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

    • US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

    • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

    • US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

    • US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

    • US District Court for the Eastern District of California

    • US District Court for the Northern District of California

    • US District Court for the Central District of California

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. Alex Kozinski, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2012 - 2013

    • The Hon. Anthony Kennedy, US Supreme Court, 2016 - 2017



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