Kelly P. Dunbar


Dunbar, Kelly P.

Kelly Dunbar is a leader of the firm's Administrative Law Group and focuses his practice on government and regulatory litigation, administrative rulemakings, 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 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 Health and Human Services, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, 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.

Mr. Dunbar also has an active appellate practice. He represents clients in matters before multiple federal courts of appeals, state high courts, and the United States Supreme Court, and he has presented oral argument on behalf of clients in multiple federal courts (appellate and district). He also has substantial experience representing Indian tribes in complex civil litigation, appeals, and administrative proceedings involving land into trust, gaming, jurisdictional, and sovereign immunity issues.

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.  

Publications & News


April 2, 2018

WilmerHale Team Obtains Fifth Circuit Victory in High-Profile Fiduciary Rule Case

A team of WilmerHale litigators recently achieved a major victory when the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated the US Department of Labor's highly controversial Fiduciary Rule, giving opponents of the regulations embodied by the rule their first victory after several previously unsuccessful lawsuits.

February 20, 2018

Supreme Court to Decide Future of Sports Betting: Implications for Tribal Casinos

The Supreme Court's forthcoming decision in Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association will have profound implications for sports betting in the United States and will potentially open the door to such betting in tribal casinos across the country.

June 21, 2017

Administrative Procedure Act Litigation: The Changing Regulatory Landscape, the Role of Industry, and Emerging Issues

As the Trump Administration concludes its fifth month, industry is facing a changing regulatory landscape that offers both opportunities and challenges. In this period of transition, litigation under the Administrative Procedure Act has played, and will continue to play, a more important role than ever in shaping the burdens facing regulated industries.

June 9, 2017

The Legal 500 United States 2017 Recognizes 125 WilmerHale Lawyers Across 28 Practice Areas

The Legal 500 United States has released its 2017 rankings, recommending 125 WilmerHale lawyers—including 12 who are named to its elite “Leading Lawyers” list and two on its “Next Generation Lawyers” list—and 28 practice areas in its 11th edition.

February 10, 2017

WilmerHale Scores Win for DaVita, Preserves Insurance Access for Kidney Patients

WilmerHale achieved a major victory when a federal district court in Texas issued a nationwide injunction protecting patients' access to health coverage during their final stage of chronic kidney disease in response to a legal challenge filed by the kidney care community.

July 25, 2016

WilmerHale Secures Civil Rights Victory, Defending Texas Voters of Color

WilmerHale and its co-counsel, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Education Fund, secured a significant civil rights victory for African-American and Hispanic voters in Texas.

June 22, 2016

The Legal 500 United States 2016 Recognizes 111 WilmerHale Lawyers Across 30 Practice Areas

The guide's rankings are based on a series of criteria, including client feedback, interviews with private practice lawyers, and its own research.

January 4, 2016

WilmerHale Announces 2016 Partner and Special Counsel Elevations

We are pleased to announce the elevation of our new partners and special counsel in 2016.

November 9, 2015

WilmerHale Achieves Significant Litigation Victory for Tohono O’odham Nation

WilmerHale achieved a significant litigation victory for the Tohono O'odham Nation involving the tribe's effort to open a gaming facility on land that, with the firm's assistance, was taken into trust last year.

August 6, 2015

Landmark Civil Rights Victory Achieved in Fifth Circuit Decision on Voting Rights Act

WilmerHale and its co-counsel, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, secured a landmark civil rights victory when the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed a decision by the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas that Texas's highly restrictive voter photo identification law had a discriminatory effect on African-American and Hispanic voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Recent Highlights

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 communications client in an enforcement proceeding by the Federal Communications Commission under the Open Internet rules;
  • 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;
  • representing a leading global security company in an APA whistleblower appeal under the Sarbanes Oxley Act;
  • advising a major insurance company with respect to Dodd-Frank issues involving the Financial Stability Oversight Council;
  • 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;
  • securing an appellate victory for an Indian tribe with respect to trust acquisition of land for purposes of casino gaming, and represented the tribe in related district court litigation and before a federal agency;
  • 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.

Speaking Engagements

April 19-20, 2018

2018 DCIIA Public Policy Forum

Washington, DC

October 16-18, 2016

ACLI 2016 Annual Conference

Washington, DC

Honors & Awards

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.


Skip Navigation Links.


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, magna cum laude, Baylor University, 1997, Phi Beta Kappa, Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

New York


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

Government Experience

Skip Navigation Links.