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


August 1, 2016

Equal Justice Coalition Names Louis Tompros Chair

The Equal Justice Coalition—a collaboration of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, Massachusetts Bar Association and Boston Bar Association who work together to protect the state appropriation for civil legal aid—announced that WilmerHale Partner Louis Tompros has been appointed chair.

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.

June 14, 2016

Fleming Featured in Law360 Analysis of Post-Scalia Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Law360 drew on the insights of Partner Mark Fleming in “A New Justice Dominates Oral Arguments In Wake Of Scalia's Death,” a June 10, 2016 article that examines the dynamics of the US Supreme Court since Justice Scalia's death in February.

May 27, 2016

WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices Recognized in 2016 Edition of Chambers USA

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business announced its final rankings for the 2016 edition, with WilmerHale ranking among the nation's best in 47 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 82 WilmerHale lawyers as leaders in their respective fields.

May 23, 2016

Federalizing Trade Secret Protection: A Close Look at the Ex Parte Seizure Provision

In this article published by Corporate Counsel in May 2016, James Dowd, Greg Lantier and Rachel Weiner Cohen provide a high-level overview of the reach and effect of the newly passed Defend Trade Secrets Act on plaintiffs, defendants and third-party bystanders.

April 28, 2016

Thomas Saunders Named an Appellate Rising Star by Law360

WilmerHale Partner Thomas Saunders is one of only six attorneys nationwide named a 2016 Appellate Rising Star by Law360 and one among four WilmerHale partners selected to this year's overall list.

April 12, 2016

Context Is Everything: Evaluating Different Approaches Toward Attorneys’ Fees Awards Under Copyright Act in Light of Supreme Court Review

An article by Natalie Hanlon Leh and Laura Goodall, published in Bloomberg BNA's Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, looks at relevant data for attorneys' fees awards in copyright law and provides a comparison and contrast to the attorneys' fees award standards and considerations in patent and trademark law.

April 4, 2016

Copyright and Trademark Case Review: FLANAX, Fishing Tackle, Football Players and More

WilmerHale compiles lists of precedential and informative opinions that raise copyright and trademark law issues. The following is a consolidated list of those opinions with brief summaries designed to showcase the latest developments in intellectual property law.

March 23, 2016

Here We Go Round the Merry-Go-Round: How a § 101 Denial May Inform a Subsequent Motion

An article by Natalie Hanlon Leh and Nora Passamaneck, published in the March 18, 2016 issue of Bloomberg BNA's Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, discusses the increase of 35 U.S.C. § 101 challenges since Alice v. CLS Bank.


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 2014 for the seventh 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 Media Group and Best Lawyers' 2013-2015 Best Law Firm rankings, our appellate practice ranked in the first tier nationally and in Boston and Washington DC for three consecutive years.
  • 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,