Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation

Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation

Combining our trial and appellate strengths allows us to shape litigation strategy from the outset to maximize the likelihood of ultimate success.

Key Contacts

Meet Our Team


  • In March 2017, we achieved a notable victory in a bankruptcy appeal when the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of a group of truck drivers formerly employed by Jevic Transportation Inc. in Czyzewski v. Jevic, finding that so-called "structured dismissals" to end Chapter 11 cases cannot be used in a way that violates the Bankruptcy Code's priority scheme.
  • For the Tohono O'odham Nation, we obtained two significant victories in the Ninth Circuit relating to the Nation's plan to open a gaming facility near Phoenix.
  • In April 2016, we secured a major victory for Google in the Second Circuit in a copyright dispute with the Authors Guild over Google Books.
  • For Liberty Mutual Insurance, we achieved a Supreme Court victory related to Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) preemption in March 2016.
  • We secured a Supreme Court victory in Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, a dispute over patent royalties.
  • In June 2015, we obtained a unanimous victory in the Supreme Court for a major financial institution in the consolidated cases of Caulkett and Toledo-Cardona.
  • For the California Table Grape Commission, we achieved a complete Federal Circuit victory in January 2015 in a case challenging the validity of two plant patents exclusively licensed to the commission.
  • We won a complete victory for Staples in December 2014 when the DC Circuit unanimously affirmed the district court's dismissal of a False Claims Act case against Staples and three co-defendants.
  • Pro Bono

    In May 2018, we achieved a victory in McCoy v. Louisiana when the Supreme Court vacated pro bono client Robert McCoy’s death sentence and capital conviction and ordered a new trial because McCoy’s Sixth Amendment rights were violated when the trial court allowed his lawyer to admit his guilt to the jury over his objection.
  • Pro Bono

    We achieved a victory in June 2016 in Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States when the Supreme Court unanimously sided with Kingdomware, ruling that a contracting preference for veteran-owned small businesses was mandatory for all VA contracts.
  • Pro Bono

    We secured a victory in June 2016 in the Supreme Court in Mathis v. United States, in which the Court reversed a lower court's ruling that made it easier to enhance federal sentences under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
  • Pro Bono

    In January 2016, we achieved a significant victory for pro bono client Timothy Lee Hurst when the Supreme Court held that Florida's capital-sentencing scheme violates the Sixth Amendment because it requires the judge and not the jury to find the existence of an aggravating circumstance that makes the defendant eligible for the death penalty.
  • Pro Bono

    In Boumediene v. Bush, we successfully represented six inmates held without charge at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The firm obtained a landmark victory in the Supreme Court, which held—in a constitutional case now taught in law schools nationwide—that Guantanamo prisoners have a constitutional right to habeas corpus. On remand, the district court in Washington DC ordered five of the firm's six clients released. In June 2010, we secured a victory on behalf of our sixth client in Bensayah v. Obama, when the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's denial of habeas relief.
  • Pro Bono

    We successfully challenged the Board of Immigration Appeals policy restricting the availability of relief from deportation in Judulang v. Holder, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of our client and nullified the board's policy as arbitrary and capricious. 


  • The National Law Journal included WilmerHale's appellate group in the "Appellate Hot List" in 2017 for the 10th consecutive year. In addition, Partners Mark Fleming and Danielle Spinelli were named Appellate Lawyer of the Week in 2011 and 2010, respectively. The National Law Journal also named WilmerHale the 2017 Washington DC Litigation Department of the Year in the General Litigation category. 
  • Chambers USA 2016 recognized the firm's appellate practice with a top-tier ranking nationally. Clients praise the group, saying "they have an incredibly deep appellate bench with experience at all circuits as well as the Supreme Court that is second to none." In 2016, Partner Seth Waxman was cited as a star individual, with sources calling him "simply the best appellate lawyer in the country right now" and a "superb writer and oral advocate." Partner Paul Wolfson is described as a "very experienced lawyer," and Partner Danielle Spinelli is noted as an up-and-coming appellate litigator. The group has been recognized by Chambers every year since 2005.
  • In January 2016, former US Solicitor General and chair of WilmerHale's Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice Seth Waxman was recognized as Litigator of the Year by The American Lawyer. Waxman argued his 75th case before the US Supreme Court on December 2, 2015.
  • In April 2016, Partners Thomas Saunders and Catherine Carroll were named two of Law360's six Appellate Rising Stars. Partner Felicia Ellsworth was also selected as one of five Trial Rising Stars.
  • Law360 has named the practice “Group of the Year” for six consecutive years (2011-2016) in its annual series recognizing firms that have played a key role in the significant matters that made headlines and changed the legal landscape within the past year. The publication has also recognized Partner Mark Fleming as an “MVP of the Year” with distinction in appellate law (2011) and Partner Seth Waxman as an Appellate MVP of the Year (2014).
  • According to Law360, in the 2013 Supreme Court term, WilmerHale had more arguments than any other firm, with seven in the term. In addition, the firm's five wins were the most achieved by any firm.
  • WilmerHale, along with Partner Seth Waxman, received Managing IP's 2015 Supreme Court Milestone Case of the Year award for the successful representation of POM in POM Wonderful v. Coca-Cola.
  • The Legal 500 United States ranked WilmerHale's appellate practice in the top tier in the 2012 edition of its annual guidebook, and commended the firm for its “superb pedigree before the US Supreme Court.”
  • In U.S. News - Best Lawyers' 2013-2017 Best Law Firms rankings, our appellate practice ranked in the first tier nationally and in Boston and Washington DC.
  • Benchmark Litigation 2013 recognized WilmerHale's appellate practice nationally. In addition, Benchmark Appellate 2013 specifically praised our Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice with a first-tier national ranking and highly recommended our group in Washington DC and in the US Courts of Appeal for the First and Federal Circuits.

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