SCOTUS Success 2016


Publish Date:
June 30, 2017
  • Adam Feldman
Empirical SCOTUS
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Now that the Supreme Court term is over, let the scoring begin.  While this post looks at the most successful firms, litigators, and groups before the Supreme Court during the 2016 term, there are several caveats to note.  First, this post looks at success before the Court as measured by win counts. Second, getting to try a Supreme Court case is a “win” in and of itself in many respects, especially before a Court that hears so few cases each term.  Third, because the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is not on a level playing field with the rest of the advocates before the Court (as it represents a branch of the federal government), this analysis excludes the OSG’s participation.

At the Supreme Court level, there is some agency on behalf of the litigator, but much of the case is already etched in stone.  The facts have been established in the lower courts.  The questions of law are already on the justices’ radars.  The justices’ themselves may have a good sense of how they will decide in cases based on these already assembled materials.  This is where the lawyering comes in.

Jeffrey Fisher, Neal Katyal, and Adam Unikowsky were the top performing attorneys this term with respect to merits victories.  Jeffery Fisher from Stanford Law School’s Supreme Court Clinic accumulated four wins this term for his representations in Endrew F, Pena-Rodriguez, Esquivel-Quintana, and Microsoft v. Baker.  He also won all cases he tried this term.  Mr. Fisher is no stranger to success before the Supreme Court both on the merits and for getting cases to the Court on cert.

The top performing merits firms (and groups) this term based on wins were Stanford’s Supreme Court Clinic, Hogan Lovells, Jenner & Block, and Perkins Coie.  Stanford’s Supreme Court Clinic won the four cases Jeffrey Fisher tried plus a win from David Goldberg.  Hogan Lovells had Neal Katyal’s three wins plus one win from Bruce Oakley.  Jenner & Block’s three wins were all from Adam Unikowsky.  Perkins Coie had two wins from Marc Elias and one from Eric Miller.  Rounding out the firms with two wins are Gibson Dunn, Gupta Wessler, Mayer Brown, Orrick Herrington, Quinn Emanuel, and Williams & Connolly.

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