Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation LITIGATION/CONTROVERSY

Our seasoned appellate lawyers have argued more than 130 cases before the US Supreme Court, including leading cases in areas such as antitrust, banking law, bankruptcy, communications, constitutional law, employment, energy regulation, federal preemption, patent, securities regulation and tax. We regularly handle matters in federal and state appellate courts throughout the United States, and have represented clients in more than 30 patent and other cases in the Federal Circuit in the last two years. In the 2015 term alone, five different WilmerHale lawyers argued eight cases in the Supreme Court-more than any other firm. In 2014 alone, 23 different WilmerHale lawyers made a total of 48 oral arguments in state and federal courts, including six arguments in the Supreme Court. Combining our trial and appellate strengths allows us to shape litigation strategy from the outset to maximize the likelihood of ultimate success. Clients also retain us to advise them on complex and often unsettled legal issues, no matter what the particular forum or context.

WilmerHale's Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice, with members in Washington DC, New York, Boston and Los Angeles, has been honored by Chambers USA every year since 2005. Chambers called our team a "bench of talent that is 'impressive beyond belief'" and cited our "built-in ability and knowledge to tackle appeals both before the state, federal and Supreme courts." According to Law360's review of the 2013 Supreme Court term, WilmerHale's seven arguments were "the most … before the high court this session" and noted that no other firm had more wins, with five. The National Law Journal  also recognized the group by naming it to the Appellate Hot List for the eighth consecutive year in 2015. The group has also been recognized as a leader in appellate advocacy by U.S. News/Best Lawyers, Benchmark and Law360, which named WilmerHale to its "Practice Group of the Year" series for 2015.


Sort By
Waxman, Seth P.

Seth P. Waxman

Co-Chair, Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice

+1 202 663 6800 (t)

Wolfson, Paul R.Q.

Paul R.Q. Wolfson

Co-Chair, Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice

+1 202 663 6390 (t)

Fleming, Mark C.

Mark C. Fleming

Vice-Chair, Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice

+1 617 526 6909 (t)

Spinelli, Danielle

Danielle Spinelli

Vice-Chair, Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice

+1 202 663 6901 (t)

Publications & News


December 28, 2016

WilmerHale Named to The National Law Journal's Appellate Hot List

The winners were selected based on their federal and state appeals court victories in the US during 2016.

December 9, 2016

WilmerHale’s Seth Waxman Receives Distinguished IP Professional Award

Waxman received the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation's Ninth Distinguished IP Professional Award, given to “an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the IP community and a lifetime commitment to invention and innovation.”

December 8, 2016

New Life for Opinions of Counsel in Patent Litigation

An article by Todd Zubler and George Brell, published in Law360, discusses recent trial cases and the Supreme Court's latest case law suggesting that the value of obtaining opinions of counsel is on the rise.

December 7, 2016

Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Patent Certiorari Petitions Denied in 2016

WilmerHale compiles lists of certiorari petitions that raise patent-law issues. This page contains a consolidated list of all recently denied petitions, organized in reverse chronological order by date of certiorari petition.

December 7, 2016

Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Patent Certiorari Petitions Granted

WilmerHale compiles lists of certiorari petitions that raise patent-law issues. This page contains a consolidated list of all recently granted petitions, organized in reverse chronological order by date of certiorari petition.

December 7, 2016

Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Patent Certiorari Petitions Pending

WilmerHale compiles lists of certiorari petitions that raise patent-law issues. This page contains a consolidated list of all pending petitions, organized in reverse chronological order by date of certiorari petition.

November 17, 2016

Rachel Weiner Cohen Participates in 2016 Federal Circuit Bar Association's Global Fellows Series

The series brings together a small group of future leaders in the global legal community for an intensive learning program taught by leading judges and practitioners from both the United States and Germany.

October 17, 2016

What Should Fox’s Chris Wallace Ask Clinton, Trump About SCOTUS?

In this article, US Supreme Court practitioners and other lawyers, including Debo Adegbile, provide suggestions for questions to ask candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the third and final presidential debate.

October 13, 2016

Energy Sector Alert Series: Supreme Court Cases to Watch

The Supreme Court began its new term on Monday, October 3, with only eight justices instead of the full complement of nine. Perhaps in part as a result of its desire to avoid controversial cases, the Court has accepted fewer matters involving environmental, energy and natural resources issues.

October 5, 2016

WilmerHale Partner Mark Fleming Honored with Induction Into American Academy of Appellate Lawyers

WilmerHale Partner Mark Fleming was recently inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, a major recognition of his accomplishments in appellate advocacy and the respect he has earned from fellow practitioners and jurists alike.


WilmerHale's appellate practice and its individual attorneys are universally recognized areas as leaders in the field.

  • The National Law Journal included WilmerHale's appellate group in the "Appellate Hot List" in 2016 for the ninth consecutive year. In addition, Partners Mark Fleming and Danielle Spinelli were named Appellate Lawyer of the Week in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
  • 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 five consecutive years (2011-2015) 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 previously 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.


Recent practice highlights include: 

  • Presented oral argument in seven cases in the Supreme Court’s 2013 term. Cases ranged from the enforceability of certain provisions in ERISA disability plans (Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co., which Partner Catherine Carroll successfully argued) to the treatment of certain IRAs for bankruptcy purposes (Clark v. Rameker, argued successfully by Partner Danielle Spinelli).  
  • Presented oral argument in four cases during the Supreme Court’s 2011 term. In Judulang v. Holder, Partner Mark Fleming successfully challenged the Board of Immigration Appeals policy restricting the availability of relief from deportation; in a unanimous opinion, the Court ruled in favor of our client and nullified the board’s policy as arbitrary and capricious. In December 2011, Partners Paul Wolfson and Seth Waxman argued cases on consecutive days in Messerschmidt v. Millender and Martel v. Clair. Finally, on January 12, 2012, Seth Waxman successfully argued in the closely watched FCC v. Fox Television, et al., which concerned the FCC’s indecency rules for broadcast television. Ruling unanimously, the Court set aside the FCC’s findings that television networks violated the agency’s indecency rules.
  • Won the judgment of acquittal on all counts against our client, former McAfee Chief Financial Officer Prabhat Goyal, in the Ninth Circuit. The decision was a resounding rejection of the government’s case, finding that no jury could reasonably have convicted Goyal of accounting fraud or related charges. In a concurring opinion that takes particular exception with the government’s pursuit of criminal charges, Chief Judge Kozinski noted: “Mr. Goyal had the benefit of exceptionally fine advocacy on appeal, so he is spared the punishment for a crime he didn’t commit. But not everyone is so lucky.” (United States v. Goyal)
  • Won a substantial victory in a nearly decade-long battle over patent rights for recordable/rewritable compact disks when the Federal Circuit—sitting en banc—affirmed the decision of the International Trade Commission. (Princo Corp. v. ITC)
  • Won a significant victory in the Supreme Court in 2010 on behalf of several ocean shippers in a case raising important issues of class arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act. (Stolt-Nielsen v. Animalfeeds)
  • 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. (Boumediene v. Bush). On remand, the district court in Washington DC ordered five of our six clients released. In June 2010, we secured a victory on behalf of our sixth client when the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in a case argued by Partner Mark Fleming, reversed and remanded the District Court’s denial of habeas relief. (Bensayah v. Obama) All six clients are now free.

Patent Cert. Petitions

WilmerHale compiles lists of certiorari petitions that raise patent-law issues. This page contains a consolidated list of all recently pending, granted and denied petitions, organized in each listing in reverse chronological order by date of certiorari petition.

Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Certiorari Petitions Pending

Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Certiorari Petitions Granted

Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Certiorari Petitions Denied

For more information on these petitions or other patent appeal matters, contact:

Joseph J. Mueller (+1 617 526 6396,
Thomas G. Saunders (+1 202 663 6536,
Leslie Pearlson (+1 617 526 6809,